Anger! “Yikes!” How to Understand & Defuse It (You got this.)

Anger may be a huge part of your life, and you may not even know it. But maybe you do know it, and anger management has been elusive for years. Let’s stop the destruction, k? You got this!

Sat in on a trauma seminar recently, and a list of Dr. Steven Stosny’s Core Hurts was in the PowerPoint. Did some Stosny-digging later and came up with buckets of dynamite anger info. And, well, I couldn’t resist sharing. Yes, it’s all the work of suburban D.C. psychologist, author, speaker, and conference leader Steven Stosny, Ph.D. Here’s his CompassionPOWER website.

Alrighty, then – anger according to Stosny. Let’s roll…

Anger is our numero uno self-revealing emotion, and it mobilizes us for one thing, and one thing only – a fight. Anger points directly at the status of our Core Value, and it’s ultimately a cry of powerlessness. Within the realm of anger, the more reactive we become, the more powerless we feel.

Power? It’s the ability to act in our long-term best interest. Responsibility gives us the power to make our lives better. Blame renders us powerless.

Anger | Anger Management | Compassion

Getting to where we need to go in this piece will be a learning progression. First up is Stosny’s perspective on compassion…

  • More important than love, because love without compassion is controlling, possessive, even dangerous
  • A sympathetic understanding of our Core Hurts and those of others
  • Loving others because it makes us feel worthy of love
  • Recognizing the Core Value of self and others, even when we don’t like present behavior or perspectives
  • Motivation to do the right thing
  • Not the same as forgiveness or condoning offenses
  • Not the same as reinstating relationships

Compassion has great healing power and protects us from Core Hurts. However, the more we hurt, the harder it is to feel compassion.

Finally, compassion requires assertiveness – standing up for our rights and feelings. And that’s just huge, because compassion ultimately defuses anger.

Anger | Anger Management | Core Value

Core Value is absolutely everything because it tells us how important, valuable, loving, and lovable we are. Core Value, then, is at the very foundation of our personal security, well being, self-esteem, competence, creativity, and power.

Core Value is the deepest experience of the self. When we’re in touch with Core Value, we can do no wrong. And when the impulse to control or harm arrives, we can bet the farm our Core Value has flattened.

Check-out Stosny’s Statement of Core Value…

I am worthy of respect, value, and compassion, whether or not I get them from others. If I don’t get them from others, it is necessary to feel more worthy, not less. It is necessary to affirm my own deep value as a unique person (child of God). I respect and value myself. I have compassion for my hurt. I have compassion for the hurt of others. I trust myself to act in my best interests and in the best interests of loved ones.

I’m thinkin’ that’s a keeper.

Anger | Anger Management | Core Hurts

Next in our progression is Core Hurts. I’ll list ’em and then we’ll chat…

  • Disregarded
  • Unimportant
  • Accused
  • Guilty
  • Devalued
  • Rejected
  • Powerless
  • Inadequate/Unlovable

When Core Hurts are active a quick drop in self-value takes place. And many of us learned very early in life to protect ourselves from such quick drops by using some form of anger, aggression, or resentment. Any wonder why Core Hurts trigger anger?

NEWSFLASH! The motivation to avoid or numb Core Hurts generates all harmful behavior.

Anger | Anger Management | HEALS

Well, now that we have the pieces in place, let’s put things in relief-motion with HEALS…

  • Healing: Imagine the word “Healing” flashing in front of you. This stops emotional arousal and provides mental imagery to stimulate the body’s healing responses.
  • Explain to yourself the Core Hurt that’s causing the problem.
  • Apply self-compassion. Ask if the external event or someone else’s behavior mean that you’re unimportant, not valuable, or unlovable.
  • Love yourself.
  • Solve the problem. Once you are more calm and relaxed, you’ll have a better ability to solve the problem than when you are psychologically aroused.

HEALS takes us beyond anger management techniques to an automatic regulation of anger and resentment. And that generates power. With repetition, HEALS builds a conditioned response to increase self-value whenever resentment or anger occur. And since HEALS repetition strengthens Core Value, it makes the defensive use of anger and resentment unnecessary.

We’re Done Here

Wow! I know I delivered a ton of info, but I think it’s that important. And, as always, I want you to print the piece so you have it at your fingertips for reference.

In your quest for understanding your anger – anger management – research and consider Dr. Steven Stosny’s work. Well worth your time, I’d say.

You got this!

Lookin’ for more knowledge? Some 600 Chipur titles are worth a look-see.

  • Patricia Miller February 3, 2014, 6:39 pm

    Awesomely powerful information you bring to us today, Bill and I thank you for it. I know the first thing I thought of is that this pertains to anger that goes inward, not just that directed outwardly at others. There is so much potential here to utilize Stozny’s information as you’ve summarized to soothe a variety of inner hurts. The ripples of power here motivate me deeply, and yes so many times that is what your articles do, so thank you for the diligence in the research and the writing.

    • chipur February 3, 2014, 7:24 pm

      Hey, Patricia – you’re way more than welcome. I was very pleased to have come across Stosny’s info. I find it to be a refreshing angle on a troubling – yet very human – dynamic. Cool thing is, it’s not about anger management. It’s about developing a conditioned response that renders the defensive use of anger/resentment unnecessary. That’s groundbreaking. As always, I appreciate your visit and input. Please keep coming back…

  • Leslie Ferris February 4, 2014, 10:12 am

    ‘NEWSFLASH! The motivation to avoid or numb Core Hurts generates all harmful behavior.’ – my favorite phrase from this article. And one that I have found to be so very very true. Thanks for presenting this different perspective. I also love that it isn’t just anger management, but goes deeper than that. Love the tiger photo also. :)

    • chipur February 4, 2014, 1:19 pm

      Thank you, Leslie. And I love your visit and contribution. Absolutely, this is very powerful information. And it’s a call to action for anyone troubled by anger, I mean, it’s a tip on a “manual-based” therapy to say good-bye to troubling anger/resentment. How good is that? Incidentally, for those working with a counselor/therapist – if s/he isn’t familiar with this work, express you’d like to use it and ask if s/he would facilitate…

  • Cathy | Treatment Talk February 4, 2014, 4:49 pm

    Powerful information here about anger, Bill. The idea that anger makes us powerless and sets us up for a fight, makes so much sense and is really a key reason to understand the root of your anger and the hurt behind it. Using HEALS and being able to develop a conditioned response is truly amazing. Thank so much for sharing this information. I think you picked a winner with the tiger as well!

    • chipur February 4, 2014, 5:33 pm

      Isn’t that tiger pic cool? S/he is just beautiful (albeit seemingly perturbed). It’s my opinion HEALS is, in fact, amazing. Thing is though, it really makes very simple sense. Being terribly uncomfortable within will no doubt take us to the cranky side of the fence. I mean, think about it – when we have a nasty headache or bad gut, expressions of anger can come quickly. And so it is with our emotional/mental status. Right? In my mind, Stosny’s approach is solid. Sure beats the heck out of twisting a hand towel. Hey! Appreciate your visit and participation, Cathy…

  • Lisa Frederiksen | BreakingThe February 5, 2014, 2:10 pm

    Powerful information you’ve shared here, Bill. At the time I started on my secondhand drinking recovery work in 2003, I was one trigger-angry person, and I felt I was justified in that anger and had a right to express it because of what “they’d” done to me. Boy was it a shocker to learn just how wrong I was and how learning what you’ve described here (though not in this thoroughly presented manner/process of Dr. Stonsy’s) – especially around Core Hurts – was absolutely critical to my healing / rewiring my brain and thus living the life I live, today. You do such an amazing job of sharing the latest in easy-to-understand / embrace terms – thank you for all you do!

    • chipur February 5, 2014, 5:48 pm

      Your comment makes me smile, Lisa. Always, always my quest to bring my readers the latest and most relevant info – in simple lingo. Dang, what good is it if it’s in psychobabble? I’m glad you shared a portion of your story – you’re always so good about that. Okay, so think about it. Sure, we could deal in anger management strategies/techniques. And though Band-Aid, still some merit. But when we dig-in to our foundation and repair – establishing new and strong conditioned responses (as you say, rewiring the brain) – isn’t the outcome going to be so good and lasting? Imagine no longer having the NEED to be angry, resentful, etc?! Thanks, Lisa, for your continued readership and participation…

  • Beth Wilson February 5, 2014, 7:54 pm

    Okay, so first, Bill, you had me with the tiger pic. My alma mater’s mascot is a tiger and forever a tiger I shall be!

    Second, I really dig your work because you continually give me information AND permission to be my human self. I’m convinced that my addiction path is littered with justified core hurts (or so I thought!) and a whole lot of barely contained rage. You know, when I hit recovery and well-meaning friends and sponsors told me that it was okay to experience anger, after all, anger is “only” an emotion, I found myself confused. And, oh, how I turned that one to my advantage! Today I understand that anger is indeed “the dubious luxury” of other people. Bottom line: I do not like myself when I’m angry.

    I much prefer working with a core value statement. Stosny’s words resonate with me, “I am worthy of respect, value, and compassion, whether or not I get them from others. If I don’t get them from others, it is necessary to feel more worthy, not less.”

    Thanks, Bill, for helping me feel pretty good tonight!

    • chipur February 6, 2014, 9:22 am

      How ’bout that tiger pic?! Soon as I saw it I knew i had to use it for this piece. Let’s see, alma mater – LSU, Clemson, Missouri?

      Your “digging” my work means a lot, Beth. Information opens the door – and all of us certainly have permission to be our human selves. And it’s up to us to move forward in kind. Like you, I find Stosny’s Core Value Statement personally relevant and powerful. And it’s on to working with our Core Hurts – and compassion – to place everything in order and embrace ourselves and life.

      Glad I could assist in your feeling good. I’m thinking you deserve it…


  • Dr. Herby Bell February 8, 2014, 12:48 pm

    Gotta riff on the Tiger too, Bill. You “got ME” in such a great way at the Tiger…and while looking into her stunning eyes, I realized she is just so perfect for what followed. Her unadulterated, healthy response to her environment…her core values up front and center. A dignified, lovable lady indeed. A stretch, I know…but there is nothing more dignified than observing human beings expressing anger in the healthy way you and Dr. Stosny describe. This post will help me get back to the building block basics for my own mindful, anger management practice and I thank you for this gift. Now, back to looking at that magnificent Tiger to help me anchor these ideas.

    • chipur February 8, 2014, 1:45 pm

      Yeah, that tiger. After reading your comment I scrolled back up and stared for a while. A beautiful animal, for sure. I’m struck by her color, eyes, teeth, symmetry, and so much more. Curious – the piece is on anger and even with her expression of such (at least I think it is), all that comes to mind is beauty. Hmmm, maybe it was intended. Always glad to see you’ve stopped by, Herby. Please continue to do so. Thank you…