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How to Use Tolerance as an Anger Management Technique

Anger is the emotion of intolerance that can be managed through practicing tolerance. Intolerance means you don’t accept another person’s viewpoint or behavior. Anger says that you think you’re right and the other person is wrong. It can’t be any simpler than that.

Anger defends the listener against any change in his way of thinking. Instead of accepting the challenge of an honest difference of opinion, the intolerant person resorts to intimidation, insult, or withdrawal — all fueled by anger — as a way of rigidly holding on to his beliefs.

The more intolerant a person, the more intense his anger.

The next time you find yourself getting angry about something another person says or does, do the following:

  • Remind yourself that if you’re secure in your way of thinking, you have absolutely nothing to defend. Just because someone else thinks differently from the way you think, doesn’t mean you’re wrong or that you necessarily have to justify your own beliefs and actions.

  • Instead of being defensive (that’s what intolerance is all about!), go on the offense. Say to the other person, “Tell me more about that. I’d like to understand how you arrived at that opinion. This is your chance to educate me.”

  • Don’t personalize the conversation. Focus on issues not personalities. Direct your commentary to the matter in dispute (for example, “I disagree that parents should give birth-control pills to their teenage daughters”) rather than the person on the other end of the debate (“You’re stupid for thinking that way!”).

  • Look for points of agreement. Parents, for example, who are in a discussion about whether to furnish birth-control pills to their daughters can begin by agreeing (out loud) that they are, of course, both concerned about the ultimate safety and well being of their kids.

  • Avoid the use of expletives. Swearing and cursing only demeans the other person and stifles any productive exchange of ideas. You’re better off saying, “I really don’t know what to say when you act like that” than saying, “You’re an ass, and you know it!”

  • By all means, avoid contempt. Contempt — sighing, rolling your eyes — not only conveys a sense of intolerance, it tells the other party you think he (and his ideas) are utterly worthless. It’s just a way of saying, “I’m better than you!”

How to seek diversity to help with anger management

The good news is that there is no gene for intolerance. It’s an attitude that people pick up through life experience. If you grow up in a family that tolerates differing points of view, you tend to be like that yourself. The same is true if you’re raised in an intolerant family.

One antidote to intolerance is diversity. Intolerance is one way of trying to simplify what is an ever-changing, complex world. Diversity helps you expand your horizons and see that the “sea of ideas, beliefs, and behavior” is vast and endless. Truth typically is somewhere between what “I” think and what “you” believe.

Diversity is easier to achieve that you may imagine. Here are some tips on how to become a more worldly — and thus more tolerant — person:

  • Read about religions different from your own. Most bookstores are filled with all kinds of religion titles.

  • Buy newspapers from places other than where you live. If you’re from a small town in the Midwest, subscribe to the New York Times. If you live in New York City, have your aunt in upstate New York send you her hometown paper.

  • Every other time you go into a restaurant, try something new. This forces you out of your comfort zone.

  • Be adventurous throughout life.

  • When you go to a party, look for the person you don’t already know and start up a conversation. If you only talk to the people you know, you’re less likely to discover something new.

  • Travel as extensively as your pocketbook allows. And try to go to different regions of the country (or the world). When you’re there, spend some time talking to the locals.

  • Make a point of socializing with people from racial and ethnic backgrounds other than your own.

  • Read all editorials in the newspaper every day — not just those you agree with.

  • Visit museums and art galleries.

  • Hang around with people of different ages. You’ll be amazed at how differently folks much younger and older than you are think.

  • Attend free lectures by local and out-of-town authorities on various subjects. Most communities offer lecture series or similar cultural experiences. If you live in a very small town, look to a bigger town nearby and make a point of traveling there to take advantage of these things.

  • Keep your eyes open and your mouth shut. Learn now, debate later.

How to avoid the media for anger management

A free press comes with a price. These days, especially with the advent of cable news, the media has transformed itself into a polarizing point-counterpoint expression of extreme viewpoints on virtually any topic. Exchanges between “experts” are purposefully intense, loud, argumentative, and at times angry.

Instead of expanding your intellect, the media foments uncivil discourse and a climate of intolerance. If you weren’t angry before you started watching cable news, you will be shortly.

Although televised media is without doubt more stimulating and entertaining, it also arouses more passion. If you’re just interested in knowing what’s happening in the world around you — without all the angry rhetoric — you’re much better off turning to print media or local radio and television.

Rarely does the media offer you “good news” — it’s slanted toward the negative. If you already have a pessimistic, cynical outlook or you’re in a bad mood, the last thing you need is more negativity — which is just one more thing that predisposes you to anger.

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