24 Nov. 2022

About anger – how to stop?

When experiencing intense anger and frustration, our mind is in a highly “emotional” state. In an emotional mind, it’s challenging to notice facts, look at the situation with distance, and consider a different perspective. Instead, it becomes easy to act impulsively, in an aggressive or self-aggressive manner. After such behavior, feelings of guilt may arise, and we may experience painful consequences.

Today, let’s explore the skill of “STOP” and the internal and external blocks.

The “STOP” skill is used in dialectical behavior therapy. It requires simultaneously developing another fundamental emotion regulation skill, which is mindfulness. Mindfulness involves paying attention to the increasing tension, emerging “angry” thoughts, and the facts – the circumstances of the situation. Reflecting on our experiences can be useful – often, situations that disturb our peace repeat, and we can prepare for them.

The STOP skill – instructions:

1. Stop – do not react!

2. Step back, take a breath, gain some distance.

3. Observe – pay attention to what is happening around you. What is the situation? What are your thoughts and feelings? What are other people doing or saying?

4. Proceed mindfully – act with awareness. Consider your goals.

5. What actions will improve or worsen the situation? In decision-making, consider your thoughts and the thoughts and feelings of others.

Stopping allows some tension to dissipate and provides space to make a safe decision, choosing behavior other than what we feel like doing.


“Internal” blocks are a set of beliefs in the form of principles that can prevent us from impulsive behavior. Sometimes, these are societal principles of law, moral and religious principles. Some beliefs about behavior are acquired during upbringing and as a result of various (not always pleasant) experiences. For example, the belief “one should not harm people” can restrain us in strong anger, but the belief “yielding shows weakness” not necessarily.

It’s worth examining the beliefs accompanying us during behavior we consider problematic. These beliefs may be inconsistent with our values. If we have experienced violence, beliefs like “I must always defend myself,” “I cannot show weakness,” “aggression allows me to set boundaries,” etc., may accompany us. Simultaneously, our value may be “being kind to others” or “being a person who ensures safety for others.”

To change our behavior, we can establish our new principles, which will be our “internal” blocks. It’s essential to start by recognizing our thoughts and beliefs in situations where we experience anger. Then we can ask ourselves a few questions: “Is this principle consistent with my values?” “Is this the person I want to be?” “Does this principle allow me to pursue my long-term goals (e.g., having good relationships with people)?” “What if everyone behaved this way?”

“External” blocks are “practical” blocks that remind us of the consequences of our behavior. Here, we should consider what consequences of our behavior we may encounter and whether we want to avoid them. These consequences may include conflicts with close individuals, deterioration of relationships in an important group, legal issues, compromising health and life, etc.

It’s essential to remember that acquiring new skills takes time. Let’s not demand “perfect” behavior from ourselves and not assume that nothing will ever upset our balance.

Reading: W. Davies, “Overcoming Anger and Irritability”; M. Linehan, “Dialectical Behavior Therapy. DBT. Skills Training”

#CBT #DBT #złość #terapiakrakow #psychologia #terapia #psychoterapia #krakow #psychologia #emocje #emotions #therapy #psychology #psicologia #psicoterapia #emociones

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