Channel: Haleh Banani
Ever try using humor to diffuse anger? Learn useful tips on how to control your anger. Try it — it may save your life and your marriage.
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Assalamu alaikum. Last time I spoke to you about anger, and how if it's not channeled properly, it can be very destructive to yourself and to the people around you, I talk to you about the following the example of the Prophet sallallahu, Alayhi Salaam, and how he always controlled his anger in the most difficult situations, and also some relaxation techniques in basically taking deep breaths, saying calming words and also doing the progressive muscle relaxation. This time, I'm going to continue with the topic of how to manage your anger. Now, I will tell you about cognitive restructuring, which means basically changing the way you think. And the way you change the way you
think, is by changing your self talk, we're always having an internal dialogue with ourselves. And so we need to become aware of this dialogue. And as we change it, then that will affect our behavior in the way we feel. I am a cognitive behavioral therapist, I have been one for the past 15 years. And basically what I work on is whoever comes in as a client, whether they are depressed, whether they have marital problems, they have anxiety, or they have self esteem issues, whatever it is, it all boils down to the fact that they want to change their behavior. That's the bottom line, changing the behavior. And what I do is in order to change their behavior, I have to first work on their
cognition, their way of thinking, because it's all about digging in and finding out the root of the issue. And the root of the issue is usually the way a person thinks about issues. If someone has, for instance, a internal bleeding, you can now put a bandaid on it, because it's not going to do anything. So a lot of times people try to change their behavior without digging within and finding out what is it that's causing them to act the way that they are. So for instance, many times people who diet they're dieting, and they can't be consistent in it, because they haven't dug deep down inside to see what is their relationship with food. What is this, and until they understand that
they won't ever be able to be consistent with it. Now the same thing goes with managing our anger, we have to look within reflect and see what are these things that causes us to be angry. And once we figure that out, we can pinpoint it change the way we think about things change the way we have a self dialogue. And therefore we can have a change behavior. Many times people do not like to reflect they like to have the music on or the TV on their texting, they have a lot of things going on. But what we need to do is turn all these things off, and just have some time to reflect to look within and see what is causing us to act the way that we do. So if you have an issue with anger, if there
is there are times that you just lose it and you're reacting, overreacting, you need to get to the bottom of this and see what is it that is that is the trigger point what is causing you this anger. And once you figure that out, then you need to start working on the way you perceive it.
And once you know those trigger points, you can better prepare yourself. So for instance, someone may may be very irritable when someone is disrespecting them or someone raises their voice. Or if a person is ignoring that. And if you know that you're about to be in a situation where you're going to face these issues, you can mentally prepare yourself so that you don't have the angry reaction. So that's what I mean about knowing what the trigger point is, and preparing yourself to react but react in a in a more dignified way. Try your best not to not to curse and use exaggerated language because the language that we use really affects our emotional state. If someone says that, you know,
everything is ruined, and oh, my God, I'm devastated. These things have a tremendous impact on our emotions versus saying I'm a little setback or I've run into some some challenges, and I need to overcome that. And even calling a problem instead of calling it a problem. Call it a challenge because when you when you think of something as a problem, it suddenly becomes magnanimous in your mind. So trying to use
Words that will have a positive impact on you and make you have a more stable emotional, emotional experience. It's very important not to use the words never. And always, when you tell yourself sometimes when people mess up, they will say things that, oh, I always mess up, or I can never do anything, right. And this is really inaccurate. It's an accurate assessment of yourself, because there are many times that you do things right, or there are many things that you do without making a mistake, and you're not giving yourself enough credit. And there may be times that people are very, very harsh on themselves. So they just get down and they start beating themselves up. And this has
no positive results. So the best thing to do is to speak in a way that will be constructive. As a mother of three, I have an 11 year old and eight year old and a six year old, I understand very well, what getting angry is all about they are wonderful and precious, and I adore them. And it's very natural that they will there will be times that they will push my buttons. And it can it's very easy to get angry in these situations when if they're not getting ready in time and if they're running late for school are not being as attentive in doing their work. And so I understand the challenges that moms feel. And what we have to do is really learn how to control our emotions,
especially our anger as the mother, because what happens is that when mothers are lashing out at their children that each time they things are not met, their expectations are not met, and they're feeling disappointed or frustrated or angry, they lash out at their kids by either hitting them or cursing or saying really terrible things to them, this is going to have a very negative impact on the children, it's going to affect their self esteem, it's going to affect the way they view you or feel towards you. And it will also affect the way that they deal with people in life. Because ultimately, as a mother or as a father, we have to model the appropriate behavior. modeling is all
about doing the right thing. So as a parent, you need to show what is the right way to react to a situation if you get angry. What would you How would you like your kids to react when they're angry. Many times, I have mothers who complain about their children who just go and they're hitting everyone in the in the playground, and they're getting in trouble at school, and they're cursing, and they're doing all these terrible things. And when I asked them about their punishment techniques, they very well tell me that they, you know, they hit them on a regular basis on a daily basis, they're getting, they're getting spanked. And so this is teaching the kids that when you're
angry lash out, okay, so if you don't want them to behave this way, then model the correct behavior. When you're angry, you can sit down, calmly talk to them, and discuss and try to find a solution. And then they will start doing the same thing because children are really our mirror, they do whatever they see. And so as this generation as our generation is growing up, they need to have examples in their families at school in in the community to show them how do we do? How do we handle our hand anger? when something doesn't go our way? What is our reaction are we supposed to just get angry and furious and let someone have it. And this, if the child doesn't learn this, they will grow
up, become an adult, and learn that whatever is in your heart or whatever angry Have you just lash out, and devastating things happen when a person has been brought up this way. So I encourage all the parents out there to really look within and try to control this really explosive emotion, because not only does it affect the children, their self esteem and I can say something about self esteem is like the way a person feels about themselves. And this is one having low self esteem can lead to so many different problems. It could lead children in going into drugs and alcohol it can make them have if they have so much low self esteem, they will follow anything that their friends
say just to be accepted. Now on the other hand, if someone is has a lot of self confidence and they have high self esteem, then they won't be the ones being affected. They will be influencing other people. So we need to look and see what do we want our kids to how do we want them to turn out if we want them to be confident
individuals who are not going to succumb to all their desires, then it's important for us as parents to build their self esteem. So another issue with having low self esteem is that people will feel so bad about themselves that they won't reach their full potential. Many times when people come in for therapy, the the bottom line, or the reason that they are in therapy is because of a self esteem issue. And this is prevalent, and it's so common, and I think it's more common amongst women than it is in men. And I think that it's really the job of the parents and the educators to really build our children, build them and make them feel strong, make them feel confident. So if every time we as
parents and educators get angry, and we just humiliate the kids by saying horrible things, and sometimes you hear parents say horrible things, calling them donkeys and calling them, like you, you stupid idiot, and he's saying things like this, and this kind of words will impact the child and they will internalize it. Okay, so each time if a parent or guardian or someone is doing this, then it's going to really,
it's really going to damage the the child's self esteem, well, we need to focus on is not what just feels good. Because many times when we are angry, it may feel good to lash out, it may feel good to yell or whack someone, but it's not about what feels good. But what is right, what is the right thing to do and what will get resolved. And if you notice those individuals who just lose it, who get angry, and yell and scream, they don't get the results that they want. A lot of times people are tuning them out. A lot of times, if parents are doing this, the kids are just, you know, tuning them out completely, and you're not getting the desired results that you want. So basically, I think it's
very important to ask yourself, right at the stage, when you're, you know, when you're angry, ask yourself, what is the result? What do I want, and many times is about, I want this person to respect me, I want this person to listen to me. And by yelling and screaming, you're not earning the respect. And they're not going to want to listen because you sound horrible. So basically, we have to look and see what is the desired behavior, we want, let's say, to get maybe our way or we want someone to listen or show respect. So we need to act in a way that will get our desired outcome. And I think that's the missing link. A lot of times when people go into angry mode, they're not thinking
about the desired effect, they just want their way and I and again, I say it's kind of like a child having a tantrum, a two year old who falls to the ground kicking and screaming until the parent listens to them. Well, it doesn't work with a child, and it's not going to work with within adults. So we need to, again, be a very responsible, mature adults, and learn how to deal with our emotions. So if you are feeling angry, just accept that and learn how to defuse it and also how to use it defuse and use so that you can get the desired results that you want. Another thing I'd like to add is that many times when you get angry at a person, it's not about that person, it's about you, and
how they're making you feel. And it's something many times about your past. So you have to look within also and see what is it and I think when you realize this, when you know that this person is getting me angry, and it probably has to do with some way, like maybe a way you were treated as as a child, maybe a specific experience that you had. This way, it takes off the heat from the person you are less angry at the person and realize that this is just something that is coming up. And it's causing you to be more angry because what it reminds you of now in summary, when we want to change the way we think we have to become aware of our self talk, we need to dig in and see what is at the
root, the root of our feeling. So this angry feeling that you have what is at the root is it because you're being disrespected? Is it because something from your childhood, learn that and learn what your trigger points are? What is it specifically that causes you to get angry and when you know your trigger points, then you can plan, anticipate and handle it much better. And also, it's important to be rational, be rational in the way you think about the situation. Be a good role model for the children and also ask yourself what would get the desired results. Ask yourself How would you read how do you need to react in order for people
To listen to you, and to be more receptive, now, we will go to a break. And when we come back, I will discuss with you better communication, how to use humor to defuse anger and problem solving techniques.
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Welcome back, I just finished talking about how to change the way you think in dealing with anger. And now I'm going to discuss with you better communication, because many times communication is the chunk of the problem like in marriages at the workplace with your children, I think it's very important to learn how to communicate effectively, one of the first things to keep in mind is to make eye statements, I statements means that you make a statement starting with yourself I that I feel angry, when, when you do not return my call, or I feel sad and neglected, when you don't spend time with me, you make statements starting with yourself, because when you make use statements, you
is an attack. So if someone comes up to you, and they throw a punch, the natural thing that you will do is to defend yourself, right. So you need to stop throwing punches, you need to stop attacking the person, because if you start telling the person, you never do this, and you never do that, they will feel attacked, and they will definitely be defensive. So when you're making these if statements sharing your feelings, they will be much more receptive. And it's talking about you rather than attacking them. And be very careful about using the words always. And never This is like a rule of communication not to do this, because many times when husband and wives are discussing or arguing,
and if someone uses the never word, okay, that is like you never take me anywhere, okay? And the husband may think back and say, Oh, well, 10 years ago, I took you somewhere, are you never by me any president is like, Whoa, I remember, you know, in 1995, I did get you that one thing. And even if it was one thing that this person did,
then they will just not see you as a credible person. Or if you say you always do so and so it's not an effective way because you lose credibility because it's not accurate. Another thing that's very important in communicating is that you remain calm and lower your voice because when someone starts yelling, then people immediately tune out. Okay? I mean, this is just a natural defense mechanism. No one wants to listen to that. So if you want to be heard, I mean, ask yourself, do you want to be heard? Do you want the person to get the message that you're trying to get across, then lower your voice, and be able to talk in a manner that is respectful because with most people, they regard
raising the voice as being very, very disrespectful. And so as soon as a person starts doing that, the other person is just shut off. So I think if you have like, let's say, rules of communication with your spouse, or with your children, that you say this is absolutely unacceptable that we always communicate with each other with respect, even in couples therapy. When I'm when I'm working with couples, I set up rules of communication within the therapy, so to learn what is the best way to communicate, and that is one of the rules that I set up in the therapy session that not to raise, not for them to raise their voices, because this is really something that just angers the other
person. And it is very, very disrespectful. Yelling is a big turnoff for men and women because men love to be respected. And if they're yelled at, they feel totally disrespected. And woman loves to be loved and nurtured. And so when they're being yelled at, they definitely don't feel loved and nurtured. So it's really a big turnoff for both males and females. I think it's really important to listen very carefully to what the person is saying. And seek to understand first before being understood, okay, I'm going to repeat this because it's a very, very critical point. seek to understand first, then be understood. Most people are just apt to be understood. Listen to what I
have to say, this is my point get me and it's just all about me, me, me and my point and my way and this is not effective. Okay? So if you seek to understand, you listen and say you know what, I want to try
Try to understand where you're coming from, I want to try to see your perspective. And you try to do that, you will see that it will change the dynamics of your relationship. And it's very critical to listen to the other person. And listening is really an art that most people don't have. Most people don't have listening skills. And you will see it actually, there's a joke about it, where a person tells someone, you know, hi, how are you doing? And the person said, I'm dying of cancer, and they're like, Oh, great, see you later. They're like, not even listening to the content of what the person is saying. So I think it's very critical that when you are communicating, really focus on
what the other person is saying. What happens usually is when people are in this argumentative state, what they do is that they're just preparing when the other person is talking. They're just preparing what they're going to say is like, yeah, yeah, I'm going to tell this point, I'm going to say that point, I'm going to get them here, and I'm going to get them there. And this is really an effective, what you need it because you're not hearing them, and they're not hearing you. So so what happens is this, like you, they just missed the boat completely. But when you start listening, and that's when your messages will be heard, as I was saying that listening is an art. And I remember
taking a course, in graduate school that was all about getting therapeutic skills. And one of the skills that we were taught was how to listen, because most people are not taught. And so what you need to do is basically listen to the other person and reiterate, and that was like the training that I got as a therapist is to listen to a client, taken what they say, and rephrase it just to make sure that I understood correctly, because many times the problems occur, there's like a miscommunication, right? I say something, you understand something differently, and it causes a big fight. So we need to make sure that we're on the same page. And so when you reiterate, like repeat
what the other person is saying, then this is the time where you can check and see if the, if you understood them correctly, and it's a chance for the other person to correct you. So what happens many times you say something, and even you see that the word choice, that they will correct the word choice, because you might say, oh, it sounds like or I hear you saying that you're a little bit upset. And they may say no, I'm not a little upset. I'm furious about this. So it clarifies to you where their emotional state is. And so I want you to get into the habit of repeating what your spouse or what your friend or co worker or whoever it is, repeat what they're saying. And this is a
good opportunity, like I said, to check your assumptions, checking your assumptions, meaning that you may assume something about a person, but you may be totally off. So you repeat it and make sure that you understood what what has just been said. It's also very critical to to slow down when you're when you're in an angry state, don't just say the first thing that pops into your head. Take your time, Think it through and evaluate because many times once you say something is out there, and you can't take it back. So be very careful. And choose your words wisely when you are in that state because we could say a lot of hurtful things when when we are angry. Also, if you are being
criticized, try your best not to be defensive, look at it as a way of improving yourself. So if someone is telling you, you know, you have a tendency to, to be too arrogant, or you have a tendency to be rude or you have whatever it is that they're criticizing, instead of completely dismissing it and thinking oh, there's no truth to it. They don't know what they're talking about, maybe look within reflect and look at it as an opportunity to improve yourself. Another tool in handling your anger is problem solving. If you have effective problem solving skills, then you will be able to manage your anger much better. It's really important to set up family meetings, okay, or corporate
meetings, whatever your situation or your environment is is critical to meet on a regular basis and discuss a plan. You need to have a plan because many corporations have their business plan. Can you imagine a corporation like a multibillion dollar corporation not having a plan or not having goals? It would be absurd, and yet our family which is the building block of society. Many times our families don't have a plan. So we need to sit together on a regular basis and set up a plan.
For our family, and have, for instance, specifics on what to do when these plans are not met, when you know, for instance, one of the rules in our house is, if you don't do your homework, you don't get the TV, all right, and a TV and PlayStation is off limits throughout the week. But on the weekend, if they haven't done their homework, then they don't get to have those privileges. And I think once that's in place, then there's no need to get angry when your expectations are not met, you just simply remove the reinforcer, you just simply take away the privileges. But what happens a lot of times is that the parent doesn't have a plan, the child is not listening, or the and then
there's no set plan. And then that's where the anxiety and anger sets up. It's very critical to have good timing, when you want to address a problem and you want to resolve it, you need to gauge the other person, where are they at emotionally, if they are excessively tired, if they've had a really bad day, if they have a headache, if many things are happening in their life, they're not going to be open and receptive to what you're saying. So basically, if you want to be heard, if you want the other person to be receptive to you, then choose the right time I've had individuals tell me that their spouse may approach them 1am in the morning and say, let's talk about a 10 year plan for the
kids. And that that may not be the ideal time for the Stasi, they may not be as they end up, they may not be as in tune, or if their friends and family and around, it would not be an ideal time to discuss problems. So it's very important to see when is the best time for the other person so that they will be more receptive. Also, you could try changing your environment. If you are in, let's say in a dispute, and it's getting heated, you could take just five minutes, maybe step outside, maybe take a break, have a little me time and express to them that this is what you're doing. So you know, I'm I'm getting a little bit anger here. And I don't want to say anything that I regret. So just
allow me five minutes to gather myself. And then we can continue if you do that you just kind of break the cycle and you you prevent things from escalating. Also, you could find alternatives, find alternatives. So for instance, if traffic is the thing that gets you really stressed out, and you get really angry. So try to find another route, or try to plan your day in a way where you're not stuck in traffic. And one of the things that I used to do when I was commuting, I used to have a three hour commute in graduate school was listening to very useful like Islamic tapes, I would listen to them or a CDs and that way your time is being beneficial even though you are on the road
and may be stressful, but at least you're making it a beneficial time. So you're you're less likely to get angry. Another useful skill in managing your anger is using humor. And this is something that not many people use humor, being able to laugh at yourself, laugh at the circumstances, it's really, really important and it can defuse the anger. When you use humor correctly, it can really lower the intensity and detention. Now they have done studies and they've seen that laughing lowers blood pressure reduces stress hormones, boosts the immune system, and an even releases endorphins. So that feel good hormone, the endorphins are being released. So if you try to laugh a little bit more and
take like a little less seriously, and take yourself a little less seriously, there would be a lot less tension. There's a psychologist named john Gottman, who has the seven principles of seven principles for making marriage work. And he discusses how humor is so critical that he could look at a couple and the way that they start an argument he could tell within like three minutes, whether they're going to stay together or get divorced. And it has a lot to do with how they use humor those individuals who are able to defuse their spouses anger, you find that they tend to stay together and not not have the anger escalate to cautions and using humor first, don't laugh off your problems.
Okay? Don't just take it lightly and not care because issues that come up are important and you don't want to just ignore them. So use it to help your problems constructively. Okay, so you're not just laughing it off.
But you're using it as an effective way of dealing with it. And second, don't give in too harsh, sarcastic humor. Don't be sarcastic in the way you use humor. And because that's a very unhealthy way of expressing your anger. If we use the tools that I have mentioned as far as relaxation techniques using the Prophet salallahu alaihe salam as an example, being able to reconstruct our way of thinking and also the problem solving techniques, and using humor, when you're angry, then you will be much better prepared and less likely to succumb to your anger you'll just be much more in control. So I hope you'll join me next time. Assalamu alaikum
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