Three parts to break the habit

People ask me: How do you help people who lose their temper?

Here’s how I answer the question. There are three main parts:

> Treat it like a habit that can be broken, similar to smoking cigarettes. Like a habit, most people lose their temper during certain times of the day or certain days of the week. And when you get angry and upset, chemicals like adrenaline and cortisol run through your body. Your body gets used to the habit.

Your family gets used to the anger habit too. So it’s helpful to talk to your family while you’re breaking the habit. Sometimes after you give up the habit, someone else picks it up, like a child or a husband will start to lose their temper. So the family continues to work on breaking the habit as a whole as they find new ways to interact.

> Practice emotional intelligence. Emotional intelligence is awareness about your own feelings and how to handle your feelings in a healthy way. This blog post gives you the first steps in teaching emotional intelligence to your children (and it will help you too). Emotional intelligence is a life-long skill that will benefit you and your kids. And once you have it, you’ll be able to handle anger in a healthy way.

> Work with professionals who don’t (or very rarely) lose their temper. When you’re from a family where folks lose their temper, you’re often connected with people who have a difficult time dealing with stress in healthy ways. It’s kind of like being in a bubble. To break out of the bubble, it’s good to work with people who aren’t in the bubble. So when you consider hiring a professional, it’s something to talk about (some professionals are still in the stressed-out bubble).

You can work with me. Also, I have a list of counselors you can call who are familiar with my program, and they want to work with you too. Through this process, it’s likely that you’ll work with several people who have different specialties that address your specific needs.

Professionals who you may find helpful are coaches, counselors, physical therapists, massage therapists, neurofeedback specialists, doctors, and spiritual directors (like a pastor or priest). Some counselors have special training in something called biofeedback which can be helpful too (like EMDR or EFT). Physical therapy and biofeedback are part of the puzzle because they can help the body relieve stress.

I have to admit, I was stubborn about getting help. I thought if I read enough books or websites, that would do it. And I was raised in a family that didn’t get that kind of help. But the key piece that finally changed my life was working with people outside my bubble.

On the other hand, if you’re the spouse of someone who loses their temper, have hope. They don’t have to get help. If you get help, it can make a difference.

There are other pieces too, like fear. Once a mom asked me, “But what will my relationship with my husband look like if I stop screaming at him?” She was right. Unknown territory is scary.

But I can tell you from the other side of the bridge, life is good over here. And there are people who want to help you cross the bridge when you’re ready.

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