Sunday, May 23, 2010

Attachment, Expectations and Anger Management--Part I

Attachment, Expectations and Anger Management--Part I

We believe that the universe, be it personal or impersonal,
micro-or-macrocosmic, is either purposeful or random. Things
“happen” for some reason or no reason, whether it is to me in my
little world, or to others “out there.” These
“orientations” are the result of our individual and collective
expectations—-things we have come to believe based upon our
experiences, starting from birth. But when it comes to
managing anger, it does not matter so much what you believe or
if you believe anything akin to the above; rather, it matters
that you are aware of your expectations and how attached you are
to your beliefs. Attachment is the factor that most influences
whether you will be angry or not when expectations are not met.
It is also the factor that most influences emotional control.
What is attachment? The quick definition has to do with
how invested you are in having things go your way. This is not
a clinical or academic definition. (That has to do with bonding
and forming stable, dependable relationships with others.)
My more functional but relevant-to-anger-formulaic definition
does have some connection to the more academic version because it
involves your ideas, their predictability (“constancy” in your
physical and psychological universe) and your frustration if they
do not manifest as expected. However, my definition is not so
much about the big relationship picture as about your ideas
vis-a-vis any psychological phenomena, which includes personal
relationships, but also can be about smaller psychological events.
The glue that binds your ideas and the things that go on in your
world is your expectations. However, expectations are amplified
in direct proportion to your attachment to your ideas of what is
Go back to the discussion in my previous article about expecting
some money if you return to my office next week. All of the scenarios
(expecting one, three, five or no dollars) are capable
of raising your ire, even if you get some money in each, depending
upon whether you are really stuck (attached) to one set of
expectations over another. However, none of these has to create
frustration. What sets you up to have any emotional reaction is
your expectations. What amplifies your reaction is your attachment.
So, if I promised you three dollars, you would expect three dollars.
If you did not get three dollars next week, you would be disappointed,
maybe, but you would not be so mad if also in your mind was the idea
of not being attached to your expectations. You might say, “Great,
I’m going to get three dollars. But, Dr. Griggs is a sneaky guy and
probably is just testing me… so I won’t count on getting three
dollars.” If, upon your subsequent visit, I fail to give you three
dollars, you would not be angry, even though your expectations might
have been operating anyway (hoping to get some money despite the set
up…). In this case, because even though your expectations were not
met, your non-attachment was operating, so there was no emotional
rebellion. Specifically, you had competing ideas of non-attachment,
which had a strong moderating effect on expectations and subsequent
-Dr. Griggs

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Anger Management, Anger Management Classes, Anger Management courses, Anger management training, Anger Management books, Anger management Strategies, Anger Management skills therapy

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