Problems That Arise When You Try To Control Anger In Other People

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Anger ManagementAll you need to do here is imagine that you are a puppeteer.

Exercise: The Human Puppeteer

  • Take a minute to think of the characters involved in a recent anger episode where you were trying to get others to do as you wanted.
  • Then, go to your imaginary puppet box and pull out the marionettes, one for each character in the show.
  • From your perch high above the stage, you begin to play out the anger scene below you.
  • Try to play it out as you would have wanted it to go. As you do, notice how easy it is to get all the characters to do as you wish.
  • You can make them bend over, gesture, and do whatever you want them to do. If you think “That person is making a stupid request,” you can simply replace what that person says with whatever you wish them to say in that moment.
  • You can get them to think and say what you’d like to hear, and to show emotions that you think are appropriate in the situation. You and only you have control over the puppets.
  • Now, let’s mix this up a little. In the sequel, real people dressed to look like marionettes are the characters in this show. As before, you are high above the stage in your perch.
  • The actors are still connected to the strings. But as you try to replay the scene, you notice that the characters are not doing what you are trying to will them to do. You want them to go left, but they go right.
  • You say “They shouldn’t be doing that,” and you pull the strings, but now you feel them pulling back, resisting you.
  • You try to force them to think and say this or that but hear them saying something else.
  • You become frustrated because you really don’t know what they’re thinking and feeling and you have no way to get them to do what you wish.
  • You feel anger building as the human puppets.

The real-life marionettes in this sequel are playing out the scene just as they should, because they are human beings. Unlike the puppets, they control their choices and actions, what they say and do on this stage.

You, meanwhile, are powerless over them. But you are not powerless over how you respond to them. You have control over what you do here.

You can either fight the characters or engage in a struggle, or you can let go of the strings and simply allow the characters to do as they would do, think as they would think, feel as they would feel, without trying to change how they play out their roles.

You can simply watch, trusting that the characters know what is best for them, that they may choose to do this or that, and that in the end, they – and not you – are holding their own strings. You hold your strings.

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