The Compassionate-Mind Guide to Managing Your Anger: Using Compassion-Focused Therapy to Calm Your Rage and Heal Your Relationships

Overview

We will all experience anger sometimes—it’s how we deal with it that counts. Anger is one of the most challenging emotions for humans to cope with, and under its influence, we can end up behaving in ways that create great difficulties in our relationships and our lives. The Compassionate-Mind Guide to Managing Your Anger will show you how to take responsibility for your anger and your life by cultivating a new strength: the power of compassion. Based in compassion-focused therapy, these skills and techniques will...

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The Compassionate-Mind Guide to Managing Your Anger: Using Compassion-Focused Therapy to Calm Your Rage and Heal Your Relationships

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Overview

We will all experience anger sometimes—it’s how we deal with it that counts. Anger is one of the most challenging emotions for humans to cope with, and under its influence, we can end up behaving in ways that create great difficulties in our relationships and our lives. The Compassionate-Mind Guide to Managing Your Anger will show you how to take responsibility for your anger and your life by cultivating a new strength: the power of compassion. Based in compassion-focused therapy, these skills and techniques will help you replace angry habits, gain control of your emotions, and improve your relationships.

The compassionate tools in this book will help you:
• Shift from threat-driven thinking to compassionate thinking
• Replace angry reactions with assertive responses
• Improve your relationships with friends, coworkers, and your significant other
• Cultivate compassion for yourself as you learn and grow

“This innovative book teaches how to develop self-compassion so that anger can be transformed into a more peaceful state of mind.”
—Kristin Neff, PhD, author of Self-Compassion

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher

“With clear insights and easy-to-follow exercises, this innovative book teaches how to develop self-compassion so that anger can be transformed into a more peaceful state of mind.”
—Kristin Neff, PhD, author of Self-Compassion and associate professor of human development and culture at the University of Texas at Austin

“In The Compassionate-Mind Guide to Managing Your Anger, Russell Kolts provides us with a novel approach to managing anger: compassionate mind training. Pointing out that we may not have a choice about how our brains react to provocation, Kolts skillfully shows that we do have a choice of how we respond. By calling upon our ability to experience compassion and empathy for others, he provides a number of helpful techniques that can turn anger around.”
—Robert L. Leahy, PhD, director of the American Institute for Cognitive Therapy and clinical professor of psychology at Weill-Cornell University Medical College

“This intriguing book will bring a sigh of relief to anyone struggling with anger. It’s not your fault that you experience anger, yet there is a lot you can do about it. Why do we get angry? What happens within us when we’re angry? Why is it so sticky? Russell Kolts gently escorts the reader to a deep, comprehensive understanding of anger and offers revolutionary new strategies for taming this common affliction. There is much here to inspire and illuminate both professional and non-professional audiences.”
—Christopher K. Germer, PhD, clinical instructor at Harvard Medical School and author of The Mindful Path to Self-Compassion

“With his compassion-focused approach to anger management, Russell Kolts has produced an important book that will be of interest both to the general public and to mental health practitioners. Kolts shows us how to use compassion as a motivating force to care for others, improve ourselves, and make relationships better. The chapters are filled with very useful thought questions and exercises that quickly increase self-awareness. Kolts writes in an appealing manner that makes the book an easy read.”
—Howard Kassinove, PhD, ABPP, professor of psychology and director of the Institute for the Study and Treatment of Anger and Aggression at Hofstra University

“In this wonderful, kind, and compassionate book, Kolts reaches out with true heartfulness to those who struggle with problematic levels of anger. In a strikingly nonjudgmental, wise, and warm tone, he offers a path of loving-kindness and self-forgiveness that can directly lead you to a far better relationship with anger. This can open up remarkable new possibilities in life as you walk forward with ever-greater self-compassion and self-regulation into a world of improved relationships, diminished stress, and mindful awareness. This is more than anger management—it is an avenue toward personal transformation.”
—Dennis D. Tirch, PhD, author of The Compassionate-Mind Guide to Overcoming Anxiety

“Cultivating compassion for ourselves and others can bring balance and harmony to our lives in a way we never dreamed of. Russell Kolts tells us how to do this with the gentleness, humor, and patience of someone who practices his own advice and, from first-hand experience, knows it works.”
—Thubten Chodron, Buddhist teacher and author of Working with Anger

“Full of useful information and practical suggestions. Kolts has created a powerful blueprint to help readers to develop a compassionate mindset, make better life choices, and foster more fulfilling relationships. He makes the case for compassion as an antidote to the loss and suffering that anger creates in our modern world.”
—Raymond Chip Tafrate, PhD, professor and chair in the department of criminology at Central Connecticut State University and coauthor of Anger Management for Everyone

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Product Details

Meet the Author

Russell L. Kolts, PhD, is a clinical psychologist and professor at Eastern Washington University outside of Spokane, WA, and is founder of the Inland Northwest Compassionate Mind Center. Kolts regularly conducts trainings and workshops on compassion-focused therapy (CFT), as well as on mindfulness and compassion practices. His professional interests lie primarily in the application of CFT and mindfulness approaches to individuals suffering from problematic anger, trauma, mood, and attachment-related difficulties. Kolts has pioneered the application of CFT to problematic anger, and is the developer of the True Strength group therapy program applying CFT to anger in prison settings.  He has published and presented research in diverse areas such as positive psychology, PTSD, psychopharmacology, mindfulness, and compassion. In his personal life, Kolts enjoys family time, reading, meditation, outdoor activities, and listening to and playing music.  His website is www.compassionatemind.net.

Foreword writer Paul Gilbert, PhD, is a professor at the University of Derby in the United Kingdom, director of the mental health research unit at Derbyshire Mental Health Trust, and author of The Compassionate Mind.

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Table of Contents

Foreword ix

Acknowledgments xv

Introduction 1

1 Anger: Introduction and Overview 5

Types of Anger

A Closer Look: Steve's Story

What Do We Mean by "Anger"?

Dissecting the Anger Experience

How We Feel It: Anger in the Body

Attention: The Spotlight of the Mind

Things We Tell Ourselves: Thoughts, Reasoning, and Rumination

Playing It Out in Our Minds: Imagery and Fantasy

Driven to Act: The Power of Motivation

Things We Do: Angry Behavior

Conclusion

2 The Compassionate-Mind Approach to Understanding Anger 27

Finding Ourselves Here

Old Brains and New Brains

A Model of Emotion

The Three Circles

The Threat and Self-Protection System

The Drive and Resource Acquisition System

The Soothing and Safeness System

Calming Down the Threat System

Conclusion

3 When Things Become Unbalanced 49

Evolved Brains in the Modern World

Chasing Imbalance

Why Me?

If You Didn't Get What You Needed

Learning To Be Angry

Implicit Memory and the Construction of "Reality"

Triggers

Fault and Responsibility

Conclusion

4 The Case for Compassion 71

The Heart of Compassion

So What Exactly Is Compassion

How Compassion Organizes Our Minds

Attributes of the Compassionate Mind

Skills Training

Warmth

Conclusion

5 First Steps 87

The Courage to Change: Compassionate Motivation

David's Example

Using Compassionate Attention with Arousal: Soothing-Rhythm Breathing

The Compassion Practice Journal

Conclusion

6 The Cultivation of Mindfulness 101

Mindfulness: A Workout for the Brain

Mindfulness of the Breath

Mindfulness and Working with Anger

Conclusion

7 Compassionate Imagery: Developing the Compassionate Self 119

Using Imagery

Cultivating the Compassionate Self

Considering Self-Compassion

The Compassionate Self in Action

Using Imagery to Engage Your Safeness System

"Don't Think of a White Bear!"

Your Ideal Compassionate

Image

Compassion Flowing into Us

Bringing Compassion to Pain

The Safe-Place Exercise

Conclusion

8 Working Compassionately with Anger: Validation, Distress Tolerance, and Exploring Your Emotional Self 145

A Case Example: Sheila and Josh

Getting to Know Your Anger Response

Compassionate Validation of Anger as a Threat Response

Tolerating Distress and Discomfort

Distress-Tolerance Strategies

Exploring Emotions Behind Your Anger

The "Two Chairs" Technique

Conclusion

9 Working Compassionately with Anger: Mentalizing, Compassionate Thinking, and Problem Solving 167

Mentalizing

Learning to Pause and Ask Yourself Questions

Working Compassionately with Angry Thinking

"What Would My Compassionate Self Thinks"

The Compassionate-Thinking Flash Card

"What Would My Compassionate Self Do?"

Conclusion

10 Compassionate Behavior: Relating Compassionately with Others 185

Assertiveness

Expressing Emotions and Desires

Working with Your Limitations

Expressing Disagreement

Reconciliation

Apologizing

Forgiveness

When Things Don't Go the Way You'd Like

Positive Interactions: The Building Blocks of Good Relationships

Conclusion

11 Bringing Compassion to Your Experience of Others 209

Compassionate Recognition of Our Common Humanity

Cultivating Empathy

Deepening Empathy with Mentalization

Sympathy

Bringing Empathy to Your Angry Interactions

Compassionate Imagery: Bringing Compassion to a Challenging Other

Conclusion

12 Full Circle: Bringing Compassion and Kindness to Yourself 225

Compassionate Behavior: Self-Care

Broadening Your Perspective

Conclusion

13 Moving Forward: Approaching Anger and Life with Compassion 237

Organizing Your Approach to Anger: The RAGE Model

Conclusion

Appendix 245

Useful Books and CDs for Working with Anger

Useful Websites

Notes 251

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