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

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


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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

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781608820375
Publisher: New Harbinger Publications
Publication date: 07/01/2012
Series: New Harbinger Compassion-Focused Therapy Series
Pages: 288
Sales rank: 572,912
Product dimensions: 6.00(w) x 8.90(h) x 0.70(d)

About 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

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.

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


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


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"


Fault and Responsibility


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



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


6 The Cultivation of Mindfulness 101

Mindfulness: A Workout for the Brain

Mindfulness of the Breath

Mindfulness and Working with Anger


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


Compassion Flowing into Us

Bringing Compassion to Pain

The Safe-Place Exercise


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


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


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?"


10 Compassionate Behavior: Relating Compassionately with Others 185


Expressing Emotions and Desires

Working with Your Limitations

Expressing Disagreement




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

Positive Interactions: The Building Blocks of Good Relationships


11 Bringing Compassion to Your Experience of Others 209

Compassionate Recognition of Our Common Humanity

Cultivating Empathy

Deepening Empathy with Mentalization


Bringing Empathy to Your Angry Interactions

Compassionate Imagery: Bringing Compassion to a Challenging Other


12 Full Circle: Bringing Compassion and Kindness to Yourself 225

Compassionate Behavior: Self-Care

Broadening Your Perspective


13 Moving Forward: Approaching Anger and Life with Compassion 237

Organizing Your Approach to Anger: The RAGE Model


Appendix 245

Useful Books and CDs for Working with Anger

Useful Websites

Notes 251

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