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Article: When You See 'Red' Related Resources

When You See 'Red'
by Rhoberta Shaler, PhD

When you are feeling angry at someone, what do you do? Do you know how to express your feelings in ways that are clear and assertive? Many folks don't. For that reason, one of two things happens: they hold the anger in, and, as we all know, it sneaks out in strange and often inappropriate ways, or, they explode and scatter their unhappiness over everyone, perhaps, destroying relationships on the way! Neither of these are healthy alternatives.

Anger is an arousal in the body that is triggered by frustration, fear or hurt. As that arousal escalates, your body goes into the stress response. When that arousal raises your heart rate to about 120 to 150 beats per minute, the blood from the frontal lobes of your brain, the centers of reason and logic, drains down to protect your vital organs. This is not good news. Why? Because the more angry you become, the more unable you are to think clearly! You have probably experienced that. Just when you are at your loudest, wanting to deal the death blow to prove your righteous position, you cannot think. Then, you often say one of the best things you'll ever regret! Right?

When the body goes into arousal, notice. If you are talking to someone at the time, think. It is important to your well-being and the health of your relationships to answer this question: What do I want from this exchange? If a potentially volatile volley of words, accusations, and threats are likely to erupt, leave. No, this is not "running away from a fight". This is just informed decision-making. There is one important difference, though: tell the person that you are leaving and when you will return to discuss the issue. This is the difference between being responsible and being a "hit-and-run" offender. Take care of the relationship. Do not abandon the other person. Simply say, "I'm too angry now and I'm likely to say things I don't mean. I'll be back in three hours and let's discuss this then. If it is in the work setting, acknowledge your desire to work out the issue, and promise to get back to them within three hours to set a time to talk further. This is not easy, but it is effective!

Why three hours or more? Simple. It takes a full ninety minutes for the blood to return to your centers of reason and logic and your heart beat to return to normal. It makes good sense to wait and it demonstrates that you care about yourself AND the relationship.

Rhoberta Shaler, PhD, Founder & Director, The Optimize! Institute, Escondido, CA. All rights reserved.

Dr. Rhoberta Shaler, a noted international speaker and author, is the founder of the Optimize! Institute, and Your Spiritual Home, a worldwide center for Practical Spirituality & Everyday Myth. Her mission is "To uplift, inspire and motivate people worldwide to find joy, peace and success on their own terms". She is the author of Optimize Your Day: Practical Wisdom for Optimal Living and Wrestling Rhinos: Conquering Conflict in the Wilds of Work, as well as many other books and audio programs. Rhoberta Shaler, PhD may be contacted at or


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