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Free online Course on Handling your Own Aggression & Anger

Handling Our Own Aggression And Anger


A long-term concern an important problem


We have seen that anger is common but dreadfully destructive in human relations. Most of us dislike certain kinds of people, maybe "prejudiced, redneck clods," maybe "rude, demanding, lazy people on welfare," maybe "critical, arrogant bosses or teachers." If we are lucky, we can avoid conflict situations. However, if all of us would learn to control our irritation, jealousy, resentment, violence, prejudice, psychological putdowns, etc., wouldn't it be a much better world? Of course it would, but such goals seem so idealistic to many people, they think it is nonsense. People say "you can't change human nature." These defeatist attitudes prolong human misery. I don't think it is impossible (in a couple of generations) to get people to tolerate, even to love each other. It is an enormous task but such a worthy one that we must not give up. Instead, we must dedicate ourselves to improving the world, starting with our selves.


The pessimist, who believes there will always be hatred and war, should note that the most primitive people on earth (discovered in the Philippines in 1966) are gentle and loving. They have no word for war. How do they control their aggression? What is their system? The entire tribe discourages mean, inconsiderate behavior and encourages cooperation from an early age. Everyone is expected to provide a good, loving model for the children. Please note: This non-aggressive culture was developed without modern education, without great scholars, research and books, without powerful governments working for peace, and without any of the world's great religions. If that primitive tribe can learn to love, why can't we? It may not be too difficult after all. The other bit of history I want to share with you is from Seneca, a Roman philosopher-educator, who served several Emperors until Nero executed him in 65 AD at age 61. He was an extraordinary person. Seneca wrote a book, De Ira (Of Anger). In it Seneca proposed theories about aggression and self-help methods remarkably similar to the best we have today. It is humbling but it suggests that common anger problems may not be that hard to solve (we have been too busy waging war for the last 2000 years to work on reducing violence). Seneca said "hostile aggression" is to avenge an emotional injury. "Sadistic aggression," with practice, becomes habitual by frightening others and, in that way, reduces self-doubts (negative reinforcement). He noted that anger is often an overkill because we attribute evil to the other person or because the other person has hit our psychological weak spot, lowering our self-esteem. Sounds just like current theories, right?



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