We experience anger when our unrealistic demands, conceptualized in our minds as “should” or “musts,” are not met. Examples include, “I should work harder,” “People should treat me fairly,” “You must do what I tell you to do,” “I shouldn’t be angry,” etc. “Should” and “must” statements arise from either moralistic rules or perfectionistic demands that we hold ourselves and others to. Irrational should statements rest on your assumption that you are entitled to instant gratification. However, life being what it is, does not respect your “shoulds” or “musts.” Moreover, there is no law that says we should get what we want, any more than other people always get what they want.
How do you handle the “shoulds”?
- “Am I interpreting this situation as being unfair based on rules or standards that are mostly personal to me?”
- “In what ways is the other person perceiving this situation differently than me?”
- “Do I really need to feel this entitled?”
- “Is this demand for fairness helping or hurting me?”
- “Do I really have control over how others should think or behave?”
- “Why must things be only as I expect them to be?”
- “Am I perceiving this conflict situation as a personal attack on my worth or other things?
- “Is my need to be in control making me angry and pushing people away?”