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Do you have trouble with anger management, and find yourself caught in the same old emotional reactions?Maybe you blew up at your spouse, only to realize after the smoke cleared that you might have overreacted just a tad. Or perhaps you weren’t invited to your uncle’s friend’s sister’s birthday party and you behave as if that’s the slight of the century.When you overreact to situations, or have problems with anger management, even the most minor snafu can cause you to storm out of the room, slam down the phone, or shut down entirely. It’s as if you can’t help it -- the reaction is as automatic as a mallet to the knee.New research indicates that habitual, knee-jerk responses go way back to our childhood.As youngsters, we learned to adapt to our families’ idiosyncrasies as a way of survival. In the past, psychologists referred to these coping mechanisms as “baggage,” but science has now shown us that these responses are actually hard-wired into our brains. And when our responses are ingrained, they become our filtering system for future incidents.In other words, if something happens today that the brain reads as similar to something that happened in your 20s, your brain will respond as if it were the first time even though you may be in your 50s or 60s and beyond.When you find yourself projecting past experience onto a present one, try to imagine alternative ways to handle the situation.Let’s say you have lunch plans with a friend who cancels at the last minute.You feel an overwhelming sense of hurt and rejection - how you always feel in similar situations. This indicates a past pattern! Be conscious of this and take a step back to recognize it.Next, approach the situation from an entirely different perspective.
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