Saturday, March 10, 2012

Controlling Anger Is As Simple As Using Your Non-Dominant Hand To Stir Your Tea

Anger can be toxic, on so many different levels. It can harm both you and the recipient of your anger, and if not managed properly, it can cause all sorts of health issues and adversely effect our lives from home to the workplace.

There are different ways to help control anger, but I read an article on the UK Dailymail website about a particularly interesting method which apparently works in as little as two weeks.

Research studies conducted by Dr. Thomas Denson, an Australian doctor at the University of New South Wales, found that after two weeks of training people to use their 'non-dominant' hand to deal with easily handled jobs they were less likely to act on impulse.  Strange, right?  But supposedly it works for both right and left-handers.  Denson likens the practice to bettering oneself at sports or playing the piano.

Dr Denson, whose findings are published in the journal Current Directions in Psychological Science, said it is only self control that keeps us from punching queue jumpers or murdering conniving colleagues.

He said: ‘Using the mouse, stirring your coffee, opening doors. This requires people to practice self control because their habitual tendency is to use their dominant hands.’

In one experiment, participants were mildly insulted by another student and were given the option of retaliating with a blast of white noise, a combination of all the different frequencies of sound also known as static.

Dr Denson and colleagues said criminologists and sociologists have long believed people commit violent crimes when an opportunity arises and they are low on self-control. He said: ‘It is an impulsive kind of thing.’  ‘I think, for me, the most interesting findings that have come out of this is that if you give aggressive people the opportunity to improve their self control, they are less aggressive.’ It is not that aggressive people don’t want to control themselves - they just aren’t very good at it. In fact, if you put aggressive people in a brain scanner and monitor their brain activity while insulting them, the parts involved in self control are actually more active than in less aggressive people. 

The article doesn't mention anything about those who happen to be ambidextrous, but it's certainly worth a try for those who aren't. And challenging or not, most worthwhile things are worth the effort.
So it might be possible to teach people who struggle with anger or violence problems to control themselves more easily.
For people not inclined towards violence, it may also be useful to practice self control by trying to improve your posture, for example. In the short term, this can reduce self control and make it harder to control impulses.  Added Dr Denson: ‘But if you practice that over the long term, your self control capacity gets stronger over time. It is just like practicing anything, really - it is hard at first.’

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