Paul asked:

I have a constant level of anger. I can go from zero to thermonuclear in a microsecond. I feel that I’m moving away not toward Christ. I’ve tried therapy and medication (anti-depressant, anti-anxiety) and I’ve had this most of my life. Silly things or complex things can cause this issue, but it’s a constant.

Gregory Popcak replied:

"...very often they think they go from a zero to a ten in no time flat. But really what it is is that they’re constantly hovering at a seven or an eight ... So you’re just underneath ready to pop all the time. So something comes along, something silly and it might raise you up a half a point ... but you’re already at a seven or an eight ... and you’re going crazy already.

There are two ways to intervene here. The first one is actually becoming aware, really connecting in a meaningful way of that emotional baseline level and working hard to take down the baseline so that you’re living more at a five or a four in your day to day life instead of up at that seven or an eight. And there are different techniques that you can learn ... prayer is certainly is extraordinarily important ... giving your emotional life to God every day ... being able to ... actively reflect ... on where you’re at emotionally on that emotional temperature scale going from a one to a ten. So you’re taking down your baseline termperature as much as you can in the moment.

The second thing is trying to pay attention to what are those triggers that bump your emotional temperature up by one or more points. Then what you want to do is try to strategize ... when the next time this thing comes up, this is what I want to do. And you write it out. I’m going to do this instead of that. And you start each day you may pick two or three things ... look at the list ... today, some time I’m going to be irritated by this thing happening. This is what I want to do instead of what my normal default response is. And you’re mentally rehearsing that.

So between taking down the emotional baseline temperature, and ... mentally rehearsing the alternative responses. You’ll start to get a handle on it."

Mark's take:

I can relate to Paul. As I've grown older my baseline has definitely shifted up several notches. After a few minutes I've cooled off and everything is fine. What surprises me is Paul has been to therapy and it either hasn't helped him or they're not teaching him the right technique for this. I really like Gregory's idea and I've often thought about reprogramming my response to something completely different from my default action and now I'll have to try it.


Catholic Answers, "Emotions" (San Diego: Catholic Answers, 2013)

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Show air date: October 2, 2013

Name of show: Emotions

Guest comments by: Gregory Popcak

Question appeared in show: 20:35

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