Anger Management Techniques -Retreat and think things over

In my anger management class, I find one question to come up most often after someone tries the anger management tool of “Retreat and Things Over” without fully understanding it – Why didn’t it work?!? Along with the 5 basic rules of retreat, I have added one extra tip of my own that seems to get a positive response from many people. Retreat is one of the tools that will help us calm down, gain control, and manage our anger so that we are better able to solve a problem and communicate our thoughts and feelings effectively. But, it has to be done right!

Let’s briefly review the 5 basic rules. Then I will share my added tip.

Rule #1 – You can only use this tool for yourself, not your partner – In other words, don’t use a phrase like “you need to take a break right now.” This will only anger your partner more.

Rule #2 – Announce that you need to take a “Time out and Retreat” before you do it – Implement your assertive communication skills in the moment by letting the other person know that you need to take a time out for yourself in order to calm down, think things over, and come back to the problem when you are more ready to deal with it.

Rule #3 – You need to commit to a reasonable length of time to return and deal with the issue –Let your partner know how long you will be retreating for and make sure it is a reasonable amount of time. Most importantly, stick to that time! I always recommend no less than 20 minutes and no more than 1 hour with few exceptions. Coming back 3 hours later usually creates more tension in your partner. Waiting too long may spark feelings of abandonment and/or rejection in your partner.

Rule #4 – Don’t drink or use drugs to get high during this time – Drinking and getting high will interfere with your ability to think things through clearly and be emotionally available to your partner when you return.

Rule #5 – Be very careful and very selective in who you talk to during your retreat time – We all have that certain friend or relative we call when we want to bash our partner and feel justified in our anger. Do not call this person! This will only fuel your anger when you are trying to calm down. In addition, family and friends may permanently develop a negative view of your partner even after you’ve made up. It’s okay to get support from friends and family. But, be sure they are listening and helping you gain perspective by helping you calm down instead of fueling your anger.

Taken from: Anger Management for the 21st Centruy Workbook

Next, I share a tip in my class that should actually be done before even beginning to use this tool. Ready?

*Helpful Tip for Retreating – Talk to you partner during a normal or good moment about your plan and reason for using Retreat as a tool – Remember that our partner does not know or understand that we are learning new ways of dealing with our anger. Walking out of class and using this tool during your next fight may not get a very positive response if your partner does not understand what or why you are doing it. To some, it may look like just walking away from a problem or being disrespectful and disregarding their feelings. Talking to our partner before our next fight and letting them know how and why we plan to retreat will increase the likelihood that they will respect it when it happens.

Diana Gutierrez, MS
Daybreak Counseling Service
183 N. Hill St. #202
Pasadena, CA 91106
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Shannon Munford

Shannon Munford

Anger Management Expert and Counselor at Daybreak Services

Shannon Munford is an anger management expert and the owner and founder of Daybreak Services, an education center offering anger management classes, counseling, and therapy in Los Angeles, California. His clients consist of members within the entertainment industry as well as corporate America.

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