Anger & Forgiveness - Guided Imagery and Meditation Blog | Health Journeys Mon, 22 May 2017 17:28:35 -0400 Joomla! - Open Source Content Management en-gb Anger Management in Prison, Thanks to a Little Guided Imagery

A while back you posted a story by a corrections counselor, and this inspires me to share another story.  I, too, am a social worker who works with incarcerated youth.  They are all being tried as adults.  The jail where they are being housed has started to let one inmate listen to an imagery recording on anger and forgiveness.  He is on lockdown for fighting with another inmate who ruined his food.
He had only begun to listen to the audio, and maybe had heard it three times.
He became very angry about his situation and began pacing back and forth in his cell, trying to decide what to do.  He wanted to charge his peer when his cell door was opened.  He paced and paced, then he lay down on his bunk and continued to ruminate.  (This alone was progress, as in the past he reacted so impulsively, he would not have ever thought about his actions and consequences before acting.)

Well, he did choose to rush the other inmate.  However, the fact that he contemplated his actions prior was a great success.  Then, to culminate this truly wonderful story of hope and progress, when he described to me what happened, he said one of the things that helped as he cogitated over what do was, "I kept hearing the voice telling me not to do it.

“The voice?", I asked, wanting to assess him for auditory hallucinations.

"Yea! That lady's voice on the tape. I kept hearing her voice."

So he was already taking in the positive messages and feelings he had been experiencing, and making his own tapes inside his own head, where he can really use them.  Thanks for a great resource.  
p.s. Please do not print my name. 

]]> (Belleruth Naparstek) Inspiring Story Sun, 26 Jan 2014 19:00:00 -0500
Single Mother of Ten Month Old Can't Contain Her Anger

Dear Belleruth,

Right now I’m really struggling with a really rocky roller coaster. Yes, everyone deals with a roller coaster but it’s really hard on me because I am a mother and a father to my son. I want the best for him and sometimes I catch myself wanting to scream at him. He’s only ten months old - he doesn’t know the difference. And then again I have days like today... I can’t stop smiling even though yesterday I wanted to yell at him for doing the same thing he’s doing right now.

Being a single parent is awesome but when I get frustrated I just wish his dad was around to help me. I’m really just lost and confused... Don’t know what to do now... I quit smoking two weeks ago and I can already tell that I’m happier. But now I don’t know how else to relieve my stress...

I feel as though sometimes I could be diagnosed with bipolar disorder... It’s really hard to talk to family and friends about this, ‘cause they don’t see what happens behind closed doors and they wouldn’t believe me if I even tried to tell them... they would just say, "Oh no... you’re a good mom..", but sometimes I wonder if that’s really true..


Dear Andrea,

It does sound like you''re under a lot of stress. You''re right - your 10 month old son is just being 10 months old. Screaming at him won''t get him to stop acting like a baby - he is a baby. It will only upset him and create anxiety and lack of confidence in him. I know you don''t want him growing up afraid of you and feeling lousy about himself.

So I guess the key is to find ways for you to get support - real support that''s available. Longing for this little guy''s father, who evidently does not intend to be around, will just lead to more disappointment, anger and resentment... and could result in more anger and resentment towards your son. It would be sad but it would help if you could let go of that wish for the father to be involved, grieve that relationship and move on. I know, it’s easier said than done... but it''s probably the best thing to do.

You don’t sound like you’re bipolar, but you could be depressed. Do you think you could get to a counselor, to talk to and maybe help you evaluate your current condition? It could be a passing, situational thing - after all, you’ve just had a baby, quit smoking (good for you, but that could be messing with your mood, too!), suffered the loss of a relationship ... you’re probably much more confined and stuck in the house than you’re used to ... and you’ve got this needy little guy who’s totally dependent on you! Any one of these things would be a tough challenge to deal with!

Do you have a trustworthy friend or neighbor you could confide in? It may be a very good idea to tell somebody how hard this is on you, how angry you get, and to please stop telling you what a good parent you are - this just isolates you further. What you need is for somebody to listen to you!

If nobody fills the bill, what about joining a support group? There might be something in your community for single parent support or for anger management. (I can''t tell how old you are, but if you''re a teenager, there are probably even more support groups, social service programs or one-on-one partnership programs.)

Another place you could go - especially if you have trouble talking about these issues face to face - is the internet. There are some terrific single parent support groups there. A lot of close relationships and lifelines have been established in a chat room of people who feel just like you do.

You also probably need to structure weekly time for yourself away from your baby, so you can catch a break and get some time to yourself to decompress..... you''ll also appreciate him more for having been away from him. Is there anyone who can take care of your son for a few hours a week that you trust? Is there a church that offers some reasonable day care or a way for you to trade skills? Or even an exercise or yoga class that has built-in babysitting... An art class at the Y... Any of these things could help take the edge off your exasperation. I know that if you''re holding down a job, that''s even more difficult. And if you’re depressed, you may not feel like doing anything. But something that isn''t work or baby care might be exactly what you need, if you can swing it.

And of course, guided imagery can help. I’d recommend Relaxation & Wellness for starters or our Heal Your Emotional Heart Pack, which contains Anger & Forgiveness and Heartbreak, Abandonment and Betrayal, plus Dr. Emmett Miller’s Accepting Change and Moving on. Yoga would be great for you too. Shiva Rea’s Radiant Heart Yoga might be a good fit, since it helps promote inner peace, energy and joy. These things will help to balance your mood. Once you begin to feel more hopeful and less overwhelmed, you might want to try Healthy Self Esteem or Self-Esteem during Sleep, by Dr. Traci Stein. For the little guy, I would suggest the gentle sounds and baby vocals of Lovely Baby, or if he has any sleep problems, Lovely, Sleepy Baby, by Raimond Lap.

I do hope you can take the heat off your anger and frustration by finding ways to nourish yourself, in spite of all the difficulties. This too shall pass! Stay in touch.

]]> (Belleruth Naparstek) Ask Belleruth Sun, 19 Jan 2014 19:00:00 -0500
Help for Anger, Impatience & Needing to Control Everything


I was wondering if there is a CD out for trying to stop controlling everything.  I need help with patience.  I get easily angered.



Dear John,

Usually impatience, anger and a strong need to control things have a lot to do with anxiety, depression and sometimes even posttraumatic stress.
Sometimes, it just comes from unconsciously adopting the style and psychological defenses of a parent who was like that. It’s more like a stable character trait than something that’s coming from the environment.

Often the roots of it can lie in the past, from a difficult, punishing or abusive parent, spouse or sibling, and we hand the “bill” to the wrong people in our current lives. 

Sometimes the reasons are more contemporary – like from being stuck in an untenable situation that has you feeling trapped and frustrated – and you may have been in it for so long, you no longer even recognize it as something that generates anger.

Regardless, usually guided imagery can help with this, at least to some extent.  The obvious choice is Anger & Forgiveness.  It’s a favorite and it addresses these things in a way that doesn’t reactivate your anger – you can listen to a sample here (please link to audio sample).  Most imagery – no matter what the topic – is going to have some impact, because it’s designed to slow you down, take you out of the irritations and thoughts swirling around in your head, and give you some perspective. This by definition balances mood.
I remember when I was testing out what was then our new imagery for Alcohol & Other Drugs.  One of our focus groups was an AA group from a prison, and the men were, as expected, a pretty angry bunch in general.  

After listening to the imagery, we got some surprising feedback.  A couple men said, right off the bat, that it seemed to take away their anger – at least immediately afterward and certainly for the next hour or so that we were all together. 

Several said they felt calmer, more at peace.  And a couple got connected to some warm and loving feelings that they had for a parent or sibling.  So even though the imagery was designed to reduce their addictive cravings, it also had this effect on their anger and mood.

I think it’s safe to say that any imagery or mind-body resource that slows you down and creates a more mellow feeling inside is going to reduce anger, and that’s most of them.  But I’d start with that one that targets anger first. If it helps but after a few weeks you grow tired of it, then you can move on to another one that interests you.  

Good luck and I hope it helps.

All best,

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]]> (Belleruth Naparstek) Ask Belleruth Sun, 04 Aug 2013 20:00:00 -0400
Guided Imagery Success Story from a Man Who Committed Four Murders

In looking through some old files, we found this letter from a man, already incarcerated for 19 years in a high security mental institution, for having committed several murders.  

It speaks to the unexpected and moving ways guided imagery can reach people, even those off the grid of what we consider to be ‘regular’ living.

Dear Belleruth,

“Thank you” does not describe the deep gratitude I feel for your beautiful Anger & Forgiveness CD. Every time I listen to it I feel like I’m listening to a great friend. I’ve been listening to it for about 2 months, 2-3 times a day.

I’m a 60 year old Afro American male.  I have been incarcerated in ____ Mental Institution for almost 19 years for committing 4 homicides.  My actions affected the lives of 4 different families for the rest of their lives, their friends, their communities.  I cannot go back and change it.

It took a while before I truly accepted the fact that I had a severe mental illness and that healing would not be a quick fix. The Anger & Forgiveness CD came right on time, by way of a group here that I’ve been taking called Anger/Forgiveness.

I have been heavily invested in my treatment. So many walls have fallen that are protecting that kernel of hurt and pain you talked about.  Recently I believe I have been dealing with one of the last walls, and that’s where your CD has been of great help.

Since the beginning of January, I’ve been listening to the Healing Trauma CD.  It’s great and I truly love it.  It’s my favorite.  While listening to it, not only can I clearly see situations where I could have shown more patience and tolerance, but also see where I can show more patience and tolerance in some upcoming events.

May the powers that be keep you safer than safe.  

With Great Love and Respect,


Ed. Note:  You’re welcome, Albert, and my best wishes to you as you go forward on the courageous and inspiring healing journey you’ve undertaken.

]]> (Belleruth Naparstek) Inspiring Story Sun, 03 Mar 2013 19:00:00 -0500
Still Suffering from Unrequited Love and Wondering What to Do about It…


I suffer from PTSD from a very unique trauma. My mother has Borderline Personality Disorder and destroyed my path in life a very long time ago. She made me leave the man I loved, that was her main goal.

Although I am lucky to have found another great man and have been married for almost 22 years and have 5 amazing kids (triplets and twins!!), I am still experiencing the pain of this loss.

We never broke up with each other, as we loved each other and wanted a future together.

My mother broke me down in every way until I felt that suicide was the only way out of pain. My boyfriend felt the same way.

Didn't she ever read Romeo & Juliet? I guess not.

Anyway, I was referred to you regarding PTSD and I would like to know what kind of self help I can use to help me with this unusual loss in my life. Thank you!


Dear Alana,
First of all, kudos to you for finding a great husband and enjoying a wonderful marriage with five amazing kids, in spite of the way the decks were stacked against you by your mentally ill mother.  

Bravissima and hip, hip, hooray for you!!

Now that I’ve gotten that out of my system, I do have some suggestions for putting this to rest in a peaceful way.  

Let me just say up front that this list I’m about to provide is probably overkill; you wouldn’t have to do all of these things to get some resolution.  But you can pick and choose, starting with what most appeals to you or feels easiest to do. And all three approaches, I’m pretty sure, will get the job done and then some.  One thought: it may be way easier to say goodbye to this guy than to forgive your mother, and that may be the underlying issue that will need addressing at some point.

  • In the guided imagery department, I’d recommend the Ease Grief imagery. It fits well with this situation and repeated listening could be a big help.  I’d pair that imagery with our Anger & Forgiveness audio program, to help you with your feelings toward your mother – but only if you feel ready to consider the possibility of forgiving her – don’t impose this on yourself if you’re not ready.

  •  There’s a very effective dialogue-writing technique created years ago by Ira Progoff that would be perfect for this.  It would allow you to say all the things you still feel you need to say to your old sweetheart and to hear back from him, too (I know that sounds crazy, but it’s set up in such a way that it really works – you have a real dialogue and it’s consistent with the character, situation, language and context of the actual relationship. I’ve done it and it’s pretty amazing.)  You could either take a workshop – very gratifying - or just order the workbook  – the guidance is pretty straightforward and you’ll succeed either way.

  • You could augment resolution with one of the highly effective acupoint tapping techniques – either EFT (emotional freedom technique) or TFT (thought field therapy) to name two popular ones. This method is also pretty odd looking, but who cares if it helps?  You can pop over to Mary Sise’s or Carol Look’s website for guidance, personal one-on-one help via Skype or in person, or actual products that can guide you, step by step.  

Okay, so those are my suggestions.  Wishing you the very best with this.


]]> (Belleruth Naparstek) Ask Belleruth Mon, 18 Feb 2013 19:00:00 -0500
Dramatic Changes in a High Security Prison

I am a psychologist who works part-time in a high security prison environment.  (I am convinced this job keeps me real.  My other part-time job is in a private practice in a wealthy suburb.)

I want to report consistent success with the Anger & Forgiveness imagery with my men. I would not have anticipated the dramatic and profound responses I have seen in group.  Several men have had breakthroughs that led to changed behavior ever since.  Many have started to feel emotions again (something other than anger) as a result of the imagery experience.  Much pent-up grief and sadness is expressed.  It sits right under the anger.  The group cohesion has grown just from the experience of listening together.

I have come to think that this imagery and the Healing Trauma imagery do more in twenty minutes with this population than what I can normally accomplish in 3 months worth of therapy.  I am scratching my head but smiling over this.  

I may come back to you with a research design.  
Henry P.

[Ed. Note:  Henry P., please do!  We love serious research and support it any way we can.]

]]> (Belleruth Naparstek) Inspiring Story Sun, 03 May 2009 19:00:00 -0400
How Can You Say We’re All “Safe” in that Last Affirmation?


What is meant at the end of Affirmations about being safe? Usually I would think of something like a protective bubble around me.  If you’re in Gaza what does safe mean? Unemployed, what does it mean? Safe conveys to me the idea of no harm.  Explanation, please.*
William M.

* The writer is refering to the controversial line, “I know I am held in the hands of God and I am perfectly, utterly safe.”


Dear William,
That’s a fine question.  Certainly that last line in the Affirmations gets commented on more than anything else in there – mostly it’s appreciative feedback, but it’s also gotten its share of strenuous objections, too. (We leave it in because it comforts far more people than it upsets.)

I suppose at the earthbound level of physical safety, it’s nothing but one big, not-so-safe crapshoot for all of us – and certainly more dicey for the residents of Gaza or Darfur than for you or me.  I would never deny that. 

But at the wider perspective, where reality is structured in a more complex way, this affirmation can stand on its own merit.   If at this level we’re all energetic beings, incapable of being destroyed (transmuted or transformed, perhaps), surrounded by invisible forces of protection and guidance, where everything that happens has meaning and purpose, then you can say we’re all safe – it’s just a much longer view… a way longer view.  In religious terms, you can say we all have eternal souls and we’re here forever, one way or the other, and we transcend suffering and death.  But even the laws of chemistry and physics tell us that nothing disappears – they just change.

This is probably an unsatisfactory answer, but it’s a start. After all, this is the subject of entire books, not to mention philosophies and religions.  Maybe some others would like to add to it. 

Thanks for writing in!
All best,

]]> (Belleruth Naparstek) Ask Belleruth Sun, 08 Feb 2009 18:00:00 -0500
She's Finally Dumping That Abusive Philanderer – But Why Is It So Hard?

Dear Belleruth:

After being married for 33 years to the same man since I was 21 years old, I have asked for a divorce. He has been unable to change his emotionally & verbally abusive behaviors, in spite of counseling. In October, I discovered he was having a sexual affair (2nd time) with a woman younger than him (he is 58, she 45). He said he wanted a divorce, that he has been unhappy a long time. I said fine, I will make this happen.

I am fed up with him, but I feel so sad, heartbroken really, in spite of the problems.  What do you suggest for all the emotional upheavals? Please change my name to Kathie. Do not give my last name or email.


Dear Kathie:

Sounds like you're doing the right thing (although why he can’t make his own divorce happen is a bit of a puzzler... no doubt he couldn’t pick up his own socks either...) Oh, and by the way, I’m betting there were more than just 2 flings, just between you and me... usually, that’s just the tip of the iceberg..

But, hey, why wouldn’t this be sad?  For better or worse, this has been your life since you were twenty-one, and you’re parting with it.  That makes for grief, regardless.  You’re also parting with whatever your hopes and dreams were about this relationship when you first married this guy – that’s sad too.  But don’t confuse “sad” with “bad idea”.   It’s also scary to be down to just one of you when you were used to being paired… liberating but scary.  Nothing’s simple, eh?


I say, stick with your plan - it's a good one, in spite of the pain, which will come and go in varying degrees but eventually should pass. Your self-esteem will bounce back the longer you are away from this jerk, provided you don't find another one just like him.

Yes, any one of these guided imagery CDs would be helpful: Tranquilities For Persons Experiencing Grief, Attracting Genuine Love, Relaxation & Wellness, Posttraumatic Stress, Anger & Forgiveness, or Relieve Stress; also Emmett Miller’s Accepting Change & Moving On. Start with one or two and if you find them helpful, order another when you’re sick of those.

Here is an interesting program for your perusal – the components of a successful program for battered women who have been traumatized by their abusive partners, created by Edward Kubany and Susan Watson at the Honolulu V.A. I just want you to see what it consists of. It’s aimed at alleviating PTSD, depression, guilt, shame, and negative self-esteem in formerly battered women.

The main treatment components include:

  1. Exploration of partner abuse history and exposure to other trauma;
  2. Education on the nature of PTSD;
  3. Imagery homework;
  4. Education on maladaptive self-talk (talking trash to yourself about yourself);
  5. Stress management and relaxation training;
  6. Cognitive therapy for trauma-related guilt;
  7. Education on assertiveness and responses to verbal aggression;
  8. Managing unwanted contacts with former partners;
  9. Learning to identify potential perpetrators and avoid re-victimization;
  10. Education on positive coping strategies that focus on self-advocacy and self-empowerment (e.g., placing oneself first, decision-making that promotes self-interest).

If your couple’s counselor is skilled in several these approaches, continuing alone with him or her could be a big help.  Or you might want to start fresh with somebody else.  You can also find some good pointers in self-help books and online support groups, too.

Dianne Schwartz's website, Educating Against Domestic Violence, - - is part of a network of sites providing help for domestic violence victims.  (Dianne is also the survivor of an abusive marriage, and this is a terrific support network. Her book, Whose Face is in the Mirror, is a good read for you, and her message boards will immediately make it clear that you are not alone!)

Good luck and have faith in a future without this clown! It’s waiting for you. All you have to do is tough this part out and learn from your experience.

All best,

]]> (Belleruth Naparstek) Ask Belleruth Sun, 02 May 2010 20:00:00 -0400
Desperate from Husband’s On-Again, Off-Again Sobriety


I love your tapes. I use Anger and Forgiveness in dealing with my feelings concerning my husband’s ongoing battle with alcoholism. He is sober for 8 or 9 months and then back out again.. I wonder if you have any other support for the person married to or dealing with an alcoholic? I am in desperate need of more support... I use Panic Attacks and Depression, but wonder if you had anything more specific or would be doing something like that in the future.... Thanks.


Dear Selina,

I understand that sometimes it’s harder emotionally with a spouse going on and off the wagon than it is with somebody who’s constantly using – the disappointment is so crushing after you get a taste of what living normally with a sober guy feels like.

At the risk of suggesting something obvious that you’ve already checked out, have you ever tried going to an Al-Anon meeting?  Because if ever there was a support group that knew exactly what you’re dealing with, and had some tried and true responses for dealing with these exasperating issues, Al-Anon is it.  Sometimes you need more than just a recording!

You maybe could use some help with setting some serious limits on this dude, and stick him with some hard core consequences for drinking again – like kicking him out of the house.  Maybe an intervention is in order the next time he starts drinking again – that way you’d have some back-up from his friends, family and co-workers, and the consequences would be spelled out before they carted him off to dry out.

Or, if that seems impossibly harsh to you, and his drinking behavior isn’t too abusive or destructive, you may need some coaching and guidance to help you detach from him when he’s drinking, so you aren’t so affected by it.  What’s nice about Al-Anon is, they don’t try to corner you, preach and commandeer your responses – they respect your timing and don’t push too hard.  That’s because they get the difficulties, not to mention the guilt and overblown sense of responsibility that most people in your situation feel (whether it’s rational or not).

If this behavior is getting impossible, then you may be doing yourself and him a disservice by trying to constantly cope with it and adapt to it on your end. You may need to use some muscle to stop the behavior.  He’s probably plenty dependent on you, and that’s power you’re not using.

That said, if what you’re after is more guided imagery, then Relaxation & Wellness might be a good alternate for you, as well as Self-Confidence  – either one can help you stay centered and strong as you deal with this.  And you might consider giving your guy a little motivating gift of Alcohol & Other Drugs in his stocking for the holidays!

Update: We’re thrilled to introduce this extraordinary resource for people in recovery: Inner Peace, Outward Power by Charles & Patti Leviton. It is a a powerful guided imagery program to supplement and enhance any 12-step program.

I hope this helps.  Good luck and keep your mind open – you have far more clout than you know, and maybe it’s time to do a little push-back!

All best,


]]> (Belleruth Naparstek) Ask Belleruth Sun, 28 Nov 2010 19:00:00 -0500
An incarcerated man with severe mental illness, who was convicted of four murders An incarcerated man with severe mental illness, who was convicted of four murders two decades ago, attests movingly to the unique power of guided imagery to help him heal and grow
Imagery is the perfect resource for people incarcerated in prison what better activity for people trapped in time and space, than to travel in their imaginations? Many inmates are motivated to heal and grow during this time.

It turns out, we get requests for CDs from prisoners all the time. We’re happy to send them. This moving thank you note from a man with severe mental illness, guilty of committing four homicides 19 years ago, demonstrates the power and value of imagery in this setting. It’s very eloquent and touching.

Dear Belleruth,

Thank you does not describe the deep gratitude I feel for your beautiful Anger/Forgiveness CD. Every time I listen to it, I feel like I’m listening to a great friend. I’ve been listening to it for about 2 months, 2-3 times a day.

I am a 60-year-old African American male. I have been incarcerated in the [a secure psychiatric hospital] for almost 19 years for committing 4 homicides. My actions affected the lives of 4 different families for the rest of their lives, their friends, their communities. I cannot go back and change it.

It took a while before I accepted the fact that I had a severe mental illness and that healing would not be a quick fix. TheAnger/Forgiveness CD came right on time, by way of a group here that I’ve been taking called Anger/Forgiveness. I have been heavily invested in treatment. So many walls are falling that were protecting that kernel of hurt and pain you talked about. Recently I believe I have been dealing with one of the last walls, and that’s where your CD has been of great help.

Since the beginning of January, 2008, I ‘ve been listening to the Healing Trauma CD. It’s great and I truly love it. It’s my favorite. While listening to it, not only can I clearly see situations where I could have shown more patience and tolerance, but also see where I can show more patience and tolerance in some upcoming events. May the powers that be keep you safer than safe.

With Great Love and Respect,


]]> (Belleruth Naparstek) Inspiring Story Fri, 15 Feb 2008 10:06:53 -0500