How I use WOOP/MCII to manage anger

As you may have noticed, lately I’ve been writing a lot about the revolutionary habit change technique WOOP/MCII, which I’ve recently discovered.

Its creators have been applying this technique for over 10 years, but for me, it’s still a honeymoon phase.

Until now, I’ve only been studying it. But now I’ve started applying it too.

I began with my most powerful desire, one of the strongest habits I have – anger, poorly controlled rage.

I’ve had this habit for about 25 years, and it has only strengthened with age. Naturally, my close ones know about it well. And it was bad, but not only that.

The main thing that bothered me were two things:

  1. This habit did not help me in life.
  2. The analysis showed that it was an obstacle, or rather it only made things worse.

Money Doesn’t Buy Calm

I tried some therapy methods (worked with 3 psychologists) – none of them had a strategic effect.

Until now, I thought the reason was that I simply hadn’t achieved certain financial results in life that bring peace, and then I would stop getting angry at every little thing.

The first signs were there when the financial situation improved time and time again, but nothing changed.

I personally experienced why dreams alone don’t change anything, and even make things worse, which is one of the main ideas of the WOOP/MCII approach.

And then, I came across a study called “Downregulation of anger by mental contrasting with implementation intentions (MCII)

Discovering WOOP/MCII

Given that I already knew something about the MCII technique, I became even more interested in it, learning about such a practical aspect, very relevant to me.

The study was published in 2018 in the scientific journal Frontiers in Psychology (present in the Scopus scientific database as a peer-reviewed journal).

The brief conclusion from the study: participants of two experiments (177 people) effectively reduced their anger with the MCII technique.

According to the scientists, this is not the first study with similar results. Other studies had previously reported similar effects of emotion management in samples of people with depression and children with ADHD symptoms.

So, I decided to use this approach for myself.

My experiment started on July 3, 2023.

After an anger incident that upset me, I would sit down and write a journal. Right away.

Since the main goal of MCII is to visualize overcoming obstacles, I had to imagine what I would think or how I would act the next time when the events that caused me to explode this time occur.

Of course, this is the most difficult part (although for different people other parts may be above average in complexity, which is logical, since the technique needs to be learned). Therefore, it’s better to start the technique with someone (I invite you to practice with me).

And then, when this is firmly fixed in the subconscious in the form of an image, I won’t have to try hard to do something and consciously regulate my anger.

It simply won’t arise in these situations for these obstacles.

Today, we can already draw preliminary conclusions (it’s still early, but we can already).

Those around me are telling me straight away that they are shocked. The technique works. I recommend it.

Recognition of Anger as a Habit

Skeptically speaking, the information I outlined for tracking personal changes seems implausible.

You see, I was angry for decades, and then suddenly I became nice in a week. Is that how it works?

Yes and no.

No, because anger is a habit that contains dozens of sub-habits. It’s when you get angry automatically in cases of standard situations.

Identifying these standard situations and working through each one (if you’re lucky, one is enough) gradually leads to the weakening of the entire habit.

So yes, you get less angry in fewer situations, therefore, you become overall less angry.

And the energy that usually went into the whistle of anger now stays with you. Nice bonus!

Now we monitor long-term changes.

Schweiger Gallo I, Bieleke M, Alonso MA, et al. (2018) Downregulation of anger by mental contrasting with implementation intentions (MCII). Frontiers in Psychology.