What Not to Say to Your Ex: Mel Gibson Says It All

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Anger management specialist offers advice on what to do and not to do if you suffer from uncontrollable rage.

It’s unfortunate to see someone as talented as Mel Gibson succumb to his rage. Fortunately, you don’t have to share his fate. Newton Hightower, a licensed psychotherapist for more than 35 years and author of Anger Busting 101: New ABCs for Angry Men and the Women Who Love Them (http://angerbusters.com), offers some advice that might prevent you from hearing your words repeated back to you—whether figuratively or literally.

According to Hightower “The infamous Gibson tapes that were recently released could be compared to Watergate in the world of moviemakers. As a consequence, Gibson’s career has spiraled downwards into the recesses of the public eye. Although some sources argue that his ex may have provoked him, his behavior is still unforgivable. His rage allowed him to threaten, shout at, and mock her. Now, his public image is essentially ruined.”

Gibson’s story is tragic. However, Hightower suggests that if Gibson had followed just a few simple steps, he probably would have been able to not only salvage his career, but probably would have looked like the “good guy” on the tapes. Hightower is quick to point out that Gibson is not the only man who suffers from uncontrollable rage. He suggests that if you find yourself angry with your ex-wife, your wife, or girlfriend, don’t act like Mel Gibson. Follow these simple tips on what to do and what not to do, and you’ll put yourself in a much better situation.


Do restrain yourself. It’s not necessary to always express yourself; you just need to look at Gibson’s recent outburst to see the wisdom in this advice. Instead, leave the room or hang up the phone when you find yourself becoming angry. End the discussion before things get out of control. In my men’s groups, we have a simple phrase that we take to heart: Shut up. Get out.

Do examine yourself. If you’re constantly becoming angry at your ex or wife, odds are it’s not all her fault. Instead of focusing on what she’s doing wrong, focus on your own issues.

Do surrender. When you get into an argument, your goal should not be winning. Gibson may have won the shouting match, but he certainly lost his career in the process. Instead, find something in what she says that’s correct. Say, “you’re right” rather than “you’re wrong.”

Do practice understanding. You should listen to her complaints calmly and rationally. Let her explain her side of the story, even if you think it’s wrong. You don’t need to tell her why your side of the story is the right side.


Don’t mock or be sarcastic. No one likes being teased, and your ex or wife probably won’t appreciate such behavior. It’s probably one of the cruelest and most painful ways to humiliate a person. There’s also the fact when it’s played back, you’re the one that sounds completely ridiculous rather than your ex or wife.

Don’t threaten. Whatever you do, don’t threaten her. She may make you angry, but that’s no reason to give her grounds to file a legal complaint. Threatening will only make things worse, not better. When Gibson threatened to harm his wife, people felt even more alienated.

Don’t raise your voice. Shouting isn’t going to make her understand things better. In fact, it’s liable to raise your blood pressure and just make you angrier. This can lead to detrimental situations that are liable to harm you further down the road.

Don’t be violent. Being violent is probably the worst thing you can do in an argument. If you become violent, your life can be ruined. Leave the room or house if necessary. There’s no reason for you to hit her.

Anger Management is not just another current “hot button” phrase. Unfortunately, for many it has become an essential part of their everyday life.

Newton Hightower, the former director of the Baylor Department of Family Medicine, is Founder and Director of the Center for Anger Resolution, Inc., in Houston, Texas. A licensed psychotherapist for more than 35 years, Newton is the author of Anger Busting 101: New ABCs for Angry Men and the Women Who Love Them. For more information, go to: http://angerbusters.com.


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