CBT Guide To Manage Anger

In this guide, you'll find CBT advice on how to manage your anger.

You'll find relevant CBT information about anger and what you can do in this article. The advice can help you improve your life: 

Positive benefits of CBT

  • Greater ability to control impulses
  • Greater ability to remain calm
  • Improved relationships:
    • social
    • work
    • family
  • Greater acceptance of:
    • people
    • situations

 Reduction via CBT in

  • Hostility
  • Over-reacting
  • Tense muscles
  • Social withdrawal/avoidance
  • Anger
  • Ill-temper
  • Resentfulness

Angry woman needing CBT for AngerAngry Man needing CBT for Anger

What is CBT for anger management and its value?

  • Irritability and anger take a lot of different forms. Both are emotions that most people have felt.
  • In the right situation, irritability and anger are useful emotions when we feel violated, some standards and expectations are not met or went simply things don’t go to plan.
  • Anger becomes a problem when unhelpful thinking courses us to overreact, disproportionately to the situation.
  • Anger and irritability can be managed with techniques to control inappropriate behavioural responses and frustrating thoughts helping to improve our emotional wellbeing.
  • Developing strategies to reduce our levels of frustration, irritability and anger can prevent ‘flash’ points.
  • Learning to accept some of our frustrations and irritations will reduce our anger outbursts.
  • Whether in your working or private life, acting out anger in inappropriate ways can be unhelpful that can lead to severe problems. Managing our anger can prevent significant social, emotional or physical health and possible legal issues.
  • Indeed much research has demonstrated that anger can impair our judgement, and can lead to hostile and aggressive behaviour or unproductive patterns of communication.
  • Anger is often perceived as a negative emotion, but can be experienced positively as feeling alive, very energised and ‘right’!
  • While these may be advantageous, in a short-term, focused way, in the work setting, if anger and irritability are not proportionate we can act out of character and be viewed as unprofessional.
  • Other symptoms associated with anger are a constant feeling of tension and thought of being about to explode. You may lose your temper easily and quickly, shouting, waving your hands around in exaggerated, short, sharp, pointing gestures and adopt aggressive body language such as glaring/staring eyes, leaning forwards close to the other person, breathing fast with flushed cheeks, etc.
  • Remember it is OK to feel annoyed or angry but be ‘assertive’ and resist behaviours that could be interpreted by others as ‘aggressive’ or a violation of their rights.
  • However, if we feel that our anger is causing personal (and relationship) problems, then we should seek cognitive behavioural therapy or professional coaching advice. See additional resources guide below.

The first step in CBT to overcome irritability or anger is to become aware of what is happening.

Awareness and reflection in CBT will help us to control the next triggering situation. Complete this record after each event noting clearly as possible what triggered your irritability anger, and how you respond.

Trigger; described here what a video camera which has seen or heard. Resist describing what you thought about the situation or how you reacted to it.

Appraisal/judgement: write down the force that went through your mind just before you start to feel angry

Rate your anger as a percentage: with 0% being no annoyance, moving up the percentages to frustrations irritability and anger with 100% being a complete rage

Response: write down what a video camera would have seen you do and head you say, as clear as you can.

Permission giving beliefs:  in this situation consider the factors and environments that permitted you to act in this way.

Considering your inhibitors:  in this situation what prevented you from acting violently.  Describe any protective factors in the environment that helped you to curb your behaviour.

Consequences: what were the effects of behaving this way on yourself. Equally significant what was the impact on the people, either directly or indirectly?

More helpful appraisals/judgements in CBT: 

Now the time has passed, how would you appraise the situation differently? To determine this, you might like to consider the following: what thinking errors are you making (selective attention or biased thinking, mind reading, thinking in black-and-white terms, i.e. all or nothing mentality, making over generalisations)?

If you had an all-knowing, or wise friend, how would he or she have seen this situation

Now that the situation has passed is there a different way of viewing the situation? (A glass that is half empty is also half full.)

Remedial action; (this is not to give permission all become an excuse.) is there anything you need to do to make reparation. Do you need to apologise to somebody – if so do it unconditionally 

Planning new behaviour: knowing what you know now if the situation were to happen again what you would do differently?

What would your friend tell you to do,  or what would you say to a friend to do in that situation?

Document your success at finding more appropriate ways of coping with anger.  When you notice that you have managed a frustrating or angry situation, more helpfully, describe 1) what you did and 2) what caused you to act differently.  What were the consequences of your new behaviour?

Hopefully, you will find this guide useful. 

If you think CBT Therapy can help you, then you can reach us on 0207 929 7911 or send us a message here to talk to one of our private CBT Therapist about how we can help you.

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