Four steps to anger management |

Four steps to anger management

Lindsay Simon

Everyone gets angry, it is part of being human. It is important to know the difference between anger and aggression.

Anger is an emotion. In and of itself anger is not a bad thing. Anger can be a very healthy emotion, it can give us feedback that there is something in ourselves, our lives or the world that we want changed and help motivate us to do that. On the other hand, acting aggressively in response to your anger can be harmful to others and to you.

In the short term acting aggressively works because it can get you want you want quickly. However, there are consequences to this. Can you think of negative consequences of acting aggressively? (Hint: Legal, school, social, family, relationship, self-esteem, self-worth, emotional state, psychological state.)

Now, if you are reading this and realize that you have a problem with acting aggressively (yelling, throwing things, name-calling, physically or verbally attacking, punching a wall), and after thinking about the consequences realize you want to change that, know that it is never too late to do this.

Recent research on the human brain shows us that it is never too late to teach an old dog new tricks! So, we now know that we can learn new behaviors until we are old and grey. New behaviors may need to be repeated more and worked on harder as you get older to create change, but with some dedication and drive it is very doable!

So, if you are feeling motivated to make some changed and learn healthy ways to respond to your own anger, read these tips to get you started:

Identify Anger

Check your body: Are you “getting hot”, heart racing, body tensing, voice raising?

Check your thoughts: Are they racing, focused on being attacked or attacking?

Check your emotions: Are you feeling angry, trapped, overwhelmed?

Time Out: Get Out and Cool Down

If you are at the point where you know if you stay things will escalate, then use a time-out and remove yourself from the situation knowing you will return to address the situation once you are calm

Steps to a time-out:

ANNOUNCE IT! (if you just leave without saying anything that is a form of emotional abuse!) You can say “I need to go cool down/ take a break.”

Leave, go for a walk or somewhere else that you can go cool down

Distract yourself (count from 100 backwards, play with a pet, listen to music or a book on tape, call a friend and ask about their day, draw, etc)

Relax/ Self-Soothe (abdominal breathing, visualization, stretch, cup tea)

Address the situation

Once you are calm look at your thoughts and challenge any unrealistic, blaming, catastrophizing thoughts (this is necessary to think through and address the problem as when you aren’t calm you can’t access the part of the brain you need to think clearly!)

Use assertiveness skills. Express your needs using I statements, or a DEESC script (you can google search both of these!)

Use Humor. Try and find something funny

Use gratefulness. Try changing whatever situation you are in to a “I am blessed to__ because__” (example: “I am blessed to have my partner upset that I was late because that means she/he cares about my safety and it feels good to be loved and cared about”)


Use the steps above. Each day make sure you are implementing self-care and stress management techniques. Exercise, relaxation, nutrition, not abusing alcohol and drugs all help!

If you think you could benefit from the support and guidance of a trained professional you can call our office at A Balanced Life 530-544-1748 to setup a consultation or appointment with one of our skilled therapists, or contact us through our website

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