With 99% of the same genes as our closest monkey cousins, the chimpanzees, it's no wonder that under the pressures of modern life, the tendency to anger can sometimes spiral out of control! This brief posting is not intended to serve as a substitute for counseling or therapy. If anger has begun to affect your personal or work relationships, you should definitely seek the services of a duly licensed mental health professional. However,for many everyday situations, the following information may be helpful in correcting those everyday habits that can sometimes get us into trouble.
The information below was garnered from several different sources, and provides you with a variety of useful forms and worksheets so that you can use whatever combination of these CBT tools you find most helpful for training yourself not to be angry. The information referred to in any of the links below can be downloaded from your computer by clicking on the link and using the print command on your computer.
Cognitive-behavioral therapists frequently use a document called a thought record in order to examine just what goes on when we keep making those angry responses that keep getting us into trouble. Here is what one looks like for anger, courtesy of www.getselfhelp.co.uk. They also provide a summary of the STOPP technique, which they describe as "CBT in a nutshell," and which can be summed up in one sentence: "Try not to act merely in the moment. Pull back from the situation. Take a wider view; compose yourself."
Following is a hypothetical example of how the anger thought record form might be used to see a situation from a different perspective, using the example of being suddenly cut off in traffic by another car, with the column headings in italics and one set of possible responses in standard type. You can practice using these forms for a number of other hypothetical situations, or situations that have actually made you angry in the past, in order to be prepared for a variety of possible situations in the future.
Situation: A car suddenly swerves in front of you and slows down, causing you to slam on your brakes in order to avoid hitting it.
Feelings, Emotions,: An increase in heartbeat and blood pressure, clenched jaw, faster brething.
Emotions/Moods (rate 0-100%): Anger
Physical Sensations & Reactions: Swearing, gripping the steering wheel
Unhelpful Thoughts/Images: Urge to speed up and pass the car in front of you, honk at the driver, make an angry gesture, and cut back in front of him.
What I Did/What I Could Do/What's the Best Response? (Re-Rate Emotion 0-100%) Realize that the emotion will pass in a few moments, but if you act on it the situation could escalate and possibly lead to serious complications.
The folks at www.psychologytools.org are featuring an Anger Decision Sheet submitted by Jason Roscoe, which was "designed to help people identify personal triggers for becoming angry with themselves or others." It provides several examples of how to identify the trigger for your anger, and decide between forgiving the other person and letting it go, or being assertive, instead of just blowing up or keeping your rage bottled up inside. If you scroll down on the decision sheet, you will see two blank sheets that come with it for practicing these choices with situations that have actually happened.
It first asks you about the causes of something you would like to change in your life, and then asks about the emotional consequences which were the result, your beliefs about what happened, what beliefs could be substituted for the ones which brought about the unpleasant results, and how those changed beliefs make you feel. You can write on the form itself, clearing and changing it as often as you like. Then, when you are finished, you can either print it out or save it as a text file, using a different form for each problem you would like to work on. To re-examine it or re-do each form that you have completed, just call up that particular file and continue to modify it as you progress. It could prove to be extremely helpful if you are willing put enough thought into it to give it a try!
Finally, the folks at www.smartrecovery.org have a tool chest of resources which is a treasure-trove for people who want to alter hard-to-change behaviors of every type.They have prepared a selection of tips and tricks for managing anger in such a manner that in many instances you can not merely control it, you can get rid of it! Here is a partial list of some of the other materials which they have to offer. The information may be downloaded free of charge by using the print command on your computer, although donations are encouraged. Here is a partial list of some of the materials which they have to offer:
- Hierarchy of values
- Values and goals clarification list.
- Cost-benefits analysis worksheet
- Challenging your unhelpful idea.
- Change plan worksheet.
- Trigger homework sheet
- Activities you might enjoy
- Confidence Building and Anxiety Reducing Rational Beliefs
- Coping Staements for Dealing with Anxiety about Anxiety
- Helpful Things to Say to Myself to Overcome Perfectionism
- Putting the Past Behind You,
- Rational Beliefs to Increase Frustration Tolerance.
- Forward Steps to Recovery
- Backward Steps to Addictive Behavior
- How to Deal with Backsliding
- Finally, they have a list of Articles and Essays containing a great deal of practical material which can be directly put into use, and a superb reading list.
Just as reading a book on surgery will not make you into a surgeon, and reading an exercise manual will not build muscles, merely reading a Blog posting on how to train yourself to avoid anger will not be enough to enable you to get rid of it. People who practice meditation, for example, do not hope to attain enlightenment merely by reading about it! Regular practice using the thought record for a variety of situations is the key to success.
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