Managing Anger


Anger can be a difficult emotion for many people. Some will go to great lengths to avoid anger and conflict, while others get overresponsive to anger and require ways to manage the fallout of overemoting. Here are some tips for not letting your anger get the better of you and make your life difficult to live in Anger Management HANDOUT:

  • Distinguish disturbed from nondisturbed anger.  Disturbed anger is out of control, out of proportion to the situation and hurts yourself or others.  You are most likely to be flooded: this is a fight or flight response in our bodies that makes us unable to use the part of brains that reasons, we are all feelings. Nondisturbed anger has a purpose—to bring about change for the good and values the well being of all involved: this anger does not provoke fight or flight.
  • Realize that anger is an emotion, you cannot control it: BUT behavior is a choice and you can control it!  No one makes us behave poorly when angry–we are responsible for how we react to those challenges. When flooded with an emotion, your body feels different, pay attention to that. Take a time out (about 20 min) until you return to a normal body state; to help, drink water and then pee, sweat ,or cry out these extra stress hormones.
  • Understand that attitudes precede skills.  Three important attitudes that underlie all of the important anger management skills are respect, compassion, and empathy. Define (what does it mean to you, then check for meaning with others or sources).




  • Pay attention to your true feelings.   Ask yourself what is underneath the anger (think of conflict like an iceberg—anger is the tip).  What are you feeling?  Express those feelings instead of blaming or trying to fix the other person.   Do not be ashamed of legitimate feelings. 
  • Become less critical.  Practice on yourself— Note your flaws in a nonjudgmental way.  Give yourself a pat on the back when you do a reasonably good job and approve of yourself. Then be as compassionate to others as you are yourself.
  • Minimize contact with provocation. Avoid people and places that bring high stress when possible. This cannot be done with family and bosses so make this a last resort. The idea is don’t go to Walmart in a hurry when you have had a rough day.
  • Learn people skills.  Listen and keep listening.  Paraphrase what an angry person is saying so that you can better understand them and feel less defensive about what they are saying.  Attack the problem, not the person.  Avoid verbal put-downs and sarcasm.  Don’t betray a trust in anger.  Be mature enough to admit when you are wrong. Use “I” statements to describe what you see that angers you.

When _____________(situation; you are late), I feel __________(feeling; unimportant), I need________(the fix; you to call or text when running late).

  • Engage in self care. Look at what is being neglected (e.g., spirituality, intellectual activity, rest, etc) and make an effort to tend to that. You can take a self care assessment at
  • Step back and remember the big picture.  Examine your expectations, move them from hidden to understood.  Are they realistic? Have you made them clear (I statements)?  Remember, you cannot control others so expectations about how others should behave often lead to disappointment and anger.
  • Release, release, release.  Let go of anger, hostility, and resentment whenever possible.  Forgive often.  Don’t collect injuries, injustices, or grievances.  This leads to feelings of being abused. You can look for grievances via a grievance test and do forgiveness work at This is a good time to try breathing deeply and plant a positive forgiveness thought (“I am human and I err”).
  • Take constructive action.  Taking action helps to reduce your feelings of powerlessness and replaces destructive control with constructive control.  If you find yourself continuously saying and doing things in anger that you regret later, slow down and take a time out when flooded, then try making decisions in a calmer frame of mind that can access the reason center of the brain. While waiting, doing something with your hands and body can feel like control, so exercise, or paint or hammer, whatever gets you released.
  • Have patience and persistence.  You are learning how to manage your anger, so expect yourself to have setbacks from time to time.  PRACTICE* PRACTICE* PRACTICE! After all you have practiced your past way of being for a long time so you will need some time to change. There are 4 stages of change:

1. Awkward: Feels weird and maybe undoable.

2. Phony: Feels less weird and more doable, but doesn’t feel like you.

3. Mechanical: Feels more like you, certainly doable, but it is still a conscious effort.

4. Internalized: Now it is you, it occurs naturally when the situation arises.


  • Venting, or taking it out on others, decreases anger.
  • Strong anger is necessary to change situations.
  • If I don’t get angry, I don’t care.
  • One who makes me mad is worthless and deserves my wrath.
  • Reducing anger means I think the offender isn’t wrong.
  • The world is full of idiots and irritations.
  • Men and women experience anger differently.
  • Depression is anger turned inward.
  • Anger is a pure, basic emotion.
  • People make me mad.  I can’t control my anger.

Resources used:

Schiraldi, G. and M. H. Kerr.  The Anger Management Sourcebook    (Chicago: Contemporary Books, 2002).

Linda Zimmerman,   Great handouts for a variety of topics! This one is mostly from her synthesis work.

Together Texas Curriculum


For Therapy Services: The Key Counseling of SA

  1. ronchertakovsky said:

    So educational! Something we all need to work on!

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