How to Manage Anger
- Activating event – The activating event is the situation that triggers the anger response. It could be something someone did or did not do, bad news, an unexpected change or anything else that breeds anger.
- Beliefs and thoughts – This is your belief about the activating event. The most important thing to remember when working to improve anger is that the activating event doesn't trigger anger. Instead, it is your beliefs about the events that create anger. This means that you control your anger. No one “makes” you angry. Some people resist this way of thinking while others find it to be quite freeing. Since anger is all about control, taking responsibility for your anger gives you total control.
- Consequence – This is the result of your beliefs and thoughts. The consequence could be the behaviors completed or feelings expressed. Consequences include feeling angry, punching a wall or yelling aggressively.
This is likely a completely new way to conceptualize anger, so let’s look at some examples.
- Example #1 –In this scenario, someone gives you $10. You expected to only get $5 so you are happy, satisfied and content. There is no anger and the relationship is strengthened. In the other scenario, someone gives you $10, but this time you are angry because you expected $20. The situation did not change as the activating event stayed the same. Only your beliefs in the form of expectations change.
- Example #2 – Your boyfriend is late from work. Your belief is that he is a lying, cheating, no-good excuse for a man. When he arrives home, you will be angry, upset and frustrated. Maybe you will throw a vase at him or maybe you will give him the silent treatment. In either case, he will be confused and surprised by your reaction. In the other scenario, your boyfriend is late from work. Your belief is that he is a hard working, honest man that loves you. When he arrives home, you ask about his day and what kept him. Perhaps, he was delayed because he stopped to pick up some flowers.
Looking at your beliefs is the best way to reduce anger. Chances are good that you will find many beliefs that are fuelled by irrationality. Irrational beliefs are ones that are based on feelings instead of objective facts. Irrational thinking is a cornerstone of depression so you must gain awareness of thoughts. Rational thoughts will be logical, based on fact and agreeable to other people. Rational thoughts lead to rational beliefs. Ask yourself, what evidence do I have to support this? Is this true all the time? What is the worst that could happen? Why do I think this way? If you can change your beliefs, you can change your anger.
Anger is a common effect of depression. Understanding what it is, its negatives, its positives and its development will give you the background needed to manage your anger response. Look at your ABCs to gain awareness of your power to change your responses, and change your beliefs to be angry no longer.