Anger 101 Part IV: More Practices to Try

Woman writing and squeezing stress ballAs readers have requested even more anger tools, here are more to choose from when developing your own anger plan—the tools you practice and use when you become angry. There is no perfect list for everyone; what we want is the perfect list for you.

Examine and challenge your automatic thoughts: When an event or situation occurs, our feelings will depend on our thoughts and how we view the situation. For example, your boss wants to meet with you. When you learn of this request, a number of automatic thoughts may run through your mind. What tends to happens, though, is that these automatic thoughts tends to be negative. Some may think, “Oh no, I wonder if he is upset with me,” or, “Hmm, what if there are layoffs and she is going to let me go?” or, “Why is he meeting with me? Johnson over there keeps messing up, not me. Why isn’t she meeting with Johnson?”

We will feel accordingly based on these thoughts. If I think along the lines of the first two examples, I may become worried or discouraged. If I believe the third example, I may feel confused and even angry. Our thoughts will dictate our emotions.

The goal here is to stop for a moment and come up with alternative explanations. For instance, the boss may want to go over a new procedure or talk about scheduling, how your efforts are going on a certain project, growth for the new year, or something else entirely. The reality is that we never truly know what someone else is thinking, even though we may fear an outcome.

When I feel angry, if I can change my thought about the situation—“He is probably just having a bad day. I am not going to let that bring me down by reacting,” or, “This is her issue, not mine”—I will probably not feel angry. In that moment, when I am feeling upset, I have found success in examining my thought process and coming to alternative explanations.

Have an anger partner or mentor: We all need support. Having someone to talk with specifically when we are angry can make all the difference in seeing us through the moment. Keep in mind, many support groups out there offer sponsors whom individuals can lean on when they are feeling down or are considering doing something they do not want to do. So why can’t we have someone there to help us through our anger? This could be a good friend, family member, or another person.

List out all the things we do control: Many times, I hear people say “He made me do it,” or “I can’t control my anger.” The reality, though, is that we do indeed control everything that we do. It can be helpful to write out as many of these things that we can think of to remind us of this fact. Some of these can include: getting up on time or late, the necessary effort we put into our work and careers, what we put into our bodies, whether we will exercise or not, what television shows we like, and more. Facing such a lengthy list can be a reminder that I can decide how I am going to feel and how I will deal with my anger.

Increase exercise: We all need exercise. Enhancing this can assure us more appropriate ways of getting out our energy. It is too easy for energy to get trapped in our bodies and then leak out with our anger. Getting physical in a positive way can help.

Physical manipulation: This means using a squeeze ball, a hand-strengthening grip, or silly putty in order to get more energy out without having to go far to do so.

Physiologically cooling down: When we are angry, our blood pumps faster, coursing through our bodies and heating us up physiologically. Splashing water on your face or putting ice on the back of your neck can help. Taking even a minute to get to the kitchen or restroom is also a good reason to leave the immediate situation you are facing.

Draw out your anger:
Using clay can be a wonderful way to investigate what your feeling, as is or draw out your anger to show what it looks like and even adjust it to your liking. Again, we need more appropriate ways to express our feelings, not stifle them.

Anger journal: This is yet another forum to get out your feelings. The neat thing about writing is, like using the empty chair technique, we can be as upset as we like without anyone knowing. Hopefully, you will feel free to put it all out there. If you are worried about someone possibly reading what you write, there are still options. For example, you can keep your journal on the computer and password protect it. You could also write out your anger and then shred or rip it up. This can be therapeutic in and of itself.

© Copyright 2010 by Stuart A. Kaplowitz, MFT, therapist in Chino, California. All Rights Reserved. Permission to publish granted to

The preceding article was solely written by the author named above. Any views and opinions expressed are not necessarily shared by Questions or concerns about the preceding article can be directed to the author or posted as a comment below.

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  • darren


    June 21st, 2010 at 2:53 PM

    having someone listen to what I have to say when I’m angry is the only thing that works for me…this is because if I’m all by myself I tend to lose control and do things that may actually be very insane…but if there’s someone ready to listen,I pour out all my feelings and all that is behind me being angry to that person.

  • Gerald


    June 22nd, 2010 at 4:35 AM

    I am a short-tempered person at times and this has been taken advantage of by a few people at college…but I just cannot control myself when I’m angry…I just go beserk!Even counting backwards hasn’t helped…I will give these methods mentioned here a try though.

  • tyler G.

    tyler G.

    June 22nd, 2010 at 12:10 PM

    I often find that I am talking to myself when I get angry…it may seem a little weird but it works for me, and that’s all I care about! :)

  • Stuart


    July 6th, 2010 at 1:35 PM

    Darren, having someone to talk to is indeed important. I am glad you have them.

    Gerald, good luck with these and some of the others things mentioned in the previous articles.

    Tyler, self-talk is so important. Good for you in keeping in positive.

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