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Counseling Center
University of Mississippi

Anger Management

What to do when you are angry

ALWAYS: Stop and Think! Evaluate!

* What am I angry about?
* What are the possible consequences of my acting out my anger?
* What are the possible consequences of my confronting the person directly?
* What do I want?

Decide if direct confrontation/ expression of anger is appropriate:

* Take a deep breath
* State your position calmly, using “I” (i.e., “I feel angry because . . .”)
* State what you want, again beginning with “I” (i.e., “I want . . .”)
* Listen to the other person1s response and
* Do not get involved in back and forth bickering.

If direct confrontation/ expression is not appropriate:

* Talk to a friend about it.
* Write about your feelings.
* Draw or paint a “mad” picture.
* Write a “mad” letter. DO NOT SEND IT!!!
* Some people like to hit a “mad” pillow or punching bag.
* Try picturing in your mind yourself yelling, screaming, shouting, jumping up and down, saying, and doing all the things you1d like to do with your anger if you could get away with it.
* Physical exercise can be helpful.
* Some people like to go to a quiet place where they are all alone and talk to themselves about how they feel. If you are alone, you can also yell, scream, and shout if that makes you feel better.


* Yell, scream, shout, or raise your voice at the other person (or anyone else.)
* Use “you” messages. (You make me . . .)
* Use “always”, “never”, and other extreme words.
* Blame the other person.
* Bring up issues from the past. (Stay focused on the here-and-now.)
* Use name-calling.
* Confront when you’re really angry, out of control, or haven’t thought about what you want and what are the likely consequences of confrontation.
* Act out anger on someone or something else (i.e., the dog, your best friend, a co-worker.)


* If you find yourself feeling angry much of the time, it may be that you’ve learned to feel angry instead of other emotions, such as fear, hurt, disappointment, rejection.
* Think about some times you’ve been angry recently. What were the reasons? Do you detect any common themes? What other emotions are possible?
* How was anger expressed/responded to in your family when you were growing up? Is this what you want for yourself?
* How rational are the things that make you angry? Which ones are realistic? Which ones aren’t? What would your life be like without all the anger?
* Learn relaxation techniques. Practice exercises, such as deep breathing (slowing breathe in to the count of ten, then slowly exhale; repeat.) Clinch your fists and arms tightly against your body to the count of five. Then, suddenly relax them. Focus on the sense of relaxation; repeat.)
* Imagine yourself in a situation that really makes you angry. Picture yourself acting in an appropriate manner. Visualize how nice it feels to be in control of yourself and your emotions.
* Get out of unproductive triangles. If you are angry about what someone did to someone else, you are involved in a triangle. The anger rightfully belongs to the wronged person, not you (whether they are willing to accept it or not.) IT’S NOT YOUR PROBLEM! (You have enough problems of your own without borrowing someone else’s.)
* Be aware of “hooks” – those words or phrases that can instantly trigger an intense reaction in you, likely uttered by a particular someone. Practice not responding with anger. Defuse their power over you! You CAN choose what you will feel and express anger about. Tell yourself, “This doesn’t matter. I choose NOT to get angry about this. I choose not to let others control me in this way.
* Practice assertiveness skills. Know what you want and ask for it! Sometimes people feel angry because they secretly (possibly even without awareness) resent denying their own needs in favor of meeting the needs of others. No one can engage in self-sacrificing behaviors for long without a reactive explosion.

Remember that anger is a feeling and, as such, is neither right nor wrong – good nor bad. What you do with your anger is what matters. And you have complete control over your behaviors.