Managing Anger with CBT For Dummies®

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Table of Contents

About This Book
Conventions Used in This Book
What Not to Read
Foolish Assumptions
How This Book Is Organised
Part I: The Knowledge: Anger, CBT and Change
Part II: Managing Your Anger: Putting CBT into Action
Part III: Changing for the Better, Changing for Good
Part IV: The Part of Tens
Icons Used In This Book
Where to Go From Here
Part I: The Knowledge: Anger, CBT and Change
Chapter 1: Things You Need To Know About Anger
Grasping Normal Emotions
Following the CBT loop
Feelings about your feelings
Knowing More About Anger
Discovering the point of anger
Suffering the Consequences of Anger
Living an unhealthy lifestyle
Losing relationships
Struggling at work
Dealing with ill-health
Falling short of your potential
Using New Tactics to Manage Your Anger
Chapter 2: Knowing About CBT and Making Changes
Uncovering the Basics of CBT
Linking thought and feeling
Looking at thinking mistakes
Understanding About Thinking
Getting to the bottom of your personal attitudes and beliefs
Thinking scripts and expectations
Seeing the effects of personality style on anger
Finding out about Behaviour
Looking at physical reactions to anger
Using the trigger–reaction–results chain
Considering Making Changes
Why bother changing?
The problems anger causes you
Results: The upside of changes
Making change work
Part II: Managing Your Anger: Putting CBT into Action
Chapter 3: Investigating Your Own Anger
Using Experience to Investigate
Taking Charge of Your Anger
Understanding What Goes on When You’re Angry
Confusing anger with other feelings
Comparing anger and irritation
Taking your anger temperature
Recognising your anger style
Spotting your anger triggers
Finding the roots of your anger
Looking at the Long-Term Costs
Seeing what anger does for you
Getting into trouble because of your anger
Chapter 4: Cooling Down Your Angry Thinking
Spotting Typical Anger Triggers
‘You’re treating me badly’
‘It’s not fair’
‘It’s so frustrating’
‘Don’t be so annoying’
‘I can’t stop thinking about it’
Managing Your Angry Thinking
Spotting your angry thinking mistakes
Catching your hot thoughts
Finding evidence for your angry thoughts
Separating thinking from feeling
Replacing Unhelpful Thoughts
Stopping worry and fear in their tracks
Beating suspicion, distrust and paranoia
Seeking forgiveness, not revenge
Accepting less than perfection
Steering clear of demands and threats
Avoiding coercion and bullying
Finding the positives in any situation
Developing an Emergency Thinking First Aid Kit
Keeping anger in mind
Improving your problem solving
Caring about others
Focusing on your aims
Chapter 5: Dealing With Your Real Feelings
Feeling Balanced
Knowing your feelings better
Finding words for feelings
Looking at other feelings behind anger
Managing Your Personality Style
Clearing Up Common Myths About Feelings
Myth #1: Anger is your enemy
Myth #2: Feelings are weak
Myth #3: Hiding anger can’t hurt you
Myth #4: It’s all in the mind
Myth #5: Anger is about getting revenge
Myth #6: Grief doesn’t last long
Myth #7: Hopelessness isn’t caused by anger
Chapter 6: Changing Your Angry Behaviour
Acting Calmly
Analysing the actions of anger
Knowing your anger reactions better
Relaxing physical tension
Predicting the results of actions
Picturing answers to problems
Treating Your Body Better
Reducing your adrenaline level
Eating well
Sleeping soundly
Exercising regularly
Reducing medication
Reducing harmful substance intake
Managing pain and illness
Controlling Your Signals
Playing with a poker face
Toning down your voice
Choosing your words carefully
Talking with body language
Tackling Anger Face to Face
Pressing pause
Staying focused
Being honest
Negotiating win–win results
Handling Hidden Anger
Describing your anger style
Accepting help
Giving up payback and revenge
Chapter 7: Using Assertiveness to Bypass Anger
Defining Anger Styles
Assertiveness in action
Aggression in action
Passive aggression in action
Becoming More Assertive
Asserting Yourself: Your Rights and Responsibilities
Bringing on the benefits of assertiveness
Following basic steps to being assertive
Solving Common Problems: Tips and Tactics
Using assertive signs and signals
Saying ‘no’ and meaning ‘no’
Questioning guilty feelings
Using the ‘broken record’ technique
Dealing with criticism helpfully
Accepting that life’s not perfect
Part III: Changing for the Better, Changing for Good
Chapter 8: Changing Old Habits for New
Starting to Change
Recognising your possible future self
‘Yes, but . . .’: Avoiding excuses that block change
Learning without failing
Turning Changes into Habits
Changing your thinking
Feeling differently
Behaving in new ways
Changing old habits – some tips and tactics
Chapter 9: Getting Past Setbacks and Finding Support
Taking Two Steps Forwards and One Step Back
When Old Habits Die Hard
The ABC of behaviour change
Spotting setback triggers
Practising Positive Ways to Make Progress
Thinking tactics
Feeling tactics
Body tactics
Action tactics
Staying motivated
Keeping new habits going
Finding Help and Support
Seeking information and top-up tips
Managing in a crisis
Getting professional help
Part IV : The Part of Tens
Chapter 10: Ten Tips to Put Out the Fire When You’re Angry
Letting Anger Evaporate
Staying Motivated To Stay Cool
Having SMART Goals
Taking Time Out
Giving Up Negative Self-Talk
Accepting You’re Not Always Right
Forgiving Other People
Seeing Red but Keeping Control
Asking Whether a Fight’s Really Worth Your Energy
Finding Help in a Crisis
Chapter 11: Ten Tips for Dealing With Angry People
Turning Lemons into Lemonade
Using Your Anger Knowledge
Spending Energy Wisely
Taking Time Out
Showing Sympathy
Appreciating the Power of ‘Sorry’
Avoiding Walking on Eggshells
Dealing with Bullies
Using Cooling Tactics
Dealing with Extremes
About the Author
Cheat Sheet

Managing Anger with CBT For Dummies®



Anger management’s a hot topic these days. Many sources claim that people are more stressed and angry now than in the generations before them. Anger is normal, a natural emotion that’s part of your survival mechanism. Anger management doesn’t try to get rid of or stop your anger. Instead, managing your anger means staying in control of your feelings, thinking before reacting. Getting the best from life is about solving problems instead of reacting in ways that cause you more trouble. I think of anger management as a life skill. Life skills are skills you learn to run your life smoothly with, such as looking after yourself, getting on with people, managing money, communicating, learning new things and solving problems. The ways you manage your anger now are the habits you’ve learned; by learning new ideas and tactics, you can make the changes you’re looking for.

A couple of essentials are needed for success with your anger management. Accepting that learning how to control your anger’s like learning anything – driving, speaking a new language, cooking, working, dancing – means you’ll take time and put in genuine effort to pick up good habits. As a guideline, most people work on anger management for three to six months before the changes really start to feel familiar. If that sounds a long time, think that it’s only 12–24 weeks of your life. Not bad, considering you’ve taken your whole life so far to develop your habits. It’s not simple, or even possible, to change your anger overnight. But even setbacks are just another chance to practise, when you’re using cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT). And accepting that you’re the only one in control of your anger frees you up from thinking about other people and how they affect you. Your anger’s yours to control, so you’re in charge – you’re not waiting for anyone else to agree there’s a point to changing your anger habits or tackling your problems differently.

About This Book

Anger’s a normal human emotion. If you get angry, you’re not unusual, wrong or crazy. Frustrations, outbursts, feeling too uncomfortable to speak up are all normal in life. If you’re looking for ways to handle anger better, to get the results you really want from people and situations without losing your temper or feeling badly treated, or to get on without other people’s problems getting you down, then this book’s for you.

CBT is a world-recognised approach to dealing with human problems – psychological, emotional and physical. An enormous amount of research shows that using CBT increases your chances of solving your problems, and that using CBT together with other help (including medication) if you’re stuck has better results than going it alone.

Reading this book now can help you later. When you’re irritated or angry and it’s leading to trouble, you’ll need information and tips to hand that have a good track record of success. Working out new ways to think, feel and act in the heat of the moment isn’t practical – by preparing in advance, you’re giving yourself the best chance of success.

You can just browse through this book for interest, but I suggest you also get stuck in and try the many CBT tips and tactics, questionnaires, short exercises, record sheets and quizzes to help you make changes to manage your anger or the anger of others. This isn’t a test, and no one else is looking at your answers, so be honest with yourself. The whole point of understanding your anger better is to make changes that benefit you.

The exercises are for practice; they’re not exams! You don’t have to show anyone what you write or discover about yourself. Spelling and writing style don’t matter either – what you get out of an exercise does. Exercises also remind you later where you were to start with – it’s all too easy to lose sight of how far you’ve come.

Practice makes perfect. Practising positive thinking, calm behaviour, a healthy lifestyle and daily stress control all make a difference. Improving your skills in anger management is one way to protect yourself from the ups and downs of life and from coming off worst.

If your anger has already got you in trouble with the law, using both this book and the help you may get from professionals doubles your chances of making changes for good.

Life can be wonderful but also unpredictable, unkind and unfair. Anger’s normal; it’s how you handle it that counts.

Conventions Used in This Book

I keep the conventions to a minimum in this book. Here are the ones I use:

check.png I use italics for emphasis or to highlight new words or phrases.

check.png Boldfaced text indicates key words in bulleted lists or the key steps of action lists.

check.png Monotype font is used for websites and email addresses.

What Not to Read

This book is organised so that you can just dip in. Like all For Dummies books, you don’t have to read it in a certain order or from cover to cover. Have a look at the Contents at the beginning and pick out the parts that look interesting or that you think may help. You can go through the chapters in any order you choose.

You don’t have to read a lot of negative things about anger. In here are tips and ideas to make a difference. You only have to try them to find the ones that suit you best. The more new ideas you try, the better your chances of success are.

Foolish Assumptions

Making assumptions – guessing what people think or feel, what has happened or the reasons for something – is foolish when you don’t have all the information. I almost never recommend assuming, because I’ve never met a good mind reader! But for the book to be helpful, I’m making a couple of assumptions about you and why you’re reading it:

check.png You’re human and you’ve already got experience of anger. Going through it isn’t the same as understanding it or knowing how to handle it every time. You’re looking for interesting facts, tips and tactics for managing your anger or dealing with people when they’re angry.

check.png You’re smart enough to look for help when you hit problems. Self-help books are a great start, and you’re in good company, too – anger management’s something everyone needs to know how to do. Evidence suggests that anger, revenge, hate and rage are becoming common problems, meaning that more and more of us need some help with these emotions.

How This Book Is Organised

This book is organised into four parts and a total of 11 chapters.

Part I: The Knowledge: Anger, CBT and Change

In this part, you discover the things you need to know about anger: When it’s healthy, when it’s not, and what the consequences of unhealthy anger can be for you and those around you. I also introduce you to the basics of Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) and how it can help you to bring about real change in your life.

Part II: Managing Your Anger: Putting CBT into Action

In this part I give you a toolkit of tried and tested methods to start to manage your anger. I guide you through ways of investigating the roots and triggers of your anger, show you how to calm your angry behaviour, and give you pointers on using assertiveness to bypass anger. Pick the chapters that best fit the difficulties you’re experiencing, or work through each chapter in turn.

Part III: Changing for the Better, Changing for Good

In this part I concentrate on managing anger as an ongoing part of your life. I cover the ways in which you can develop new, more positive habits, and how to deal with the occasional relapse. This part helps you make the changes to your life permanent, and gives you some ideas for sources of support.

Part IV: The Part of Tens

Here you’ll find vital information about using CBT to manage your anger. You’ll find ten tips for quenching the fires of your own angry thinking, and ten more on dealing with anger in others.

Icons Used In This Book

remember.eps This icon reminds you of important ideas or handy information to hold on to, so that even in the heat of the moment, you can handle anger well.

exercise.eps This flags up a chance to practise your skills, get more information about your anger, or find out what works to help you handle anger better.

Tip.eps This highlights practical advice for using CBT tactics on your anger.

warning_bomb.eps This icon reminds you about essential, sometimes urgent, facts or about times when you need to stop and think before reacting as you’re learning new habits.

technicalstuff.eps This icon marks out CBT terms or jargon sometimes used in the psychology of anger management.

Where to Go From Here

Books like this exist because anger is normal and anger management is a life skill everyone needs.

Reading this book may really help you. But self-help isn’t always the full answer. If you’ve dipped in to most chapters, tried different exercises and ideas but still feel stuck, some professional help is the next positive step.

If you’re in trouble with the police because of your anger, the long-term effects on your life and your health are serious, never mind the effects on those around you. For this reason, finding some support while you learn new ways to deal with old problems is worthwhile. If changing was easy to do alone, you’d have done it already.

If anger has destroyed or affected your close relationships, maybe you’re ashamed or avoiding what you’ve really said and done. However bad you feel, professionals trained to help with anger have heard and seen it before. What you talk about gives a picture of what you’re good at and what you find hard. Professionals aren’t interested in judging you as a person – CBT is all about the view you have of life, not the professionals’ view of you. See Chapter 9 for contact details and web addresses.

Part I

The Knowledge: Anger, CBT and Change


In this part . . .

In this part, you discover the things you need to know about anger: When it’s healthy, when it’s not, and what the consequences of unhealthy anger can be for you and those around you. I also introduce you to the basics of Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) and how it can help you to bring about real change in your life.