Analyze Your Anger and Do It Better Next Time
Author: Lynne Namka, Ed. D.
Here it is! Here’s an anger analysis worksheet for you to figure out how you self anger and keep yourself in hormonal outrage. Learn why and how you get mad. Learn better ways to cope with threatening situations.
This exercise is detailed because anger is complicated and you are a complex person! Copy this exercise and put it in a file to print out for the next time you get angry. Send this anger analysis worksheet on to your friends with anger problems.
An angry response happens when you feel a threat or loss to your body, property, self esteem, values, or when you did not get what you wanted. Describe the threatening event that upset you. What happened to you?
What harmful angry behaviors did you engage in? Check off the following anger responses.
- Self harm–do you beat yourself up verbally or cut or burn yourself
- Physical assault others
- Verbal abuse or threaten others
- Rage to get other person to change
- Revenge fantasies and behavior
- Displace your anger on weaker people or animals instead of addressing it directly
- Displace anger on things–break or throw things.
- Criticize others and ignore your part of the problem
- Give others the silent treatment
- Use your anger to manipulate other
- Cursing and call names
- Use sarcasm in a negative way to put someone down
- Maintain an irritable mood and bad attitude keeping others away
- Deny anger and stuff your feelings
- Shut down and space out and get confused
- Grudges–held on to anger with self righteous thinking
- Run away and do not deal with the problem
- Use alcohol, drugs or food to medicate yourself or calm yourself
- Turned anger inward and became depressed
- Beat yourself up by calling yourself names
- Deny you are angry and suppress your emotions
If you are angry, you have lost your sense of well being and perhaps something else. What did you lose?
How did what happened hurt your body?
How did what happened hurt your belongings or property?
How did the behavior of others hurt your feelings or self-esteem? Did you feel discounted, put down, shamed or belittled?
Anger is often about our values being trashed. What values of yours did this situation offend?
What expectation of yours did not happen? (I didn’t get what I wanted so I got mad.)
This is a tough one, so think long and hard on this question. Did you feel entitled to get something or get out of work just because you are you? Or did you work hard to earn what you expected thus deserving of it, but it was denied. “I’m entitled to get what I want” is an irrational belief that is a set up for being an angry person.
Did you get a pay off for getting angry? Did other people give you what you wanted because you were louder, tougher and stronger and could intimidate them? This question reflects your character and self esteem–“I feel good about making others give in to me by becoming angry.”
Did you get angry when someone criticized you for something you know you did wrong? Did you use anger to avoid taking responsibility and avoiding feeling guilty and ashamed of yourself? (If so, you substitute anger for other vulnerable emotions which keeps you from being fair with others. Becoming angry when you are guilty keeps you stuck in an unproductive emotions mode.)
Did your anger help you control someone else’s behavior? What angry behaviors do you do to get the other person back off or stop some behavior?
Did you use sarcasm, criticism or anger to try to “teach” someone to do something? Did your teaching method work?
Were you were stressed, irritated or fatigued at the time of the situation? Would you have gotten so mad if you had not been stressed?
What triggers out of your past did the event bring up? Who else treated you the same way? What is the theme behind this even that runs through your life?
Did you stuff your feelings until they build up and you explode? Are you able to take care of the “little mads” when they are small by problem solving or confronting the person about the issue?
Did you judge people on how they should or should not act? All judgment is self-judgment in some way. Did you get angry at a trait or behavior in someone, which is something you also have a piece of? How have you acted the same way in the past, even in a tiny way?
What physiological cues from your body warn you of impending anger? What changes happened to your muscles, cardiovascular system or your body temperature? Don’t know? Observe your body the next time you lose your temper.
- Adrenalin rush
- Heart races
- Temperature change with becoming hotter or colder
- Muscle tension
- Shoulders tense
- Jaw tightening
- Knots in stomach
- Clenched fists
- Feeling out of control
Anger is contagious. We can get revved up through association with others. Do you listen to talk radio or watch television and get riled up? Do the speakers threaten your values? Do you seek out programs that that fuel your anger? Whose anger do you piggyback on?
Did you “catch” the anger of someone else who was raging? Who or what typically ignites your anger? Hanging out with angry people who curse a lot influences you to act like them. What negative people in your life create situations, which steal your sense of well being?
What “Hot Thoughts” do you use to keep holding on to anger? Do you name call, blame, and curse or personalize the situation? How does your blaming other people keep you going with hot thoughts?
What do you say to yourself to keep the focus on how unfair the situation is, thus fueling your anger?
How do you justify your anger? What do you say to rationalize it? Do you have the need to be RIGHT? If you expect to get your way a lot and then get angry when you don’t, you probably have the need to be right.
How do you cope with daily stressors? (Express hostility, Take it in, deny/repress, distract, talk it through or deal with it calmly?)
How do you distract yourself to keep yourself from getting angry? Do you breathe deeply to slow down the angry reaction?
Describe how your anger gets worse when you are drinking or using street drugs.
What other feelings lay under your anger?
- Self Righteousness
How do you turn anger in on yourself and beat yourself up? What ugly names do you call yourself?
What could you tell yourself so you would cool down?
Did you detach yourself from the angering event? Did you tell yourself “I can handle this?” What words could you say to empower yourself?
Check the meaning you gave to the threatening situation. Pretend you are a calm, wise person who is not involved personally. How could you see the situation differently?
Remember, it is human to have anger. Anger is a normal human emotion. It is what you do with it that counts! How could you act differently next time the situation happens? What could you do to express anger constructively in this situation? Here are some helpful ways to express anger:
- Joke and use humor to discharge the strong intensity building up around the problem
- Use fantasy to discharge strong emotions about the problem
- Use movement, exercise or a sport to discharge your anger (You still have to deal with the problem.)
- Write about or draw pictures of your anger
- Look for your part of creating the problem and admit it to the other person
- Share Feelings “I feel _____ when you ____.”
- Confront the other person when appropriate
- Problem solve the situation instead of blowing up
- Take Time Out to cool yourself off and return to problem solve
- Take constructive action–address the problem as one to be solved
- Change the meaning of MAD–Make a Difference
- Breathe! Center yourself and become calmer to work out the problem
- Change the meaning you gave the problem. Shift your perspective
- Learn about yourself and others
- Become a mindful observer of yourself when angry
- Watch your reactions, feelings and thoughts to learn about yourself thus spending your energy on learning instead of blowing up.
What have you learned about yourself doing this exercise?
Anger is not necessarily bad. We need it to survive as a species. It can give you the necessary energy and momentum for change. How does anger help you? What positive function does it serve in your life?
Do you need to be angry so that you will leave an unjust situation? If so, go for it. Make your anger work for you!
By completing this exercise to learn more about the dynamics of your anger, you have taken the first step towards expressing anger responsibly. Pat yourself on the back for educating yourself about better ways to respond to situations where you feel threatened.