What Happens to Your Thoughts and Behaviors When You’re Angry?

what happens when you're angryWhen I work with people, I think one of the most important things that come up is their awareness of whether or not they’re having an angry response, and just how it manifests for each person. The awareness, in my mind, is one of the biggest parts of the battle.

Kick/Throw something ___
Get in someone’s face ___
Shoving, grabbing, hitting ___
Break something ___
Call someone names ___
Give someone a dirty look ___
Silent treatment ___
Aggressive behaviors (e.g. road rage) ___
Increased alcohol/drug use ___
Under- or over-eating ___
Reduced concentration ___
Reduced motivation ____
Accusations/Blame ____
Yelling ___

Behavioral Cues. Behavioral cues involve the actions you display when you get angry, which are observed by other people around you. For example, you may clench your fists, pace back and forth, slam a door, or raise your voice. What are some of the behavioral cues that you have experienced when you have become angry?

They did that on purpose ___
They wanted to hurt me___
They deserve this___
They never even asked me ___
They’re being unreasonable ___
They think you’re better than me ___
I’ll show you ___
It’s not fair ___
They started it ___
They don’t care about me___
They can’t be trusted ___

Cognitive cues refer to the thoughts that occur in response to an anger-provoking event. When people become angry, they may interpret events in certain ways. For example, you may interpret a friend’s comments as criticism, or you may interpret the actions of others as demeaning, humiliating, or controlling. Some people call these thoughts “self-talk” because they resemble a conversation you are having with yourself.

For people with anger problems, this self-talk is usually very critical and hostile in tone and content. It reflects beliefs about the way you think the world should be: beliefs about people, places, and things. Closely related to thoughts and self-talk are fantasies and images. For example, you might fantasize about seeking revenge on a perceived enemy or imagine your spouse having an affair. When you have these fantasies, your anger can escalate very rapidly. Can you think of other examples of cognitive or thought cues?

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Shared by: Aaron Karmin, LCPC, Contributing Blogger