In this article, we will learn about various techniques for anger in CBT and also study the emotion of anger, its causes, and its effects on our mental health.
What are the techniques in CBT to manage anger?
There are various techniques and strategies utilized in CBT to curb anger. Following are some of them:
- Cognitive Restructuring
- Relaxation Exercises
- Breathing Exercises
- Visual Imagery
- Coloring Pages
What is anger?
Anger is an emotion that occurs commonly in everyone. It is not a bad emotion to feel anger can be quite helpful in some instances where we need raw energy to push through a particularly stubborn situation. But excessive anger our outbursts can create negative consequences and have detrimental effects on a person’s health. For ease of understanding, anger has been classified into three types.
Symptoms of anger
When we experience a strong emotion like anger our body displays certain physical symptoms. These symptoms can worsen and cause harm if ignored and the anger issues are not treated. Therefore it is imperative to keep an eye for these symptoms and address any anger-related issues immediately
The common symptoms of anger are as follows:
- Racing heart or tightening of the chest
- Increased blood pressure
- Feeling pressure in the chest or the sinus cavities
- Excessive sweating
Types of Anger
The three types of anger help shape how we react in a situation that makes us angry.
Most of the time many of us pretend that we are not angry to avoid confrontation. Such a type of evasive behavior is called passive aggression. When we are passively aggressive we display our anger covertly. We might become silent, sulk, procrastinate and put up a facade that we are fine even when it is quite apparent that we are not. Such a type of passive-aggressive behavior can be quite difficult to deal with as even though the behavior might not be violent it can be very frustrating to deal with for other people.
If Passive Aggression displays anger covertly and subtly then open aggression is the opposite of it. Here the aggression is displayed in an overt and very visible manner. In such type of anger, people lash out, become violent, or physically and verbally abusive. This type of anger is dangerous as people can pose a threat to themselves as well as others. Such type of anger is usually seen in dubious activities such as bullying, blackmailing, fighting, or even in events observed in daily occurrences as shouting, arguments, accusations, confrontation, sarcasm, and criticism. It stems from an overpowering need for control and hence it is the most dangerous type of anger out of the three.
Assertive anger is a healthy way of dealing with anger. This type of anger is beneficial as it focuses on being confident and in control. Just because someone is angry does not mean that they should not listen to others and only state what they feel is right. The right thing to do is to listen and talk to reach a consensual decision regarding the problematic situation. It is very important to be open to other people’s opinions and thoughts. Being assertive is good as it is a great leadership quality and is a necessity at times when people need someone to rely on or to take control. It is a display of mature behavior when dealing with unpleasant situations.
Thus the three types of anger showcase very different ways of tackling anger.
Types of Anger Disorders
As stated earlier anger is a normal emotion. But when it exceeds a certain range and creates trouble and inconvenience in the person’s life then it is time to get it treated. People are aggrieved with different types of problems when it comes to anger. To help us understand them better they are classified into the following types.
In this anger disorder, the immune system is impacted as this lasts for a long duration and can even lead to the development of other mental disorders.
Passive anger is a subtle form of anger and therefore harder to detect.
When an individual gets overwhelmed by the expectations and demands of daily life and finds it hard to cope with, they are prone to get affected by this disorder.
In this type of disorder, the individual directs their anger towards self.
Judgmental anger is the opposite of self-inflicted anger wherein the anger is detected towards others which are directed toward others
This is a violent and aggressive form of anger where the person might display outbursts of volatile behavior.
Techniques of CBT for Anger
- Cognitive Restructuring
In cognitive restructuring, we reshape our maladaptive thoughts and beliefs into adaptive thoughts and behavior so that we can achieve a desirable outcome. Anger is an emotion that can be volatile and difficult to handle. Cognitive restructuring aids in addressing the anger-increasing thoughts and cognitive distortions which function to increase anger to dysfunctional intensities and often lead to disastrous consequences.
Mindfulness is an approach that places importance on focusing on the present moment by being aware of one’s senses and thoughts. It also reinforces the importance of changing one’s attitude towards negative thoughts instead of changing those thoughts. For example, if a person is feeling angry because they think they are being ignored and isolated. In mindfulness training instead of thinking that perhaps what they are thinking might not be true and they are not being ignored the person might be encouraged to change their attitude towards the situation. The person would be encouraged to accept the situation for what it is and try to be unperturbed by that while deciding the best course of action based on the current circumstance.
Relaxation exercises have been proven to be very effective in dealing with episodes of anger. Breathing techniques and PMR help calm down the disturbing feelings and aids in alleviating the unpleasant symptoms caused by anger. The progressive muscle relaxation technique is a very helpful technique that helps in releasing the tension and stress accumulated in the body through systematic contraction and relaxation of the muscles. Thus, relaxation exercises work wonderfully to release pent-up frustration and tension in our bodies calmly and healthily.
Journaling our thoughts is a great way of putting our thoughts and ideas into perspective. It gives us a way to share our deepest concerns without the fear of being judged or criticized. Also by writing down things we can observe and analyze our thought process and evaluate our triggers and weak spots when it comes to anger issues. It is a great tool to help you track your experiences related to the episode and find solutions or preventative measures for them.
- Guided Imagery
l imagery is a very powerful technique that utilizes imagination to combat anger. In guided imagery, the therapist would guide the client through an imaginative visual scenario through which the client would be able to exorcise the anger within them.
For example, the therapist may ask the person to visually imagine an event that sparks anger in them. They would be then asked to focus on the event and the feelings evoked through it. The person would be expected to feel and experience those feelings as if it is happening for real. Through this technique, the person can understand their emotions and their grasp on their behavior as well as how they can conquer it with patience and controlled demeanor.
- Coloring Pages
Coloring pages is one of the recent techniques of psychotherapy that aids adults, children, or even mental health patients with their emotional and behavioral issues. Coloring pages provide a distraction to people from their intrusive and constant thoughts. It is also a very easy and easily accessible activity that does not involve engaging extensive mental resources. It has a calming effect on the person and also evokes nostalgia in people. More and more therapists are recommending and encouraging the use of coloring pages for the alleviation of the symptoms of anger, depression, and anxiety along with other mental health disorders.
We learned the various techniques utilized in CBT for anger and also understood the emotion of anger and its types.
Frequently Asked Questions
How do you calm explosive anger?
Anger can tend to be destructive in its explosive form. To avoid having explosive episodes and calm down your rage there are some helpful techniques. They are as follows
Give yourself time.
When we are in the midst of an episode it is hard to think rationally and behave appropriately. In such times it is always advisable to give oneself some time to let off the steam and calm the unsettled emotions
To not dwell on things
When we become stuck on things and refuse to move on that can create problems and only worsen our anger issues.
Modify your thought process
By changing our thought process from negative to positive we can bring about desirable changes in our behavior.
Relaxing can be beneficial for our physical health as anger can strain our health as well.
Work on Communication skills
Better communication skills can also work as a preventative measure for anger.
Exercise has been found effective in neutralizing the effects of anger and it also helps in distracting the person.
Identify avoid) your triggers
By avoiding the triggers we can save ourselves from getting swept away in an explosive anger episode,
How do I stop getting mad over little things?
By trying to let things go and not getting bothered by little things we can save ourselves from getting affected by inconsequential things. We need to focus on the big picture and let some things slide by for the sake of a peaceful mind and calm. So whenever you feel bothered by something, you should analyze and think about whether it is worth it to get affected by those things and can you handle this situation in an alternative way that does not involve you getting mad.
What Mental Illness Causes anger?
- The following are some of the mental illnesses that can cause anger issues.
- Obsessive-compulsive disorder. (OCD)
- Substance/Alcohol abuse
- Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder. (ADHD)
- Oppositional defiant disorder.
- Bipolar disorder.
- Intermittent explosive disorder. (IED)
Can anger be managed?
While anger is an emotion that isn’t something that can be easily controlled but it is possible to control the situation that might trigger the anger. Also even if you cannot control how you feel a particular emotion, you can still control how you express it. It is important to remember that our careless actions can cause harm to someone else and therefore we should be mindful and conscious of our behavior. There are always to tackle any situation peacefully and cordially.
Why do I lose my temper so quickly?
Some people are prone to losing their temper quite easily. It can also be a sign of mental disorders such as depression or intermittent explosive disorder (IED). When your anger issues lead you to cause harm to yourself or others or when it becomes overwhelming for you to manage your anger, then you should seek help from the therapist.
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Cognitive restructuring. Cognitive Restructuring – an overview | ScienceDirect Topics. (n.d.). Retrieved December 21, 2021, from https://www.sciencedirect.com/topics/psychology/cognitive-restructuring
Great new name. Your Life Counts. (n.d.). Retrieved December 21, 2021, from https://yourlifecounts.org/learning-center/aggression/dealing-with-anger-types-of-anger/