In this blog, we will review “How CBT helps with anger management”, and also go through the various strategies used in it to deal with anger issues.
How Does CBT help with Anger management?
CBT is the perfect combination of cognitive and behavioral therapy. This new age theory was developed relatively recently when compared to some of the other theories. It is a 4th generation behavioral therapy that aims to achieve behavioral modification by altering negative thought processes and replacing them with positive thought processes.
What is anger and how does it develop?
Anger is an emotion that occurs or manifests with varied intensity. It has a broad spectrum that can range from mild irritation or frustration to very strong feelings of fury, rage, or hostility, and aggression which is accompanied by a physical response such as increased heartbeat and an adrenaline rush. In most cases, the anger is triggered by an external stimulus that gives rise to an outward display of reaction. Anger develops or is generated due to self-imposed expectations. We tend to have a lot of expectations from people around us as well as from ourselves. When these expectations are not met, we get affected negatively and might display unacceptable behavior due to these unpleasant feelings within us. If left untreated or ignored these feelings can lead to the manifestation of anger. While there are many other reasons for the development of anger it is important to learn the techniques and strategies to manage this anger.
But we should bear in mind that though anger has its negative side it also has some positive aspects. It is a powerful emotion that can help us in dealing with complicated situations, wherein it is necessary to maintain self-respecting boundaries or when the situation demands aggressive action.
Health issues caused due to anger
- Affects the digestive system
- abdominal pain.
- high blood pressure.
- skin problems, such as eczema.
- heart attack.
Consequences of unchecked anger
high levels of anger can lead to an increased risk for health problems. Anger can cause various chronic illnesses to be developed.
Anger can also affect a person’s self-esteem due to feelings of resentment and guilt towards oneself.
It negatively impacts the relationships as anger can cause distrust and feelings of resentment and disgust among people for each other.
It can also be quite detrimental for the person’s professional life as anger is not an attribute that can bore a positive fruit in a workplace environment.
7 step guide for Anger management.
Aaron Beck the founder of cognitive therapy came up with a few tips and techniques to deal with anger. These tips and techniques are compiled together to form this guide,
The seven important steps of anger management are as follows
Avoiding the ‘Should’ trap
We are governed by strict rules and expectations in our daily lives. We have expectations from ourselves as well as from people around us. As a person, we cannot regulate other people’s lives or dictate their behaviors. Every human being has the autonomy to lead their lives the way they wish to. But we tend to forget it and force compulsions on others and ourselves. Following are some of the examples of such compulsions
- Everyone should listen to me
- They should have told me
- I should have been able to achieve this
- He should have done it the way I told him
When these compulsive expectations are not met they lead to the development of unpleasant feelings like frustration, guilt, and irritation. These feelings contribute to the manifestation of anger which further deteriorates the situation. Therefore it is necessary to not fall prey to the ‘Should’ trap by remembering that everybody has the choice to live their life the way they want and we should respect those choices. Also, we need to learn to accept that we cannot control nature or our environment and some things are out of our control.
To be able to do this we can ask ourselves
“What makes me feel this need to have things under my control?
“What will happen if things do not go the way I expect?
By accepting our present conditions and learning to cope with them we can try to manage the situation as well as any anger arising due to it.
The second step is identifying the stressors in our life. What causes us to distressed or triggers us are the things we need to be on the lookout for. Without our knowledge these stressors can create havoc in our lives hence it is imperative to control these stressors and tackle them efficiently. To identify our stressors we can utilize the ABC model of CBT and identify events or situations that generate negative feelings and behaviors within us that lead to anger through though monitoring.
The response to hot, agitated, and temperamental thoughts should be cool, controlled, and level-headed. Even if we might get irritated and driven with rage and fury we need to learn to analyze those thoughts and counter them with rational thoughts in a cool manner.
Hot thoughts: “He is intentionally snubbing me”
Level-headed thought: “He might have his reason for excluding me, I need to talk to clear the misunderstanding.”
Response to Anger Arousal
The fourth step is our response to our anger arousal. If we lose control and let our emotions guide us, it can make matters a bit complicated. It is important to understand the consequences of our actions and react accordingly. We can employ some breathing and relaxation exercises that might help alleviate the physical symptoms of anger such as racing heart, increased hormone levels, etc. We need to focus on utilizing anger in a constructive way instead of in a destructive manner. If channeled properly we can do wonders with the help of the raw energy that comes along with anger. So instead of getting triggered, we can try to redirect our resources into doing something productive. Many people take up self-defense classes or boxing to help redirect their anger. We can also try calming exercises such as counting, deep breathing, PMR to help calm our emotions and buy us time to analyze our emotions. Most of the time anger dissipates if it is given some time. So various techniques could be utilized to curb our emotional response to our anger arousal.
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Reconstruction of our thought process
It is important to modify our thought processes and belief systems that negatively influence our behavior and cause anger issues. Sometimes we can justify our unethical or morally dubious actions by displacing the blame onto others. We might absolve ourselves of the blame or guilt by believing that it wasn’t our fault and the other person deserved it. Therefore it is important to identify and replace such harmful thoughts with positive and morally right, thoughts.
Examples of destructive thoughts
“They deserved that type of treatment”
“That person deserved to be taught a lesson”
“I couldn’t control my emotions in the heat of the moment and ended up lashing out, but that doesn’t mean that I am wrong.
Such thoughts could be modified as
“They might have misbehaved but that doesn’t give me the right to treat them in such manner”
“I do not possess the right to harm any person”
“Even if I lashed out due to the surge of emotions it still doesn’t mean that I am completely blameless.”
The next step is understanding the consequences of dysfunctional behaviors and acting accordingly. Our destructive and aggressive behaviors cause harm and distress to other people. But in our minds, we might brush it off and defend ourselves against any allegations from them. But it is important to understand that every action has a consequence and our bad behavior not just affects us but also other people. Therefore to understand their pain and hurt we need to put ourselves in their shoes and learn to empathize with them. By doing so we can bring about positive changes not only in our lives but also in other people’s lives and behavior.
Empathizing can lead to:
Reduction of our anger as we see things from other people’s perspective
Appease other people when we attempt to understand them.
Increase positive feelings within each other
Increase the chances of having a peaceful conversation
In this step, we need to let go of grudges, resentment, and guilt. These negative feelings do more harm than good and prevent us from marching ahead. By following all of the previously mentioned steps we can only reduce the intensity and number of episodes. The anger management steps are intended to help people realize the negative consequences of their behavior and to provide them with alternative options to deal with their problems. It is important to not view anger as an enemy to be defeated but an energy that can be utilized for good and productive things as well. If we direct our energies in the right direction we can utilize our anger to further improve our lives.
Thus, we learned about the various strategies and techniques in CBT for anger management and also understood the concept of anger and issues related to it.
What we recommend for Counselling
If you are suffering from depression or any other mental disorders then ongoing professional counselling could be your ideal first point of call. Counselling will utilize theories such as Cognitive behavioural therapy which will help you live a more fulfilling life.
Frequently Asked Questions
Is CBT effective for anger management?
Abert Ellis, the father of cognitive therapy, had once stated that anger disorders are very common. Though this does not mean that it doesn’t require correct diagnosis and effective treatment, CBT has been proven effective in treating behavioral issues and is very effective in curbing thoughts and emotions that lead to anger issues.
What are 5 anger management skills?
Following are a few tips to curb anger issues
- Do not speak thoughtlessly…
- Do not speak when you are angry, Calm yourself down, and then speak your thoughts.
- Regularly exercise.
- Utilize timeout techniques.
- Explore alternate options for a problem
- Get rid of grudges and resentment
- Incorporate humor in life to ease tension
How do you neutralize anger?
There are quite a few techniques utilized in order to neutralize or control anger.
Tips to neutralize anger
- Breathing exercises
- Relaxation techniques
- Positive self talk
- Listening or playing music
- Engaging in hobbies
Why do I get angry so easily?
Anger issues could be developed due to a stimulating environment that triggers the person.
These triggers could even be normal occurrences such as getting reprimanded at work, having troubles in relationships, financial issues, etc. Some people are prone to anger-related issues due to their personality, stressors in life or even genetics.
How does meditation help anger?
Meditation helps bring down stress levels and calm the person. It also works as a distraction wherein one can focus all their energy and release their pent-up frustration and anger. Meditation helps alleviate some of the symptoms of anger and provides relief to the person.
Control your anger: Tips for Anger Management. CBT Psychology. Retrieved December 18, 2021, from https://cbtpsychology.com/managing-anger/
CBT for Anger Management. Klearminds. (2019, October 14). Retrieved December 18, 2021, from https://www.klearminds.com/therapies/cbt-cognitive-behavioural-therapy/anger-management/
Consequences of anger. Anger Management Groups. (n.d.). Retrieved December 18, 2021, from https://www.angermanagementgroups.com/consequences-of-anger
How to use CBT for Anger Management. Mark Tyrrell’s Therapy Skills. (2021, May 4). Retrieved December 18, 2021, from https://www.unk.com/blog/how-to-use-cbt-for-anger-management
Seven steps for anger. Beck Institute. (2021, September 22). Retrieved December 18, 2021, from https://beckinstitute.org/blog/seven-steps-for-anger/