Anger Management For Dummies book cover

Anger Management For Dummies

By: Laura L. Smith Published: 09-28-2021

Learn to mitigate your anger and take charge of your life 

Everyone experiences anger from time to time, but when left unchecked or unbridled, this normal human emotion can become disruptive and damage relationships. If you’re ready to stop letting anger control your life, turn to Anger Management For Dummies. This trusted source gives you tools to identify the source of your anger—whether it’s fear, depression, anxiety, or stress—and offers ways to deal with the “flight or fight” instinct that anger produces, allowing you to release yourself and your life from its grip.

Anger Management For Dummies outlines specific anger management methods, skills, and exercises that you can use to take control of your feelings and actions. It provides: 

  • Information on the different kinds of rage, including road, air, and office 
  • A look at Intermittent Explosive Disorder (IED) and how to manage aggression 
  • Advice on how to deal with angry children and teens 
  • Details on how anger is related to the "fight, flight, or freeze" response of the nervous system and prepares you to fight (for good or bad) 

Overcoming anger issues requires support, mindfulness, and a bit of practice—all of which this book provides. When you’re ready to face your triggers and change your perspective on the emotions of anger or rage, let Anger Management For Dummies give you the helping hand you need.  

 

Articles From Anger Management For Dummies

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42 results
Anger Management For Dummies Cheat Sheet

Cheat Sheet / Updated 12-28-2021

For most people, anger creates physical sensations that tempt them to explode. But before you open your mouth, take a look at ten ways to cool down. Then see how to express yourself more effectively with assertiveness. Learn about anger’s dos and don’ts, and you’ll save yourself a lot of grief. Finally, check out some tips for managing work conflicts.

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How to Identify Your Anger Triggers

Article / Updated 07-01-2021

Knowing your anger triggers — the events and situations that make you mad — is important because you'll respond more effectively to your anger when you feel prepared for it. Anticipating the possibility of anger increases your ability to express it more constructively. Here are some common anger triggers. Being treated unfairly Many people feel annoyed, irritated, or even enraged whenever something unfair happens to them. Unfortunately, unfair events occur to everyone and even fairly often. Here are a few common examples: Someone cuts in front of you at the movie theater line. A teacher gives you what clearly seems to be an unfair grade. Your boss gives you an inaccurate evaluation at work. A policeman gives you a ticket when you know you weren't speeding. No matter what response you have to unfairness, what matters is whether your reaction is mild, productive, or out of proportion to what happened. Responding to time pressure and frustrations Today's world is a busy place. People feel pressure to multitask and constantly increase their work output. But things inevitably get in the way of making progress. Examples of such interruptions include Leaving a bit late to work and running into a huge traffic snarl. Running late for a plane and getting selected for extra screening by ­security. Having family members or friends constantly text you while you're working. Having a contractor for your house project fail to show when you had set the whole morning aside to wait. Being placed on hold for 45 minutes and then having your call suddenly disconnected. Are events like these frustrating? You bet. However, they happen to everyone, and they happen no matter what you do to prevent them. You may be able to set limits in a useful way for some types of interruptions. For example, you may be able to tell family members you need to have them stop texting you at work. However, numerous delays and frustrations inevitably happen. Allowing anger to run out of control won't help; instead, it will merely flood you with unnecessary stress. Experiencing dishonesty or disappointment When people let you down, whether they renege on a promise or simply lie, it's pretty common to feel annoyed, upset, or angry. And most people encounter these events off and on throughout their lives. For example: Your partner or spouse cheats on you. Your boss fails to promote you or give you a raise as promised. A close friend forgets your birthday. A friend fails to help with moving as she said she would. A coworker makes up a lie to get out of work one day. Your kid tells a lie about hitting his brother. Of course, it's normal to feel irritated or even angry about all these triggers. However, you should try to figure out which types of events happen to you the most often and, more importantly, cause you the most anger. Encountering threats to self-esteem People like to feel reasonably good about themselves. Even people who have low self-esteem usually don't like to experience put-downs and criticism. Some people react to self-esteem threats with sadness and/or self-loathing, whereas others respond with anger. These threats can be either realistic and deserved or quite unfair. A few examples of self-esteem threats include Receiving a bad grade or evaluation Getting insulted or disrespected Making a mistake in front of other people Spilling wine on your neighbor's carpet Getting rejected Not getting picked for the sports team Losing an election Running into prejudice and discrimination A few special historic figures, such as Gandhi and Nelson Mandela, have channeled their anger and rage into remarkable, world-changing movements. Most people who face discrimination and prejudice feel powerless and unable to change their world. They respond with irritation, anger, rage, or even despair. The nature of discrimination or prejudice can be subtle or blatant. Here are the most common themes of unfair treatment: Racial or ethnic differences Sexism Sexual orientation Nationalism Classism Disability Religious beliefs Appearance (such as height and obesity) You probably realize that this list of common prejudices could be endless. Some people even prejudge others based on the TV news shows they choose to watch. Anger can be triggered either by being intolerant or prejudiced or being the victim of intolerance or prejudice. Getting attacked Violence permeates the world. Being the victim of violence or abuse naturally creates anger, although some people respond with anxiety and/or depression. Chronic abuse changes victims into abusers in some cases. Abuse takes many forms and ranges from subtle to blatant. The following are broad categories of abuse or attack: Partnership or domestic violence Partnership or domestic verbal abuse Child abuse Assault and battery Rape or sexual abuse War trauma Verbal intimidation Genocide Random violence and accidents Like prejudice and discrimination, you may be the perpetrator or the victim, either one of which may involve substantial anger. Look into your heart to determine whether you've been an abuser, a victim, or both.

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10 Ways to Deal with Angry People

Article / Updated 06-28-2021

Here are ten techniques for cooling down situations that threaten to ignite when you don't want them to. In all but the rarest of cases, you'll feel better and come up with more effective solutions when you contain conflict rather than give anger a free rein. Listening deeply When people attack, your best defusing strategy is to listen. Really listen. Give the angry person some time to completely express his frustration. The ideal way to show that you're listening is to paraphrase what's been said. Tell the person how you heard what he said. If they agree you got it right, you can move on. If not, ask them to restate what was said so you can better understand their intent. Controlling pace, space, and breath Arguing in parking lots and other open spaces merely increase the chances of escalation. You can bring those risks down by moving to another, more contained space, such as a nearby coffee shop or the inside of a store. Locations such as these usually inhibit people from getting physically or verbally abusive. Here are a few more ideas for containing a potentially explosive interaction: Suggest that the two of you sit down. Notice where the exit doors are located just in case. Try to maintain a distance of about two arms' length away from each other. Control the speed of your speech. Asking for clarification Many arguments occur when two people simply fail to understand what each other is trying to say. Rather than assume you know what the argument is about, why not be sure by asking for clarification? You can restate what you think is going on, but say that you want to be sure that you have it right. Ask about or query the other person regarding any part of your communication (or the other person's) that you think may remain unclear. Ask for more information. That's right; ask for more about what's upsetting the person. Rather than get defensive, query about additional concerns by asking questions. Don't worry; you'll have your chance to present your side after things calm down. When you rush into presenting your case, you increase the likelihood of escalation. Take your time. Sometimes angry people switch gears rapidly from ranting and yelling to stony silence. If that happens, don't insist on more information right then. Suggest another time to talk. Speaking softly Have you ever listened to the voice volumes of people while they're arguing? You probably can't think of many times when arguments proceeded at a soft volume. A soft, patient voice tone and volume keep emotions in check. It's basically as simple as that — pay close attention to your voice volume when an argument threatens to break out. If someone you're speaking with uses a high volume, it's okay to say, "You know, it really helps me understand you better if you speak a little more softly. Would that be all right with you?" Connecting When you feel disconnected from people, it's far easier to feel angry with them. On the other hand, even a small bit of connection can dampen hostile feelings. You can start by asking angry people what their names are. Then use the names a number of times during your encounters. Another way of connecting is to offer something edible (a muffin, a mint, whatever) or something to drink like tea or coffee or even water. When you offer people something, they typically feel a desire to reciprocate in some way; at the very least, they'll be less likely to explode. It's kind of hard to yell if you have something in your mouth! Dropping defensiveness: verbally and nonverbally Defensiveness communicates an intense need to guard against criticism or other hostilities — whether real or imagined. Defensiveness increases, rather than decreases, the chances that someone may attack you verbally or physically. That's because defensiveness is a weak response, whereas non-defensiveness communicates strength and confidence. Facial expressions, body language, posture, and what you say all can increase or decrease defensiveness. Finding agreement where you can No matter how obnoxious or outrageous a person's viewpoint may be, you can almost always find a sliver of agreement. Express partial agreement with phrases such as the following: "I can see how you might look at it that way." "Sometimes that's probably true" (even if you don't think it is at the moment). "You may have a point" (even if you doubt it, it's always possible). Expressing understanding When dealing with an angry person, show that you understand by empathizing with the other person. Be careful to avoid saying you know exactly what the other person is feeling. Obviously, you don't for sure. You can empathetically toss out a possibility but allow the person to disagree. Developing distractions Distraction involves abruptly changing the subject or focus of attention onto something else that's unrelated to the conflict at hand. Most disagreements don't call for distraction. For example, if someone argues about getting short-changed, you wouldn't want to change the subject. Considering a timeout Sometimes a resolution will elude you. The argument goes round and round and fails to progress. You see no solution in sight. When that happens, it's time to stop. Don't get caught up in feeling you must come to a resolution immediately. If things aren't getting anywhere or if you feel unsafe, it's best to terminate the conversation and get out. Not all situations are resolvable. Do try again if you feel there's a reasonable chance of success but not if it looks impossible. You can use the excuse of needing to use the restroom to slow things down or even escape a difficult or dangerous situation. Most people can't get themselves to refuse a request to use the restroom. Just declare that you're going there. If need be, call for help.

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How People Express Anger

Article / Updated 06-27-2021

Everyone gets angry — yes, even those people who seem impossibly zen at all times. After all, anger is one of those universal emotions — along with sadness, joy, and fear — that people throughout the world recognize when they see or hear it. But everyone experiences and expresses anger a little differently. Following, are descriptions of the many ways people show their anger or, alternatively, hold it in. Understanding your strategies for anger expression can be helpful before you work on changing how you show your anger. Keeping your cool Yes, keeping your cool can be one way of expressing anger. Keeping cool means that you don't respond impulsively. You may take a slow, deep breath or two before saying anything. Then you directly express your feelings while trying to solve the issue or problem. Verbal bashing Verbal bashing includes yelling, arguing, put-downs, and threats. Hurting people with words sometimes works at the moment, but it usually leaves a trail of resentment, anger, and bad feelings. For example, parents who frequently yell at their kids sometimes get momentary compliance but usually end up with rebellious, resentful kids in the long run. Not the best tactic if you're trying to cultivate a happy home. Nonverbal bashing Yes, you can clobber people without saying a word. Examples of nonverbal bashing include unfriendly gestures, such as pointing, clenched fists, and "flipping the bird." Facial expressions of anger include dismissiveness, hostility, and contempt (through sneers, prolonged angry stares, and snarls). You know a dirty look when you see one! Purposely ignoring and not speaking when spoken to also convey anger and hostility. Body language includes aggressive, puffed-up poses. Suppressing anger People who suppress anger feel mad but work hard to hold it in. Usually, close friends and family members pick up on the anger that these people feel. However, some folks are masters at suppression, and no one truly knows how much hostility they hold inside. Unfortunately, this type of anger often comes with common physical costs, such as high blood pressure, digestive problems, and heart disease. Chronic tension, unhappiness, fatigue, and distress frequently occur as well. Therefore, suppressing anger doesn't constitute a good anger-management strategy. Passive-aggressive anger People who express their anger in a passive-aggressive manner try to find "safe" ways of showing their anger. They like for their behaviors to have plausible deniability of their actual angry feelings. In other words, they make excuses and claim that their motives were excusable. Examples of passive-aggressive behaviors include: Chronic procrastination of promised tasks to get back at someone Chronic lateness Subtle sulking or pouting Purposely performing a task for someone poorly Purposely forgetting over and over to do a promised task Indirect verbal expressions such as subtle sarcasm When confronted, passive-aggressive people always have an excuse in hand and inevitably deny that they feel any anger at all. People living with passive-aggressive partners get pretty tired after 500,000 instances of "I'm sorry," and/or "I forgot." Complaining and gossiping This strategy, like passive-aggressiveness, generally feels safer than directly confronting someone with anger. Complainers and gossipers find sympathetic listeners that will hear their frustrations, woes, and anger about someone else. That way, they avoid actually confronting the person they're angry with. And, not surprisingly, little gets resolved in the process. Physical aggression Slamming doors, punching holes in walls, and throwing dishes all fall under the category of physical aggression against objects. This type of aggression can feel very intimidating to those who witness it. Furthermore, these behaviors sometimes precede physical aggression against persons. Assaults can take the form of pushing or shoving, punching, and slapping, and they can even include the use of weapons. Obviously, physical aggression is almost always abusive to both recipients and witnesses. Physical aggression with anger is only adaptive when you're actually under attack from someone else, and it's necessary for your own survival. Physical aggression doesn't lead to solutions. Displaced anger Sometimes people feel great anger toward someone. However, because of differences in power or fear, they don't feel safe in expressing their anger. Unfortunately, these people may take their anger out on innocent victims, such as a spouse, children, pets, or friends. This type of anger is known as displaced anger.

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State versus Trait Anger

Article / Updated 06-16-2021

Anger specialists have described the difference between what’s known as state and trait anger. Trait anger refers to a chronic, long-standing personality characteristic that shows up as an almost constant tendency to become angry at the slightest provocation. State anger refers to temporary, short-lasting outbursts of anger. People with high trait anger have very low boiling points. People with high trait anger run into lots of interpersonal conflicts, problems at work, and health problems. Episodes of state anger are considered appropriate in many situations and often call for problem solving. The appearance of occasional state anger responses is a normal part of life unless the intensity, frequency, and duration are way out of proportion to the triggering event. The relationship of state and trait anger is much like the connection between weather and climate. Climate and trait anger both represent long-standing patterns, such as the climate in Alaska tends to be rather cold. State anger is like weather, which can change quickly from one day to another. Thus, in New Mexico, the climate is quite dry, but major thunderstorms can pop up from time to time, causing floods and mayhem. Those occasional storms don’t mean that the climate has changed in the state.

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Anger Dos and Don’ts

Article / Updated 06-16-2021

You can get what you want in life through appropriate behavior or attempt to do so with anger, aggression and obnoxious behavior. You’ll get more cooperation and succeed more often with the former approach. Here’s a list of a few anger do’s and don’ts to help you see the difference. Do be competitive. All successful people are competitive. The trick is to know when and how. Don’t be confrontational. You won’t accomplish everything you want in life with a hostile, in-your-face attitude. People typically avoid confrontation, so they end up avoiding you. Do be forceful in pursing goals. Passion and drive fuel success. It’s not enough to wish for success; you have to work hard to get there. Don’t be too intense. Don’t overpower those around you. It’s exhausting — for you and for them. Do be persistent in getting what you want out of life. When you start something, stick with it. Don’t allow anger to distract you from your objective or cause you to give up prematurely. Don’t be impatient. Give people a chance to work with you on solving a problem. Let time be your ally, not your enemy. Never be afraid to step away from a challenge to achieve a better perspective. Do be direct in your communication. Let people know how you feel about things — big and little. Don’t leave it up to them to figure out whether you’re angry and why. And don’t say you’re fine when you’re not. Don’t be demanding. People cooperate and get less defensive if you ask them to do something instead of ordering them around. Do be a determined person. That means having resolve and being unwavering in what you say and do. Determination is a trait people admire. Don’t be domineering. Don’t beat others over the head with your opinions and ideas. Don’t always think you have to have the last word. Stop interrupting and try being more of an active listener.

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Medication Options to Manage Anger

Article / Updated 06-15-2021

Most anger-management treatment programs don't address the issue of medications. In part, that's probably because medications aren't actually a way of managing your anger. And studies on the effectiveness of medications for anger have been somewhat inconsistent. However, you should know that medications may be an option for some people, especially when other emotional disorders, such as depression or anxiety, accompany their anger. Or, when violence is part of the picture, medications may play a role in treatment. Some of the major classes of medications prescribed for people with anger problems include the following: Atypical antipsychotics: These are powerful drugs that tend to sedate patients. They can have serious side effects, such as problems with glucose metabolism, which increases risks of diabetes. Antipsychotics: These are older versions of atypical antipsychotics. They're used when patients lose touch with reality — as happens with hallucinations, delusions, or paranoia. This class of medications has extremely serious side effects, including abnormal, irregular muscle movements; spasms; a shuffling gait; and intense feelings of restlessness. Antidepressants: This class of medications is especially effective for the times that depression and anger coexist. Many of these medications also have significant side effects, such as weight gain, nausea, and fatigue. Antiseizure medications: These medications sometimes help reduce major mood swings and uncontrolled emotional outbursts. Side effects can include fatigue, nausea, and confusion among others. Beta blockers: These medications are usually used to treat high blood pressure. However, they can be helpful in decreasing the physical components of anger because they block the action of norepinephrine, which accompanies anger outbursts. Side effects are usually less than those of the preceding medications but can include fatigue and feeling light-headed. Anti-anxiety medications, such as the benzodiazepines, are sometimes used to treat anger problems. However, they can cause disinhibition, which angry people often have in short supply. Furthermore, they can easily cause ­dependency (requiring increasing dosages over time) and addiction. Medications for anger problems should be obtained by experts in prescribing psychotropic medications. Not all primary care physicians feel comfortable in prescribing medications for this purpose. Consider seeing a healthcare provider that specializes in prescribing medication for anger.

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Anger Management: 10 Ways to Cool Down

Article / Updated 03-26-2016

When you find yourself getting angry, it’s time to take immediate action. It takes only 90 seconds to defuse your anger because anger is a brief, transient emotion, especially if you take some of the following steps: Close your mouth. Your odds of saying something useful when you feel intense anger are precisely 1 out of 1.2685 billion! Remind yourself that delaying any reaction will probably help. Reflexively and instantaneously reacting in anger is what gets you in trouble. Take your time — by being thoughtful, deliberate, and in control of your actions. Distract yourself. Visualize a beach or a forest. Or think about plans you have for later in the day. Breathe. Take a deep breath. Actually, consider taking four or five very slow, deep breaths. Analyze your anger. Who are you angry at? Is this where you want to lose your cool? Why are you angry? Is the intensity of your anger consistent with the cause? Ask yourself what your true goal is. Will you really accomplish something useful with your anger? Will your spouse love you more if you yell? Will your kids really remember to do their chores if you yell louder? Are there more constructive ways to get what you want? Stand on one foot. Yes, this idea sounds pretty silly. But see if you can stay angry when you’re distracted by balancing. You might be surprised. Switch to the other foot after 30 seconds. Repeat a calming phrase in your mind over and over. Say, “keep cool,” “relax,” “this too shall pass,” or whatever you find useful. Ask yourself how angry responses have been working for you. You’ll likely recall many past events when anger did more harm than good. That will probably happen again if you express unbridled anger. Reward yourself for exercising self-control. Mentally pat yourself on the back. Remind yourself that every time you control your anger, you have made an important step in your anger-management plan.

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Manage Your Anger to Keep Your Cool at Work

Article / Updated 03-26-2016

One step toward truly managing your anger is to learn to keep your cool at work. If you’re tired of being disgruntled, dissatisfied, and disheartened at work, here are some things you can do to remedy the problem: Accept the reality of your situation. Not everything in the workplace can be changed. Stop focusing on how things should be and instead deal with them as they are. Stop personalizing the issue. Just because you didn’t get the raise you wanted or you’re on the wrong end of some company policy, it doesn’t mean that everyone is out to get you. Try to figure out how much of the issue you really own versus how much is due to outside forces. Pull back. Stop giving 120 percent at work. Set some healthy limits on the energy you expend on the job — save some for other things like family, friends, recreation, and perhaps a spiritual life. Balance will actually give you more energy at work. Look at the glass as half full. Instead of thinking so much about all the things you don’t like about work, think about something positive instead — something you have control over, some part of life where you don’t feel like a victim. Find some benefit in what you do at work. No job is all bad. What’s the silver lining in the way you make a living? What is there about work that you’re grateful for? Get some exercise. Regular, moderate exercise is a way of detoxifying your anger after work. That 30 minutes of exercise on the way home from the office can make all the difference in how your evening goes. Be forgiving. No job is perfect. It’s important to forgive your employer for that! And forgive yourself for being employed in a situation that can be difficult and frustrating. If you really have a terrible, unchangeable job situation, realize you probably have options. Develop a résumé and job search plan. Consider extra school or training. Just knowing you have options helps you calm down.

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Tips for Expressing Yourself Assertively Rather than Aggressively

Article / Updated 03-26-2016

Anger can be your ally in constructing a happier, healthier, and more productive life. To reconstruct your anger and turn it into assertiveness, you have to think a bit. Assertiveness, as opposed to aggressiveness, is direct communication without rancor or sarcasm — and it’s usually expressed firmly but gently. Here are some strategies: Ask yourself what it is that you truly want to have happen. Do you want to be heard, or do you want to crush the other person? Do you want change or revenge? Use I statements to express what you’re feeling. It’s even okay to say that you’re angry, but why not soften it a bit and say something like, “I feel a little irritated with what just happened,” or “I’m frustrated by what you said.” Clearly state what went wrong — don’t beat around the bush. For example, you could say, “I felt upset when you called me fat,” or “I’m annoyed that you didn’t pay that bill.” Say what you want to have happen in the future. For example, you could say, “Let’s figure out a plan for making sure the garbage gets taken out without us fighting,” or “Do you mind taking over the grocery shopping list? I’m just not good at it.” Decide how you want to feel after you express your assertive communication. Do you want to feel ashamed or embarrassed? Or do you want to feel like you have a better understanding of the person you were angry at? Do you truly want to solve a problem? Focus your anger on the problem, not the person. Try not to personalize your anger (by saying something like, “That idiot!”). Stick to the issue that triggered the emotion: “He doesn’t return my emails and I have a deadline.” Keep a civil tone throughout. Nobody likes to be shouted at, and, besides, the message gets lost when the volume goes up. Be respectful. No rolling of your eyes, finger-pointing, cussing, lecturing, or sighing. If your problems with anger are fairly severe, assertiveness can be hard to achieve at first. Wait to use it until you’ve made progress with managing your anger first.

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