King Solomon said centuries ago “As a man thinks, so he is” Proverbs 23:7 So what we think about, and how we think is very important.
When it comes to the subject of Anger, if we think angry thoughts, the result is anger. So how can we change those angry thoughts and control our anger?
One process often used in changing our behavior is called Cognitive Restructuring.
Simply put, this means changing the way you think. When people are angry they tend to curse, swear, or speak in highly colorful terms when expressing their thoughts. When you’re angry, your thinking can get overly exaggerated and dramatic. Practice replacing these thoughts with more reasonable rational ones. For instance, instead of saying to yourself, “Wow, this is terrible, everything is totally ruined,” say, “Yes, this is frustrating, and it’s understandable that I’m upset about it, but it’s not the end of the world and getting angry is not going to fix and may indeed make it worse”
Practice avoiding words like “never” or “always” when talking about yourself or someone else. “This (blank) machine never works,” or “you’re always forgetting things”. That is not accurate, and words like that help to make you feel that your anger is justified and that there’s no way to solve the problem. They also can alienate and humiliate people who might otherwise be willing to work with you on a solution. Remind yourself that getting angry is not going to fix anything, that it won’t make you feel better and may actually make you feel worse.
Using logic can help defeat anger, because anger, even when it’s justified, can quickly become irrational. So practice using cold hard logic on yourself before anger takes control and it is too late. Remind yourself that the world is “not out to get you,” you’re just experiencing some of the rough spots of daily life. Develop the habit of thinking logically & objectively when you begin to feel anger getting the best of you, and eventually you will get better at it. Understand that this will not happen overnight, so don’t be overly hard on yourself, and remember to give yourself credit when you do it right. Using an anger journal can help you keep track of your progress.
Everyone wants to be understood, to be appreciated, and to have our needs met and we are all hurt and disappointed when we don’t get them. But angry people tend to be more demanding and intolerant when their needs aren’t met, and their disappointment quickly becomes anger. As part of their cognitive restructuring, angry people need to become aware of their demanding nature and learn to translate their expectations and desires in a more acceptable way. In other words, saying, “I would like” something is healthier than saying, “I insist” or “I must have” something. When you’re unable to get what you want, you will experience the same normal reactions other do, like frustration, disappointment, hurt, but you do not have to get angry. Some angry people use anger as a way to avoid feeling hurt and frustration, but that does not really avoid the pain, and in fact can create more pain.
Decide to change the way you think, and you will learn to respond to daily frustrations and problems in a more acceptable way, which will improve your health, your relationships, and your overall wellbeing.