Free Anger Management Activities
And The Power Of Journaling
These free anger management activities will give you great benefit. All you have to do is tell your story and express what you're feeling according to the guidelines provided. It's as simple as writing down your thoughts and feelings, and nobody has to even read them unless you want them to.
That's right...just writing about what is going on in your life will help you. It's true!
Dr. James Pennebaker from the University of Texas in Austin has found that writing about upsetting or traumatic experiences can be very helpful and even healing.
Bonus! The free anger management activities you will find on this site just might include some free counseling from Dr. William DeFoore, who has over 40 years of experience in helping good people just like you heal their anger and their relationships.
The Benefits Of Journaling & Storytelling
Journaling, or simply writing what you are angry or worried about, has tremendous benefits. You'll also learn about positive journaling, which is just as helpful...but first let's look at the benefits of "opening up."
When you write about what's bothering you:
- You are "getting it out." That's right--when you put it down on paper (or computer), it's no longer rattling around all by itself in your head, and that's a good thing.
- When you write or talk about difficult feelings, memories and experiences, you are using words and rational thought to describe an emotional, non-rational experience. This application of logic to emotional experience helps you to sort things out, and often puts your mind to rest in some very healing ways.
- Dr. Pennebaker's research (reported in his book "Opening Up: The Healing Power Of Expressing Emotions") has shown that writing about traumatic memories reduces the number of medical visits among those who do so. So, of all of the anger management activities out there, this one may offer the most overall health benefits. Read more about this research.
- An article in Science Daily magazine (April 13, 1999) entitled, "Writing Your Feelings: Good Medicine For Chronic Conditions" shows that Asthma and Arthritis patients who wrote about their feelings from stressful events showed improvement in their conditions.
Even though storytelling and writing about your feelings are not what you would usually consider as anger management activities, I assure you they are.
Why does this work? Because you are your own best anger management resource, and when you do this writing according to these guidelines, you're tapping into that resource.
Tell Your Story On This Website
All you have to do is go to this page and choose a category for your story or question. Then, if selected, your contribution will become a web page, that you and your friends and family can visit, and other visitors can read and benefit from.
Many people have helped and been helped in this way!
Here are some contributions and comments from visitors who have told their story, asked their questions and received the help they needed:
- "I realize how important it is to express. Let me tell you frankly that I've never shared my issues like this before and I feel pretty light now." Mrs. LL, Tamilnadu, India - Read her story: My Anger Is A Ruin In My Life
- "Well I have stopped drinking...almost 45 days sober. I am proud of myself. I just want to be a much better person, wife and mother." Tammy Otis, Oshawa Ontario Canada - Read her story: My Anger Problem
- "Your site and blog on anger management has definitely helped me at least figure out my anger issues and work on them. I still have my anger outbursts but I am preparing myself every day to tone the effects down further." A Mother - Read her story: This Site Has Helped Me As A Mother
Please click on the above links to read these people's stories. Writing your stories and asking your questions are anger management activities that will help you heal and become the person you want to be.
Working On Your Story So It Doesn't Work On You
This is where you explore the wiring behind your hot buttons. All you have to do is write about your memories of being hurt, abandoned, violated, neglected or abused in any way for periods of 15 minutes at a time, until you start feeling some relief.
Here is what I recommend:
- Make a list of all of the times you can remember being hurt, betrayed, neglected, abandoned or abused.
- Take each event, one by one, and "tell the story," keeping in mind that no one has to read this but you. The benefit is in the brain processes you activate in the writing process.
- Write about everything you felt, perceived, thought and experienced. Also write about the people you loved the most, and who loved you. Include your happy experiences, because often your greatest trauma is connected with that.
- Focus on yourself, and don't get caught up in analyzing, explaining or excusing the actions of others. This is for you, and nobody else.
- Write for 15 minutes (minimum) at a time, until you feel you've told the whole story, then move on to the next one.
- Strong emotions might come up as you do this. I highly recommend you use the Inner Child Audio Program to help you with the emotional healing that you need.
When you're done with these six anger management activities, you may or may not want to share any of this with a trusted friend, confidant or counselor. You will know what you need to do when you get to that point. Chances are you will just feel better from these easy, do-it-yourself anger management activities!
Getting Your Anger Out On Paper
And Other Anger Management Activities
Journaling directly from your anger is one of the best anger management activities of all. Here's how it works:
- Let your anger speak uninterrupted. That is, don't be reasonable, rational or "nice" during this process, or you won't really be getting the anger out.
- The purpose is to honor your anger as a valid emotion designed to protect you, while claiming authority over it by speaking consciously, intentionally from it.
- Usually when your anger "speaks" it's because you've lost control, and it is destructive. This type of activity puts you in control, where you are expressing all of those angry feelings in a healthy, therapeutic process where nobody gets hurt.
- Keep this writing in a separate journal from other writing. It's a kind of "dumping ground" for these negative emotions.
- Write about all of your frustrations, fears, pains, sorrows and anger here. All of the things you "just can't stand," and that really "push your buttons."
- The trick for this particular one of the anger management activities is to keep writing until you a) start to repeat yourself, b) can't think of anything else to say, or c) feel a sense of release and/or relief.
- Close the journal, and go straight to the next journaling exercise described below.
The Practice of Gratitude, Appreciation and Optimism
Last but not least among these anger management activities, is the practice of Goodfinding. This is best done through a type of positive journaling (watch the video), which is extremely beneficial for shifting from anger, frustration and worry into a better mood and attitude.
I strongly encourage you to use this exercise to shift your thinking in a positive direction.
Every day, no matter what, write in your journal in these three ways:
- Gratitude for the things in your past: Write about all that you can think of that you are grateful for. Think of times when you've been very happy, people who have loved you, and wonderful places you've been. Focus on how grateful you are for the good times with friends, the concerts, art and beauty you have seen.
- Appreciation for the things in your present: Write about all that you appreciate about yourself and your world right now. Appreciate your health--all the organs and functions that are working just fine, your talents and abilities. Appreciate your possessions, your home, your friends and family.
- Optimism about your future: Write about what you look forward to. Think of all of the good things that are possible in your future, and think about how you would feel if they all happened. Use your imagination to think of good things coming your way. Keep your mind at least partly open to these imagined wonders becoming real.
Watch the slideshow below to get an understanding of this journaling process and how it can help you!
So here's the ongoing advice...keep journaling. It's a great way to keep your thoughts and feelings sorted out, and as you've read on this page, it could also help you with physical health issues!
Have A Great Story Or Question
About Anger Management?
Whether it's shocking, funny or infuriating, we'd like to hear your stories and questions about anger management.
You have questions or stories to tell, or you wouldn't be on this site. If you'd like some help, you can get help here. You may feel helped just by writing!
Also, other visitors might be able to help with their comments, stories and questions. Sometimes I (Dr. DeFoore here) offer comments, and I try to answer most of the questions.
Feel free to also review our FAQ page (frequently asked questions), to see if your question has already been answered.
Other Visitors' Stories And Questions
Click below to see contributions from other visitors to this page...
Old Fashioned Handwriting
Or Your Favorite Device
Anger Diary And TriggersHarry Mills, Ph.D.
Anger ratings help you to become aware of your anger, but they won't help you stop being angry. In order to lessen your anger before it gets out of control, you'll want to develop an anger plan listing out things you can do to calm yourself down. For example, part of your plan might be to take a 'time-out' when you start getting upset; to temporarily remove yourself from the situation that is provoking you so as to provide yourself with a space in which to calm down. Another way to lessen anger might be to move the conversation away from what is bothering you and towards a more neutral topic. There are lots of things you can do to lessen an angry situation once you start thinking about it. The best of them help you to effectively keep yourself calm without damaging your pride. As each person has unique strengths and weaknesses, each person's list of strategies for defusing anger will be slightly different.
Rage ratings help you understand just how angry you feel in certain situations, but they don't do much for predicting what situations are likely to set you off in the first place. "Prevention is the best medicine" as the saying goes. Being able to predict what situations will cause anger will be a tremendous tool in helping you keep your temper under control. You can choose to avoid these provoking situations entirely, or, if that is not possible, you can prepare yourself with ways to lower the danger of your losing control prior to entering your dangerous situations.
An anger diary or journal can be a useful tool to help you track your experiences with anger. Make daily entries into your diary that document the situations you encounter that angered you. In order to make the diary most useful, there are particular types of information you'll want to record for each provoking event:
- What happened that gave you pain or made you feel stressed?
- What was provocative about the situation?
- What thoughts were going through your mind?
- On a scale of 0-100 how angry did you feel? (Rage Rating)
- What was the effect of your behavior on you, on others?
- Were you already nervous, tense, and pressured about something else? If so, what?
- How did your body respond? Did you notice your heart racing, your palms sweating?
- Did your head hurt?
- Did you want to flee from the pressure or perhaps throw something?
- Did you feel like screaming or did you notice that you were slamming doors or becoming sarcastic?
- What did you actually do?
- How did you feel immediately after the episode?
- Did you feel differently later in the day or the next day?
- What were the consequences of the incident?
After recording this information for a week or so, review your diary and look for reoccurring themes or "triggers" that make you mad. Triggers often fall into one of several categories, including:
- Other people doing or not doing what you expect them to do
- Situational events that get in your way, such as traffic jams, computer problems, ringing telephones, etc.
- People taking advantage of you
- Being angry and disappointed in yourself
- A combination of any of the above
You'll also want to look for anger-triggering thoughts that reoccur again and again. You can recognize these particular thoughts because they will generally involve one or more of the following themes:
- The perception that you have been victimized or harmed.
- The belief that the person who provoked you meant you deliberately harm.
- The belief that the OTHER person was wrong, that they should have behaved differently, that they were evil or stupid to harm you.
Use your anger diary to identify instances when you felt harm was done to you, why you thought the act was done deliberately, and why you thought that it was wrong. Tracking your thought patterns will help you begin to see the common themes in your experiences. Here are some examples of trigger thoughts to get you started:
- People do not pay enough attention to your needs; they do not care about you.
- People demand/expect too much of you.
- People are rude or inconsiderate.
- People take advantage or use you.
- People are selfish; they think only of themselves.
- People criticize, shame, or disrespect you.
- People are cruel or mean.
- People are incompetent or stupid.
- People are thoughtless and irresponsible.
- People do not help you.
- People are lazy and refuse to do their share.
- People try to control or manipulate you.
- People cause you to have to wait.
And here is a list of situations where these themes are likely to occur:
- When stating a difference of opinion
- While receiving and expressing negative feelings
- While dealing with someone who refuses to cooperate
- While speaking about something that annoys you
- While protesting a rip-off
- When saying "No"
- While responding to undeserved criticism
- When asking for cooperation
- While proposing an idea
At the base of all trigger thoughts is the notion that people are not behaving properly and that you have every right to be angry with them. Most people find a few thoughts that frequently trigger their anger. Look for instances of situations that trigger your anger and see if you can't identify the particular set of triggering thoughts that really do it for you.
The purpose of your diary is to help you identify patterns of behavior and specific recurring elements that really "push your buttons". The more accurately you can observe your feelings and behaviors and the more detailed your anger diary, the more likely you will be able to identify anger triggers and how you react to them. Understanding the ways in which you experience anger can help you plan strategies to cope with your emotions in more productive ways.
Deactivating Your Triggers
Once you have identified some of your triggers and have begun to understand your trigger themes, you will be able to be work more constructively to control your response to those triggers. Anger-triggering thoughts occur automatically and almost instantaneously, so it will take some conscious work on your part to identify them and to substitute something more to your liking.
For example, imagine you have just been cut off while driving on the freeway. Take notice of the physiological anger signs that tell you you're upset. Take a deep breath, and try to look at the situation rationally instead of going with your first impulse to attack. Instead of automatically assuming the driver that cut you off did it deliberately (which might be your first thought), consider the possibility that the other guy did not see you. If you can consider that the provoking action was not aimed at you personally or was a mistake, it will be easier for you to tolerate.
When you feel justified in your anger, you are giving yourself permission to feel angry, whether or not it makes sense for you to feel that way. The faster you stop justifying your anger, the sooner it will begin to recede. While all anger you feel is legitimate in that it is the reality of how you feel at a particular time, this does not mean that your choosing to act on your anger feelings is always justified. Remember that being angry is quite bad for your health, and destructive towards your important relationships with others.