How Can You Deal with Your Angry Thoughts and Feelings More Effectively?

Source: NYSUT Social Services

Think back to an anger-producing situation that you found yourself in recently.

Examine your thoughts right before you got angry. Here are some common distortions we engage in that contribute to the angry feelings we produce.

1. Labeling (What an idiot)!
2. Magnification-of the negative and minimizing the positive about the other person.
3. Personalization-that others are behaving negatively in reaction to you.
4. "Should" or "must" statements-precise fixed idea about how others should behave.
5. Tunnel vision-zeroing in on only the negative aspects of a situation.
6. All or nothing thinking-things are either good or bad instead of on a continuum.
7. Fallacy of fairness-"I don’t deserve that."
8. Blaming-holding others responsible for your feelings-"He makes me feel this way."
9. Fallacy of change-others will change to suit you if you pressure them long enough.
10. Being Right-you are often trying to prove that your opinions and actions are right because it is unthinkable that they may not be right.

The next step is to find more accurate, adaptive ways of thinking about the situation.

For each distorted thought you have written down, try a different way of thinking about the situation-one that is more accurate and doesn't make you feel as angry. This may include exploring positive aspects of a person or a situation, identifying other possible reasons for his or her behavior, or looking at "the big picture" rather than the small incident that put you over the top.

The last step is to practice identifying these anger-producing thoughts, finding the distortions, and developing more accurate ways of thinking every day. Once they are identified you can refute them, and recognize them as you begin to get angry the next time. You will teach yourself more adaptive ways of thinking so you can avoid becoming overwhelmed and controlled by anger in difficult situations.

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