Learning to control one’s anger is not a trivial matter. I believe it is easier to acquire anger management skills by breaking them down into small micro skills. Baby steps. Anger management worksheets are tools designed to learn these “micro” skills that make up anger control. Several anger management worksheets are needed because the skills they teach add up to the larger skill of anger management.
Today I’m introducing the second of my anger management worksheets involving basic skills changing the feelings of anger to be less intense. Actually, the worksheet focuses on one prerequisite skill: learning how to distinguish angry thoughts from the feelings of anger. The worksheet can be downloaded by clicking this link: Anger Management Worksheet #2: Distinguishing Angry Thoughts from Feelings
Learning how to manage anger involves increasing your emotional intelligence. From a practical point of view it involves learning a set of skills for self-regulation and self-control. It’s very difficult to learn advanced mathematics if you can’t add and subtract. The worksheet discussed here is about the addition and subtraction of emotional intelligence. You have to walk before you can run. You have to lay the foundation before you can build the house.
Skill 2 in general terms involves learning to recognize the difference between your emotions and the specific thoughts that feed those emotions. Like logs in a fire, our thoughts can fuel mild emotions into overwhelming feelings. Anxious thoughts can turn worry into panic attacks. Hopeless thoughts can turn discouragement into despair. Humorous thoughts can turn feelings of contentment into full on belly laughter.
You are just beginning to learn to ride the bucking bull of your own anger. The purpose of this worksheet is to learn how to (1) recognize your own, specific angry thoughts, and (2) to recognize those thoughts as being different from the pounding feelings of anger. Ideally, you would learn how to do this while you are feeling angry. But it’s easier to start by analyzing a recent situation that made you very angry.
The feeling of anger cannot be changed just by deciding to change it. However, the angry thoughts can be changed by making a decision to replace the angry thoughts with more balanced ones, providing that you have the skill to do so. In subsequent anger management worksheets you can learn how to change your thoughts. In this worksheet you are laying the groundwork for this by learning how to recognize angry thoughts and not confuse them with the emotion of anger. That’s what Skill 2 is all about. You can’t control what you can’t recognize.
Therefore, it is very important to be able to know the difference between the feeling of anger and your angry thoughts (Skill 2). When you acquire this skill, you will be more able to focus your efforts on what you CAN change (your angry thoughts), rather than what you cannot change (your angry feeling).
Changing your angry thoughts to more balanced thoughts is one of the most important ways to manage anger because it works indirectly to change the intensity of feelings. If you experience rage and anger, then you already use this principle without knowing it. For example, if you let your mind to create numerous angry thoughts, then your anger (the feeling) intensifies. This is because your thoughts are like control switches for your feelings. Although we cannot just “stop being angry,” we can work with the feeling switches (our thoughts).
In this worksheet, you are learning to distinguish thoughts from feelings so that you can later learn to use the “switch” of balanced thoughts to tame your anger. Another advantage of distinguishing angry thoughts from the feelings of anger is that you will be less frustrated and less discouraged. When we try hard to change something that cannot be changed directly, we are more likely to become discouraged and frustrated. This frustration can even make us even angrier!
Download the PDF worksheet (right-click the worksheet thumbnail below). Note that PDF is can be filled digitally. Or, you can send it to your printer.
Fill out the worksheet in the order of the numbered boxes. After you identify the feelings, you are asked to list angry thoughts. Here are some examples. Notice that feelings are usually named with one word, but thoughts are best identified by a sentence.
Examples of Angry Thoughts (and Words)
Download this PDF worksheet by -right-clicking on worksheet thumbnail above and then clicking on “Save Target as…” or “Save Link as…”