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How To Deal With Anger By Changing How You Think | CBT Techniques

Do you battle with how to deal with anger?

Are angry outbursts spoiling your day?

Would you like anger management techniques that get rid of those feelings for good?

Do our quick anger test, and then hit the back button to return to How To Deal With Anger…

You can learn how to control anger by changing faulty thinking. 
This exciting concept says that it is possible to not feel anger in the first place by learning a new way of thinking about the situations you encounter. 

Faulty Thinking Behind Anger

Consider if any of these thought patterns apply to you

‘Musts’, ‘shoulds’ and ‘oughts’ and rigid beliefs and demands underlie anger:

  • Thinking that the other person should obey our rigid rules is a sure way to create anger.

  • All-or-nothing thinking – assuming that you are right and other people are wrong.

  • Seeing only one perspective: thinking that there is only one way to view an event.

  • Believing that the world should be fair and just.

  • Believing that people should not disagree with you or disrespect you.

  • Believing that you ‘should’ be perfect and it’s not okay to have weaknesses; so if someone criticizes you, you become angry and defensive.

  • Believing that you should have what you want whenever you want it and in the way that you want it.

Any of the above feel familiar?

3 Steps To Defeat Anger Using CBT Techniques

  • The first step in learning how to deal with anger by changing the way you think about it, is to recognize that it is your thinking that is making you angry, not the event or person… But, you may say, I have a right to get angry with someone who is being unpleasant or difficult. Well, you can claim any rights you want. The real question is – do you get the results you want by using this method? There are many advantages to not getting angry. Anger reduces effectiveness. When you show anger, you might get what you want in the short term but it doesn’t have any positive long term effects. In fact, if you don’t know how to deal with anger in a healthy way, you create more unpleasantness for yourself. However, if you stay calm or react lovingly to the other person they may modify or change their behavior. A win-win situation for all!

  • The second step in this anger management technique is to identify the belief or personal rule that is making you angry.

  • The third step in how to deal with anger by changing your thoughts is to use the ABCDEF method to challenge your faulty thinking and change how you deal with the emotions that make you angry.

How To Use The ABCDEF Method

Try this exercise to change your thoughts and feelings about what makes you angry – it is very liberating to take control of how to deal with anger.

  • A = activating event

    The activating event is what you experienced that made you feet angry. What I was aware of (e.g. Someone cut me off in the traffic).

  • B = irrational belief

    The irrational belief or irrational evaluation you had about the activating event. What I thought (e.g. Everyone must respect me).

  • C = consequences

    The consequences, both emotional and behavioral, of your irrational belief. What I felt and What I did (e.g. Feeling upset and shouting).

  • D = disputing

    Disputing or questioning your irrational belief. (e.g. Why must I be respected by everyone?).

  • E = effective new thinking

    Effective new thinking or answer which is the result of challenging your original irrational belief. (e.g.) Although I prefer people to respect me and feel better when they say things I want to hear, there is nothing to say that they have to behave in this way).

  • F = new feelings

    New feelings and actions that resulted from disputing and questioning your irrational belief (e.g. calmness, talking quietly and being in control).

Now use the above checklist to work with a situation that usually makes you angry…

ABCDEF example of how to deal with anger

  • A = activating event

    You have prepared dinner for two friends. One friend arrives on time but the other is half an hour late and you have to wait.

  • B = beliefs

    Your immediate reaction is, “Why is he always late? Why couldn’t he be on time knowing how important it is to me? He really should try and be more considerate. He should not be late.”

  • C = consequences

    You feel angry. Later during the evening you have a moan at your friend about being disrespectful. You sulk through the evening and make it clear to your guests that you are now in a bad mood.

  • D = dispute

    “Why must he be considerate to me and my friends? Why must he always be on time?” You start to question your demands and personal rules about time and treatment.

  • E = effective new thinking

    “I know he is busy at work at the moment. There is no cosmically ordained rule that says he should show me any special consideration. I would prefer that he was on time when we have an arrangement or that he calls if he is going to be late. However, I recognize that he is a fallible human just like me and doesn’t act this way on purpose. Perhaps it would be more useful for me to recognize that he is not the most punctual person and just plan for him being late. I don’t really like this fact but there are many aspects that I do enjoy about our friendship which compensate for this. It is not as if he did this on purpose.”
    You decide that in the future you will plan appointments differently to take into account your friends time-keeping.

  • F = new feeling

    You still feel some upset but this is more at the level of frustration rather than anger or rage. And you feel as if you have a plan to cope with it.

Next time you are reduced to rage by an event or by someone else’s behaviour or attitude, try the ABCDEF technique of how to deal with anger and experience how good it feels to take control of your emotions.

Being able to constructively defeat anger will definitely make your everyday living better!


Is there an alternative to anger?
What other ways can you express how you are feeling?
There are several options.

Learn more!


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