Characteristics of Anger

Anger is a completely normal, usually healthy, human emotion. We've all felt anger—perhaps as a fleeting annoyance or as a full-fledged rage. But when anger gets out of control and turns destructive, it can lead to problems at work, at school, in personal relationships, and in the overall quality of life.

The average person who is angry is using only 30% of their cognitive ability, or brain.  This being the case, it is best not to make important decisions when you are angry.  Most people report that they made the stupidest decisions of their life when they were angry.

How we get angry

When people are asked why they get angry, many answer that someone or something makes them angry. 

This suggests that people do not have a choice about whether or not they get angry.  In fact many people have become so used to using anger that they believe it to be the most effective way to manage any difficulty or discomfort.  The truth is that we do have a choice about whether or not we get angry.

Anytime something happens where you have an opportunity to react, it is called an invitation.  Other anger management groups have referred to them as “triggers”.  The problem with calling them triggers is that it makes it seem like once the trigger is pulled, you have no choice.  Invitations allow a person an opportunity to react to a given situation with any number of possible responses.  An invitation can be external or internal events. You could be angry with someone (such as a coworker or supervisor) or at an event (a traffic jam or a canceled flight). Worrying about personal problems may cause anger, and memories of traumatic or enraging events may trigger angry feelings, too.

Physical and emotional warning signs:

This is your early warning system, what occurs to you both physically and emotionally before you get angry.  When you are aware of your warning signs you can change your actions to change the outcome.  Knowing your warning signs will help you realize that you are becoming angry. 


Sample List of Feeling Words























































Expressions of Anger

In most cases you can’t get rid of or avoid the triggers. You can’t change them either. However you can learn to control your reactions to these invitations. The three main approaches are “expressing,” “suppressing” and “calming.”

Depending on how you express your anger, you can try to be courageous and do something different.  If you tend to “explode” try to stop talking and listen to others and overlook provocation.  If you tend to “Implode” try to express yourself by speaking out when you would normally not do so.


Several tactics you can use to break out of anger:

Moving from Anger to Violence

Take a stand against violence

Factors that contribute to violent behavior may include peer pressure; a desire (need) for attention or respect; a feeling of low self-worth and powerlessness; or learned violence (by being abused or watching abuse)

Some reasons people turn to violence:

Recognizing warning signs in yourself and others

While no two people react in quite the same way, often people who act violently have trouble expressing and/or controlling their feelings.  Some may have been hurt by others and want to get back at them.  Some feel that making people fear them earns them respect.  Flat out this is not true – fear and respect are two totally different things.  In-fact, people who react violently lose respect.  Often they find themselves isolated or disliked, which only leads to more anger and frustration unless the cycle is broken.

Are you at risk for violent behavior?

If you recognize these warning signs in yourself, get help.  You don’t have to live with the guilt, sadness and frustration that comes from hurting others.  Admitting you have a concern about acting violent or hurting others is the first step.  The second is to talk to someone you trust and respect.  You may need to get in touch with a counselor or mental health professional who cares and can help.

These warning signs show that violence is a serious, short-term possibility:


These warning signs over a period of time show that a potential for violence exists:

What can you do if someone you know shows the warning signs for violent behavior?

Dealing Appropriately with Anger

Anger is a normal and healthy emotion.  It is normal to feel angry or frustrated when you’ve been hurt, let down or betrayed.  However, anger and frustration don’t justify violence.  Anger is a strong emotion and at times may be difficult to keep under control but remember you should keep cool.  You can free yourself from the cycle of violence by learning to talk about your feelings.

Controlling your own risk for violent behavior

People feel anger differently.  The first step in managing anger is to recognize how it affects you.

Some ways anger shows itself:

To reduce these signs:

Learn from your experience:

Suicide is Violence

Take a Stand Against Suicide

People who have trouble dealing with their feelings may lash out at others, themselves, or both.  Like people who are violent toward others, potential suicide victims often behave in recognizable ways before they try to end their lives.  Suicide is very often violence turned inward and like other forms of violence, is preventable.  The two most important steps in prevention are recognizing the warning signs and getting help.

Warning signs of potential self-violence include:

You should pay special attention to these signs if any of the following have occurred:

Often, suicidal thinking comes from a wish to end deep psychological pain.  Death seems like the only way out.  But it isn’t.  If you have a friend that mentions suicide, take it seriously.  Listen carefully, then seek help as soon as possible.  Never keep suicidal talk a secret even if they ask you to.  Remember, you are risking that person’s life.

When you recognize the warning signs for suicidal behavior, do something about it.  Tell a trusted adult what you have seen or heard.  Get help from a counselor or other professional as soon as possible.  They can help work out the problems that seem so unsolvable but, in fact, are not.



Communication Mod 2 – Worksheet

1.   Describe a situation that lead up to a decision made in anger: ______________________________


2.   How did you handle it? _______________________________________________________________


3.   Were you satisfied with the outcome?  Why or why not?  __________________________________


4.   How else could you have reacted to the situation?________________________________________


5.   List 5 – 10 invitations to anger that you have experienced in the past.  _______________________




6.     Think about the invitations that you get and how they make you feel both emotionally and physically.  List these warning signs and separate them into physical and emotional.


































7.         Take the list of warning signs on the chart above and write them on the ‘anger-man’ cartoon on the following page.   Put them on the appropriate places on the body (face, hands, stomach etc.) or in the speech or though balloons.