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Self-Talk and Anger

How does self-talk affect anger?

Your thoughts are sometimes called "self-talk." It's normal to talk to yourself about your circumstances or situation. Most of us engage in self-talk without knowing it. Self-talk can be positive or negative.

Should statements include words like "should," "shouldn't", "must", "ought", "always", or "need to." You may have strong beliefs about the way things "should" be, or how people "should" act. These beliefs aren't always realistic or helpful.

Example: Danny gets home after a tough workday to find the house a mess, the baby crying, and dinner unmade. Danny believes he "should" expect a clean, quiet home and dinner waiting. So he yells at his wife.

Some things can't be controlled, like people and certain situations. Getting angry and acting out won't help. Exploding in anger just makes things worse. Instead, work to change those things you can control. Rather than getting angry, Danny could make dinner or help with the baby.

When challenging negative self-talk that includes "should" statements, remember:

  • You have the right to want things, but others have a right to say -- no.
  • You must accept some things in life -- as is.
  • Everyone has needs and priorities, and others may not act the way you expect.

Blaming is the belief that someone else caused physical or emotional pain on purpose. People who blame others often assume the worst about situations. They act like they can read other people's minds. They get angry without giving the other person the benefit of the doubt.

Example: My manager didn't give me the information I wanted because he's trying to sabotage my ability to get a promotion.

To challenge blaming thoughts, remember:

  • Jumping to conclusions and assuming the worst is not helpful.
  • Reading minds is not possible.
  • Blaming others doesn't solve problems. It just creates more stress for everyone.
  • Problems are often smaller than they first appear.
  • Normally, people don't try to hurt others on purpose.

Challenging Negative Self-Talk

When you get angry, challenge any negative self-talk or thoughts that make your anger worse:

"I'm going to stop thinking these thoughts because they make me feel worse."
"I'm just going to take it easy."
"I'm going to take a deep breath and count to 10."
"I know that getting angry won't solve this problem."
"I can manage this. I have tools to help me."
"It's just not worth it to get angry."
"I'm going to let it go."

The Anger Meter >>