Ashlie Smith

Sycamore Grange
Gedney Hill, Lincolnshire
United Kingdom
01406 330226

Anger Management

Anger is a normal human emotion. We’ve all been angry at one time or another. Some of us handle our anger better than others. While one person might be a bit unhappy when someone cuts him off in traffic, another is so angry that he shouts and swears, and starts driving aggressively himself. How can the same event cause such different reactions? And how can you make sure that your reaction is the calm one, instead of the wild one?

What we really want to do is to understand our anger more deeply and to create a new type of relationship with our emotions, a relationship where we manage them rather than letting them manage us.

The Physiology of Anger

Anger is a completely normal, usually healthy, human emotion. But when it gets out of control and turns destructive, it can lead to problems; problems at work, in your personal relationships, and in the overall quality of your life.  It can also make you feel as though you're at the mercy of an unpredictable and powerful emotion. 


Like other emotions, it is accompanied by physiological and biological changes; when you get angry, your heart rate and blood pressure go up, as do the levels of your energy hormones, adrenaline, and noradrenaline.

As you become angry your body's muscles tense up. Inside your brain, neurotransmitter chemicals known as catecholamines are released causing you to experience a burst of energy lasting up to several minutes. 

This burst of energy is behind the common angry desire to take immediate protective action. At the same time, your heart rate accelerates, your blood pressure rises, and your rate of breathing increases. Your face may flush as increased blood flow enters your limbs and extremities in preparation for physical action. Your attention narrows and becomes locked onto the target of your anger. Soon, you can pay attention to nothing else. In quick succession, additional brain neurotransmitters and hormones (among them adrenaline and noradrenaline) are released which trigger a lasting state of energy. 

Although it is possible for your emotions to rage out of control, the prefrontal cortex of your brain, which is located just behind your forehead, can keep your emotions in proportion. If the amygdala handles emotion, the prefrontal cortex handles judgement.

The left prefrontal cortex can switch off your emotions. It serves in an executive role to keep things under control. Getting control over your anger means learning ways to help your prefrontal cortex get the upper hand over your amygdala so that you have control over how you react to anger feelings.

Among the many ways to make this happen are breathing and relaxation techniques (which reduce your built-up energy and decrease your amygdala activity) and the use of cognitive control techniques which help you practice using your judgement to override your emotional reactions.

If anger has a physiological preparation phase during which our resources are mobilised for a fight, it also has a wind-down phase as well. We start to relax back towards our resting state when the target of our anger is no longer accessible or an immediate threat.  

Anger and Loss of Control

Anger is sometimes referred to as the ‘umbrella’ emotion because it can cover numerous feelings. What emotions are under your umbrella?

Internal and External Triggers

Internal triggers include our brain functions and thought processes. External triggers come from the attitudes and behaviours of others, and the situations we encounter. Everyone has their own triggers for what makes them angry, but some common triggers include situations in which we feel:

  • Threatened or attacked
  • Frustrated or powerless
  • Like we’re being treated unfairly

People can interpret situations differently, so a situation that makes you feel very angry may not make someone else feel angry at all. Being able to recognise your triggers is the first step to successful anger management.

Read this list of triggers and note the ones that make you angry. Then identify if the trigger is internal or external.

  1. You weren’t included in a decision about your team
  2. Someone says you did something wrong
  3. You feel tense and stressed
  4. Your boss belittles you in public
  5. You get stuck in heavy traffic
  6. You worry about the future everyday
  7. You hear that someone has been spreading rumours about you
  8. You take things too seriously
  9. You get caught doing something you shouldn't have been doing
  10. You actively avoid conflict
  11. You feel left out at work
  12. An employee doesn't respect your authority
  13. You get angry with yourself when you make a small mistake
  14. You are told that you can't do something
  15. You let people ‘walk over you’
  16. Someone doesn't agree with you
  17. You suffer from illness or pain
  18. Someone doesn't do what you tell him to do
  19. Your boss takes over a situation you were managing
  20. You compare yourself unfavourably with others
  21. Others:

ABC Belief Monitoring

You can use a technique called ABC Belief Monitoring to help identify triggers and their consequences. In this three-step model, you assess a situation after it has happened.


1.   Antecedent

What was the situation?

2.   Belief

What thoughts or beliefs did you have about  the situation?

How true did that belief seem (where 0% is not true at all and 100% is absolutely true)?

3.   Consequences

How did you feel when the situation happened? 

How did you act?

How did others react?

Think back to a situation when you felt angry or lost your temper. Use the ABC technique to analyse the causes and effects.

Thinking Errors

Thinking errors are irrational patterns of thinking that can both cause anger, and be caused by anger: the angrier you feel, the more you are annoyed by thinking errors, and the more they annoy you, the angrier you feel.

To break this vicious circle, you need to identify your thinking errors and successfully challenge them. Some common thinking errors include:

'Hot' thoughts 

'Hot' thoughts are angry thoughts that flash into your mind and make you feel worse. People tend to have similar thoughts happening

again and again, for example: 

"He is so lazy", "You’re so selfish.", "I hate this job." 

Taking things personally 

People who are angry often take things personally and feel hurt by it. They look for, and expect, criticism from other people. If, for

example, someone doesn’t speak to them at a meeting, they may feel that person dislikes them, when in fact it may be that he or she is just focused on the agenda. 

Ignoring the positive 

People who get angry tend to focus their thinking on negative or bad

events and ignore positive or good events. 


People who become angry often expect too much from themselves or those around them. If these standards are not met, then they feel badly let down and hurt. This hurt becomes anger.

The Effects of Anger

We now know that anger is a natural response to feeling attacked, deceived, frustrated or treated unfairly. Everyone gets angry sometimes – it’s part of being human. And it isn’t always a ‘bad’ emotion; in fact, it can sometimes be useful.


Self-awareness demands an accurate knowledge of yourself and your emotions. It also requires understanding and the ability to predict your emotional reactions to situations. Self-awareness involves recognising and understanding your moods and emotions and their effect on others.

When we examined our triggers earlier, we were increasing our self-awareness by recognising our moods and emotions.

Lifestyle Choices

Looking after your wellbeing more generally could help you feel calmer and more in control when things happen that make you feel angry. We can’t always control the anger that builds up from external triggers, but we can find ways to reduce the pressure we put on ourselves through making the right lifestyle choices. 

Try to:

  • Be more active. Being active can help let out any tension you’re feeling, and benefit your self-esteem. Even gentle exercise like going for a walk can make a difference.
  • Get a good night’s sleep. Not sleeping well can have a huge impact on how we’re feeling, and how well we cope with things that happen to us.
  • Be aware of your diet and nutrition. 
  • Learn to deal with pressure. We can feel pressured or stressed for lots of different reasons, but taking some time to learn how to deal with pressure can help us feel more in control of difficult situations.
  • Develop your emotional resilience. Emotional resilience helps us feel more able to handle difficult emotions.
  • Identify your triggers.
  • Make sure you have time for things you enjoy.
  • Learn to relax. 

Relaxation Techniques

A relaxation technique is any method, process, procedure, or activity that helps you to relax, remain calm, and reduce feelings of anger. There are many techniques to choose from, depending on what suits you and what is convenient at the time you are angry.

  • Exercise – a long walk, run, yoga, judo or any other sport can help to release the stress that is causing the anger
  • Breathing patterns – try to breathe out for longer than you breathe in and focus on each breath as you take it
  • Progressive muscle relaxation – if you can feel your body getting tense, try focusing on each part of your body in turn to tense, and then relax your muscles
  • Do something to distract yourself – anything that completely changes your situation, thoughts or patterns can help stop your anger escalating. For example, you could try putting on upbeat music and dancing, or doing some colouring!

Breathing Patterns

Technique 1 – Simple Breathing Technique

  1. Start by taking several slow and deep breaths in a row, each time taking care to exhale for twice as long as you inhale.
  2. As you do this, notice where the air in your lungs is going. Open your lungs and breathe deeply across your lung's full range.
  3. Your breath should enter your belly first, then your chest, and finally your upper chest just below your shoulders.
  4. Continue this breathing pattern for several minutes, returning immediately to normal breathing if at any time you feel odd or out of breath.


Technique 2 – The 4-7-8 Technique

  1. Exhale completely through your mouth, making a whoosh sound.
  2. Close your mouth and inhale quietly through your nose to a mental count of four.
  3. Hold your breath for a count of seven.
  4. Exhale completely through your mouth, making a whoosh sound to a count of eight.
  5. This is one breath. Now inhale again and repeat the cycle three more times for a total of four breaths

Progressive Muscle Relaxation


  1. The first step is applying muscle tension to a specific part of the body. First, focus on the target muscle group, for example, your left hand. Next, take a slow, deep breath and squeeze the muscles as hard as you can for about 5 seconds. It is important to really feel the tension in the muscles, which may even cause a bit of discomfort or shaking. It is easy to accidentally tense other surrounding muscles (for example, the shoulder or arm), so try to ONLY tense the muscles you are targeting. Isolating muscle groups gets easier with practice.
  2. This step involves quickly relaxing the tensed muscles. After about 5 seconds, let all the tightness flow out of the tensed muscles. Exhale as you do this step. You should feel the muscles become loose and limp, as the tension flows out. It is important to very deliberately focus on and notice the difference between the tension and relaxation. This is the most important part of the whole exercise.

Distraction – Colouring for Mindfulness

Colouring for mindfulness is a relatively new relaxation technique that helps to distract you mind from worries and anger triggers.

Thought Records

A Thought Record is a tool that can be used to record events and situations that cause you to feel angry, stressed, or anxious. The seven-part thought record can be used to:

  • Identify negative thoughts
  • Help you understand the links between thoughts and emotions
  • Examine the evidence for and against a selected trigger/ emotion
  • Challenge a thought/ emotion
  • Generate more realistic alternatives for thoughts and behaviours

They have seven sections:

  1. Situation Describe what was happening: Who, what, when where?
  2. Emotion/ Feeling Emotions can be described with one word: e.g. angry, sad, scared Rate 0-100%
  3. Negative thought What thoughts were going through your mind?
  4. Evidence that supports the thought What facts support the truthfulness of this thought or image?
  5. Evidence that does not support the thought What experiences indicate that this thought is not completely true
  6. Alternative thought Write a new thought which accounting for the evidence for and against the original thought
  7. Emotion/ Feeling How do you feel about the situation now? Rate 0 - 100%

Anger Management Accredited 6 Hour Training Course

Anger is a normal human emotion. We’ve all been angry at one time or another.  

Some of us handle our anger better than others. While one person might be a bit unhappy when someone cuts him off in traffic, another is so angry that he shouts and swears, and starts driving aggressively himself. How can the same event cause such different reactions? And how can you make sure that your reaction is the calm one, instead of the wild one?

What we really want to do is to understand our anger more deeply and to create a new type of relationship with our emotions, a relationship where we manage them rather than letting them manage us.

Ashlie Smith, Psychotherapist and Teacher will lead this workshop which focuses on the positive things that you can do to make changes in your life which will enable you to identify the causes and effects of anger and to assist you in developing the skills required to manage anger in your own life. The anger management training course will provide you with the skills, knowledge and awareness necessary to develop a positive approach to dealing with anger.


  • Understand the physiology of anger and identify triggers
  • Use cognitive restructuring and self-talk to help manage anger
  • Develop better lifestyle choices
  • Practice relaxation techniques
  • Complete a thought record


Course Fees

The course costs just £264 and includes:

  • Relaxation Audio Download
  • Anger Management Course Workbook
  • 1 Hour Aroma Freedom Technique Session
  • Accredited Continuing Professional Development Certificate
  • 60 Second Aroma Reset Technique and Memory Release Essential Oil Blend
  • iTOVi Health and Wellness Scan (provides a list of top oils and supplements your body has a response to)

* Are you a Young Living Member? Young Living Members Save 10% when they book their courses with Ashlie.

If you are in an immediate crisis, please call 911 in the US and Canada, 999 in the UK or 112 in Europe.
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