Anger Diary

Keep an Anger Diary to assist in developing personal skills to better manage current situations. Things to think about:

  1. Being aware of how your anger works is the first step to change. Anger has signals in our bodies, our emotions, our thinking and our actions.
  2. Signals in our bodies can include: tense muscles, higher heart rate, faster breathing, feeling hot or sweating.
  3. Signals in our emotions and thoughts can include: losing patience, becoming more determined, feeling strong or having thoughts of revenge.
  4. Signals in our actions can include: shouting, hitting, being silent and withdrawn, or being sarcastic.

Set aside fifteen minutes each day to complete the Anger Diary. The aim of this exercise is to become more aware of how your anger works.

  • Angry events can range from feeling mildly irritated to very angry. Take note of the number of angry events however mild they are. Next, on a scale of 1-10, rate the most angry event of the day (1=mildly irritated to 10=enraged).
  • Write down the different signs of anger in your body, your emotions, your thoughts and your actions. If there was more than one angry event in the day, focus on the most intense angry event.

Complete the following information daily:

Date & Day of week:

How many times did you get angry?

What was the situation/s?

On a scale of 1-10 what was the angriest you got?

What were three physical, emotional or mental symptoms of your anger during the angriest event?

What did you do when you were the angriest? (Actions)




Things to consider are hidden why individuals keep doing things that are damaging or unhelpful. If you often use anger to try to resolve situations, there may be an underlying reason/s­ attached to your response.

Below are some considerations: why people don’t change.

  1. Feeling Powerful. The quick hit of adrenaline that comes from blame, violence or hurting others. Wanting to have power over another person.
  2. Self-pity. Indulging in feeling sorry for yourself. Feeling like you are the victim. If I am the victim, I have a right to retaliate.
  3. Self-righteousness. Needing to be ‘right’. Feeling that it is a weakness to admit you are wrong.
  4. Scared of being vulnerable or insecure. Not wanting to admit that you are sad, afraid or helpless – so you get angry instead.

Individuals may hold onto negative considerations because they are missing a positive quality, feeling or experience. For instance, the individual needing to feel powerful may really need a sense of personal confidence. For example, if people are laughing at you, you may choose to feel powerful by throwing a punch. If you were personally confident enough, you would ignore the comment­.


1: Think back to a recent angry moment you have had and reflect upon why you felt the anger and what were your main consideration/s.

2: Once having identified the consideration/s look for the positive quality, feeling or experience that you are really wanting.

3: What can you do to create the positive quality, feeling or experience that does not require anger.



Expressing Anger

Anger needs to be expressed appropriately. If we do not express our anger appropriately, it can impact our health and often comes out in other ways. Anger can be expressed in various non-abusive ways. One way to safely express anger for those who have difficulty verbalizing it is to draw. As we draw we can learn about the anger. It may give us more information, and then help us to address it.


  • Gather some plain paper and a handful of crayons, pencils, paint and paintbrushes or even biros. Find a quiet place away from distractions and without alcohol.
  • Sit at the table or on the floor, close your eyes and remember a time you felt angry. Spend some time thinking about the situation. If it is hard to recall the feeling, here are some things to think about: – What led to the situation? – What happened in the situation in detail? – Try and recall the bodily sensations i.e. tense, hot, tight. How to draw about your anger • Now you have started to recall the angry feelings, open your eyes, and start drawing.
  • The drawing does not have to be anything specific: no outline, thing or person. It may just be scribble, or it could be a picture.
  • Keep going for 5-10 minutes. When you are finished, think about how the drawing is making you feel and why. Take some time for reflection.



Identifying Emotions

When things go wrong, anger and frustration are often the easiest feelings to express. Yet anger can hide other feelings such as helplessness, hopelessness or feeling sad, hurt or afraid. When these feelings are hidden, anger becomes the usual response. By not being aware of what your anger is made up of, you remain angry. Anger can become the response to many feelings and thoughts and can then become a habit.

Examine angry moments:

  1. What was the situation that made you angry? When we are angry there is nearly always a need or want that has not been met. Sometimes this unmet need or want is something material such as money or a possession and at other times it is more a feeling or quality such as being respected or feeling loved.
  2. What was the unmet need or want?
  3. Consider the unmet need or want and what other emotion this unmet need or want has triggered.
  4. What were the main other emotion you were feeling?
  • angry & sad
  • angry & hurt
  • angry & afraid
  • angry & helpless
  • angry & shocked
  • angry & ashamed

Next time you are feeling angry try to identify the other emotion that are underneath. When talking about these situations you have a chance to focus on the feelings behind your anger. This can lead to more productive conversations and less likelihood of conflict.



Keeping Safe

Five steps for keeping others safe and to prevent you from being abusive while you are feeling angry:

  1. Momentary delay – When you feel like you might become abusive, start by taking a pause. Take a moment to think about what you are doing so you don’t act on impulse.
  2. Time out – Once you have taken a moment to delay, remove yourself physically from the anger provoking situation. However, if you are in the middle of an argument, don’t just walk o‑. Negotiate with the other person for time out. Tell them what you are going to do and when you will return, otherwise it could make matters worse.
  3. Do something – Once you have left, find a way to calm down. Do something physical (avoid driving) – walk, run, kick the footy, smack a tennis ball – anything to get that pent-up energy out and cool down.
  4. Return – Make the time out brief (minutes rather than hours). When you return, the other person may still be angry. If the situation flares up again, repeat the time out process.
  5. Problem solving – Once you return do not talk about the anger provoking situation immediately, unless it is absolutely urgent. Negotiate with the other person to talk about the issue in the next few days when you both have some perspective.

Next time you are feeling angry, try one of these actions above. Just because you do these things does not mean the other person will not be angry, or behave well. This is about you not being abusive.


The next time you are feeling angry try and put into the actions above, even if you don’t think it’s needed and then analyse your behaviour:

  1. What was the situation that made you so angry?
  2. How far did you get through the steps above?
  3. On a scale of 1 (no abuse) to 10 (highly abusive), how well did your new strategy work to help you manage your abusive behaviour?
  4. What will you do next time you are feeling angry?




Self-talk is that commentary inside your head. It is what you think, how you think and what you say to yourself. Individuals interpret events with diff­erent thought patterns. These thought patterns are either self-defeating or constructive. If we are critical of ourselves and others, our self-talk is negative and keeps us angry. Self-defeating self-talk can generate high and unhealthy levels of stress or anxiety resulting in unmanaged anger. Has your anger become the first response to almost anything that goes wrong or contrary to plan? Being aware of what we are angry about helps us to become more constructive. Constructive thoughts and self-talk help to short circuit anger and help stop us becoming abusive.


  1. Think of a situation that may make you angry.
  2. Write down what makes you angry about this situation.
  3. Notice your self-talk and write the thoughts down.
  4. Now change the angry thoughts to more constructive thoughts. For example: ‘This sort of thing always happens to me’ to ‘This sort of thing happens to everyone.’
  5. Practice saying the constructive words out loud. Keep saying them until you start to feel better.



Writing about Anger

Understanding our anger can be di­fficult. We might feel angry, yet often we cannot discover where it is coming from. Reflective writing can offer insights into why we are angry. It can also assist with processing our angry feelings rather than acting them out in an abusive way.

Writing, such as a letter, expresses unprocessed, raw anger and could be damaging to others, just like raw verbal anger can be abusive. When you have finished writing the letter you may want to put it away and read it later.

When you are feeling calmer you may want to set up a time to talk about your anger. Perhaps more helpful would be talking about the feelings behind your anger with the other person in a constructive way. Later, when you are ready, start to write about your feelings.

When writing you may wish to consider the following sentence starters:

  1. I get angry when [example: no one listens to me]
  2. I feel like l am [example: invisible and not important]
  3. When l am [example: invisible and not important]
  4. I feel [example: stupid]
  5. And do not feel [example: good enough]
  6. And that makes me [example: frustrated and then l get angry]

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