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Counseling Center

Anger Management

Are you an angry person?

Take the following quiz to determine where you fall regarding anger.  Answer ‘yes’ or ‘no’ to each statement as it applies to you.

___   People tell me that I need to calm down.

___   I feel tense much of the time.

___   At work, I hardly ever say what is on my mind.

___   When I am upset, I try to block out the world by watching TV, reading, or going to sleep.

___   I am drinking or using drugs almost daily to help me calm down.

___   I have trouble getting to sleep.

___   I feel misunderstood or not listened to much of the time.

___   People ask me not to yell or curse so much.

___   My loved ones keep saying that I’m hurting them.

___   My friends don’t ask me for help very much.


Scoring:  Add up the number of times you answered ‘Yes” to the above statements.

0-2:  MANAGEABLE - you have stress well in hand but could use relaxation training

3-5:  MODERATE - you need to learn more about what stresses you and learn good anger  management techniques.

6+:  OUT OF CONTROL - You have an anger problem and could benefit from learning anger management techniques.

Causes of Anger

Anger can have many causes and can vary by each individual and situation.  Causes may include: stress, annoyance, worry, loss, rejection, frustration, and feeling threatened.

What happens if I ignore my anger?

Ignoring your anger does not make it go away. Problems may arise if you choose to handle your anger in this manner. 

  • Health problems that may result include heart problems, headaches, and digestive problems.
  • If anger is not dealt with properly it may build up and lead to violent behavior. Strong feelings of anger can lead people to commit crimes, such as abuse, assault, and destruction of property, which could lead to legal problems.
  • Concentration problems may also develop. Your judgment may be clouded.
  • Problems could arise in interpersonal relationships through name calling and hurting others feelings. Ignoring anger may lead to aggression.

How anger can help

Anger is neither good nor bad. Like everything else in the world, it has a function. When it is used as it is intended, anger can be productive and beneficial.

Ways in which handling anger properly can be helpful to you include:

  • Explore feelings and work through your problems
  • Motivate yourself to reach a goal
  • Encourage growth in your relationships

How can I deal with anger?

Anger is a three-way process; you think, you feel, and you act. You can intervene in any of the steps to change your actions. Anger is a choice, so you CAN choose to control it.  Anger cannot always be avoided; however, you can control how you deal with it. There are three simple steps for managing your anger.

Step 1: Recognize your anger

Anger is a natural emotion, so do not feel guilty for getting angry. Becoming aware of your anger is the first step to managing it. Pay attention to these warning signs: tensing muscles, "knots" or “butterflies" in your stomach, changes in your breathing, or becoming flushed in the face.

Step 2: Identify the cause
Once you have recognized when you become angry, you should try to discover the source of that anger. Ask yourself, “Did I perceive the problem accurately?” Other good questions are, “What is my part in all of this? Did I contribute to the misunderstanding/miscommunication/mistake?” or “Were my expectations clear and reasonable in this situation?”

Step 3: Decide what to do
Take positive steps to resolve the problem that caused your anger. Do not do anything that might harm yourself or someone else. Give yourself time to cool off before you speak. Avoid exaggeration and use of such words as "always" or "never." Stick to the issue. Be prepared to say, "I'm sorry,” or "I was wrong" and take responsibility for your part of the problem. Work on forgiving and forgetting; the longer you hold on to your anger, the harder you make it on yourself.

Here are some additional anger management tools that may work for you:

  • Learn to talk about your feelings. If you are afraid to talk, find a trusted friend or professional to help you one-on-one.
  • Express yourself calmly. Express criticism, anger, disappointment, or displeasure without losing your temper or fighting. Ask yourself if your response is safe and reasonable before you say anything.
  • Listen to others. Listen carefully and respond without getting upset when someone gives you negative feedback. Ask yourself if you can really see the other person's point of view.  Accept responsibility for your actions and behaviors that may hurt others.

Other Helpful Tips

  • Accept responsibility for your anger. Do not blame others for your actions
  • Avoid situations that trigger your anger. If a situation cannot be avoided, create a plan to deal with it, such as walking away until you calm down.
  • Focus on the behavior (not the person) that is upsetting you. 

How Do I Keep Anger from Taking Over?

Humor:  Do not waste time or energy on being angry. Instead, try to find humor in the situation.

Physical activity: Physical activity, such as walking or running, is a great outlet for anger.

Rest and relaxation: Get enough rest and sleep. Muscle relaxation and meditation can also be beneficial to reduce tension.

Hobbies: Use your time and energy doing things you enjoy.

Express Your Anger: Do not hold feelings in. Try the following tips to help you better handle your anger.

  • Calm down. Do not talk about what is making you angry until you have calmed down. Getting in an argument over the problem will only create more problems and increase your anger.
    • Try relaxation techniques such as taking a few slow, deep breaths and concentrate on your breathing.
    • Say things to yourself, such as “relax," "take it easy," or “I can handle this.”
  • Understand your motives. Keep in mind that you want to resolve the problem in the most positive manner. Be clear and assertive about how you feel without insulting or blaming others.
  • Do not avoid the issue. Hiding your true feelings and beliefs will not help to get rid of the anger.
  • Get help. Having difficulty expressing your anger in a positive manner?
Contact the USC Aiken Counseling Center to talk with one of our counselors today!