Like an observer you know that how anger affects you. It’s time to map how your anger really works – the process of your anger.
Use the techniques of mental DVD to remain a here-and-now observer of your experience.
Either adopt the house perspective or use the mental DVD to recapture an anger event that was too overwhelming to track as it unfolded.
What have you learned? On a separate piece of paper, record as much detail as you can in the following anger map exercise.
Exercise: Your Anger Map
Describe the emotions and physical sensations you noticed this week preceding your anger episode. Is there typically one feeling, or are there several that may show up at the beginning of your anger process?
How do these feelings affect your sense of self-worth? Do you find yourself wanting to escape or suppress them? Are there physical sensations preceding anger that are painful or uncomfortable? Does anger help to push them out of your awareness?
Write down as much as you can remember about any painful images or memories that come up in anger situations. What judgments do you typically make about other people?
Which of your expectations or rules for living do they fail to live up to? Note how your trigger thoughts may change your pre-anger feeling or distract you from them. [Anger Triggers]
Does your anger build slowly, or suddenly ignite full force? Does it sometimes stick around and brew for long periods of time, like a low-grade cold? Does it feel good, sweeping away hurt or shame? Does it feel scary or disturbing?
Write down everything you’ve learned as an observer of your anger, every detail about the feeling and its effect on you. Especially note what happened to your pre-anger feelings and any changes in your trigger thoughts.
Impulse to Act:
What did you want to do this week when your anger surged? What images or thoughts came to mind? Write down everything you imagined saying or doing.
You may have done only some or perhaps none of those things, but it’s important to identify as many anger-driven impulses as possible. How did you decide whether or not to act on them?
Write down what you actually did, via gestures, facial expressions, words, tone of voice, or overt behavior (acts of aggression, violence) as a response to your anger.
How did the aggression feel at the moment? How did it affect your anger (both the emotion and physical sensations)? As time went on, how did your feelings change, if at all, regarding your anger behavior?