Face it; you want to change your anger. Perhaps your wish to change follows some incident where you lost control.
Or maybe you’ve struggled for a long time, looking desperately for a way to stop the damage anger does to your relationships and your life.
What are the Costs of Anger?
The battle with anger has cost you-in energy, of deep and painful regret, and of damage to your closest bonds. You feel that your efforts at anger control and all the ways those efforts have failed, have left a deep impact on you.
You probably already have a good idea how much responding with anger has cost you in the various areas of your life.
Have you experienced broken and strained relationships? Sickness and poor health? Excessive stress? Difficulties at school or work? Problems with alcohol and other substances? There may also be other costs that are less obvious, or that you choose not to think about.
The following exercise on calculating the costs of anger can help you to see exactly what anger has cost you in your life. This will also give you a better idea of what you have missed out on by responding to anger feelings with anger behavior.
You may already have an idea that something is wrong. This is a good starting point. The difficult work is facing exactly what is wrong and coming to terms with what anger has cost you.
In the following exercise, look at your personal experience with anger. If you are ready to get started, then grab a pen and a separate piece of paper.
Assessing the cost of your anger
Summarize the effects of anger on your relationships. Have friendships changed or been lost? Have family members been alienated? Do they avoid you, or do you avoid them? Have you lost a marriage or romantic relationship due to anger?
Summarize the effects of anger on your career. Have you ever quit or been fired from a job because of anger?
This includes overt anger as well as passive aggression such as slacking off, being late, being less productive, bad-mouthing people, gossip, etc. Have co-workers been alienated by your anger? Has your anger affected your school career (relationships with teachers and/or administrators)?
Describe the effects of anger on your health. There is a lot of research showing that anger stresses your body. Do you have any physical problems that could be stress related? Do you tend to get sick often?
Do you experience physical symptoms during or after anger episodes (such as chest pain, muscle tension, upset stomach, and headache)? Do you sometimes mull over and stew over anger to the point of feeling sick or keyed up or having insomnia?
Energy CostsOutline how anger has affected your energy. Does your anger sometimes exhaust you? Have you put time and energy into disappointing efforts at control? Have your attempts to manage anger left you feeling discouraged, tired, or worn out?
What has anger cost you emotionally? How much guilt do you carry for damage done by your anger? How do regrets about your anger episodes affect you emotionally?
Are you affected by relationship losses due to anger? Do you suffer depression or hopelessness in the wake of your anger?
Completing your assessment of the costs of your anger is a crucial first step in honestly facing how anger has damaged you and continues to do so. But it also has another purpose.
Itâ€™s important that you recognize and feel the effects of your anger despite all your efforts, promises, and resolutions to change it.