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  • Writer's pictureRobert Davies

Anger - a very bad habit: PART 1

Updated: Dec 6, 2019

Anybody can become angry - that is easy, but to be angry with the right person and to the right degree and at the right time and for the right purpose, and in the right way - that is not within everybody's power and is not easy. Aristotle

About THese Stories

Most people like stories, and therapy is all about stories. Telling stories about powerful techniques used in TEAM CBT therapy demystify this therapy one story at a time.

Yet, confidentiality is a cornerstone of all counselling. Without confidentiality, clients wouldn’t feel safe going to therapy to divulge the most painful areas of their lives. To safeguard clients while illustrating TEAM CBT techniques, confidentiality is kept by either having the client’s consent or by distorting the facts, making the client unrecognizable . These stories are excellent for homework where the clients get to understand how TEAM CBT therapy works and perhaps how other clients with similar challenges experienced the wonderful and sudden changes that such therapy can bring.

It Takes Two to TanGLE


It Takes Two to Tango

Robert Davies © 2019

“I can’t take it anymore, Mr. Jenkins. I mean Robert. It is too much.”

“It seems like you are really frustrated, Clay. What can’t you take anymore?”

“The nit-picking.”

“The nit-picking?”

“Yes, the nit-picking. My wife won’t leave me alone. Then I lose my temper.”

“So, your wife is at you, and you get really mad?”

“Yes, and I can’t stand losing my temper. It isn’t good for the kids.

“Are you telling me that you want to work on your anger, your temper?”

“Yesiree! I am.”

Mr. Jenkins reached into his binder, ruffled through his files and pulled out the Daily Mood Log (found on FORMS page) . He gave Clay a copy and kept one for himself.

“Okay, Clay, we will fill this out together. First tell me about one episode of anger at any time. Tell me what time of day, where, how, who – all the details.”

“Well, there was two weeks ago on a Saturday morning and my wife, Maggie, was bugging me about the garbage.” “Sure, that sounds like a really good example. Tell me about it."

Well, as I said Maggie was bugging me. So, I got defensive, then she retorted and then the whole thing escalated until I got really mad."

"Then what happened, Clay?"

“ I ended up punching a hole in the wall in the hallway.”

“Wow! You were really angry. Give me all the details.”

Clayton outlined the details of the fight between him and his wife, Maggie. He reiterated how he felt bad about punching the wall and really bad that his daughter in grade 5 was a witness to the yelling and to his punching the wall.

“Thank you, Clay, for relating that. Now, I was just thinking that if you had a magic button on your chair, and all you had to do was push it ,and your anger would disappear even though your world wouldn't change, would you push that button?. For example, Maggie would still nit-pick, would you push that button to make you a happier person, a person in control of his anger?”

“Yes, I would, Robert. I want to get rid of my anger so much.”

“Well, I don’t know if it’d be the best choice. Don’t forget you’d have to give up all the power the anger gives you. You get people to back off. You can scream. You can rant. You can punch walls. You can feel the power surging through your body. You can show how right you are, how innocent and guiltless. After all, there are so many pluses to anger. Are you sure you want to give it up?”

“Yes, I am. Yes, I did like the pluses as you say, but those good things about anger didn’t do me any good in the long run. I want to give them up.”

“Okay, Clay. Let’s work on controlling your ange. I just didn’t want to do anything that you’d regret such as not being able to get really, really angry anymore. Then you’d blame me.”

“If I can get rid of my anger, I’d thank you, really thank you.”

“Okay, let’s move on then, Clay. Let’s see what negative emotions you had and how strong they were.”

“Sure, what do I do?”

“Just circle the emotions that fit and write in how strong they were at the time and how much you’d like to lower them. ”

Clay circled the following emotions:

Sad, down, unhappy at 70% strong with a goal of lowering those emotions to 10%

Anxious, worried at 80% with a reduction goal of 20%

Confused, mixed-up, uncertain at 60% with a goal of 20%

Worthless & defective at 80% with a goal of 10%

Embarrassed, foolish, humiliated, self-conscious at 100% with a goal of 20%

Hopeless, & discouraged at 50% with a goal of 10%

Frustrated & defeated at 80% with a goal of 10%

Angry, mad, resentful, annoyed, irritated, upset & furious at 100% with a goal of 0%

Drained & overwhelmed at 50% with a goal of 10%

Guilty remorseful, bad, ashamed at 100% with a goal of 10%

“Clayton, well done. You have a lot of emotions around that episode that you described. This work of identifying your emotions is very important to address your anger problem that you want to fix. You see, anger is a secondary emotion. That means that behind that strong emotion of anger there is another emotion such as ‘embarrassment’. You get angry because someone embarrassed you, for example, or someone disrespected you or someone tried to control you by telling you what to do and so on.”

“I see, Robert, by talking about all my emotions, I get to understand my anger.”

“That’s right. Now let me just pull out another form to look at the upside of anger.”

“The upside?”

“That’s right, Clay. As ugly as your anger seems to you, it can seem to be a good thing, too. Let’s do a CBA – a Cost Benefit Analysis. We will look at the advantages and disadvantages of anger. Okay?” “Sure”.

Robert Jenkins pulled out another form from his binder and together, he and Clay looked at both the upside and the downside of anger. It was a CBA - .

Advantages of Anger

1. It tells me something is wrong.

2. I can make people afraid of me, so that they back off and leave me be.

3. I can feel as if I’m Superman, really strong and powerful.

4. I get to release my frustration.

5. It stops my anger from building up too much.

6. I can let people know how much they have wronged me.

7. I can claim being Mr Innocent, loud and clear.

Disadvantages of Anger

1. It can give other people a bad image of me.

2. It doesn’t fix the problem.

3. It makes the situation worse.

4. It has a negative effect on other people

5. I feel guilty, remorseful and ashamed about myself.

6. It can scare my daughter.

7. My wife, Maggie, doesn't deserve to be treated that way.

Mr. Jenkins congratulated Clay on his courageous work at looking deeply into his anger. He then asked Clay to weight both sides so that the two sides, the pro’s and the con’s, add up to a hundred per cent. So if they were equal then they’d both be 50% adding up, of course, to a 100%.

“So, Clay, what weight would you give each side so that together they both add up to 100%.

“Well, Robert, I believe that getting angry is more disadvantageous. I’d give the Disadvantages of Anger an 80% and the Advantages of anger a 20%.”

“Clay, that shows then that you see anger as 4 times more disadvantageous than advantageous. That is a lot. That shows how stong your motivation is to work on stopping your anger from controlling you or rather to stop yourself from choosing anger. That means you are motivated to change for the better. "

Finish the story by going to Anger: A Very Bad Habit - Part 2

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