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  • Writer's pictureRobert Davies

Anger -THE BAD HABIT LOG: Part 3

Updated: Dec 6, 2019

Using the bad habit log

© Robert James Davies 2019


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 client gets 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.

“Clay, there is one other thing to help you defeat anger.”

“What’s that, Robert?”

“Well, it is called the Daily Habit Log.”

“Habit Log?”

“You see when you do practice something good, it is a virtue. It is a good habit. When you practice something bad such as losing your anger, it is a bad habit.”

“Can I get rid of anger completely?”

“You wouldn’t want to do that, Clay. There is righteous anger, getting angry about someone doing you an injustice such as stealing from you or purposely injuring you.”

“Well, Robert, what is the difference?”

“One is under control and the other is out-of-control.”


Robert Jenkins reached into his rather thick binder again and pulled out a sheet entitled Daily Habit Log. It had a lot of positive emotions on the front.

“Okay, Clay, think of that anger between you and Maggie again. Think of the point when you decided to get angry. You decided to get angry because of Tempting Thoughts that would give you positive emotions. You were tempted into getting angry by certain thoughts. First, let’s look how you might have been feeling when you felt tempted. Now circle those feelings that you would have had.”

Positive Emotions

Clay circled the following emotions:


carried-away, stirred up, spellbound,


smart, special, witty,



released, winning

Tempting Thoughts

“So, Clay, what would you have been telling yourself, thinking to yourself when you felt innocent? And how true did it seem?”

“Well, Robert, I’m being wronged. It seemed 100% True.”

“Good, what would you have been telling yourself, thinking to yourself when you felt superior? And how true did it seem to you?”

Losing my temper is my only way to get my point across. It seemed 100% True.”

“And smart, special, witty?”

I can get my point across." And it seemed 90% True.”

“And carried-away, stirred up, spellbound?”

I can get the control." It seemed 70% True.”

“So what thought do you want to look at first?”

“Start at the beginning, please.”

“Okay, so when you were thinking ‘I’m being wronged, are there any cognitive distortions in that tempting thought.

1. All-or-nothing thinking. You look at things in absolute, black-and-white categories.

2. Overgeneralization. You take one single event and you generalize it to your entire life.

3. Mental filter. You dwell on the positives and ignore the negatives.

4. Discounting positives. You ignore the positive facts.

5. Jumping to conclusions. You jump to conclusions not warranted by the facts.

· Mind-reading. You believe you know what people are thinking.

· Fortune-telling. You tell yourself that you can tell the future.

6. Magnification or minimization. You minimize the consequences of your behaviour or you blow things way out of proportion.

7. Emotional reasoning. You reason from your feelings: “I feel good about my decision, so my decision must be good.”

8. Should statements. You use “shoulds,” “shouldn'ts,” “musts,” “ought’s,” and “have to’s. ”Self-directed “Shoulds” cause feelings of guilt, shame, depression and worthlessness. Other-Directed “Shoulds” cause feelings of anger and trigger interpersonal conflict. World-Directed “should” lead to feelings of frustration and entitlement.

9. Labeling. Instead of saying, “I made a mistake,” you tell yourself, “I am a mistake.” Or “I'm a jerk” or “I'm a loser.”

10.Self-blame and other-blame.Self-blame. You blame yourself for something you weren't entirely responsible for. Other-blame. You blame others and overlook ways that you contributed to the problem.

Finding the Cognitive Distortions

“I don’t know, Robert? I am drawing a blank. Can you help me here. I am sure I can get the hang of it with your help.”

“Sure, Clay. Let’s look at all-or-nothing thinking. When you are thinking I’m being wronged, are you thinking:

You are either wronged or not wronged. Those are two extremes. How about a little wronged or somewhat wronged or half-wronged, or a lot wronged. Might you be 10 or 30 or 60 or 90 per cent wronged?

“I see, Robert. I guess the realistic answer would be 60% wronged.”

“Exactly! Not the extremes! Probably, somewhere on the percentage scale between 0% and 100%, not 0% or 100% only.”

“I guess I have #1 cognitive distortion”

“Clay, look at #3, mental filter. Are you filtering out the negative things you did to escalate the fight and just looking at the positive things or emotions? Looking at #4, Discounting the Positive, are you ignoring the negative facts, such as the lack of respect shown toward Maggie or not thinking of your grade 5 daughter or forgetting how you had deliberately not taken up your responsibility to take the garbage out, which started the blow-up in the first place?

“You are right, Robert. I have those two cognitive distortions, too.”

“Look at # 6, Clay. Any distortions?”

“Yes, I made light of my losing my temper. I minimized it. I made its significance smaller than it really was and magnified my wife’s part, making it bigger than it was. I was letting myself off the hook by feeling righteous. I can see that it just wasn’t me who was wronged, but Maggie, too, as well as my daughter.

“Any others, Clay?”

“Sure, it used the cognitive distortion called Emotional reasoning. Just because I feel I was the only one being wronged, doesn’t mean it was true. So that makes #7, too.

“I can also see that I was labeling. I labelled myself blameless, #9 distortion plus I blamed my wife, which is #10. Other-blame. I am not sure about #8, the should statements.”

“Clay, I can help you. There is a ‘hidden should’ here. It is not obvious because you aren’t exactly saying it directly or thinking it directly, but it is there. Other people shouldn’t treat me as if I am guilty. I am the wronged one, the innocent one.”

“Thank you, Robert. I can see how Should Statements cause feelings of anger and trigger inter-personal conflict. I feel wronged because I am thinking YOU SHOULDN”T ACCUSE ME! That helps anger and anger gets interpersonal conflicts going! It looks as if I have a lot of the cognitive distortions covered.”

“So, Clay, what would be a self-control thought, one that would help you NOT CHOOSE ANGER?”

“How about – Two wrong’s do not make a right or It takes two to tango.”

“Would that be very true?”

“Yes, 100% True.”

“How true is the original – I ‘m being wronged. ?”

“Not true at all! 0% True!”

Mr. Jenkins went through the other ‘tempting thoughts’ and came up with more ‘self-control thoughts’:

I can learn to express my anger appropriately.

There are always more important things.

It is not about being right and getting control. It’s about getting my point across appropriately.

It takes two to tango or it takes two to tangle.

Whenever Clay might feel the urge to ‘blow up’ at home, he would lose his self-control thoughts to talk back to his tempting thoughts. In this way he could defeat the urge to get angry by using the self-control thoughts each time he has a tempting thought.


You can learn to restrain your anger by using cognitive distortions to catch the lies we tell ourselves. Using Self-Control Thoughts is a powerful way to talk back to urges, cravings and even addictions.


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