Creating the Extraordinary Student Experience

  • Call 614-221-5445 for the Franklin County Suicide Prevention Coalition’s free and anonymous 24/7 hotline, the closest hotline to the Ohio State University’s Columbus Campus. Call 614-221-5445 for the Franklin County Suicide Prevention Coalition’s free and anonymous 24/7 hotline, the closest hotline to the Ohio State University’s Columbus Campus.


How do I know if I have a problem with anger?

  • You feel (or fear) being out of control when you are angry.
  • You often feel tense, irritable or frustrated.
  • You find yourself frequently gossiping or complaining about others rather than speaking to them directly about what is bothering you.
  • You frequently feel hurt or resentful that others treat you unfairly.
  • You hurt others, especially those you care about, by demeaning or putting them down, cursing at them, or being verbally abusive. You end up regretting something you said or did when angry.
  • You take out your anger on someone or something else rather than the person or situation that is bothering you.
  • You have physically lashed out when angry (e.g. destroyed property, hit someone, etc.).
  • You have lost or are in danger of losing a relationship, job, or something else important to you because of your anger.
  • You have been arrested or have legal difficulties because of your anger.
  • You use alcohol or drugs to try and calm your emotions.
  • Others (e.g. friends, family, professors, academic administrators, bosses) have expressed concern about your anger.

What can I do to control my anger?

  • Learn to become more aware of what you are feeling, and recognize your anger when it occurs. Notice your particular signs that anger is building (e.g. becoming tense, short with others, developing a headache, etc.).
  • Ask yourself "What is really bothering me?" Notice whether it is an interaction with someone else or something inside you. Avoid displacing your anger toward individuals who are not the cause of your anger.
  • Keep an anger log to identify the kinds of situations that provoke you. Learn to identify what triggers anger (e.g. authority figures, jealousy), what behaviors you do that are problematic (e.g. yelling, criticizing, name-calling, cursing, throwing things, avoiding) and the consequences of your behavior (e.g. others avoid you, disciplinary action, etc.). Learn what underlying emotions might lead you to get angry (e.g. feelings of rejection, powerlessness, etc.).
  • De-escalate with a "time out" when you recognize the signs of anger. Let significant others know that you may need to walk away to calm down when you're really angry. Take a deep breath. Go to a quiet place, and continue to use deep breathing to calm down.
  • Examine your options for behaving when you are angry, and visualize how you might respond. Recognize that you are responsible for your anger. Situations may contribute to your feeling angry, but you are responsible for how you behave. You may be legitimately and appropriately frustrated with something, but you don't have to be inappropriately hostile or hurtful to others. You are bigger than your feelings and can make choices about how you respond. Work on developing more positive behaviors to replace the negative ones.
  • Learn how to assert yourself, and talk to the person who is triggering your anger. Use the physical and mental energy that is generated from feeling angry to channel your response to the situation. Help the person to see how their behavior is affecting you in a way that they can hear and is not threatening. Use "I statements" that describe how you feel, rather than accusing the other person.
  • Recognize that it's your responsibility to express yourself appropriately to others, but their responsibility to deal with their own feelings in response.
  • Seek support from others when you are struggling with anger.
  • Cultivate a sense of humor. Humor can lighten feelings.
  • Develop activities that help you cope with anger. Exercise can help to diminish feelings of agitation and frustration. Practicing relaxation techniques on a daily basis can also help in coping with anger.
  • Avoid alcohol and drugs if you have anger problems.
  • Understand where you learned your angry behavior. Anger problems can be related to family experiences. How was anger expressed in your family, and how were you affected by significant others? If anger was expressed in destructive or hurtful ways, think about how you felt when you were physically or verbally attacked, criticized, shunned or ignored. Consider the effect on your present relationships with others if you are perpetuating this same pattern.
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Some books to help with Anger:

  • The Anger Control Workbook ( 2000) by Matthew McKay and Peter Rogers
  • The Dance of Anger: A Woman's Guide to Changing the Patterns of Intimate Relationships (revised ed., 1997) by Harriet Lerner.
  • Anger: The Misunderstood Emotion (revised and updated, 1989) by Carol Tavris
  • The Anger Workbook (1992) by Lorrainne Bilodeau
  • How to Control your Anger before It Controls You (1997) by Albert Ellis and Raymond Chip Tafrate

Online Resources: