Here is the third in the series of anger management worksheets. The focus is on teasing out the main thought that drives your anger. It can be downloaded by clicking on this link (Right-Click and Save As…):
The Driving Thought for Your Anger: The Leader of the Pack
Angry thoughts usually come in groups. But there is usually one angry thought that is the bully and the leader. We call this your driving thought. This is the one thought that is most likely to derail productive communication or to push you into explosive anger. You may be saying, “But my angry thought is actually true!” Perhaps. Most likely, it has a grain of truth that makes you feel very self-righteous. On top of the truth of it are layers of distortions and barnacles that your mind has added.
Either way, this worksheet is a tool designed to help you think more clearly about your angry thoughts. It is not about defending or judging the truth of your angry thought. It’s about strategy to control your anger, to stop that fuse from burning down to an explosion in your brain and in your behavior. The main skill for you to learn here is the ability to pinpoint which thoughts are fueling your angry emotions and which one in particular is energizing your anger more than the others.
Instructions for Using Anger Management Worksheet #3
Steps 1: Count your angry thoughts and put the total number in the box. There’s nothing particularly important about this number. Rather it is the act of counting your automatic, angry thoughts that helps you be more clear and specific: Is this a feeling or this a thought? Is it a thought that is related to my anger? Step 2: Look at the list of angry thoughts you made in the last worksheet (Skill 2 Distinguishing Thoughts from Feelings). Add to this list if necessary. Step 3: In the box write a sentence representing your best guess at your driving thought.
Remember Skill 2: Thoughts are Different From Feelings
Notice the list of sample angry thoughts above. Picking the one thought from a lineup is the goal. Remember that feelings are usually named with one word, but thoughts are best identified by a sentence. The concern in all the anger management worksheets is mainly with thoughts, because we can choose to change our thoughts. We can rarely, if ever, change our feelings just by making a decision. (Choosing the stuff the feelings of anger is not the same as reducing anger).
You can also keep in mind the intensity of your angry feelings as you ask yourself the questions on this worksheet. In short, the directions for using this worksheet are fairly simple: ask yourself the questions and answer them. Let the worksheet guide you step-by-step through a thought process that is new to you. The last step is to pick the one thought that you think is driving your anger more than the other thoughts.