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In over 12 years of running outpatient Anger Management classes, some patterns started to emerge in the clients in my groups. I started seeing themes repeated over and over, so I started taking notes on the typical issues that I saw clients dealing with and some of the solutions they were identifying and applying. One or two would emerge at a time until I had twenty clear cut Anger Management Guidelines that seemed to apply to the most typical issues that would be brought to my group. Now I hand these out to all new clients and we also do an exercise in which they pick three of the twenty that would have prevented them from having to be in the class had they been employed in whatever circumstance brought them to my class. Here are the 20 Anger Management Guidelines:

Twenty Anger Management Guidelines ©

  1.  I have no right (legally or morally) to put my hands on another Man, Woman, or Child accept in self defense and then, only to the extent it takes to defend myself.
  2.  I am responsible for my actions no matter what another person says or does to me.
  3.  I must stop focusing on what others did wrong and start focusing on my responsibility in my problems with anger.
  4.  I must stop setting myself up for anger problems by putting myself in high-risk situations.
  5.  I must challenge my old thinking, attitudes, and beliefs about anger and develop new ones.
  6.  I must look past immediate gratification and ask myself “How will my behavior affect me or those I care about in the future”?
  7.  I must learn to “detach with love” from people that I have no control over. I must learn to accept that I can’t control others.
  8.  I must learn not to take others so personally and that they may have problems or issues that are the cause of them acting in ways that bother me and that I don’t approve of.
  9.  Avoid dealing with too many authority figures by following the rules. Following the rules will protect you most of the time.
  10.  I am responsible for my own happiness no matter how others act or what they do.
  11.  I must make the effort and the time for self-reflection and inventory. Just because I live with me it does not guarantee that I know myself well. Feedback from others is valuable even if it is critical. Others can see my ears better than I can.
  12.  There are times when I must remove myself from situations if I feel I am getting overwhelmed. I need to be more aware of my emotional state.
  13.  I should not overreact. If I have patience, problems will take care of themselves and things will often get better  without any action from me. No action is better than action at times.
  14.  I need to stay away from the words “Should” and “shouldn’t” as much as possible. These words set me up by making me believe that I don’t have to deal with what is.
  15.  I must have respect for the damage and harm anger can do to my life and others and proceed with caution when I’m angry.

  16.  I must be careful not to misdirect my anger and take it out on people who don’t really deserve it.

  17.  I must develop healthy, constructive ways to release my anger so I can be free of it and available for good feelings

  18.  I must learn to recognize when I am wallowing in anger and self-pity or making my anger worse by escalating it with negative self-talk.

  19.  I must stop jumping to conclusions and making decisions based on guessing at people’s motives or “mind reading”. I need to ask questions when I don’t understand why something is happening.

  20.  I need to understand the negative effects that drug and alcohol use has on my ability to manage my feelings and make good decisions.

We offer Anger Management guidelines in line with our regular programs through Tools For Life Counseling. Check them out here.

by Steven Fiorito BS, CADC, CAMT