A blog post

Anger and Self Talk

Self-talk is that “little voice inside your head”. It is what you tell yourself about yourself, or about a situation. Self-talk can be positive, like when you tell yourself “I can do this” to help you get through something you’re nervous about. Or, it can be negative, like when you tell yourself “I’m so stupid” and beat yourself up about a mistake you’ve made.

What does self-talk have to do with anger management?

A lot! Self-talk has a huge influence on your feelings and can make you feel better or worse about any given situation. If your self-talk tends to be negative, you probably spend a lot more time feeling angry (at yourself or at others) than someone whose self-talk tends to be positive.

Example:
Situation: John is in a movie theatre on his way back to his seat from the concession stand. Someone bumps into him and knocks half of his super-sized bucket of popcorn onto the floor. The guy who bumped into him just kept walking.

Negative Self-Talk: “That jerk probably bumped into me on purpose. He’s trying to make me look like a fool. Embarrassing me in front of all these other people, they are probably all thinking I’m a punk if I don’t do something about it. I can’t let him disrespect me like that.”

Positive Self-Talk: “The guy is probably oblivious – doesn’t even realize what he just did. Either that or he’s got some serious issues going on. Everyone who saw this is probably thinking what a jerk he is. I’m not going to let it ruin my night. Anyway, he just cut my calorie intake for the night in half.”

Clearly, our own self talk influences how we react to situations that might make us angry. To illustrate how this happens, let’s take a look at the anger cycle.

Anger Cycle:

Stage 1: ‘Conflict Occurs’
Conflict occurs when there are two or more opposing attitudes, values or beliefs. The conflict can be internal (a conflict within yourself, such as when you have two opposing beliefs), or interpersonal (between two or more people).

Stage 2: ‘Response’
How people respond to conflict can determine the consequences of the conflict. Your response to conflict is the easiest part of the cycle to control.

Stage 3: ‘Consequences’
There are consequences to every conflict, but it is important to remember that the consequences can be negative or positive.

Stage 4: ‘Reinforcement’ or ‘Change’
As a result for the consequences, the conflict cycle can be reinforced so it continues in the same old way. Or, the consequences can lead to change, so that the parties involved either exit the cycle altogether or continue but change the patterns in the cycle.

Ask Yourself: At what part of the anger cycle is self-talk important? How does self-talk effect the cycle, in either positive or negative ways?

What different outcome might positive self-talk have on the anger cycle compared to negative self-talk?

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