What you think about influences your mood. When you feel angry, you can either dwell on your angry thoughts or try to replace your thoughts with more rational ones. It is important to look at the sorts of angry thoughts you tend to have when you are upset and then learn how to replace those thoughts with more realistic ones.
Thinking about a problem in a productive way means that you are actively trying to solve the problem. Ruminating doesn’t involve problem solving. Instead, it means that you are thinking about the same thing over and over again.
When people feel angry, they sometimes re-play the scene that caused them to feel angry over and over in their head. They may keep thinking about it and re-hashing the event while further fueling their angry feelings.
Sometimes people don’t just think about the situation; they to tell others about it. For example, calling five people to discuss the situation and re-tell the events over and over again. This can also fuel the fire and cause someone to feel increasingly angry every time they repeat the story. Ruminating only makes people feel worse. Sometimes people think “venting” will help them but dwelling on things can actually make people feel worse.
Spending time focusing on how to seek revenge is also not helpful. The more time you spend thinking about vengeful acts and getting even, the more you put off engaging in productive problem-solving. It also is likely to increase your anger. Focusing on revenge will make you stay focused on feeling hurt. Hurting someone else in retaliation will not heal your hurts. It may temporarily make you feel a little better, but the results aren’t long-lasting.
Anger can make people become irrational. Thoughts can be distorted and exaggerated. For example, if a person’s spouse cancels plans suddenly, his wife might think, “He never wants to spend time with me. He always cancels our plans and gets out of doing anything together because he doesn’t care about me.” In reality, her husband had a headache and had to cancel their plans as a result.
It’s important to notice when your thoughts might be becoming exaggerated. Notice when your thoughts include words like “always” or “never.” These sorts of words are a good indicator that you are focusing on the negative and your thoughts may be exaggerated.
Replacing Angry Thoughts With More Rational Thoughts
Replacing angry thoughts with more realistic thoughts can help you manage your feelings of anger. As a general rule, as your logical thoughts increase, your irrational thoughts decrease. It requires a conscious effort to examine whether current thoughts are true or not and then replacing the irrational thoughts with more realistic thoughts.
For example, a husband feels angry as he thinks, “My wife always points out all the things I do wrong. She doesn’t appreciate anything I do. It’s like she tries to make me miserable on purpose. I can’t stand her constant nagging anymore.” Although it might be true that she did nag him about not mowing the lawn, he could replace some of his thoughts. More rational thoughts might include something such as, “She has asked me two times to mow the lawn today. I am not able to mow the lawn until the grass dries up a little.” He could then focus on explaining this to his wife rather than ruminating on exaggerated thoughts.
Focus on How to Meet Your Needs
Focus on how to get your needs met. This can help you engage in more pro-active problem-solving rather than ruminating. Develop an action plan if you find that there is something you can do to meet your own needs. For example, if your spouse cancels plans at the last minute, consider inviting someone else to go with you in order to get your own needs met rather than staying home and feeling angry with your spouse.
Learning how to speak up and behave assertively can help you manage your angry feelings. This requires changing those angry thoughts to more helpful thoughts as well. For example, saying to yourself, “I can tell my spouse what I need in a direct manner rather than just feeling angry that my needs aren’t being met.” If your spouse can’t meet your needs or refuses to do so, take action on your own to get your needs met in a healthy way.
The Importance of Managing Your Angry Thoughts
When people don’t learn how to manage their angry thoughts, their anger can increase over time. People tend to become resentful toward their spouse and it can create a lot of marital problems. Learning how to recognize and replace your angry thoughts with more rational ones is a useful skill that help you remain calm and engage in solving problems in a healthy manner.