The Angry Cycle

Anger Self Help 

Anger is a normal reaction.   It energises us into action and can help us make life saving  and vital actions.  Anger can be very useful.   However, it can become a problem if it seems like we’re getting angry very often, and it is affecting our mood, working life, relationships or mental wellbeing. 

Anger is a result of thinking that we have been unfairly treated or disrespected, or something is unjust, and we won’t stand for it.

Thinking this way leads us to feel angry, which stimulates the body’s adrenaline response which is our body’s way of helping us to cope with either fighting, or running away (‘fight or flight’ response).    We respond to those thoughts and feelings, by acting, or feeling an urge to act, in threatening or aggressive ways.


Typical Thoughts

I’m being treated unfairly

I’m being disrespected

They’re breaking a rule

This is unjust

I won’t stand for it

Physical Sensations – Alarming Adrenaline
When there is real, or we believe there is a real, threat or danger, our bodies’ automatic survival mechanism kicks in very quickly. This helps energise us to fight or run away (‘fight or flight response’). The action urge associated with anger is the urge to attack. We will notice lots of physical sensations, which might include:

heart racing or pounding – enabling good blood supply around our bodies

breathing quickly – allowing more oxygen around the body

tense muscles – a state of readiness to fight or flee


hot, sweating


stomach churning or butterflies

fist or teeth clenching

physical urge to go towards whatever is making us angry

Angry Behaviours

  • attack
  • aggressive body posture
  • staring & facial expression
  • move towards what is making us angry
  • hit out (or urge to hit out)
  • argue
  • shout
  • run or storm away
  • don’t talk
  • sulk
  • sarcasm

The Angry Cycle

We all feel angry some times. Some people tend to become angry easily (a “short fuse”), and some have problems controlling their anger. Anger has consequences, and they often involve hurting other people – more usually their feelings, but sometimes physically.

Anger can cause problems in our personal lives, and affect work and study. After an angry outburst, we can think very critically of ourselves and our actions, leading us to feel guilty, ashamed and lower our mood, which might result in our withdrawing from others, not wanting to do anything (see depression cycle).

To help overcome a persistent anger problem, we need to understand what we are REALLY angry about – which may well be NOT what we are directing our anger towards at that time.  It is often due to something related to something from our past, and the current situation FEELS similar, so it triggers our angry response now.

Vicious Cogs of Anger


By looking at the “cogs” that keep the central problem going, we can target and make positive changes in each of the cogs, which will at least, slow down, and at best, stop, the central problem, for example:

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