Below are some examples of common beliefs that lead to anger. As you may already know all too well, what you say to yourself can really make you angry—sometimes really angry! Angry beliefs are like quicksand, the more you think them, the further you sink down into angry reactions. Getting stuck in an "anger trap" can become second nature, like a bad habit.

There is some longstanding evidence that frequent anger may speed up the process of atherosclerosis, in which fatty plaques build up in arteries. The heart pumps harder, blood vessels constrict, blood pressure surges, and there are higher levels of glucose in the blood and more fat globules in the blood vessels. All this, scientists believe, can cause damage to artery walls.

In addition to physical health costs, there are significant social and emotional costs to often being angry. Anger gets in the way of having healthy supportive relationships. Hostile people tend to have fewer friends. Angry people are also more likely to be depressed due to feeling isolated and lonely. They are more likely to become verbally and/or physically abusive towards others. Chronic anger also reduces the intimacy within personal relationships; partners and other family members tend to be more guarded and less able to relax in their interactions with hostile people.

The good news is that you can really help control your anger by thinking more calmly. Below are five fairly common beliefs that drive anger. Listed below each one is an alternative, calming belief that will help your to significantly reduce your anger:

1. Anger Flaring Belief: “I’m unimportant if I don’t get my way."

Calming Alternative Belief: “I’m disappointed but I still have value as a person even if I don’t get my way.”


2. Anger Flaring Belief: “I must be stupid for letting them deceive me”

Calming Alternative Belief: “His dishonesty does not make me stupid.”


3. Anger Flaring Belief: “He shows me no respect at all , he’s a loser, anyway.”

Calming Alternative Belief: “He is likely struggling and fighting his own battles. It helps to remember not to take him so personally."


4. Anger Flaring Belief: "I must have her respect and be taken seriously."

Calming Alternative Belief: “I will be disappointed in not having her respect but I can still respect and feel good about myself."


5. Anger Flaring Belief: "I must have her respect and be taken seriously."

Calming Alternative Belief: “I will be disappointed in not having her respect but I can still respect and feel good about myself."

If you are like most people, you can probably identify with having one or more Anger Flaring Beliefs similar to the ones discussed above. The more you practice being mindful of your anger related beliefs and challenging them, the less you will be controlled by them.

Dr. Jeffrey Bernstein is a psychologist with over twenty-two years’ experience specializing in child, adolescent, couples, and family therapy. He holds a Ph.D. in Counseling Psychology from the State University of New York at Albany and completed his post doctoral internship at the University of Pennsylvania Counseling Center. He has appeared twice on the Today Show, Court TV as an expert advisor, CBS eyewitness news Philadelphia, 10! Philadelphia—NBC and public radio. Dr. Bernstein has authored four books, including the highly popular 10 Days to a Less Defiant Child (Perseus Books, 2006), 10 Days to a Less Distracted Child (Perseus Books 2007), Liking the Child You Love (Perseus Books 2009) and Why Can’t You Read My Mind? (Perseus Books 2003). In addition to his counseling practice, Dr. Jeff is also available for coaching, seminars, staff in-service trainings, presentations and keynote addresses.

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