DBT for Anger Notes: Part 1

A few months ago I started taking some notes in my Mental Health BuJo from a book called The Dialectical Behavior Therapy Skills Workbook for Anger (phew, what a mouthful!) and I really enjoyed how they came out, so I’d like to share them!

I decided to get this book a while ago because I’d been noticing that my anger was suddenly out of control. I went from being this person who rarely felt anger (or so I thought) to being someone who felt angry all the time, and it made me really uncomfortable. I knew something had to be done, so I bought the book and also started seeing a counselor who helped me with my anger. Here are some of the notes I took on it!

This was just about the basics. When we feel angry, anger cues, and components of anger: Physical, Cognitive & Behavioral.

When I first really started to notice my anger, it took me by surprise. In the past anytime I had been even remotely angry I would have a good cry over it and not actually feel that angry at all. I often felt ashamed, stupid, weak or powerless, ridiculed, betrayed…but I didn’t really felt like I was actually angry. I just thought I was a person who didn’t ever really get angry.

But then one day I realized I felt absolutely livid. And it shocked me. I’d never felt that before, and it took me hours to even remotely calm down from it. Never had there been a point in my life where I had felt those sort of feelings and so strongly before, and it was scary. My thoughts terrified me, but I couldn’t stop them. I wanted to do evil, horrible things to correct the wrongdoing that had been done to me. I wanted revenge.

Even a few days later, I still felt that anger boil up quickly when I barely even thought of what had happened. And honestly, what happened wasn’t a big deal. I worked in a laundromat at the time, and felt pretty confident there. But that one day, this man had come in and belittled me, telling me that I was wrong and he was right, that I was young and stupid and he was older and wise. He told me that he knew better than me and I should just do what he said, because he was a man and that was how it was.

Continuing from the last page, the left side is still covering the physical aspects of anger, along with a poorly drawn brain. The right side is the cognitive aspects of anger.

At first I cried. Right in front of him. I cried. Big alligator tears, nose dropping with snot, ugly crying. But after my co-worker shoo’d him away and assured me that I had been in the right and this guy was just a jerk…that’s when the anger started to set in, and it was horrible.

Like I said, I’d honestly never felt that before. Even as a child, I didn’t get angry. I’d get mildly annoyed but move on from it. I remember once I told my sister to “F*** off!” (I still am so sorry about that!) once when were out walking around our small town, but even that hadn’t felt anything like this. I had already known even as a preteen (and been told countless times by almost everyone I knew) that I was just overly sensitive, and very emotional, that was just how I was wired. So I was used to feeling everything really strongly. But this…this was new. I wasn’t prepared for it at all, and honestly I still am very poorly prepared to deal with my anger.

But that day, when that man was talking down to me…there must have been some breaking point. All the years of going along with things because I didn’t want to be mean and say no. All the years of agreeing because I wanted to be liked. All the years of saying yes to things I didn’t want to because I wasn’t really doing anything else important. All the years of dealing with guilt trip after guilt trip which tore me apart. Something snapped and I was done. I was done keeping it all inside. I was done hiding in my room and crying about it until I felt better.

The last bit, behavioral aspects of anger. Which covers body language, verbal, and facial expressions. The right page is just my personal notes on my own anger cues & physical sensations.

That day I remember telling my mom, “I want to buy a gun and I want to shoot him. I want him to feel the pain I am feeling now.”. I may have scared her, though I think she understood me. She has always understood me more than anyone else in the world. I didn’t want to really hurt him, and I knew even in the back of my head if I had a gun and did shoot him, even barely grazing him, that I’d still instantly regret it, and that it wouldn’t solve anything. But those kind of thoughts consumed me, and I felt like a monster.

Since that day, I still feel like a monster when I am angry, especially when it seems to come out of nowhere. It makes me feel like a bad girlfriend, or a frustrating sister & daughter, a no-fun grumpy auntie. But, I am slowly learning how to recognize my cues and learning little tips for dealing with it, and I think I am slowly becoming more aware of when it’s happening. I can’t always do much to make things better yet, but I am getting there. And while I do still feel like a monster, I feel a bit less of one now than I did even half a year ago.

I’m really excited to continue walking down this path, and I hope that I can help others with theirs as well.

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