Managing Angry Thoughts

We gain a sense of control over our lives when we learn to manage our thoughts better

Anger often arises from unrealistic expectations about how things ‘should be’ or how people ‘should’ treat us. These types of thoughts, along with deep-seated self-doubts or self-criticism, can also fuel our anger (often resulting from societal expectations related to ‘being a man’ as discussed in Part 2. Recognizing and Understanding Your Anger).

One way of confronting these types of thought patterns and long-term beliefs is through cognitive restructuring. Cognitive restructuring helps break these patterns by fostering a more objective perspective, redirecting anger into personal growth.

This can be done in a more formal (setting aside time to journal) or informal way (self-reflection during a walk), noting that it should be done outside of moments of high anger.

We have an entire course on cognitive restructuring called Rewiring Negative Thoughts, but we’ll provide a brief overview here to get you started.


Start by setting aside 10 to 15 minutes.

  1. Think back on any recent situations that triggered your anger
  2. List the thoughts you had when your anger was triggered
  3. Identify negative thinking patterns

    We covered some negative thinking patterns in Part 2, including:

    • All-or-Nothing Thinking
    • Blaming
    • ‘Should and Must’ Statements
    • Jumping to Conclusions
    • Emotional Reasoning

    Are there any patterns in the thoughts you listed above? For a more extensive list and examples, see our 16 Common Negative Thinking Patterns.

  4. Challenge the distorted thoughts/beliefs:
    • Are there any assumptions or expectations that are contributing to my anger?
    • Am I basing my thoughts/beliefs on facts or feelings?
    • What evidence do I have to support my thought/belief?

    Angry thoughts often don’t hold up to scrutiny. Useful questions to ask ourselves about our thoughts include:

  5. Replace the distorted thought/beliefs:

    Replace the thoughts you originally listed with objective ones that more realistically reflect the situation.

Here are some examples:

Negative Thought
Replacement Thought

“I should have my life figured out by now.”


(Should or Must Statements)

“Everyone’s situation is different and there isn’t a deadline by which people need to ‘have their lives together’. Life isn’t a race, it’s a journey.”

“My friends are always ignoring me. Those guys are such useless jerks, I don’t even know why I put in the effort.” 


(All-or-Nothing Thinking, and Emotional Reasoning)

“My friends don’t always ignore me, and though they sometimes aren’t reliable, they usually are. I put in the effort because I enjoy seeing them and being in their company.”

“People these days are ungrateful, and I’m done being nice. They probably think I’m not worth their time.”


(Unmet expectations, Jumping to Conclusions)

“I sometimes forget to say thanks too, but that doesn’t mean I didn’t appreciate it. I did it to be nice, not to get something in return. I won’t let others’ reactions change how I act.”