CBT – Anger, Rage and Changing Behaviours

Anger is a healthy emotion to have when managed in a way which doesn’t harm others. Anger is the feeling, responsible for addressing injustice which is vital in keeping order in your close relationships as well as in the larger community. Anger can be communicated in a adult way and can be proactive in moving through relational issues. Anger, however can manifest itself into rage.

Anger vs Rage

Anger is the healthy emotion which prepares your body to take action. Rage is a unhealthy behaviour which can present itself in many ways. It may come out in a outwardly manner such as violence or verbal attacks. It can also present itself in a covert manner such as gossiping or self harming.

When you feel the emotion of anger you have the ability to choose how you respond to the situation. You can choose to respond in rage or you can choose to respond in a healthier way. An example of this is as follows:

1. John steals £10 out of Mary’s purse. Mary thinks “John is a horrible man and deserves to be punished.” She feels angry and reaches for her handbag and proceeds to hit him.

2. John steals £10 out of Mary’s purse. Mary thinks “John is a horrible man and deserves to be punished” She feels angry and says to John “Why did you think it was ok to steal my money? I am going to call the police.”

In both of the above examples you can see the same pattern of behaviour. There is a situation which triggers a thought. That thought creates a feeling which in turn influences the behaviour. Whatever behaviour you choose though will have a big impact on what happens in the next situation.


Everybody uses behaviours to get their needs met. You can see this in babies before they develop their language skills. To get any needs met they have to rely on their behaviour. I have heard many parents describe how their babies have several types of cries which convey the different needs they want met. Infants learn from their parents what behaviour they need to use to get their needs met and will adapt their approach to get the best results. In a family where talking calmly gets you the best results, children will learn not to shout and hit out. In families where having a tantrum gets you the best results children will learn to shout and make demands. You too will have learnt behaviours over your lifetime that you will rely on today as an adult. Take a moment now and make a mental note of some of your behaviours, healthy and unhealthy. Now ask yourself these questions:

1. Do my behaviours serve me well?

2. Do they create positive or negative outcomes?

3. Do they get my needs met in a way which doesn’t push others away?

4. Am I happy with how I behave?

5. Am I happy with how others view my behaviours?

If you answered no to any of the questions above you might be in a place where your ready to change. It can be helpful to look at what mindset you are in when facilitating change.


What mindset do you have? To learn, grow and change we need to move towards having a Growth mindset. When facilitating any change in our life we need three things; Awareness of our patterns, openness to try a different way and the energy to implement and sustain change. Through this article you have gained more awareness of yourself and your patterns. Your curiosity has shown your openness to a new way of thinking. Have you got the energy to implement and sustain change? What 1 thing are you going to decide to change today?


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