The Anger Workbook

The Anger Workbook




Don't Let Anger Take Control!

Most people stereotype anger by assuming that it always results in shouting, slamming fists, or throwing things. However, anger is not that one-dimensional.

In fact, all of the statements below represent feelings of anger:

  • When I am displeased with someone I shut down any communication and withdraw.
  • I get very tense inside as I tackle a demanding task.
  • I feel frustrated when i see someone else having fewer struggles and I.
  • There are times when my discouragement just makes me want to call it quits.
  • I can be quite aggressive in my business pursuits or even when just playing a game.

We all deal with anger in our lives-whether it be in a subtle or violent manner. Being angry can involve such emotional expressions as frustration, irritability, annoyance, aggravation, blowing off steam, or fretting.

The good news is anger can be managed. In The Anger Workbook Les Carter, Ph.D., and Frank Minirth, M.D., offer a unique 13-step interactive program that will help you:

  • Identify the best ways to handle anger
  • Understand how pride, fear, loneliness, and inferiority feed your anger
  • Uncover and eliminate the myths that perpetuate anger-"Letting go of my anger means I am conceding defeat" or "No one understand my unique problems."
  • Identify learned patterns or relating,thinking, and behaving in your life that influence your anger.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780840745743
Publisher: Nelson, Thomas, Inc.
Publication date: 11/25/1992
Series: Minirth-Meier Series
Pages: 256
Product dimensions: 7.20(w) x 9.29(h) x 0.50(d)

About the Author

Dr. Les Carter is a nationally known expert in the field of Christian counseling. He maintains his counseling practice, specializing in the treatment of emotional and relational disorders, at the Southlake Psychiatric and Counseling Center in Southlake, Texas. He is the author of twenty books, including The Freedom from Depression Workbook; The Choosing to Forgive Workbook; The Worry Workbook; The Anger Trap; Enough About You, Let's Talk About Me; The Anger Workbook For Christian Parents; and Grace and Divorce. Carter earned his B.A. from Baylor University and his M.Ed. and Ph.D. from North Texas State University. For more information, please go to Dr. Carter's Web site,

Frank Minirth, M.D., is founder of The Minirth Clinic and has authored or co-authored more than thirty books, including Happiness Is a Choice, and Worry-free Living.

Read an Excerpt


By Les Carter Frank Minirth

Thomas Nelson

Copyright © 2012 Dr. Les Carter and Dr. Frank Minirth
All right reserved.

ISBN: 978-0-8407-4574-3

Chapter One

What Is Anger?

* Step 1. Learn to recognize the many faces of anger.

Tom, a slender man with a loosened tie and slightly tussled hair, sat across from Dr. Carter, explaining his reason for seeking counseling. "I don't like thinking of myself as an angry man, but I don't know any better way to describe it. I'm forty-four years old, and you would think age could mellow me, but I'm constantly frustrated and irritated.

"My wife left me two years ago because she thought I was boring. I'm an engineer, so maybe I do relate more easily to computers than to people. But honestly, I was never bad to her. I'm not argumentative and I'm always reliable in my responsibilities. She had little to worry about because I took good care of her financially and otherwise, but apparently I just wasn't good enough. I'll never understand why she couldn't love me." Tom's fists tightened as he spoke.

"What's worse, the divorce has thrown a wrench into my relationship with my two children. Gina is in her first year of college, so she's only in town during special holidays. Then her time has to be split between our two residences; plus she has several close friends in the area. I feel like I have to settle for her leftover time. Scott is a junior in high school, so he's still around. But our visits are limited mostly to weekends. And you know how a seventeen-year-old kid likes to get out. He doesn't want to just sit in Dad's dreary apartment, and I can't blame him."

As Tom spoke, Dr. Carter was absorbing more than just the facts. He was also hearing the pain in Tom's voice. Reflecting aloud, he responded, "It's very easy to convince yourself that life has dealt you an unfair blow. I'm sure you're obsessed about how you don't deserve all this. No wonder you say you're an angry man."

"That's just it, Dr. Carter. I've never really thought of myself as being angry. At least, not until now. I guess I've been surprised to know an emotion like this could get such a grip on me."

Tom should not have been so surprised. Anger is an emotion that is common to every person. Because we are imperfect people in an imperfect world, we are guaranteed to regularly encounter this emotion.

When most people think of anger, they picture a person in a rage. They have images of slamming doors, shouting, and intimidating communication. Certainly this is part of the angry response. But anger is not that one-dimensional. It is multifaceted; therefore it should not be stereotyped. It can be found in any temperament. Whether a person is shy or extroverted, perfectionistic or laid-back, he or she can show anger in many ways. We use the term anger to describe a number of expressions: frustration, irritability, annoyance, blowing off steam, fretting. It is important to realize how each of these reactions is tied to anger.

Tom, for instance, was not a screamer; neither did he slam doors or curse when he became angry. Instead, he showed his struggle with angry emotions by withdrawing in self-pity and engaging often in critical thoughts. But Tom did not recognize these responses as expressions of anger. His former wife, on the other hand, never hid her feelings. She was capable of flying into loud, boisterous rages that rattled the windows. No one had to guess if she felt angry!

Noting this variation, Dr. Carter helped Tom see that the first step toward recovering from anger-related problems is identifying its various manifestations—recognizing its many faces.

* * *

The following inventory can help you in this process too. Check the statements that apply to you.

Impatience comes over me more frequently than I would like.

I nurture critical thoughts quite easily.

When I am displeased with someone I may shut down any communication or withdraw.

I feel inwardly annoyed when family and friends do not comprehend my needs.

Tension mounts within me as I tackle a demanding task.

I feel frustrated when I see someone else having fewer struggles than I do.

When facing an important event, I may obsessively ponder how I must manage it.

Sometimes I walk in another direction to avoid seeing someone I do not like.

When discussing a controversial topic, my tone of voice is likely to become persuasive.

I can accept a person who admits his or her mistakes, but I have a hard time accepting someone who refuses to admit his or her own weaknesses.

When I talk about my irritations I don't really want to hear an opposite point of view.

I do not easily forget when someone does me wrong.

When someone confronts me from a misinformed position, I am thinking of my rebuttal as he or she speaks.

Sometimes my discouragement makes me want to quit.

I can be quite aggressive in my business pursuits or even when playing a game just for fun.

I struggle emotionally with the things in life that are not fair.

Although I know it may not be right, I sometimes blame others for my problems.

When someone openly speaks ill of me, my natural response is to think of how I can defend myself.

Sometimes I speak slanderously about a person, not really caring how it may harm his or her reputation.

I may act kindly on the outside while feeling frustrated on the inside.

Sarcasm is a trait I use in expressing humor.

When someone is clearly annoyed with me I too easily jump into the conflict.

At times I struggle with moods of depression or discouragement.

I have been known to take an "I-don't-care" attitude toward the needs of others.

When I am in an authority role, I may speak too sternly or insensitively.

* * *

Now go back through the inventory and count the number of statements you checked. Everyone will recognize some of these characteristics, so don't worry about marking them. If you checked ten items, your anger is probably more constant than you might like. If you checked fifteen or more, you can probably recount many disappointments and irritations. This indicates you are vulnerable to the extreme ill effects of anger, rage, and explosions of temper or to guilt, bitterness, and resentment. But don't give up! Anger can be managed if you apply an awakened mind to it.

If you are interested in gaining a broader perspective of yourself, ask a close friend or family member to complete the inventory, answering the questions as he or she thinks you would respond.

* * *

You will notice from the items in the inventory that anger can be expressed by a wide array of behaviors. What expressions seem to be the most common forms of your anger? (For instance, I turn on the silent treatment when someone bothers me; I resort to critical communication quite frequently.)

1. ____________________________________________________________________ ____________________________________________________________________ 2. ____________________________________________________________________ ____________________________________________________________________ 3. ____________________________________________________________________ ____________________________________________________________________ 4. ____________________________________________________________________ ____________________________________________________________________

* * *

You may show your anger in ways other than those mentioned in the inventory. It's good to discover such hidden expressions of anger; doing so implies self-awareness.

During their sessions together Tom repeatedly told Dr. Carter how he would slowly stew over daily irritants. He admitted that people, especially family members, had learned to stay out of his way when he was in one of his moods. Dr. Carter pointed out that this was a definite communication of anger that ultimately had contributed to the demise of Tom's marriage.

"Maybe I was just trying to kid myself," Tom admitted, "but I had always felt proud of being the one in our marriage who didn't have an anger problem. My wife was so vocal with her anger that I assumed my more civilized mannerisms were proof that my anger was under control."

Dr. Carter nodded. "In a sense, your anger was under control, at least to the extent that you were not a 'rageaholic.' But in another sense, it was still out of control because your personality was turning toward discouragement and your life was increasingly filled with poor relationships."


Have you ever attempted to work on a car engine? If so, you know it can be an overwhelming task if you do not understand the engine's design and intricacies. Once you learn the function of each component, though, what at first seemed perplexing can be quite possible.

That's the way it is with anger. When we first attempt to grasp its meaning, the task of mastering it can seem impossible. But as we come to know and understand our anger, its management is far less daunting.

Let's first recognize that we live in an unjust world. A quick glance at a newspaper or the evening news will provide a sobering reminder that people can, and will, be mean-spirited and insensitive. On a broad scale we can feel frustrated by the gridlock in politics. Likewise, the increasing problem of identifying terrorists creates strain as we wonder when the next episode of evil will occur. Who would have thought a generation ago that each person entering an airport would have to remove his or her shoes in order to board a plane? Additionally, we are saddened to the point of futility by natural disasters such as tornadoes, hurricanes, earthquakes, and the like; and we have to be on guard for identity theft, computer viruses, and email scams.

Closer to home, person after person will struggle with road rage and the general futility caused by urban gridlock. Our schools have become targets for crazed shooters. We can feel perplexed by ups and downs in oil prices, while wondering if we will ever be able to sufficiently fund our retirement accounts since companies no longer provide cushy pension benefits.

Our children can no longer be allowed to roam and play outside unsupervised. Parents want to pull their hair out because Junior won't turn off the video games, and who knows what our kids are finding on the Internet that they should not be looking at. The divorce rate remains high, indicating unresolved tensions. Husbands and wives still struggle to communicate with wisdom and fairness leading the way. Single adults try to maneuver through a world that is increasingly lax regarding morality, wondering what they have to do to find meaning and happiness. And, of course, the problems created by alcohol and substance abuse have not improved over time.

It's enough to make a person feel really mad!

The net result of ongoing strains that do not recede is a feeling of insignificance. Inwardly we may ask, Do I matter? Doesn't anyone care about my needs? Why can't I find cooperation? Such questions then become the seed for anger.

* * *

What are some of the elements of modern life in general that can keep you feeling on edge? (For instance, I get frustrated every time I am reminded how inept governing officials seem to be; I can feel like a maniac when I am driving on the highways.) 1. ____________________________________________________________________ ____________________________________________________________________ 2. ____________________________________________________________________ ____________________________________________________________________ 3. ____________________________________________________________________ ____________________________________________________________________

* * *

When anger surges within our personalities, it prompts a cry that insists, "Stop this madness! Quit it!" When the larger world seems uncaring or when our circle of intimates doesn't respond sympathetically, we want revenge. We want vindication. We want someone to make things right. A voice inside insists that justice must be served ... Now!

Have you ever been pushed to the edge of your emotional limits where you wondered if anyone would ever hear you and respond appropriately to your needs? If so, you are not alone. What is more, your anger is not entirely wrong, despite what some may presume. It is right, even necessary, to seek justice. The problem with most individuals whose anger cannot be contained is not the presence of anger, but the manner in which it is handled.

* * *

As you consider the many ways your anger can be aroused, what right message is beneath the emotion, even if it is not exactly managed well?

(For instance, it is reasonable for me to wish that my relatives should factor in my needs as family plans are arranged; I am not wrong for wishing that public officials should be less egotistical and more tuned into their constituents.)

1. ____________________________________________________________________ ____________________________________________________________________ 2. ____________________________________________________________________ ____________________________________________________________________ 3. ____________________________________________________________________ ____________________________________________________________________

* * *

In one of his early sessions with Dr. Carter, Tom admitted, "I'm realizing that I've experienced anger in some form my entire life. All sorts of things bug me, from news headlines to problems with coworkers to strains at home. But I must confess that I never gave two minutes of thought about its meaning until I faced the repercussions of my divorce. And frankly, I'm still not sure of the purpose of my anger."

"Let's explore that," responded Dr. Carter. "First, notice when you do not feel angry—when you feel affirmed or understood or accepted. At those times, you feel anything but anger. Your inner self says all is well."

"You're exactly right. My anger occurs primarily when I am ignored or mistreated. So I guess you can say it is part of my defense system."

"Let's call it your emotion of self-preservation," said Dr. Carter. "Anger comes when you feel the need to clearly communicate that your personal boundaries have been violated."

Anger can be felt even when others don't see it. Anger is defined as an intent to preserve (1) personal worth, (2) essential needs, and (3) basic convictions. Let's examine each of these purposes separately.

Preserving Personal Worth

In many cases, anger is ignited when a person perceives rejection or invalidation. Whether or not that is the message intended by the speaker, the angry person feels that his or her dignity has been demeaned. Notice this common theme in the following examples:

* A wife tries to tell her husband she does not have the time or energy to run errands for him as he has requested. Besides, she believes, he is just being lazy; he could run the errands himself. So she tells him his request may not receive the high priority he wants. He responds by reminding her of the hard work he does so the bills can be paid. When he accuses her of being selfish she becomes angry, feeling frustrated because he will not acknowledge her contributions to the family.

* A computer salesman is doing well in his work, performing beyond his quota. Then the boss decides to give part of the salesman's territory to a less experienced worker, forcing the successful salesman to forfeit new leads. He feels unfairly treated, but when he tries to talk to his boss about this problem the boss says his feelings are out of line. The salesman feels his value to the company is grossly underestimated.

* A father who overhears his two teenage sons disagreeing about something scolds them harshly for arguing. When one of the brothers tries to talk calmly to his father, he is reprimanded even more severely. The boys retreat to their bedroom, grumbling about Dad's constant condescension.

Each of these examples differs greatly in its anger-producing circumstances. Yet there is a common thread: the lack of respect felt by the wife, the salesman, and the teenagers. Whether or not it was the intention of the sender, the message they perceived was, Your worth is none of my concern. In personal communications, perceptions are more powerful than intentions.

* * *

Have you ever struggled with a feeling of being devalued by others? List some recent examples of times when your worth was not acknowledged. (For instance, my spouse tunes me out when I have something important to say; I work harder than anyone at my job, but I haven't gotten a raise in more than a year.)

1. ____________________________________________________________________ ____________________________________________________________________ 2. ____________________________________________________________________ ____________________________________________________________________ 3. ____________________________________________________________________ ____________________________________________________________________ 4. ____________________________________________________________________ ____________________________________________________________________

* * *

Adults can be ultrasensitive because of childhood experiences that left them feeling unworthy. How about you? What were your parents like when you were a child? How was your worth (or the lack of it) communicated? (For instance, my dad often told me what was wrong with my work but not what was good about it.)

1. ____________________________________________________________________ ____________________________________________________________________ 2. ____________________________________________________________________ ____________________________________________________________________ 3. ____________________________________________________________________ ____________________________________________________________________

* * *

Christianity offers great hope to those whose worth is not acknowledged by their fellow human beings. We are taught that God places high value on each person who calls on Him. Even when we fail to live perfectly, that worth is not erased.

* * *

Despite all his riches, King David struggled with the idea that he might be of real value to his Creator. He wrote, "What is man that You are mindful of him, and the son of man that You visit him?" (Psalm 8:4). Yet the Lord assured David he had been created with glory and majesty. What does this mean to you? ______________________________________________________________________ ______________________________________________________________________

Consider Jesus' parable in Matthew 13:45–46: "Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a merchant seeking beautiful pearls, who, when he had found one pearl of great price, went and sold all that he had and bought it." This brief parable can be understood as depicting God's willingness to give all that He has for one single soul. How does this apply to you? ______________________________________________________________________ ______________________________________________________________________

* * *

Tom carefully considered how these ideas applied to his anger. "You're telling me I was angry because I felt my wife was not acknowledging my worth. That makes sense because I felt unappreciated much of the time," he said.


Excerpted from THE ANGER WORKBOOK by Les Carter Frank Minirth Copyright © 2012 by Dr. Les Carter and Dr. Frank Minirth. Excerpted by permission of Thomas Nelson. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

Table of Contents

Thirteen Steps Toward Anger Management....................vii
Part One: Identifying Your Anger....................1
1. What Is Anger?....................3
2. Managing Your Anger....................23
Part Two: Anger Thrives on Unmet Needs....................43
3. Why Can't You Just Love Me?....................45
4. Feeling Controlled Causes Anger....................61
5. Myths That Perpetuate Anger....................79
6. Self-Inflicted Anger....................97
Part Three: How Other Emotions Create Anger....................117
7. How Pride Influences Anger....................119
8. Fear's Effect on Anger....................137
9. Loneliness Creates Anger....................157
10. Anger Reflects Inferiority Feelings....................173
Part Four: Applying New Insights about Anger Reduction....................191
11. Managing a Child's Anger....................193
12. Why Anger Lingers....................213
13. Being Accountable....................231
Anger Treatments Today....................245
About the Authors....................248

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