Your Brain on Anger

In my work as a couples therapist, I often have couples complain to me about their partner’s anger management issues. As a mother myself, I never knew how angry I could get until I had children!

Chronic anger can erode and break relationships and has a huge long-term physical, emotional, interpersonal, and spiritual costs.

Exploring, taming, and managing our anger is a process that involves being curious and open about what is going on when we get angry. The first step is awareness. The following reflection questions can be helpful in becoming more aware of our typical patterns:

1. What are the trigger events?

2. What are your angry “hot” thoughts?

3. What do you feel in your body?

4. Is there a connection to the past?

5. What is the purpose/goal of your anger?

6. What are the primary emotions below the anger?


Want to know more about what happens in our brains when we get angry?

Watch this video by Dr. Daniel Siegel, Clinical Professor of Psychiatry at UCLA, to learn why it’s impossible to respond rationally or with empathy, since we have “flipped our lids” and temporarily lost access to our pre-frontal cortex, our source of emotional regulation, reasoning, problem-solving, self-awareness, and morality:

Taming our anger is a choice that requires effort and intentionality. Awareness is the first step, so start paying attention now!