It’s not always easy to truly identify what you’re feeling. Many of us aren’t taught as children how to talk about our feelings, let alone identify them. While it’s normal to struggle with gauging your level of anger, your body can give you signs to follow! Here’s a very simple method we use to help folks identify their anger and measure their anger levels.
The Anger Thermometer
There are many resources available to you to help you identify when you feel angry. Creating an anger thermometer may be the one of the simplest visualization methods. Download our free template event here!
Here’s how it works:
Grab a piece of paper and draw a simple thermometer (if you can’t physically draw one at the moment, try imagining it instead). The scale should range from 1 to 10. The number 1 represents a state of absolutely no anger at all and 10 is your maximum threshold for anger. While filling this out, it is important to note that 10 on your thermometer is the point at which you would kill someone. It is a hard concept to think that we could get to that point, but it is important to note that it is possible for all of us.
Everyone has unique physical sensations and behavior symptoms associated with their anger levels. Physical sensations include changes in your body that aren’t necessarily visible to those around you. These can include: elevated heart rate, sweaty palms, gritting your teeth or changing in breathing. On the other hand, behaviors are changes that others may notice us doing. Examples of behaviors may include: crying, yelling, pacing, swearing, or punching a wall.
So, here are some questions to ask yourself as you fill out your anger thermometer:
How different are the physical sensations in your body when you are at a 1 on the anger thermometer compared to a 5? How about a 5 compared to an 8?
Write down the sensations on your thermometer in their respective levels. It may be useful to put the sensations on the left side of the thermometer and the behaviors on the right side.
As you complete mapping out the physical sensations in your body, start writing down any physical behaviors you notice.
Are there many behaviors you’re unable to exhibit as you move up the anger scale?
For example, are you able to respond in a conversation, be talkative and friendly at a 3 but not a 7?
This may take time, so feel free to return to your anger thermometer anytime you notice something new! Returning to the thermometer can help you to begin to realize what makes you angry. After you become aware of your sensations and behaviors, you can begin to change the behaviors you do not like by cooling down prior to reaching the point where you can no longer remain in control. We believe that staying below the 45 on the thermometer can help us remain rational or “in control.” At The Conflict Center, we emphasize using appropriate cool down techniques at “the 45 mark” to remain level headed during times of anger. Anger isn’t inherently negative, and when we can remain in control of our anger, we can use it in positive ways.