Cues to Anger

Posted by: Dr. Justin D'Arienzo, Psy.D., ABPP

Cues to Anger

An important aspect of monitoring your anger is to identify the cues that occur in response to an anger-provoking event. The four cues listed below serve as warning signs that you have become angry and your anger is continuing to escalate.

  1. Physical cues: Physical cues involve the way our bodies respond when we become angry. For example, your heart rates may increase, you may feel tightness in our chests, or you may feel hot and flushed.
  2. Behavioral cues: Behavioral cues entail the behaviors you display when you get angry which are observed by other people around us. You may clench your fists, pace back and forth, slam a door, or raise your voice.
  3. Emotional cues: Emotional cues concern other feelings that may occur with your anger. You may become angry when you feel abandoned, afraid, discounted, disrespected, guilty, humiliated, impatient, insecure, jealous, or rejected. These feelings are the core or primary feelings that underlie your anger. These are easily discounted as they often make us feel vulnerable.
  4. Cognitive cues: Cognitive cues refer to the thoughts that occur in response to an anger-provoking event. When you become angry, you may interpret events in certain ways. For example, you could interpret a friend’s comment as criticism or may interpret the actions of others as demanding, humiliating, or controlling. Some people call these thoughts “self-talk” because they resemble a conversation we are having with ourselves.

For individuals who struggle with anger management, self-talk is typically critical and hostile in tone and content. It reflects beliefs about people, places, and things and the way they think the world should be. Self-talk in this manner can lead to anger escalating even more rapidly.

To learn more about anger management strategies to cope with these cues, take our Level 1 or Level 2 Anger Management Courses.