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Defining Anger

Unhealthy anger overreaction to a justified wrong. Some people feel that it is more acceptable to express anger and not other emotions. Therefore, many people will act angry when they are really feeling something else that they are uncomfortable expressing, such as:

  • Stress
  • Frustration
  • Fear
  • Annoyance
  • Disappointment
  • Shame
  • Embarrassment
  • Hurt


How to Identify Unhealthy Anger

Anger is a normal emotion that becomes a problem when it:

  • Is too intense
  • Lasts too long
  • Occurs too frequently
  • Escalates (overreacting to a justified wrong)
  • Focuses and blames only "others" – world, situation, anything except self
  • Is harmful to self or others
  • Leads to aggression or violence
  • Destroys personal relationships

Some common causes of anger are:

  • Being too ego-driven or invested - Taking it TOO personally
  • Getting sucked in - No longer looking for ways out (exits) or solutions

People who fight often:

  • Misinterpret the intent or motives of others
  • Are unable to see alternative rationales
  • Are openly and frequently defiant of requests
  • Vocalize anger: furious temper, uncontrollable fits of rage
  • Demean or swear directly to parent or others in authority positions
  • Make threats; are aggressive
  • Seem to have "emotional diarrhea," and "lets it all out, all the time"
  • Have difficulty accepting "No" for an answer
  • Do not follow rules; often feels rules are "stupid," or don't apply
  • Destroy property
  • Are physically cruel to animals
  • Are physically cruel to people
  • Initiate fights with others
  • Seriously violate rules (at home, in school, or society in general)


Ways to Step UP!

  1. Create plans together to avoid high-risk situations and consequences
  2. Be aware of triggers
  3. Be aware of defined danger:
    • mad dogging
    • dirty looks
    • Is another individual looking for a fight?
  4. Do not try to detain angry individuals - even if they run away
  5. Interrupt the situation/Distract the people involved
  6. Beware of increasing aggressive behavior and try to diffuse the situation

What bystanders should remind the individuals involved:

  • STOP AND THINK – Is it worth it in the long run?
  • Avoid Retaliation/Escalation
  • Agree with rationale but challenge the action
  • Focus on solving the problem NOT winning the "fight"
  • Don't get caught up in the moment and don't let others bring them down. Think of the big picture
  • Try to see it from a different point of view – feeling anger and empathy at the same time are incompatible responses

What bystanders should do for themselves:

  • WALK AWAY if the situation is unsafe.
  • Stay calm, cool and collected.
  • Contact 9-1-1 if necessary





  • 9-1-1
  • Pepperdine Dept of Public Safety
    • Emergency - 310 506 4441
    • Non-emergency - 310 506 4442
  • Report via LiveSafe App
    • Downloadable for Android and iPhone - App Store
    • Anonymous option available
  • Campus Counseling Center
  • RA or RD, if living on campus



The University of Arizona C.A.T.S. Life Skills Program, along with the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) and national leading experts, has developed Step UP! Be a Leader, Make a Difference.