I’m guessing that many of us will have, at some time, been in the presence of someone who seems angry, even hostile, for no apparent reason. They may even claim not to be angry; it’s your fault, you who’s imagining it, who’s projecting your own issues and emotions into the situation. We may even find ourselves wondering what happened, could it really be our fault? We may be unclear as to how to proceed.
Some people have a tendency to blow up at the slightest opportunity, for the most trivial of reasons and then claim that they were not angry, that we provoked them, it’s our fault and we’re to blame! They may twist our words and actions, manipulate situations, and ‘gas light’ us.
When we know there’s no obvious reason for such an outburst we may wish to dig deeper and find clues to help us address the underlying issues behind such anger. If we can’t simply walk away from the relationship how do we persuade a person to acknowledge the inappropriateness of their behavior or help them accept that there are issues that need resolving?
What do you do if you suspect you’re becoming that person?
– Notice if other people are starting to back away from you. Everyone can’t be wrong! A big clue that you’re the angry one who’s behaving unreasonably is when you realize that people have stopped discussing sensitive matters with you. A shrug and a ‘there’s no point discussing it, you never listen’, may be fine at busy or stressful times, but gradually others may start to form closer relationships whilst you become relegated to the role of outsider. Noticing this can provoke an increase in anger and frustration, but it can be the cue to start taking more responsibility for your alienating behavior.
– Do people claim that you’re not interested or don’t understand? Relationships are not all about you and are meant to be a two-way exchange, even if you don’t like or agree with the other person’s point of view. Practice constructive listening. This means calmly reflecting back on what you’ve heard so that the speaker is reassured that you’ve understood. It can be tough at first to resist the temptation to mentally prepare your response before they’ve even finished speaking, but giving others respect and understanding will help to improve your relationships.
– A victim mentality can result in angry responses to any perceived criticism or rejection. This may be caused by unresolved issues, sometimes going back many years. That sneaking suspicion that we’re not good enough, that we’ve succeeded by accident, that we’ll be found out at any moment can cause defensive, angry responses in a bid to fend off further comments or investigation.
– ‘Stop telling me what to do’ is a common expression in households where young people are growing up and starting to flex their wings. Over time though, some people may seem incapable of phrasing requests in an acceptable way and so are seen as bossy, ego-driven and dominant, whereas others may be resistant to taking instruction well. This can be problematic in work-related situations. Learning to discuss matters respectfully can help avoid an escalation of tensions.
– Unresolved issues may be caused by an inability to properly communicate our feelings, ask for help or discuss what’s going on. We may have learned to keep quiet and not express ourselves well or expect others to be psychic and intuit our true thoughts and feelings. Maybe we hate risking feeling vulnerable and anticipate that others won’t understand. All these are our own issues that can prompt an angry response. It may be that a few counseling and hypnotherapy sessions can help us work through any unhelpful patterns of behavior.
– Too much going on, where we loathe to decline requests and continually accept more commitments can result in a stress overload and burnout. We may agree to requests out of concern or fear, perhaps of missing out, of appearing that we’re not coping, that we’re not up to the job. However, it’s often better to explain what else is going on in our lives, to ask for extra training and discuss our situation. Sometimes other people issue requests without fully realizing what other commitments we have.
– Counselling and hypnotherapy can help in resolving underlying issues of rejection, low self-esteem and confidence. It can be important to appreciate that perspective has a significant role too in our experience of anger. How we look at things, and how we interpret what’s going on is frequently done from how they impact us and our lives. Getting to grips with the fact that others may be better than us in some areas, right in what they’re saying, entitled to their point of view, can make a massive difference to the way we react to experiences. Accepting that we have to ‘get over ourselves’ can be a big step in the right direction.
– Learn to laugh at yourself when you see how uptight, foolish, or wrong you’re being. Self-awareness can deliver a much more relaxed, less stressed way of responding to things that happen and can enable everyone to ease up too and be more creative and supportive of each other.
– Finding a code word or effective way of recognizing and calling ‘time out’ can be a valuable way of intercepting tense situations before they escalate. All parties need to agree in advance, but taking a break before anger erupts can give time to calm down, recognize the triggers and maybe discuss them before too much harm is caused.
And don’t forget, once said, things cannot be unsaid. They may be understood, excused, or even forgiven, but it’s less easy to forget harsh words spoken in anger.
Susan Leigh is a relationship counselor, writer & media contributor who offers help with relationship issues, stress management, assertiveness and confidence. She works with individual clients, and couples and provides corporate workshops and support. She’s the author of 3 books, ‘Dealing with Stress, Managing its Impact’, ‘101 Days of Inspiration #tipoftheday’ and ‘Dealing with Death, Coping with the Pain’, all on Amazon & with easy-to-read sections, tips and ideas to help you feel more positive about your life.