Its as if you swallowed a hot coal and been burned by acid. Violated and abandoned, a victim of life’s cruel sense of humor. At times you just want to die: there is no escape, no light at the end of the tunnel, and no one to turn to for advice. You know… that undignified, soul crushing feeling of being somebody else’s anger target.
So you hold it inside because if it’s your boss then “you better keep quiet” and if its your loved one then its just plain damn embarrassing to admit to someone you are being treated like this. You stay patient, stuff it all in the dark dungeons of your soul and hope it will pass, but at times you want to explode into a google of pieces and strangle someone to death.
Dealing with angry people can be down right debilitating and exhausting. Without any doubt – anger brings an enormous amount of suffering. Not only to the one who’s expressing it but also to everyone who’s in its path. Like wildfire, it can consume friendships and burn merits that took years to accumulate.
It is said that it can take years of hard work to build a house but one single spark can burn it down in minutes. Once a king came to Buddha for advice about ruling his kingdom. This is what the enlightened mystic said:
“People are caught in their suffering as if they are caught in a house on fire. When you understand the source of your suffering it can no longer bind you. If someone is angry at you, you can get angry back at them but that will only create more suffering. If you follow the way of cultivating awareness, you will not react with anger. Instead you will quiet your mind in order to discover why that person is angry at you. By looking deeply you can uncover the causes that led to the person’s anger. If you see that you bear responsibility for angering the person, you will accept that your own misconduct contributed to their anger and will not get angry in return. If you are without blame then you can try to see why that person has misunderstood you. Then you can find a way to help him understand your true intentions. This way you will avoid causing more suffering to yourself and the other person.”
Ancient wisdom traditions, especially Buddhism, invites us to take matters into our hands and look deeply into the nature of our mind in order to find the true source of our suffering. Buddha’s advice on how to deal with angry people is simple, profound and involves three steps:
1. Examine your own mind,
2. Examine the mind of other person,
3. Use skillful means to make peace.
Examine Your Own Response to Anger
Do you spark up like a Chinese firecracker in response to other people’s anger? For example, do you tend to shout in response to someone shouting at you? If yes then I have a surprise for you. Years of researching, working with my own anger issues and studying Eastern philosophy has led me to one stark realization – the best way to deal with angry and difficult people is to work on one’s own anger.
I observed over and over again how every time I got angry in response to someone being upset at me the situation created more misery and any possibilities of resolving the conflict in an amicable manner were flushed down the toilet. But you know what really bothered me sick… I mean to the bone? The fact that someone was able to “make me angry” felt like that person could control me.
Being an independent person, that gave me the backbone to start looking deeper into the root causes of my own anger and take full responsibility for it. Only after I was able to cope with my own fiery emotions I was able to gain more mental clarity to deal with other people’s problems.
Buddha’s advice to examine your own mind first is fantastic. Without taking responsibility for our own emotions we stand no chance in self-mastery. This is ALWAYS the first step. After you are done reading this article, pay a visit to the anger management techniques page. You’ll find some good advice there.
Examine the Driving Force Behind Other Person’s Anger
When your own emotions are in check, then you’ll have the clarity to deal with other people’s anger. Even better, when you have a surplus of patience and mindfulness you will not be affected by “their” anger and you can then actually help them.
Generally, angry and difficult people have a lot of resentment and discontent. They like to take it out on others. They are usually insecure, confused and driven by an unconscious sense of shame or inferiority which they hide under the facade of cunning comments. They can also be in a lot of physical or mental pain and/or have simply run out of patience to deal with life’s challenges.
Many times I’ve observed a lawyer being able to present the most sophisticated argument and win a tough case but be a total slop when it comes to personal relationships at home. Being successful in one area of life does not make one a successful human just yet.
It’s also good to remember that anger is an addiction. It’s a physical process in the body with your mind behind the wheel. Chronically angry people can be so “overrun” by anger that they are unable to imagine themselves acting in any other way. They can be blindly depressed and blame others for their problems to the point that they forget their own role in the situation. As my spiritual teacher says – they forget that they are the ones who planted the cactus that they sit on.
On the other hand, anger addicts can be the sweetest people in one moment and total monsters two minutes later when something triggers their rage. Its a terribly shocking experience. I often hear of someone saying they met a sweet person who had few anger issues but turned into a Godzilla later in the relationship. Guess what… they have not changed. They have always had the anger habit but it was either suppressed or overridden by their love for you and the family. Its like taking a narcotic pain killer – it masks the pain by a pleasant sensation but does not heal the source of pain. Now that your partner feels safe around you their anger simply erupts without having to go through the angst of controlling it. Now that all the cards are dealt, they simply say “This is just who I am.”
It is said that if you know your enemies and know yourself, you will win in a hundred battles; if you do not know your enemies nor yourself, you will be defeated in every battle – Sun Tzu’s Art of War.
My advice? Understand what anger is. Learn everything about it so that it’s not a mystery to you. If you know your enemy, it is less likely to hurt you because for every weapon thrown at you you will have a weapon of your own to counter act and neutralize it. Yes I know, this is straight out of a Kung Fu movie but it works! Understanding what makes people tick is an incredibly empowering experience.
Skillful Means and Creative Approaches to Deal with Angry People
Remember the story of the enlightened sage in the previous post – if you have control over your mind and understand the nature of reality then not accepting someone else’s insults can be as simple as well… not accepting someone else’s insults. Their anger is their problem. If “they” try to give it to you but you do not take it, then who does it belong to?
Having said that, I realize we’re not enlightened yet and only starting the learn about our minds. Hence, I’d like to share with you a few creative techniques to help you deal with angry people in your life.
What Does Not Work
Eye for an eye makes the whole world go blind – Gandhi.
1. Getting angry in return. You may fight it out, maybe even figure something out but more and more you will feed off of each other’s negativity and have a shorter fuse till none of you are able to handle it anymore. Then you will take those habits to another relationship, infect the other person and continue on the same miserable path.
2. Insulting them – most angry people have HUGE insecurity issues that they cover up with an angry facade. Insulting them further fuels their anger and needlessly escalates the situation.
3. Blocking their movement in a doorway in order to confront them about their anger. In fact, don’t even try to hug them at this stage. While the body is in the flight or fight mode they will not be open to your warmth.
4. Asking them to breath and control their anger, telling them to relax. This flames their anger even more because they feel their emotions are being ignored. In addition, this sounds like a command to a rebellious ego.
5. Constantly trying to appease their anger or accept blame for how they feel. By doing so you only train them to think that anger is an effective tool to get what they want. Don’t do it, no matter what it takes.
1. Relinquish any hope that you can control other people’s behavior. Simply let go of that idea entirely. With some people, there is just NO way to make them happy anyways. They are angry when they get what they want, they are angry when they don’t. They often blame others rather than assume responsibility for their own misery. Unlike what most therapists will tell you, anger is not a choice. It’s a habit. The only person who can change that it is the owner, not you. You can not work out their anger issues, you can only encourage them.
2. Protect yourself from being hurt physically but do not be afraid of anger itself. Anger is a baby’s cry in adult language. It is a sign that someone is hiding a weakness, lost control, feels inadequate, threatened and is driven by fear. When dealing with angry people, always try to figure out what’s feeding their anger. If you understand the source, you can be much more creative at dealing with it.
3. If you know its coming – prepare yourself. A fascinating new research from a team of Stanford researchers shows that the state of mind in which a person listens to an angry outburst has a big effect on whether or not they actually get upset. A common anger management technique I teach here is to view an angry person through a different lens. So if someone is yelling at you, you might tell yourself that they’ve just received some bad news and are now taking it out on you, or maybe its just their Mount Kilimanjaro size ego talking or perhaps they are simply overwhelmed by their responsibilities or events taking place in their life.
The Stanford research shows that this technique also works before the angry outburst has even begun. They call this pre-emptive action the “re-appraisal.” They concluded that “Emotional processing proceeds from the front to the back of the brain, and the reappraisal is generated in the front of the brain and proceeds toward the back, where it modifies emotional processing. If you’re trained in reappraisal, and you know your boss is frequently in a bad mood, you can prepare yourself to go into a meeting. He can scream and yell and shout, but there will be nothing.” In basic terms: The researchers found that “reappraising” – in effect, making excuses for the angry person and expecting them to get angry – was able to reduce negative emotions when faced with the nasty situation later on.
4. Practice being unaffected. This is very very hard but even if you are freaking out inside, stay gentle and keep a kind tone. Stay cool. Breath deep into your abdomen. Don’t sob, don’t cry, be strong and don’t let them get to you. Anger feeds on other people’s power. It’s an ego trip at its worst. There is nothing more confusing to the angry person than sensing that his anger does not affect you. I mean subconsciously the mind freaks out. Anger feeds on submission, on ridicule. When the feeling of having the power to belittle someone is missing anger subsides. The angry person himself may even start feeling stupid for their behavior. It really is like this. So remain calm, use calm tone and keep a good p-p-p-poker face… Mum, mum, mum, hah…
Do not argue with an idiot. He will drag you down to his level and beat you with experience.
5. Pick your battles. Do not try to get your point across or prove your truth to someone who’s drunk with anger. They are just not rational at this stage. Wait it out till they calm down, then find a spot for an intelligent dialogue and sneak your point across when they least expect it. You got to be smarter and have a strategy.
I would like to make one exception for acting “civil.” When you witness someone physically abusing another being (especially a lady or a child), please feel free to punch them in a blooming nose if you can. Sometimes you just have to. In some desperate cases the only way to interrupt one’s rage is to send them into a shock or physically disabling their ability to inflict damage onto themselves or others. The key here is to do it without anger and with least amount of damage.
6. Acknowledge their anger. “I can see you are angry.” Acknowledging their feelings is a kind thing to do and don’t worry, its not the same as validating their anger. Saying “I understand how you feel,” is not the same as “You have good reasons to feel like this.” By relating the fact that you know how they feel opens the gates for a mature conversation.
7. Leave them be, give them space to cool off. If they are not wise enough to do this then you do it. Do it before you get in a heated argument and exchange lots of hurtful words. Its kind of like putting a fire out on a match rather than the barn.
8. Use others to confront them. Angry people are just like drunkards, many of them do not realize the kind of damage they wreak while they are on their mental trips. Find a moment when they are calm and even in a good mood. Then bring a family member or two and confront the person kindly. The reason you don’t want to do it alone is because it may look like you have personal issues. However if you have allies to help you address your concerns, they will more likely accept this as their issue.
9. Set your boundaries and enforce them. As described in detail in a previous post about personal boundaries, this is one of the most effective anger management techniques. Make sure you are firm and set up consequences if this gets out of control, for example all the family moves leaves him for a few days. These are not easy options but this is not an easy problem as well.
10. Write a letter. The thing is, if you try to talk to him he will interrupt you, you will get flustered and not say what you want to say so write a letter. Sit down, think things through and write from your heart.
11. Make an inventory of everything that makes them angry. What..? Why? Let me explain. Most angry people will blame you or others for their anger. “It’s all your fault!” Start secretly making a list of everything that “brings the anger on.” Seriously, go for it. It’s fun too. You’ll be surprised how many and how ridiculous most of those things are. Then present the list to the angry person and ask them if this is all and whether you got this right. They’ll be like… “What the…?” Ask them whether they think that other people would agree with these as reasonable reasons to get all pissed off and bothered if you printed this on a large canvas and posted it at the bus stop. It’ll be an eye opening experience for them. 🙂
12. Make it “Interesting…” Angry people are usually decorated narcissists. They can blow your mind with their creativity in finding just the right words that will strike at the core of your sensitive spots, sometimes rendering a full knockout. Whether they try to deliver a sucker punch compliment or an outright insult, don’t get sucked in. Instead, shrug your shoulders and say one word: “Interesting.”
I learned this from my American “Godmother” Heather, who worked as a psych nurse most of her life. She explained that this is the best response when someone comes at you out of the blue and you need time to think without reacting. Once you’re collected, you’re free to respond with any dignified action you see fit. It shows the angry types that, nope, you’re not taking the bait and they can’t get to you so easily.
If none of the above techniques work… well, then take a sledge hammer and put them out of their misery! (Joking of course, I hear while this is very effective it is also illegal in some countries.)
“OK,” you may say, “This is a ton of work on my part and they have to do nothing? This is unfair!” Yep indeed, it sucks but would you say the same if you were dealing with an illness? Anger is the mind’s disease. At times, your own ego may get in a way and you will simply want to give up. Its OK to feel like this because it IS a lot of work. When you feel its too much, simply ask yourself whether this person is worth it. If he/she is, then fairness should not be an issue, you simply assume the role of a more mature partner and take the lead in acting like a grown up.
Allow me to conclude by sharing with you wonderful words from the book Old Path White Clouds by Thich Nhat Hanh:
Mindfulness nurtures the capacity to illuminate the true nature of our mind and environment. With that illumination comes understanding. With understanding comes patience, with patience comes compassion, and with compassion comes a sense of wonder, happiness and joy. Within this realm of existence, anger has no place to dwell.
Dealing with angry people requires a correct attitude, a set of skillful methods and a lot of patience. If you forget everything what you read above, remember the simple advice I got from my spiritual teacher: “People act the way they feel.” Life can be crazy; people are just people, some can cope better than others, and some have been treated better than others. Angry people suffer. Be mindful of that, be kind, and always give them the benefit of the doubt.
P.S. Got anger? Download my FREE report called “7 Secrets of Anger Management from Ancient Wisdom.” I’ve spend years gathering the advice that is presented in it. If you’re on a spiritual path this could be a life-changing e-book for you. (You’ll find it in the upper right corner.)
Excellent article and I’ve come to some of these conclusions myself! It’s true and these techniques work.
Thank you Sheri. Glad we share same conclusions. Please do what you can to help others as well. Take care!
Yes i liked it too, i was failing to cope with my husband his livid temper is very exhausting…
Only 1 comment here? This is the most helpful article that I have ever read on anger management. And I have spent years Googling this. Thank you.
Hi Sarah, maybe because the advice is either really good or really bad 🙂 Anyways, it’s partially my fault because for a few weeks since this was posted, I did not realize I had a glitch in the site’s commenting box so no one could post anything until finally someone sent me a private message. Thank you for kind words. Take good care.
I never made commets to any article, but this is one is excellent. How I wish I had read this kind of article 20 years ago. I saved a copy of this in my computer and re-titled it “Dealing with angry people – BEST READ”.
Hi Rey, happy you found some useful thoughts here. It seems some answers come only when we’re ready for them. I feel it doesn’t matter whether we learned something 20 years ago or today, all that matters is how we live our lives from now on. “The past is nothing but a dream, the future is nothing but an illusion. ” 🙂 Be well.
Excellent! I started therapy recently and she is such a wonderful person. I cannot get her to see that I need anger management.
I have spent my life trying not to get into conflicts because I do not know how to control my anger when I have finally had it. Then I spend a lifetime mopping up the mess. People who need to control and have a tendency to bully will never forgive you.
I am taping this article on my refrigerator.
I need anger management I really really do.
Hi Nan, yes its true – we all need anger management in today’s world. Some people sweep this under the carpet and hope no one notices but acknowledging a behavior that does not serve us well and then acquiring new skills to cope with tough situations is one of the most courageous and wise things we can do. As you see yourself, it’s so much easier to avoid the mess then mopping it up for long time. 🙂 If you consider my tip: try not to avoid conflicts but learn how to resolve them by learning to be more assertive and by better communication. This way you solve the problem and feel empowered. Good luck and stay in touch.
Hey AM Tadas, I would like to pose something more in person. I need help on this – tackling someone I know. Could you please share your email?
I have recently realised that my husband has anger management issues. He will find small reasons to be grumpy. I was previously retaliating with anger , but I have changed my strategy now. I am following points 10 and 11 these days. Document every single thing and every conversation with him. Email it to him, explaining your persperctive with calm and clear mind. Sometimes, when you are talking to him, you may be nervous and not able to speak. Also, when he has cooled off, ask him what made him angry and write it down.
Setting boundaries is very important. Tell him, not to hit the kids. Not to lose temper in front of the kids ( as it sets a bad example). Take all conversations in private away from kids . Learn to communicate. and resolve EVERY SINGLE conflict and make sure you have put the message across.
Other strategy is “kill them with kindness”. Praise them for something good they did. Say thankyou for however small deed they do. Write a thankyou note to them. Dont take it personally. They are like 5 year olds who cannot express emotions properly. Say to them, its safe to say I love you. Don’t miss any opportunity to say “I love you” to them. They have entered into your life to teach an important lesson. Accept and acknowledge your lesson.
Keep smiling. It is contagious.
Jane, you’re a rock. Your example will hopefully serve as an example to other ladies that these strategies work; and they work best when someone takes their dignity seriously and is able to use wisdom and surplus of good feelings to turn any situation around.
I have a question. I have told my husband that he has anger management issues. He can get very rude and dismissing. And he lives in denial that nothing is wrong with him. He does not want to change.
Should I keep reminding him that his anger is flaring up, or should I try not to use this word. He loves to watch TV a lot and does not like vacations, fun trips with family. He says he does not like it. But I would like to go on family vacations with him. I can take the kids but its not the same.
If you observe people that are chronically irritated and angry you’ll notice one common trait – they do live within their impenetrable mental boundaries and beliefs. Denial is merely a form of fear of discovering that their behavior does not reflect their age and expected levels of maturity. 🙂 I am afraid your reminders about “his” problems may fall on deaf ears or irritate him even more, someone else from your family has to do this instead. Since he’s trying to stay within his familiar environment he will keep acting this way unless you do manage to get him outside closer to nature. If you can somehow manage to go even on a small walk with him and gradually take longer trips, his mindset should change with the new additions of positive impressions. See if you can have the kids coerce him in a way where they ask him to spend more time with them because they need their dad and his sense of humor. 🙂 Let us know if you have any progress. Good luck Jane!
Anger can be huge problem and detrimental to any relationship. Even I get angry sometimes when I am hurt and may say things which I did not mean to say. Its bad but it has happened. Thanks for all your suggestions of taking walks together, communicate well, asking kids to spend more time with dad. I make it a point to say “I love you” on a daily basis, but he rarely says it back. ( It’s OK).
The most important thing to do is to praise angry ppl for every little thing they do. Appreciate them all the time. Love them unconditionally like we love our kids even when they throw our tantrum. Document, write down every argument you had with them with a calm mind, put forth you idea (email it) and agree on a solution. NEVER let your issues slide by, because they keep accumulating at the back of their minds.
I will make sure that I from now on wards do not mention the word “angry” to him.
Things were a bit rough between me and my hubby recently, and I have been very upset. So I told my mother-in-law and sister-in-law about how he has been behaving. My SIL was more understanding, but my MIL totally went out of control and blamed me for not keeping her son happy. I told her I need her help to keep this family together and talk it out in open. She said, first she will talk to her son in private to find out what is bothering him and then, she will talk to both of us. I hope she helps us.
I am ready to move mountains to keep my family together. I am ready to identify my mistakes and rectify them. I know I can win this battle with right guidance
thank you. very helpful.
Thank you AM for this wonderful article. It’s been an eye opener for me and I now have a new perspective to look at my troubled husband. Keep the good work going! ta
Keep on keeping on 🙂 Thanks for the kind words.
My husband has anger issues. He is also one of the most upstanding men I have ever known! His anger is not abusive so much as it is un- nerving. His first reaction to anything is anger. He expresses it with curse words. Filthy ugly words. Words that make cringe. It’s not name calling towards me or our children but at otter people or things, inanimate objects even. A pen that runs out of ink is a stupid f*** cun*! Lately it’s being directed at a five year old dog we took in. He said he took him, bought him, because he thought I wanted him. It’s a bloodhound had I had expressed a desire for one. I would never have gotten now though. We are living in a very small house while trying to build one of our own. Now we have a messy slobbery beast of a dog in here with is and our two kids! But he is a sweet dog and an innocent creature so I’m kind to him. My husband is not. In front of our kids he calls the dog stupid. Threatens to kick him or punch him ( all verbal angry words). Until the other night when we walked the dog and he pulled hard on the leash making my husband fall on his rump! He kicked the dog on purpose while on his back. The poor thing. I begged my husband to stop. He did but it frightened me. I told my husband I’d get rid of the dog. I’ve asked everyone I know but no one wants him. My husband said not to take him to the pound. ” it’s not the right thing to do” he says he is still trying to learn to deal with the dog”. However while he is. ” learning ” the kids and I have to listen to his tirades! The dog gets kicked or yelled at. The stress level with my dear. ( yes he is a dear man!) husband is always high, never knowing what will piss him off, but the dog is just extra fuel. My girls love him. I can live with him and I think he is sweet. But at what cost? I want to keep the dog at least until we find him a better home and I hate the idea of allowing my husbands anger habit to control what should be my choice. Any advice would be welcome.
I try my darnedest to not respond to his outbursts. I tell the girls that how daddy express anger is not acceptable and they seem to understand that they have the best daddy ever but he gets mad and says bad words :/ the dog however is just a simple animal. My husband even talks to him like he is a diabolical creature that is trying to get him. Things like. ” if you pull this leash and I fall I’ll kick you in th n***! ” to me it’s crazy. My husband is intelligent. Fair minded. Kind hearted. Honest. How can he lose his goodness and let such vial ness escape him? It’s like Jekyll and Hyde!
Hi Allie, sounds like you have a good but very frustrated guy in your household. There are probably many other things that he’s not able to cope with in life so it comes out as anger and bitterness. When we act so immaturely we do it purely out of weakness and helplessness. The dog is just the easiest target for him. Here’s what you could consider. Read two posts here: “How to Control Your Anger By Setting Boundaries,” and the latest post by Lynne on Confronting your Angry Spouse. You’re telling your kids that their dad’s behaviour is not acceptable but the person who needs to hear it most is your man. If he’s an open minded guy and wants to look into anger management techniques then send him the 7 Secrets Guide that you see in the upper right corner of this blog. All of these things combined should give you some good tools to move forward. Give the doggie extra love for the abuse and ask your husband to apologize to him at some point in the future. Otherwise they’ll switch roles in next life, and it’ll be your hubby the one who gets kicked in the ass. 🙂
Your article has given me some ideas on how to deal with my angry husband, but unfortunately I’ve tried a number of these strategies in the past and none have worked. My husband gets very angry even if I wait several days to talk calmly with him about an earlier angry event. He sometimes won’t even read the emails I send him, which are rare but an attempt to reach him because there is no other way. A perfectly nice day will turn sour and miserable at the drop of a hat because he gets angry over things that most people let pass. Today, for example, we went out to lunch with friends and he berated me in front of our friends and other diners because my leaving the table for a few moments to use the bathroom delayed the next course. It was supposed to be a celebratory lunch for me and we had planned it for weeks and there was no rush to complete the meal. My reaction to his angry outburst was to very quietly ask him to stop, but several attempts at this didn’t work (and never have in the past, either). He finally ran out of steam and I redirected the conversation, but this is a regular behavior for him. I have a friend going through exactly the same thing with her husband, and we try to support each other but we haven’t found solutions. What do you suggest in cases like this, where there is not only regular private but public anger?
PS….I think your advice about the abuse of the poor dog, above, should have included suggesting to the wife that she keep the dog away from her husband until he agrees to treat it properly. Animal abuse, under any circumstance, is unacceptable.
Hi Martha, I could have a 100,000 words for your husband, and only two for you – strength and patience. You see it is really your hubby who needs help and advice, you are only his victim right now who needs emotional support. But to tell you the truth you don’t have to be a victim. We live in the society that idolizes partnerships and likes to paint couples as one unit. It is true that when two become one joy doubles but so does the misery. I feel it is wise to learn when to take your loved ones problems personally and when is time to distance oneself. As mentioned before, anger is a weakness. It is not your weakness Martha, it is HIS. Today for example an impatient vendor raised his voice at me and luckily I didn’t return the favor. I just walked out in protest. Problem with partners they are still there when we come home, aren’t they? 🙂 But you know what? When they live in a perpetual state of agitation they really suffer, more than we can ever imagine and more than they can ever make us suffer.
When it comes to public anger directed at you…. Best you can do is to get up and leave. Yes it will ruin your date, night, evening, concert a few times but your hubby will learn that you will no longer tolerate it.
My husband has anger issues..this minute he is sweet the next he is shouting…and then after a day or two he will try to say ” babe why do u look like that…like we r fighting”….am I supposed to accept that…that’s not an apology.what should I do please?thank you so much..
Oh God… I’m sure that feels like dealing with a drunk, doesn’t it? Thing is, he’s kind to you later which is very encouraging. He’s anger spouts is his weakness and you should tell him that. We’re all weak here, it takes lots of practice so there’s no shame to that. I would just explain than anger leaves deep scars and you should agree one thing, whoever gets angry there should be no personal insults, its a taboo and if there are insults one should immediately cool off and apologize as to not leave any emotional scars. My wife and I are not perfect but we live by these two rules and it works. At the end of the day, always let go. You can be free from carrying his anger around but also make a point and communicate firmly, protest, whatever you need to do but I wouldn’t sulk. I feel sulking doesn’t hurt anyone else but us.
What about when your spouse is bipolar and is also very suicidal i’m in such a pickle and this issue is getting worse….
Hard to say, really. Do the meds stabilize him at all, is he taking any? Obviously, the way to deal with this is to realize his words are not personal but the part of ho to help him is up to the professionals. I would also try Eastern medicine like Ayurveda if you have access to any specialists in your area.
I’m impressed with AA’s approach, which in part is to allow them to experience the full consequences of their behavior (short of death). Dealing with their symptoms is the opposite of AA’s (and Alanon’s) approach. When they are stewing in their consequences, (ex. hung over, abandoned) then approach them with the path toward personal responsibility. Through the 12 steps, help them remove the baggage that saps their spiritual strength. Modern psychology does not have a replacement for AA.
Does it really works? I’ve been suffering for almost 7 years with the husband that 10 years older. And because at the time I found out he was a terribly Godzilla, I was just 18 years old and didn’t have any knowledge about this. He threatened me and scared me to death. He even held a sharp knife in his hand and said he would kill me and my little son. I am exhausted.
Thank you for your article
Jasmine, sure it works. The advice and attitude mentioned here should certainly be exhausted before you try anything else. I’m finishing up a short book which will address the suffering of dealing with angry people in a much more detailed way. If you have a more detailed question with more specifics feel free to post here and I’ll do my best to share what I know. Hang in there.
I have been with my husband for eight years and have tried to work on his anger issues from the very beginning. I am a stay at home mother of two boys, ages 3 and 7 and they have been on the other end of his anger too. I realize it is a mental illness, he grew up with a father that had anger issues, much more intense than his, so I see it as an accomplishment and a positive strive when he goes months without an angry outburst. One of the downsides is that he works as a correctional officer and puts in a lot of hours, he has minimal sleep most nights, 4 hours while working 16 hour day shifts so i encourage him to rest and I let him do so to avoid any more stress on him. It has been tough and often I want to leave but the idea of leaving someone when they are sick and when they need support hurts me more. I used to and sometimes still do engage in the fighting by responding to his irrational behavior, I say mean things, throw abusive comments his way after he has done so to me. It is hard to control and I realize I have my own anger issues because I respond like that, thanks to your article. I have to be the bigger person and remind myself to walk away every time. I am not sure I can go on any longer living in this situation but financially I have no choice at the moment. Turning to prayer and reading information like this sure does help. Thank you for your efforts in educating us with these steps to help live a healthier life. Any relationship is not easy but throw anger in the mix and sometimes you feel like every foot forward is ten steps back, their words cut your soul but you take it, I
Anne Marie, you’re doing the right thing by working through your challenges. Western societies idealize relationships to such levels that sometimes we lose touch with reality, that is when all romance is over you have two very different individual living under the same roof, rubbing elbows, getting in each others way, clashing with world view, etc., – conflict is inevitable. What we should learn as a society is a skilful and respectful way to deal with conflict, rather than maintain an attitude that it should be avoided at all costs, it’s just not realistic. Part of what you’re doing is developing empathy by cultivating mindfulness of your husband’s plight. A correctional officer? Can you even imagine what he sees and experiences on daily basis? I mean forget the lack of sleep (which is a huge contribution to a poor emotional and physical health) but he witnesses things most of us are only exposed to in the movies. On the other hand, I always encourage not to beat yourself up over your angry response, what matters is learning from it, studying your mind, your body, engaging in honest retrospection of your own actions and the situation overall. You’re doing really well, trust me, just keep learning, both of you will be even finer and better people with time. I’m finishing up a short book about anger in relationships that will help you deal with things even better. Be well!
Well, there’s a lifetime worth of stuff to work on, especially for this chronic malcontent!
But seriously, great article and I’m gonna read a little every day.
Thanks for this site.
Thank so much for writing this informative and helpful article. Recently, my boyfriend struck out at my face while we were in the car, he also pulled my hair in a very physically abusive way while saying the nastiest things (insults, cussing, etc.). This (physical abuse) has never happened in our 3 years of relationship, there have been other situations where there has been a grabbing of the arm, a slight push in big fights/moments of extreme tension, but never a hit to the face. I don’t want to lose hope in him or in an overall good and loving relationship we have both worked very hard for- the only thing that is still keeping me with him besides my commitment and love for him is the fact that he accepts and understands that he has an anger issue and that he needs to fix it… However, it worries me that sometimes he loses hope that he can change it claiming that its “in his genes” or doubts that I have the maturity level of “knowing how to deal” with his anger. His words are, “I fear that another situation will come where both of us are not conscious, you become dumb in handling it and I become dumber…” He fears that it can get out of control again. I have been going through some mental trauma, i’ve been having flashbacks that come out of nowhere in the day/night, I cry out of nowhere too just thinking about it.. I have forgiven him but at the same time it has been very difficult overcoming these feelings of hurt and trying not to judge him while we have decided to make it work (we decided on therapy, and other resources in order to prevent). Do you think staying and working through this with him is an option despite the abuse? I understand anger is considered a mental disease, but to what point do I let that affect me? Where do I draw the line…. this is the hardest decision I’ve ever had to make. He is an all around great guy in every other way, except for this anger problem…
Hi Joanna, thanks for sharing. I understand you’re worried about the abuse and that this can cause you a ton of psychological and even physical pain, however you’re bearing too much weight about the situation. It’s not you it’s HIM who needs to take responsibility for his emotions and actions. Saying “it’s in my genes” is a cowardly, cop out way to go about it, that’s like saying that we humans are on autopilot at all times. This is BS. We have immense amounts of tools to self transform and grow these days. People are lazy to the point of they’d rather sacrifice their lives than put in the work. Tell him you won’t take that excuse any more, tell him you fell in love with the confident, kind, emotionally stable guy and not this cry baby who turns his tantrums and every day frustrations onto you now. There’s something else going on that is overwhelming his nervous system – pressure at work, at home, health, substance abuse… it could be anything that is making that fuse shorter. You guys need to try and figure this out, uncover what’s behind this mounting frustration, OK? Many guys and gals with huge anger issues can lead happy lives when they learn how to cope with their inner states. It’s a bit like walking on a blade but no one else can tell you’re doing it. 🙂 For now just don’t worry so much, you’ll know when to draw the line if you get to that point. You’ll just know.
Thank you so VERY much for the feedback. I agree 100%.
I want to let you know that I read your pdf, and it is absolutely inspiring! First of all, the depth of content is profound, and I was amazed at how the concepts ring so much TRUTH. It brought me a lot of peace to know that meditation, backed up by such wise words, can become a real solution to my situation. Since I know and acknowledge where I go wrong and how I play a role in shortening his “fuse,” I will start to meditate myself as a way of dealing with my own set of issues, to lessen my mistakes (this way he becomes inspired by my personal change and take it on himself). But I will take your advice and not worry about it so much.. or weigh myself down with what is obviously his responsibility. I think your pdf just might save us though. I know because of it he will open up his eyes too and look at things from another angle 🙂 So thank you, again.
Also, do you have an instagram account? If so, I am definitely following 🙂
What an inspiring lady you are, Joanna. Happy to hear you found some helpful advice and are willing to try it. Wishing you both all the best. I’m not on Instagram and I’m not that exciting to follow anyways, please spend all the time saved meditating instead. 🙂 As Rumi said, “Out beyond ideas of wrongdoing and rightdoing there is a field. I’ll meet you there.”
This is one of the most enlightening articles I have ever read! It’s been super helpful in dealing with anger in my partner. Thank you soo much for writing this!
After reading this article, I have come to realize I am the one who is a problem with my anger. I want to do better for the people I care about but I dont understand how to communicate. Im always being told I speak in a aggressive tone but it is not like I say cruel things or even cuss. I dont even yell , I just have a slight attitute and that is just me not being able to hide that. It just happena sometimes when I’m highly stressed about bills, working in a negative enviroment, and not really getting the help I need at home from cooking and cleaning right after a 10hr shift. But it makes me so mad because they are always telling me I need to speak nicer when I was never trying to get mad. They also try to pry what my problem is instead of just giving me space. I dont know what I can do so I can not be this way. I mean Im at the point that I think Im better off dead. That maybe they would be happier if they didnt have to deal with my anger..