Anger and Aggression….4/27/07

Question:
When someone starts calling me names or taunting me, it winds me up very easily. Especially when they say things that I feel hit a nerve. Things like saying I have no friends, that I’m weird or a loner, the one that gets to me quickest is when they mention that I don’t have a girlfriend or worse still, if they ask me where she is (I’ve not dated anyone since my girl killed herself a few years ago).

The worst part of it is that the closer the person is to me, the worse I react. If I don’t care about someone’s opinion or the person in general I’ll just ignore them but the people I care about end up being the ones I’ll take it out on. I don’t know what’s wrong with me, it’s like I focus all my aggression on myself and my close friends. More myself than anyone else. I’d probably be dead already had I not read about using ice instead of razors to mimic cutting instead of actually doing it a while back. I find myself wanting to attack people when they say bad things about me, but the things they say are true, so I take it out on myself. It’s better that way. I don’t want to hurt anyone, but when they push me to a certain point it’s almost like I’m just watching myself do it.

Answer:
Dear Friend,
It’s normal to feel badly when someone puts you down or disrespects you. We all deserve to be treated with dignity and respect.
But, you need to work on feeling confident about yourself and how to express your feelings and responses in healthy and assertive ways to those people.
Here are some ideas:
1. Change your self-talk to: “that person may be trying to get my goat – but, I’m not going to let him/her.” “I’m going to tell that person how I feel and that they should not be talking disrespectfully to me.”

2. Take a break: “I’m going to take a breather and think about how to respond to that person later.” Taking a time-out will give your body time to cool-down and the frontal cortex of your brain time to start taking over the emotional (amydala) portion of your brain which wants to lash out.

3. Consider going to counseling to work through the self-mutilation, low self-esteem, grief and other issues you are dealing with. When you feel badly about yourself – you will emotionally overreact to put-downs.
See the directory of counselors at:  www.counselcareconnection.org ,
www.aacc.net and www.nbcc.org

4. Learn some anger management skills to help you cope with these situations. See www.whatsgoodaboutanger.com for FAQs, Quick Tips for Managing Anger Podcasts and the All About Anger blog.
_________________
Lynette J. Hoy, NCC, LCPC, Anger Management Specialist
What’s Good About Anger podcasts, blog, resources

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