10 Life-Changing Facts About Anger

anger“Yes, I was angry. And I was a little afraid. After all I’ve not been free in so long. But, when I felt that anger well up inside of me, I realized that if I hated them after I got outside that gate, then they would still have me. I wanted to be free so I let it go.”
~Nelson Mandela upon leaving prison after 27 years of confinement

Frustrated, impatient, pissed off, raging…aaarrrrrrgh! Yes, it’s normal to feel angry – you are human, after all. But if anger causes problems in your life – if it interferes with your health and happiness – then consider these 10 life-changing facts. Get curious about anger, and you just might discover an untapped well of vital energy that improves your life circumstances and wakes you up to the whole of life.

1. It’s easier to feel anger than hurt.

Anger tends to be a surface emotion. But if you look at what is driving the anger, you will often find hurt, pain, or fear. Can you tell the truth to yourself about what you are actually feeling? Can you meet the depth of your experience with supreme kindness? You might be surprised at the freedom you discover.

2. Anger has a strong physical component.

Bring out the microscope when you are angry, and you will find strong physical sensations – tightness, contraction, burning. Anger is a fiery emotion full of energy. If you don’t want to be caught in anger, bring your attention right into these physical sensations.

Without running a story in your mind, fully allow yourself to feel what is present. It might be difficult, but you won’t actually combust, I promise you. Be real with your sensations, and eventually the anger will stop controlling you.

3. Perfectionists are angry.

Are you a perfectionist? Then take an honest look at what you are saying to yourself. You will undoubtedly find a repetitive loop playing in your mind that is harsher than you might imagine.

Don’t kid yourself – this is anger. If you don’t want to be a slave to your perfectionist tendencies, then go to the root of the problem and learn to meet your anger with love.

4. Stories sustain anger.

Angry stories barrel through our minds like an out-of-control train careening down the tracks. To find freedom from anger, you must recognize the story and see that repeating it doesn’t serve you. Yes, what happened happened. But how much longer are you going to let it be your ball and chain?

Here are some strategies to help you soften the story:

  • Open up with compassion to everyone involved, including yourself.
  • Recognize that you are bringing the past into the present by repeating the story endlessly.
  • Bring your full attention into the sensations you are experiencing in the moment.
  • Commit to bringing all your actions in alignment with what you really, really want.

5. Anger comes from an overblown sense of self-importance.

Often, what underlies anger are statements like, “I’m right” and “I want my way.” There is a huge attachment to “I” and the beliefs of that “I” that causes separation and disharmony.

Recognize these “I”-focused statements and know that they keep you locked into one way of thinking. Then inquire:

  • Am I really right?
  • Does this wanting to be right serve me – and others?
  • What does it mean to want my own way? What are the implications?

Exploration of these “I”-focused beliefs can lead you to untangle the deepest knots that block your happiness.

6. Anger causes separation.

Speaking of separation, what are the effects when you are angry? Anger pushes people away, scares them, makes them fight back or shut down. Relationships don’t have room to breathe when they are defined by anger. “How could you?” “You shouldn’t have…” Sound familiar?

Remember that anger – or any reaction – is not the fault of the other. If you are angry, look within yourself. Lovingly investigate what has been triggered in you, and your whole perspective on the situation will shift.

7. Anger gets attention.

Maybe you express anger because you want attention. Depending on the circumstance, this could be a useful strategy.

But consider this: there may be other ways for you to express yourself so that you are heard. Open up your mind and heart to all the possibilities.

8. Unexplored anger can mute your experience of life.

Are you sitting on a hotbed of anger, but keeping it so underground that you can hardly live? Some people are so intent on keeping peace that they minimize the truth of their experience.

Are you asleep at the wheel, attached to inner peace and pleasant living? Exploring the seeds of anger can enliven you to all of life.

9. Anger can transform into useful action.

Taking in all the problems in the world can bring about a sense of injustice. Yet, if you move from anger, you are missing out on the whole picture.

Meet your anger with love and let your heart break open. Then move forward with actions that are wise and skillful.

10. Anger traps you.

The arising of anger is not necessarily a problem, and is not even under your control. What matters is how you relate to anger once it is present. If you dwell in the energetic sensations and convince yourself that your thoughts are true, anger overtakes you.

But there is an alternative: feel the sensations and tell the truth about the story. Then anger is your ally – revealing more and more deeply the essence of you.

How does anger impact your life? What is your experience of dealing with it? We’d all love to hear…

Note: This post is part of the Life-Changing Facts series. Check out the others: fear, attachment, habits, healing the inner critic, happiness, and healing the pain of the past.

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Comments

  1. Josh says

    When I was a young teenager I was abused by my father. Rather than feel the pain, I resorted to anger, a much easier sensation to deal with. I am in my mid 30’s now and many broken relationships later, I am beginning to see how my anger is destroying my life, but more accurately how my inability to feel pain is ruining my relationships. The moment my partner does anything to hurt me, I react in furious rage, rather than feel the pain. As it is much easier to feel anger and power than to feel small and hurt. My question is where to go from here? How do I get in touch with the pain for healing? Do I try to remember all those teenage years of hurt and begin to feel them, maybe cry over them? Is it about getting in touch with the past? I understand the the concept of acknowledging the sensations and getting more in touch with my present feelings of hurt, but is there also work to be done digging into my past? Thanks, Do you have experience healing anger in your own life? I suppose everybody does on some level, but just curious if you had major work around it? I find the greatest healers are ones who have had to heal themselves. Cheers.

    • Gail Brenner says

      Good for you, Josh, that you see the problem so clearly and are so willing to deal with it.

      There are two ways to go here, and maybe both of them will be helpful to you.

      One, and this is the most essential in the long run, is to be truthful about your experience in the moment. So when you rage because you’re hurt, part of your experience is rage, but if you were to stop and shine a spotlight on all of it, you’d find hurt, sadness, fear, etc. So first, as you start, when you rage or feel the rage coming, stop and be open with yourself about what else is there. Name the feelings and feel how they show up in your body. Cry, if tears come, but don’t force anything. You may want to also write about what’s happening within you. The next step would be to talk about it with your partner, if she can be with you in a safe and loving way. But more important is for you to know within yourself what’s happening and begin to befriend all of these feelings. I write a lot about this if you check out the archives here.

      You may also find it helpful to tell the stories from your past and feel the feelings around them. Ultimately, the story isn’t important – what is is your experience in the moment. But when the stories are so a part of who we think we are, telling them and experiencing the feelings helps to let them go. That might sound like a paradox, but when the stories and feelings stay hidden and unexamined, they cause trouble, as you know. Think about it as shedding the stories so you can know who you really are without them – this is freedom. But most times people can’t just put them down. Instead, it’s a process that takes time that allows all parts to be experienced. BTW: this is work that can be very helpful to do with a therapist.

      As for my own experience, when I was younger, I experienced a lot of anger, but at some point, I realized that it was mostly fueled by fear, so that became my focus. At that point, the anger dissipated a lot. But the one experience I can share with you and have written about somewhere on this blog is that I was very angry toward my parents for many years. At one point, clarity came in a flash, and I realized that my own life experience was being negatively affected by me holding in this anger. At that time, I was very much on fire for understanding happiness and how not to suffer. And I saw that being angry at them was causing me problems way more than anyone else. The second I had that realization, the anger dropped away and never returned. I didn’t want to hurt myself anymore with it, so dropping it was a selfish decision for my own happiness. As a result, I was so much happier and lighter, and yes, my relationship with my parents improved a lot. But that was a side effect. I just really wanted to be happy, no matter what.

      Hope that’s helpful. Sending support for your journey…

  2. Nina says

    I am 64 years old and have dealt with my mothers anger, hatred and rage all my life. She responded to everything with anger…if we dropped something, changed our mind about something…..She hated strangers walking down the road or driving in front of her. She screamed at my father constantly and if she didn’t get her way, we got the silent treatment. I never realized until this week during a tour of my local women’s shelter, that she was verbally and emotionally abusive to us! I have grown up believing its normal to get angry for everything that isn’t perfect. I remember hearing people I worked with talking to others and thinking, how can they be so nice, why aren’t they mad? She is cold and won’t say “I love you” even to my children or grandchildren. Before my father died, she wouldn’t even sit next to him in the hospital room, she sat across the room. The day after he died, she thru all his things into garbage bags. My father was funny, intelligent, easy going, hard working, generous… I don’t know how he put up with her abuse all those years. I have been in therapy trying to deal with my anger toward her…..now everything makes sense!

    • Gail Brenner says

      Hi Nina,

      It’s so lovely to hear that you are discovering a new way – that you don’t have to respond with anger. You can stop, press pause, and decide how you want to respond. Freedom!

      I’m glad it’s all making sense to you now, as this is the road to your inner peace and happiness.

  3. says

    I have just come across anger not in myself but my boyfriend, I suffer with anxiety (I was always honest about it) and the majority of the time I can control it when I didn’t I was met with the most extreme anger from my boyfriend not speaking to me for 5 days. He it seems need everyone to be perfect and if that doesn’t happen he gets angry, ignores, punishes and as he has just done ended our relationship as I rub him up the wrong way. Obviously because I must be doing this on purpose he cannot do problems….and that makes him very angry.

    • Gail Brenner says

      If he’s not willing to work on this, Claire, as painful as it may be to break up, maybe you’re better off being free and available for a loving, accepting partner.

  4. Vik says

    Hello Gail, this is certainly a life saver while it does effectively and realistically explain how clam and light one can become; I have been trying hard but not so successful in forgiving all. Yes, I have been selective here and thats the issue. I have been able to forgive a lot of those which my mind (selfishly) tells me are convenient to let go, but a few others about which I feel I could afford to live with hatred in my heart, continue to nag me. I’ve had a fallout with a close friend more than a month back after he insulted my family (that’s my version), and though I have been trying to let go of him and the incident, I am unable to cope with the fact that he still maintains his stand and hasn’t seriously cared to resolve it. I want to get over this and move on in life in real terms. Could you please help.

    Regards

    • Gail Brenner says

      Hi Vik,

      The issue for you is your own reactions – not the fact that your friend maintains his stand. If we make our own peace dependent on others’ behavior, we are asking for trouble – because people rarely do what we want them to.

      Take responsibility for your own happiness and for the energy and intention you bring to your relationships. Walk your own path the way you really want to, then you’re living according to your most essential priorities. It’s all about you and what you want – not anyone else.

      • Cath says

        Hi gail this article really brought a few issues for me to to light. I am a perfectionist and my anger is causing issues in my marriage. I hate my temper and want to learn how to have calm ‘disagreements’ with my husband without blowing up and stomping off and being a bad role model for my child. I can control it at work but not at home. Is there any book you recommend for me? Thanks

      • Sarah says

        Hello Gail,
        I’m looking at these sites just trying to figure out when I became so angry. I have always been quiet and reserved and more fearful of people for most of my life. Yet I was content. Around fifteen I got involved with drugs and at 21 checked myself into a final facility to clean myself up. I’ve always had a loving family and I’m now in a pretty good relationship and even expecting a baby. But something has happened maybe in the past year. I’m just so angry. And I mean with everything. I have found I just hate people. Whether it’s behind the wheel ( I am terrible when it comes to getting Angry with what I call idiot drivers), at either of my jobs, or at home. All it takes is a driver who doesn’t signal to a demanding customer being rude with me and I find I am actually shaking I am so mad. I can honestly say it’s even worse now that I am pregnant, though that was expecting. But I don’t know where this all came from. It can be any little thing and I find myself wanting to explode and just tear these people apart. I was never like this before. I went from loving everything to really hating everyone. I label a lot of people as stupid or rude and stuck up, like everything people do is some personal attack. Why? I’m waiting to talk to a professional one on one but in the mean time does this sound familiar to you, or anyone else for that matter? Id appreciate any advice. Thank you.

        • Brenda says

          Sarah,
          In my experience, there’s always an underlying cause. You’re angry at everything and everyone, but its something unsettled within yourself that is the root. If you don’t have a history of not being able to control your emotions, then I’d look at events directly prior to when you started being angry. It could literally be anything…for example I get angry and take it out on other people when me and my significant other are arguing, or if I feel neglected by him and haven’t resolved the issue, if my kids are fighting all it takes is one negative thought which is usually that I suck as a mother, I get angry if I just feel like shit because I didnt get enough sleep. I get angry when my kids don’t want to do the things I think they should want to do, or If I feel a lack of control over anything. Sometimes I’m angry because I have a deep resentment that I’m a mother, yet I’m so much more than that and I’m not able to venture into anything outside of my children…the list goes on. Ive been trying to take Gail’s point that while its nice to know why or where the anger comes from (because for me realizing what I’m actually angry about validates my feelings and let’s me know I’m just not going insane) that’s not what is going to help you in the moment. And because on any given day the root cause of my anger can be literally anything, I’m trying to focus on techniques to get through the emotions and not react visciously. But getting back to wondering where the hell it came from, look at the events on your life timeline, make a list of anything that is different now than before. Meditate and evaluate each of your intimate relationships and see if there’s any unsolved issues or feelings and emotions. Depression can make you angry, too. The unsettling and hopeless feeling of something just not feeling right…

          Hope this gives you some insight from one angry person to another…

          • Brenda says

            Actually, I want to retract what I said about knowing why you’re angry not helping in the moment. It depends on what moment you’re in. If you’re snapping on your hubby because he ignored you (example) and you’re actually telling him directly that’s why you’re angry, albeit yelling or screaming or throwing things in tandem, you don’t have to wonder why you’re angry. But if you’re throwing things because they got in your way, chances are your anger is coming from the unresolved issue of your hubby ignoring you. So in the latter moment, it would do good to know that shit that gets in your way isn’t where your anger is from, it is merely an irritant to your already bad feeling of being ignored by your hubby. And being able to step back and realize that could help you step back and say hey I don’t need to throw shit because I’m angry, I need to resolve the issue of being ignored by my hubby…by talking to my hubby. But in the end you still have to check your anger in that moment too, and that’s where you need to learn ways to manage what you’re feeling and not react. All easier said than done.

          • Brenda says

            I also want to throw in that in my experience with life, and talking to other angry people, I feel there is legitimacy to the notion that sometimes people become depressed and/or angry when they become more aware of how horrible many people are in today’s society. If you’re like me, you’re compelled to know as much as you can about everything in life…unfortunately the more you know the more you’re aware of all the bad things in life. You don’t want anyone to sugarcoat anything or be ignorant of anything, and sometimes realizing that this world, while containing its fair share of love and beauty, is full of a lot of disgustingness and horrors. And being of aware of that can make you really f*cking pissed off.

            But even having said all that, being angry all the time is no way to live and we must dig our claws into all the good in the world and in our personal lives and hold on for dear life because that is what can help us change.

          • Sarah says

            Thank you both for your advice. I just don’t want to be angry like this I don’t like the person I’m turning into. I know some if not all of this has to have stemmed from things that happened when I relapsed and started using again. Along with all of the terrible things that happened in that lifestyle, I know I have been angry with myself for even letting myself become that person again. It was just such a weakness. Sometimes I feel like nothing good happens. Yes I’m in a good relationship when were not fighting but other than that I have to keep myself from feeling like only bad things happen to me. Finally get my life together and normal and I end up pregnant. Just one thing after another. Also working in retail and learning how people really are I suppose I just expected more and angry at how people really are. I just need to stop getting angry about things that are out of my control. I know one thing that helps is telling myself exactly that. I can’t control the people around me. I can’t control my past. I can’t control (at this point) that I’m pregnant. I know if I think about that it brings me back to worrying about what I am in control of, which is how I react. I need to slow things down take a step back and remember some things I just have to accept and worry more about my own life. I know I’m not perfect either and I’m sure there are people out there (my parents) who wish they could’ve shaken me until I got it. But anyway it was very nice getting feedback and I’m happy I came to this site. Thank you. And I hope maybe my method can help someone else.

          • Gail Brenner says

            It’s good that you see these expectations of others, Sarah, because they’re going to cause trouble every time. Better to take a deep breath and say, OK. OK, it’s like this, this is happening, and I’m going to meet it with courage and grace. Your expectations aren’t going to change reality. When it comes to our personal desires, reality always has the upper hand. Life just is. And the more we flow with it, like water, the less we suffer.

            Sending love…

        • Gail Brenner says

          Hi Sarah,

          I agree with Brenda to look at what was happening right before you started feeling angry. Maybe a new occurrence triggered the anger. Or maybe you’re at a place where your anger is now coming out, rather than suppressing it. I don’t know, but I can understand you asking that “why now” question.

          Now, as Brenda addressed (thanks for your insights, Brenda!), the “why” question can be useful or it can be a distraction. It’s useful when asking “why” helps to solve the problem. Maybe you do need to have a conversation with someone or take care of some other matter. But if you live in the “why” and you don’t deal with the anger in the moment, you’ll be stuck. “Why” is a question in the mind that keeps you from being present to your direct experience as it arises.

          Ultimately, you’ll need to be aware in the moment of what is happening and let the feelings and sensations burn through without acting on them. To begin, you might take some time in the evening and reflect back on your day to see when you got triggered, what thoughts and sensations were running in you, and if sensations are still there, welcome them.

          Repeating the story in your mind will keep the whole system intact. But let the story go, pay attention only to the physical sensations, and you’ll start to get some space from all of this. There’s a lot on this site in the archives about dealing with feelings that might help you.

          A couple of other points: treat yourself very well during this time. Make sure you take some quiet time for yourself every day, take walks in nature, and really notice when you feel love, joy, enthusiasm, happiness, and peace. This balances out your experience. Also, there may be hormones contributing, as you know.

          The kindest thing you can do for yourself (and probably for the little one inside you) is to not resist your experience. This situation is obviously affecting many aspects of your life. And I honor you for coming here looking for answers. Keep asking questions. Be curious and open about what happens. And when the fire of anger comes, welcome it. Say hello and breathe with it. Right away your taking away its power.

          Sending love and huge support…
          Gail

          • Cath says

            A good book my psychologist recommended is called ‘stop overreacting’ by Judith Siegel I’m finding it very helpful

        • Gail Brenner says

          One more thing, Sarah. Underneath anger is often hurt, emotional pain, or sadness. See if those are there driving this anger and let these feelings come out of the shadows and be met by you.

      • Dynese says

        Hi Gail,

        I am 24 years old and finally coming to terms with the fact that I am indeed, angry. I’m sure the recent events in my life would show attributes as to why I am angry, only the problem is I was angry long before this. I have struggled with depression and anxiety for years also. I just so desperately want to let all of this go, but I keep holding on and re living my anger. What would you suggest?

        • Gail Brenner says

          Thank you so much for reaching out, Dynese. I hear your frustration and deep wish for relief from these painful emotions you’re experiencing.

          The place to start is in any moment. When you become aware that you’re anger, whenever that is, stop, put your attention on your breath, and take a few deep breaths. This only takes a few seconds, but it’s the stopping of the tendency that gives you room to breathe. Then you can see the story running in your mind about how your anger feels justified and you can feel how the sensations run in your body. Just notice all of that and breathe. The anger will rev up again, but again, a million times, take a few breaths and get your sanity back.

          Working with these long-standing feelings needs to be a project in your life. They have power, so you need to be committed to being with them in a new way every time you notice that they arise. Every night, reflect back on your day, have compassion for where you got lost, and envision making a different, healthier choice.

          There is much support here on this site. Read through my answers to the comments on this post, as many others are struggling with the same problem. Also, go to the archives for articles about emotions, which I’ve written about a lot.

          For me, the troublesome emotion was fear. For at least a year, I gave every episode of fear my time and attention to finally see that I’m not interested in the story it tells me, and I made space for the physical sensations to move through. Fear still comes sometimes, but I’m not the least bit interested in it. This is the possibility.

  5. Brenda says

    Hello, I’ve recently come to realize that the major part of my anger comes from when my significant other and my children don’t do what I want them to do, and not being able to do what I want to do, and subsequently feeling a loss of sense of control. I’ve been searching and have yet to come across any good info out there that delves into this aspect beyond the notion you don’t have any control over anything, which I believe to be true but need to figure out how to let that go. Can you direct me to any good articles on this?

    • Gail Brenner says

      Hi Brenda,

      Yes, it’s true that you don’t have control over the behavior of your partner and children, and I understand that just knowing that isn’t enough. This anger is a conditioned pattern that probably spikes quickly. So you need to slow things down so you can stop the outburst, eventually, before it happens. Changing this involves stopping and feeling the feelings rather than acting on them. And the motivation has to be strong to make this shift.

      When you stop, breathe, and let the sensations move through you, rather than lashing out, you’re setting yourself up for radical transformation. It helps to understand the why of this pattern, but there is no substitute for the in-the-moment making of a wise choice that is in line with what you really want. And that choice is to stop and breathe rather than do what’s been done a million times before – saying things you probably wish you didn’t.

      If you look at the archives here, there is a lot of information on emotions and how to work with them so they’re not in charge. I hope you find this helpful, and I wish you the best in living the truth that your heart is speaking to you.

    • Gail Brenner says

      Thanks for pointing this out, VMM. I’ll go into this a little deeper here. I’ve also written extensively on the intelligent way to meet emotions which you can find in the archives of this site. This post might be especially useful.

      Anger, or any emotion, is a set of physical sensations with a story attached. If this constellation of experiences goes unexamined, it will drive you. You’re not fully conscious of the details of the experience of anger, so it’s in control. You’ll feel urges to behave in a given way (yell or lash out) and you act on them before you know it. This is what happens when the experience of anger isn’t fully conscious.

      Meeting anger with love means seeing it clearly and accepting what arises. You see the story of what the anger is telling you – a story that runs in your mind often with intensity, but you know these are just thoughts, they don’t serve, and you choose not to act on them. And you become aware of the physical sensations in your body. Not feeding the story with your attention, you bring your attention to the body and simply let the physical sensations be. They will come, maybe intensify, change, and go. It doesn’t matter. You are the welcoming presence that allows them to be.

      This is how anger begins to lose its power – in fact you’re taking its power away. Anger, and any emotion, thrives on unconsciousness. But when we’re fully present to what we’re experiencing, it’s seen so clearly that you can make a choice not to let it rule. You are being loving and accepting with your own experience of anger. You stop fighting with yourself, so the damaging aspects of anger don’t transpire.

      This way of being with anger completely transforms your relationship to it. I hope you find that helpful…

      • Larry says

        I am really struggling with #8. I know my life and family are crumbling because of my unresolved anger. I don’t really know what it is or who it is aimed at. But I take it out on my wife. How do I explore unresolved anger? It sounds simple, but it is near impossible for me. My therapist tells me I need to do it as well, but I still am not getting there.

        • Gail Brenner says

          I appreciate your frustration, Larry. You might want to start with your in-the-moment experience of anger, which means realizing when you’re angry and taking steps to deal with it on the spot. Click here for an article I wrote on another site that might give you some guidelines as to how to proceed. And here is another one.

          It takes getting clear about what you really want and slowing things down enough in the moment so you can stop the momentum of the anger and be connected with what is most important to you in the moment.

          There might be things that you’re holding onto from your past that are fueling the anger, and this you can address with your therapist. But ultimately your work is to make the intelligent shift that you really want in the moment so anger begins to lose its grip on you. You have to really, really want peace and not buy into what the anger tells you about blaming others or injustice or deserving to be angry. These are sneaky ways the anger has of keeping you held hostage by it. Be really done with it and use the strength of the anger in a way that serves you and your relationships.

          Please let me know how it goes.

          Sending love and support your way….

  6. charme says

    Gail, could I have permission to use some of your ten points in a sermon I will give this month. I will of course give attribution, and can include your website in our worship order.

  7. Ulysses says

    Hi, I just found this as I looked around trying to find advice to help me deal with my anger.

    In truth, none of this helped. Not only is it all stuff I’ve known for years and have had repeated to me time and time again–and each time it gets more and more annoying–but some if it simply doesn’t apply to me.

    What advice would you give to someone who has struggled with anger their whole life, and has fallen into depression because of it? I get so incredibly mad at so many things. Even tiny little things like hearing people chew food is enough to make me explode into violent fury. And I really do mean violent. I’ve attacked people, hit many things, broken and tore down doors, broken sinks, shattered a mirror, broke two windows, etc.

    As you can see, my anger issues have really been an incredible pain to deal with. Of course, nothing makes me angrier than recognizing how bad it all is because of my issues.

    Now, the main problem with my issue is that part of me doesn’t want to change. Part of me loves being violent and hurting others. And it doesn’t help that I honestly don’t care about who I hurt, but I do realize I should. I am fighting my very nature. My instincts tell me to unleash that anger and give in to my primitive desires, but I recognize the consequences. I don’t want tk give in. The last thing I want is to go to jail, or die.

    But it’s gotten so bad that I feel like deah might be the only way to escape it all. I’ve talked to so many people. So many “professionals”. I am desperate. So, so very desperate. I tried psychologists, but after finding out that I’m apparently a, “psychopath”–which I honestly doubt, I’ve done my homework on ASPD–I’m afraid that if I say too much, I’ll get locked up.

    I realize this might seem so weird for you. Some random guy comes in and desperately cries for help on a public page, then admits he probably should be put in a mental hospital.

    Or perhaps not. Perhaps this is common for you, all things considered.

    • Gail Brenner says

      I think you’ve defined the problem, Ulysses, which is that part of you doesn’t want to change. This anger has obviously been a tendency in you for a long time, so if you’re going to work on it, you’ll need to pull out all the stops and really want relief. And I’m hearing that you do want relief. So that means you need to learn how to deal with this part of you that wants the anger to continue. Maybe you can begin to have a conversation with that urge – what does it like about hurting others? What does that part of you really want? And know that the other part of the conversation is your rational self that sounds like your heart is open at least a little bit.

      Behavior change is hard. We get into well worn patterns and it takes a lot of willingness and conscious awareness for them to change. We need to be vigilant moment by moment to notice the urge, take a breath, and make a conscious choice about what you really want in that moment. You might think of it like an addiction. To shed an addiction takes this kind of intense presence.

      Given your history, I’m also wondering about your physiology. This is not “you,” but something about the brain and body chemistry of the body you are in. Maybe there is a medication that can help, and that means speaking with a competent psychiatrist who can prescribe it. I don’t often suggest medication, but I thought of it because you have such a clear history of anger and violence.

      Ultimately, there’s no magic answer. It’s a matter of doing the work moment by moment to be free of this prison. I suspect you’ll encounter issues around enjoying control and I also wonder what feelings lie unexplored underneath the anger. The anger you describe is such a huge attractor of your attention. What other feelings (more tender ones) might be hanging around in the shadows?

      I appreciate your being open and forthright, and I truly wish you well. Right now, I’m holding you in my heart and wishing for you relief from the pain you so desperately want.

      • Ulysses says

        I messed up, doc. I messed up bad.

        I’ve done a lot of bad things. I guess I’m a bad man. The police is already involved. Maybe they should take me away.

        I hurt people that care about me. I lost their trust. One of them has forgiven me, but some of them think I’d be better off dead.
        Maybe they’re right. Maybe I would be better off dead. But that’s not an option anymore.

        I’m turning this around, doc. You were right, there is no magic answer. I gotta work hard to fix this.
        I may be a bad man, I may be a monster inside, but I’m still human. And the beautiful thing about humans is that we have the power to change ourselves.

        Hell, even if I’m a lost cause, I’m gonna do everything I can to make sure others don’t make the same mistakes I made. Even if I can’t fix myself, I can still change lives for the better.

        I just need to tighten these chains. Gotta keep the monster in his cage. Make sure he stays in the basement.
        I’ve seen enough talent go to waste, and I’m gonna do everything I can to save others.

        I’m done being selfish.
        I’m not destined to be a king, but rather to make kings.
        I will never go down in the history books, but maybe I can help others be immortalized so.

        I’ll still try to fix myself, but I know I’m not the center of the universe. I’ll never be cured. I just gotta cope with this and make what’s best of it.
        I’ll be an example to others. I can show them what not to do and make sure they don’t go down my path.

        I’ll gladly sit here in Hell so others can climb up off my shoulders.

        • Gail Brenner says

          There is true surrender in being of service to others, Ulysses. But you are not apart from them. As you support others’ healing, you are also healing yourself. May that be your path…

  8. says

    your totally missing the point about anger most problems
    with todays society is aggressive people who are
    intrusive and don’t hold a anger problem but incite people
    with anger thus causing anger, so the real problem of
    today is a aggressive generation of people who attack
    and don’t realise what there doing to others because
    there so deluded to think clearly because there aggressive.

    • Gail Brenner says

      This may be true, Richard, but we can’t do anything about those aggressive and intrusive people. And there are tons of deluded ones out there. The only thing we have control over is our own reactions, not other people.

      It all depends on what you want. I know some people like anger and feel justified in it. This article is geared toward those trying to find their way out of anger to realize peace.

  9. Sofia says

    Someone asked you what it meant to respond to anger with love and you started talking about how we unconsciously lash out or react. Then you said that if we just feel the physical sensations of anger and not continue to tell the story we can make anger stop controlling us. Does that mean that if we continuously try to not repeat the story in our heads then eventually we will unconsciously be able to let go of that anger?

    • Gail Brenner says

      Thanks for your question, Sofia. When we look carefully, we see that the experience of anger consists of a story about what happened (“He shouldn’t have done that!”) and physical sensations. If we keep repeating the story, the anger is reinforced, and you’ll feel stuck in it.

      So the answer to your question is yes, if you shift your attention away from the story and make space for the physical sensations to be present without wanting them to be different, your experience of anger will probably soften quite a bit over time.

      I wouldn’t say that this happens unconsciously. We need to learn how to work with our emotions so they don’t overpower us. So letting the story go and welcoming the sensations is intelligent, right action that brings about peace.

      Trying not to repeat the story is probably easier said than done. So let’s look at the story. Know that repeating it will keep you stuck in it. Stories of anger divide us from one another (just look at the world!) and bring unhappiness to our lives.

      When you’re stuck in an angry story, see what other options might be available – have empathy for the person you’re angry at because what they did was out of their sadness and confusion, stop and determine what you really want for that moment, stop and breathe. The story is in our minds, it comes from our mental process. So when we stop and breathe and feel the body, we’re stepping out of the tunnel vision of the story and opening to a more spacious way of being that is aligned with ease and peace.

      • says

        Hi, Gail
        I need help. My friend is really mad a me for something I did to him(on accident) and won’t forgive me. We got into a shoving match and I almost hurt him. I am still mad about this, and it happened about four weeks ago. We haven’ spoken since, and I want to restore our friendship. I have anger problems. HELP.

        • Gail Brenner says

          Hi Tanner,

          You can’t control your friend’s behavior – but the thing that you can control is your own. If you have anger problems, begin working on them by recognizing what triggers you and keeping your attention on breathing with your internal experience, especially the physical sensations, rather than lashing out. And if you do lash out, apologize.

          If your friend won’t talk to you, text or write to him with a sincere apology, owning the fact that you have problems with anger, and telling him that you’re working on these problems. Tell him how much you appreciate his friendship. But know that you can’t control his response. Just do your best and hold an open space for him to return in his own time.

  10. Danae says

    My husband and I recently separated. We have been together almost 10 years. I asked him to leave many times prior to now. However, the final straw was another botched holiday when he mispercieved my tone and response to a small situation. He became very angry and threatened to kill himself in front of our 6 year old. I wouldn’t let it go. After all, we were making their lives miserable. Away from him we are all peaceful. …including him. Just before he left I offered him an opportunity to stay home for a month and purposefully work together on our marriage. Instead he declined. It hurt, I bawled and starved. I made it. Now he is all about working it out from a distance. Fine. But I am so angry about soma NY perceived injustices and all of the struggles I face. Not enough money to pay things. Sure he helps, but he also takes. Promises to pay for something and doesn’t. We are nothing but angry with each other. I ask him how things will ever get better if we don’t seek help or communicate. Am I better off forgetting my anger and allowing these things to happen. Just to mend our marriage. I don’t know how to talk to him even when he’s around since I am still so hurt. Any suggestions?

    • Gail Brenner says

      There are so many layers to this situation, Danae. I would suggest that you seek the help of a counselor. First, it would help you process through some of your feelings and get clear on what you want. Then, if you decide to move forward to mend the marriage, you can see a counselor together. You won’t be able to just forget your anger and hurt. These feelings need to be honored and fully experienced.

      Be very clear about what you want from a partner and parent to your children. Your children are vulnerable with all the stress they’ve seen. Threatening to kill himself in front of your 6 year old? This behavior is likely to be very damaging to your child. Protect the children above all else.

  11. Bruna says

    Hi Gail,
    Great page and It has made me thinking, can we that suffer this terrible anger can really be cured?
    I am 32 now and I came to realised that I have anger about my partner after find out some thing and I came to realised he wasn’t that man! however he is now trying all he can possibly can to gain my trust again and love! It wasn’t a massive mistake but I just can’t be happy anymore and at same time I think I am suffering depressing as I feel I have no close friends since I moved so far away and had my first child, we now separate but he insist to still seeing each other and that I just need to work on my anger and negativity towards him!
    I have realised about my anger and that i have a lot to change, but i also realised i am not fully happy with him and i feel he don’t respect me as I wd wish and he don’t give the attention I wd like from a partner and a friend after all! he has always been so selfisih and while I was pregnant I was lonely it was the worse time for me, but i kept busy and i work till the day my daughter was induced she born healthy and she is a smile girl and I want her to be super positive and happy!

    However I am not sure it is a anger or I just can’t accept I love him and always think he isn’t trustworthy and I would have a very lonely old day by his side and I just can’t seems to move on and make him to move on also!

    I am so confuse and desperate to change that and be able to have a better and happy life with or without him.
    can you tell me what type of therapist would help me or if you can advice me anyway please?
    Thanks for all in advance. Bruna

    • Gail Brenner says

      It sounds like you need to get clear on what you want, Bruna. And since there is a child involved, her needs must take priority. What I’m hearing in what you wrote is that you think this man is not the right partner for you – even though he has started coming around to gain your trust.

      I do encourage you to go to a therapist, as this situation is about more than anger. Have a phone conversation with a couple of people and go with the one who feels best to you. Look inside and listen for the wisdom to guide you through.

  12. Ignacio says

    I was born in anger. My parents fighting, I was raised with their fighting, and fighting with them. This first solution I find to any problem is “Can I wipe it off the face of the Earth?”, and it is really affecting me and my relations. I have a lot of anger inside, and the smallest thing can set me off (and of course I remember every little wrong that has been inflicted on me and get even angrier). Even though I try control myself it is very hard. I don’t lash out physically, but sometimes when I get angry with someone for unimportant things I do or say stupid things I then regret.

    I am scared I might sometime snap, and I don’t know what to do. I do martial arts to unload a bit, I will start going to the gym, I go to counseling, but is it not enough, not fast enough.

    What do I do?

    • Gail Brenner says

      Hi Ignacio,

      I want to honor you for all the work you are doing to try to move through this anger and find peace. You have fully acknowledged the problem, and you are taking steps to find some relief. This is the kind of action that will get results.

      You are afraid you might snap, but you’re saying that you haven’t lashed out physically. Trust that up until now, you have been able to apply tools when you’re angry that somehow keep you from being physical. And because you are so interested in finding peace with this, I’m certain you will continue to use these tools so the anger gets more and more under control.

      In addition to counseling, martial arts, and going to the gym, you might try also balancing the anger with a lifestyle that is loving and enjoyable. Do things you love and appreciate being around supportive, friendly people. Focus on gratitude for relationships and situations that are working well in your life. When you feel loving – toward a person, pet, or even yourself – feel that love completely. Then once this love and gratitude are familiar to you, begin to bring them to mind and apply them when you’re feeling angry.

      My guess is that there is a terrified and hurt sense of a little boy in you. This is what underlies the anger. Ground yourself in the wisest part of you and bring love, support, and acceptance to this young one. Let him know that you’ll take care of him so he doesn’t need to lash out.

      I respect you for working so hard to alleviate this problem. May you find the peace that you’re looking for.

  13. says

    Well, I am 22 years old, and the past two days I have been feeling angry. I do not know why. I am trying to express why and find possible causes, but while expressing it, I feel like jumping out of my own skin.

    I think it helped just feeling it as oppose to avoiding, because it not going to just go away.

    Going back to the article, I think I am a little hurt that I was rejected by this girl last week. I already mourned over that. I think, I feel like I have a sense of being very important and am entitled to a relationship, because I am a “good catch.”
    However, this is frustrating, because as a christian I am trying my best to stay pure and find one women with my values. So, it feels rare when I find one I am attracted too.
    I am challenging my beliefs that it is rare to find, I just need to be patient.
    I feel like I want more in my life.

    Again, I do feel better, feeling my emotions. Maybe I will start doing push ups, when my urge comes back.
    Anyways, thanks for the post I found it informative.

    • Gail Brenner says

      Hi Elvis,

      It sounds like it was helpful to you to write this comment. Sometimes expressing the anger, acknowledging it, and not running from it, as you say, are just what is needed. Glad you liked this post.

  14. Sian says

    I don’t feel angry more rage. I reported a sexual abuse that was sadly high profile, so I didn’t just have to deal with rehashing the abuse in front a court but the random vile comments from thousands on online keyboard warriors. The case was won by the state then she appealed and they lost. They used a witness who contributed to the abuse 31 years back by not protecting me on the institution I was in, then testified on different dates I was in there causing enough reasonable doubt to get her off. Then she actually made money telling her sooky story on how badly it effected her being charged. I’m way past angry. It’s ruined my entire life and now my kids lives. I cannot move forward knowing this woman profited from what she did to me. Reading your article I know behind my anger is deep injustice and hurt. However this isn’t helping me lose any any anger, any ideas?

    • Gail Brenner says

      I don’t think the goal is to lose your anger, Sian. If it goes away, great, but it’s here now, so your job is to learn how to deal with it. When you say, “I cannot move forward knowing this woman profited from what she did to me,” then your anger is sure to stay stuck. I get that your rageful because she profited from your situation. But if you say “I cannot move forward,” then you won’t. So I invite you to re-consider what is most important to you. Is it keeping that anger alive or is it your own peace and happiness?

      Once you want peace more than anything, then you bring your attention to the moments in your life when the anger is in control. And in the beginning, maybe it is all moments, but that is OK. Begin to take breaths rather than go into the story in your mind. Focus intently on the things that bring you joy. Create a lifestyle of self-care for yourself. This is the change in orientation that brings moments of relief to you.

      If you wear your rage and live it every day, it breeds more rage. But when you try, even in little ways, to short circuit it, you’re on the road to freedom.

  15. Sian says

    I shall try focusing on the breaths and things I enjoy. It’s hard to remember what that is, this issue took over my life a bit for months and took my health too so I trying to regain that also. For a few weeks I had no joy and was shutting myself off from outside world. I’m pushing through that more so now and trying to really get my life back a bit. Thank you for your advice. I think I was so naive to have ever reported this once she was charged people said I would be fine at court, just tell the truth. Stupidly I trusted telling the truth meant justice and it doesn’t.

    • Gail Brenner says

      It’s true that life isn’t always fair, Sian. It’s just the way it is. So the peace we’re looking for can only come from within. Not to sound too pessimistic, but in the end, we can’t rely on the outside world for our happiness or to agree with our beliefs. But the good news is that the one thing we can control is where we place our attention, and we can choose not to feed the stories that trigger us.

      Love to you on your journey…

    • Jillian says

      Have you thought about eventually joining a group to help people who went through what you did, like a support group or political action group? Many people turn their anger into action, so that fewer people will have to suffer like you did. Sometimes anger can drive people to make the world a better place. Just a thought.

  16. Maggie says

    I disagree with so much that’s written about anger. I’m angry, deeply angry at someone right now, and usually when I feel this way (not often), it’s not fear masquerading as anger, it’s anger that I cover up by saying I’m hurt or fearful — I allow the soft, yielding, one-down emotions, but don’t acknowledge that I’m just plain mad.

    Well, now I’m mad, and it feels fine. If I read one more time that I should write a letter to this friend, say why I’m furious and then rip it up or burn it because that’s the healthy way to “release it” and get back to safe, nice, and not-angry, I’m gonna blow a gasket.

    Anger can be liberating, it can be righteous — it can be right.

    Believe me, I don’t go through life flying my pissed-off flag, but why the rush to dismantle and cloak and dismiss genuine, heartfelt anger? Anger happens. Sometimes you just have to let it be what it is.

    • Gail Brenner says

      You bring up some important points about anger, Maggie. And I agree that sometimes when you feel angry it’s just how things are in that moment. It’s not an experience to fix or change.

      The question is: is the person okay with the anger? Is it causing trouble in relationships, is it affecting one’s health, is it something the person feels they can’t control, so the anger haunts them? There are many situations where people feel regret and shame after an episode of anger, and this is where tools and insight about the anger are helpful. And yes, writing a letter and burning it is a tool that might help.

      The goal here is not to suppress or even transmute anger, but to be real with all of what’s happening. And you’ve said that for you, in this situation, it feels just right to be angry. Anger has an alive energy to it that is bold, powerful, and even fearless, and it sounds like you’re appreciating that right now. Sometimes it’s perfectly okay to say, “This is not okay!”

      • Maggie says

        Thanks, Gail, I appreciated this. I agree, anger in this case has been a kick in the pants — it feels good and strong, and enabled me to end a friendship of 20 years that had become deceitful and unhealthy. This guy was a great pal, and maybe we’ll be friends again one day. But not on the previous terms. I’m feeling peaceful about my decision.

  17. Kuhle Ngxenge says

    When I was in my early years of being a teenager my father abused my mother physically and emotionally as well.
    I also suffered the abuse when my mother left me with my elder sister to look for a job in another province. My sister also left me and lived with her boyfriend, I was left alone with my father who also abused me.
    Few years later I went to stay with my mother and I met this guy, who used to be so nice to me and loves me very much.
    But he changed because I have become a bossy person who doesn’t want to listen to other people but wants to nr listened to.
    I no longer respect him and I also beat him whenever he does anything that makes me angry.
    We never reach a common understanding about certain things.
    I’m afraid of being like my father, I don’t want to be a cruel mother and wife one day. I can’t even take a joke, I always snap whenever someone teases or jokes with me.

    I desperately need help.

    • Gail Brenner says

      No wonder you are angry, Kuhle. You have had to tolerate so much in your life. The effects pile up and it sounds like your anger is leaking out without your being able to control it.

      I really appreciate your insight that you need help. And what I think is that you can benefit from more help than I can give you in a few sentences here. You are holding onto layers of anger and hurt that need some time and loving attention to move through. I encourage you to find a counselor in your local area to talk through what has happened so you can find a way to come to peace.

      I have seen over and over the resilience of the human spirit. When these feelings overtake you, go inside, find your strength and courage, breathe into your heart, and be conscious about what you really want for that moment. Little by little, moment by moment, you can begin to turn things around so the anger doesn’t define you so much.

      There is much information on this site that can help you, and you need to be willing to put it into action in the unfolding moments of your life. So take a look around. And if at all possible, find a counselor, teacher, or trusted friend or relative to talk to so you can move on with your healing process.

      In loving support to you…

  18. jessie says

    these few words you wrote…”be curious about your anger” are so helpful, thanks for doing the work and helping others along the way.

  19. Julia says

    Hi Gail,

    I’m really trying to come to terms with my anger at the minute.
    I’m in a relationship with a guy and he’s great, he tries very hard to be understanding and is the best man I know. Unfortunately he is currently working abroad (to return in a few months now). I’ve had a difficult past with relationships both romantic, platonic and with my parents. Subsequently I’m incredibly paranoid with my current relationships and am susceptible to anxiety and have a prevalent fear of rejection. I’ve suffered with anxiety and anxiety related illnesses for a long time, and recently I’ve been getting really angry as a way of pushing this away. After episodes of irrational anger and anxiety I become very self deprecating.

    I think because my current boyfriend helped me through a lot I hold him accountable for my own mental wellbeing now. If he’s too busy to spend time on me (he often is) I feel personally attacked and vulnerable. I convince myself easily that he doesn’t love me anymore and I’m a niusance. I catastrophise small things so that they seem to indicate bigger; much more serious things.

    My instinctive reaction to feelings of vulnerability is anger and aggression. I find myself able to make convincing arguments amalgamating different things to prove to him that he’s done something much more serious, even though in reality I reckon I’m trying to justify my anger to myself. I worry a lot about the fact that I’m being manipulative and dramatic. I want to be a good partner and have a healthy relationship. It’s extremely exhausting to maintain this dynamic but I don’t know how to deal with my feelings of anger and learn to let go of things that are detrimental to our relationship if agonised over.

    I know it’s me that needs to change, and allow him breathe. I don’t want him to be tip toeing around me as I had to with my father for a long time.

    I’ve spoken to him about these issues and we make plans to change, but in practice it’s extremely difficult when I’m unhappy with myself to allow him to go and be happy without me abroad.

    How can I change this? I’m terrified of pushing him away.

    Thank you!
    Julia

    • Gail Brenner says

      Hi Julia,

      There is so much information on this site that addresses exactly your question: what to do with limiting beliefs and emotions that seem out of control. Just about every post includes action steps. See which ones resonate and begin implementing them into your daily life. You have to really, really want to heal – and not just want it but put your heart and soul into the process. You must be willing to let go of drama and bring your attention inside to simply be with what is here. Your mind is pulling you this way and that way. Don’t follow those beliefs. Take a breath, slow down, look inside, and see what is really important to you. There are also many guided meditations here that may be helpful.

      You have a beautiful journey ahead of you. May it be fruitful…

      Sending love…

      • Carz says

        Hi Gail,

        I have im 31 years old. Lately I have been very aggressive in my gengral behaviour. It has been getting a lot worse in the past few months i have been taking it out on my partner, and saying really terrible things towards him for minor reasons things im to ashamed to write, I dont mean them why and where are these things coming from and after i feel terrible but i dont even realize how bad it really is until, i do somthing worse and it rock bottom. I know how bad this is but I keep making the same mistakes. I have been to see people for before but i go maybe once or twice and i dont go back. I find it really hard to talk and feel like they dont understand me. It has always been there but in the last few years and the last 6 months its become a joke with my friends its just cara going off and being crazy, when i have drunk the past few times i have abused some of my friends and said things i dont really mean or care about making dramas why iam i doing this I need to hear it straghit up. How do i stick to getting help and being honest i dont know where to start

        • Gail Brenner says

          I can’t give you a “how to” on this one, Carz. You have to want peace – really want it so much that you don’t let those resistances and justifications control you. You have to feel into the pain in yourself and in the challenges you bring to others. You get to choose – how do you want to be in this life? What are your values? What is important to you? Be super honest with yourself. These are the essential questions.

  20. Alex says

    This is quite an interesting article. What got my attention most is “I”s. Am I right? Am I correct? Am I important in this story? My situation is long, complicated and I am really tired to explain it, especially after this rage outbreak. And if I can be honest, I’ve come to conclusion that Yes, my anger is justified and Yes, I am right. Do I feel free? Most likely not. Problem is, whenever I wasn’t angry I wasn’t free either. Suffice it to say that my family is not what a family should be, but I am in no position to leave them. In the past 3-4 hours I broke down for simplest of reasons, I’ve asked them to wash my cloth and they haven’t done it. Still, that was only the catalyst for the real problem my family has. Problem that my family has is not with me, it’s with others and I am just an escape goat. But when a man, like me, who takes it all in and tries to patch a boat full of holes, when he explodes, you know that situation is dire. I probably should have backed off. I probably should have done something myself. But tell me, why should I be the one to extend my hand so far if my family can’t do simplest of things?

    • Gail Brenner says

      You don’t need to extend your hand, Alex, unless you feel moved to. It all depends on what you want.

      I do know from my own experience, as the saying goes, what we resist persists. You are resisting the way your family is and your anger persists. Can they do the simplest of things? Apparently, not. That’s how they are.

      This is your choice – resist how they are or try to change them, which in my experience leads to suffering – or accept the reality of the situation, which is the road to peace.

      I wish you well…

  21. Kathryn Strong says

    I’m intrigued by the commentary here. I spend so much time asking whether my partner,s anger is justified. I know he’s sad and unhappy right now, he’s told me. He is a stay at home dad, out of choice I believe. He was a very accomplished teacher who almost burned out. He has always been moody, but now he gets angry frequently over small stuff , and it’s usually about stuff that I have/haven’t done. Like not putting something in the right place, not chopping mushrooms as he asked.. He says he knows it seems like small stuff, but he’s already at 9/10 anger because of how I am. This makes me feel forgetful and nervous, plus after a high pressure day at work I usually am tired. If I say sorry he is annoyed. If I comment he shouldn’t get cross he’s annoyed. Then he says I never give him attention anyway and obviously don’t love him. In the past I have told him I do and tried to get close, but by then he’s on the downward spiral. If i do give him love/hug he says it’s only cos he made a fuss… and if I don’t it’s because I don’t care enough for him and his needs… generally. I feel pushed away scared, upset and sad myself. If I tell him that he says I’m just doing that to deflect the fact thAt he is cross with me. Should I accept responsibility. In even finding it hard to make decisions as I’m worried about choosing the wrong thing. What scares me most is I have started to see him act like this with the kids (4 and 6). I have no idea how to help him, but want to. I really think he is unreasonable at times, sometimes he speaks to me like my enemy, I don’t think I’ve ever done that to him.. When I said that he says he can’t be nice to me when he is cross. How do we move on without him being more angry and me being either submissive or emotionally distant?

    • Gail Brenner says

      Hi Kathryn,

      It sounds to me like your partner’s chronic anger is wearing on your groundedness within yourself and your self-confidence. Depression in men sometimes shows up as anger like you describe, so I’m wondering if your partner is depressed.

      But he is not taking any responsibility for his anger. He is blaming you for things that are not your fault. Repeat: this is not your fault. Don’t listen to these complaints, and rather go inside to find the strength and resilience you know is inside you and live there.

      I can’t tell you how to move on because this situation needs to be dealt with directly, and now your children are being affected. My best advice is to seek out help from a professional – a physician, personal counselor, or couples counselor. This needs to be done not only for your personal well being but for the well being of your innocent children who need to be protected.

  22. Julie says

    Dear Gail –

    First, I am amazed and impressed that you are still following up on posts that began in 2015. To me, it says a lot about your caring and commitment to this work.

    My story: I grew up with an alcoholic, rageaholic, perfectionist mother who had rules for everything. Rules that changed depending on her frame of mind. I learned how to be hyper-vigilant and grew up being afraid of “getting in trouble” constantly.

    I grew up swearing I would never be like her, and that I would find a way to live with “the truth of love in my heart”. (Whatever that means…) I found alcohol and other substances in late-adolescence to numb and medicate all the fear and pain of that family situation.

    Fast forward to now almost 56 years old. I have spent now about 40 years in varying states of active addiction / self-medication which often only served to fuel my frustration and anger. I went through rehab about nine months ago, and now spend a lot of time working a program of recovery through AA.

    Despite my early intentions, I have turned into my mother in the realm of the rageaholic. It can be tiny things that start the wheel turning. I have drilled down enough to know that at the root of the anger is always fear.

    I rarely get angry with other people. I do get viciously angry with myself. The fear arises, the nugget of “not good enough” gets planted, I get frustrated with my reaction to this, I get angry that I cannot control the rising anger, and the next thing I know I am stomping around, slamming doors, screaming curse words, throwing things, etc. etc. My partner and the dogs mostly find someplace to hide and sort of cower. I end up feeling like a real a***hole, then I get sad, depressed, cry and feel like I will never be a decent person; I am a failure now, in fact. It is an old, entrenched story.

    Okay, so how do I step into these situations and head this all off with awareness? It all seems to spiral out of control so fast, and I typically don’t feel conscious of what is happening until it is already deep in the cycle.

    If I can find that moment to stop and explore, I am still not clear on precisely what I am to be doing or how to go about it. When you say to welcome the fear or the anger, I don’t really get what that means.

    I whole-heartedly believe in what you are teaching here and thank you in advance for any insight.

    Julie

    • Gail Brenner says

      Hi Julie,

      Good for you for wanting to take control of your addiction. I wish you well with that path. There is a teacher, Scott Kiloby, with a perspective similar to mine who specializes in addictions. You may want to check him out by clicking here.

      The place to start is when you “wake up” and realize that you’re in a rage. This is your golden moment to stop, breathe, and immediately your attention shifts away from all the emotion and stories and back to the present moment. Do this every time you become aware you’re in this pattern. It will take some time, but if you are diligent, you will become aware earlier and earlier in the pattern.

      You have to orient every aspect of your being toward this healing and you have to want it 1000%. Ground yourself in that every morning and night and many times throughout the day. Read passages throughout the day that remind and inspire you. Meditate. Follow love, happiness, and well being in your life. And take responsibility for the effects of the rages on others. Feel your own pain and theirs as well – not to wallow in shame, but to inspire you to heal this pattern.

      Welcoming fear or anger means not indulging it or avoiding it. You breathe, take a few moments to just be, then you are the welcoming available space for the physical sensations of the emotion. Don’t give your attention to the thoughts of any story that runs in your mind. Instead, just be a wide-open space for the sensations in your body to be. This is how to be with emotions so the eventually don’t overpower you. There are many articles about this on this site. Archives

      I hear your sincerity and willingness. May that continue…

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