I know that I've had this problem for a long time. Sometimes, I just can't seem to cool down and I get angry very easily. At times, every little thing just ticks me off making me very, very angry - so angry that I am capable of harming people. I have been trying to control my anger but when I do I feel a tightness around my chest/heart and feel faint. There are so many times I've wished I could just kill whoever it was who irritated me. When I get angry, it doesn't really matter who you are. I know that I'm capable of violence but I cannot do this to other people so I inflict violence on myself.
What should I do? Honestly, I think it's affecting my life in a serious way. I don't want anyone to think that I'm crazy. I really want to stop getting angry so easily. How should I go about it? I've tried almost everything already!
Yvonne, 24-year-old woman
First, I want to congratulate you. You have this terrible anger problem, and it is so bad that sometimes you want to kill people. But you do not give in to these feelings. Instead, you are fighting them, and are doing your best not to hurt anybody. This shows that you are a good person.
You are facing a very difficult situation, and I can see that it makes you feel bad about yourself. Just from your short note, I cannot tell what the cause of the problem is. You need face to face help, several sessions over a few weeks or even longer.
Please, go to your doctor. There may be some physical reason for your sudden feelings of anger.
Then get your doctor to recommend a psychologist to help you. Whether you have a physical problem or not, you will need help with getting out of habits of feeling angry. Because, feelings and thoughts are habits, just as much as actions are.
If you can't find a suitable therapist where you live, I am willing to work with you through encrypted email, but in your situation this is second best to a face-to-face helper. If you are interested, go to my web site.
In the meantime, I can suggest a few things you can do to control the anger.
- An off-switch for anger
There is nothing you can do when you are in a full rage. But you can train yourself to recognize the early signs, and at that stage you can control anger. I am glad you have listed your email address. I am attaching a file with instructions on how to train a "switch" for yourself. When you feel anger coming on (and before it has taken full hold), you will be able to use this "switch" so you can stay in control of yourself.
It is important not to use this switch until it is fully trained, about 2 weeks of daily practice (this is easy to do because it makes you feel good).
As I say in the instructions, during the second week of training, do the exercises with lessened muscle tension. You want to be able to have an "early warning signal" for anger, and this is the buildup of muscle tension. By the end of the second week of training, you should be able to notice this.
- The thoughts behind anger
Emotions like anger have thoughts that go with them. Thoughts can be true or false, useful or harmful. You can argue with the thoughts anger puts into your head, and in this way gain control over yourself.
Go to my web site, scroll down the navigation bar until you see 'how to solve a problem' and click on this. Try out the various suggestions there, in particular keeping a diary of the thoughts associated with anger. This will help you to work out the reason you get so angry.
And let me know how you go.
All the best,