Controlling anger


Controlling anger


your avatar   Evan, 17-year-old man

I grew up in a very healthy home with no problems. I had a pretty lonely life. Never had any serious problems until now.

I have been in a relationship for a year and a half now. Nothing serious has happened but recently I have been on a wild rampage. I can't control myself anymore, or any of my emotions. When I get angry I'm capable of doing anything. I'm not a big guy, but when I'm upset I don't hold back. It doesn't matter who you are or what you say, and it's damn near impossible for me to calm down. I have hurt people and I hate who I have become.

I'm afraid for myself and for those around me. I don't see a person in front of me when I'm angry. I have hurt my girlfriend and she doesn't deserve any of this. I want her to be happy. I know that there is a nice guy inside me - I just don't know how to calm myself down. I want to kill someone when I get this angry and I hate that feeling. I want to just feel like things are okay with myself. I have so much built-up anger and I have no clue where it's from. Most of these physical and verbal feelings only happen towards my girlfriend.


    Bob Rich, Ph.D.

Dear Evan,

You can beat this problem, because you have decided that you don't like acting like this.

The first thing you need to change is the words you use: "I can't control myself." "I get angry." "Impossible for me to calm down." These words are what hold you back. Here is a little change: "I feel as if I couldn't control myself." "I choose to give in to my anger." "I have a habit of staying angry once I start."

All the things you dislike about yourself are what you are DOING. They are habits you have developed. That means you can train yourself to do things differently. Here is what you can do if you have thoughts of anger:

You didn't ask to feel angry. It happened. You are not responsible for BEING angry, but for how you respond to it. You are what you DO, not what you feel. Learn to take half a second before responding. You then have at least 6 choices:

  • Yes, in this situation I should throw a tantrum.
  • Not worth getting bothered over. I'll just walk away.
  • Handle it assertively. That means respectfully defending my territory without attacking.
  • Take time out. Calm down, think about how I should respond, then return and deal with the issue.
  • Humour (not at other people). Turn the issue aside with a joke.
  • Vigorous exercise. Let it out through chopping wood, pummelling a punching bag or big pillow, go for a run.

Anger is often the result of faulty thinking. Start by respecting both yourself and other people.

How to find that half a second before you react? You can do a special form of meditation, at least once a day for a couple of weeks. At the end, you will have developed an early warning signal for oncoming anger and a "switch" for turning it off. This is described in a cheap e-book, Anger and Anxiety: Be in charge of your emotions and control phobias

Finally, you would do well to learn a suitable martial art. When you are trained in one of these (for example, karate, tai kwan do, kung fu, judo), you are also taught self-discipline and inner strength.

Have a good life,


This question was answered by Dr. Bob Rich. Dr. Rich has 30+ years of experience as a psychotherapist. Dr. Rich is also a writer and a "mudsmith". Bob is now retired from psychological practice, but still works with people as a counselor.For more information visit:


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