How can I control myself and learn to let things go or communicate?

Whenever I run into a situation that makes me upset or angry, I tend to start cursing and badly offending the person I am confronting. I say mean things to let my anger out. Whenever people tell me stuff about my relationship (like starting rumors or saying negative things about me or my relationship) I lash out not just them but at my boyfriend. I feel like I keep causing drama due to my personality. I want to be a better person and learn to let things not get to me and be happy and graceful. I hurt the ones I love with my words. I want to be better for myself and them.

Sherry Katz, LCSW
Sherry Katz, LCSW
Couples and Family Therapist, LCSW

Congratulations on making your way to Step One, self-observation and deciding to change a feature about how you understand and relate to others.

There is extraordinary strength in being willing to notice your effect on others and consider what changes are possible.

Start on the inside track of your own heart and mind.  Once you're able to understand what is driving your emotions to the point where the only reasonable way of handling them is to curse and offend people, you'd have gotten a long way in knowing your own expectations of others and how far off the mark from this in your mind, they are.

For example, if you expect others to always be accepting, tolerant and happy about situations with your boyfriend, and you're hearing otherwise from people, then you can prepare yourself for possible, less than positive comments about your relationship, or you can ask people to not comment to you about your relationship at all.

Basically, the more you know about yourself and are willing to accept your right to ask others to respect your views, the easier and calmer time you'll have in handling comments from others that you're not glad hearing.

Also, this is a long process because you'd be trying to change long time and deep patterns of interacting.

Be patient with your own learning curve and certainly consider therapy for yourself in order to have some outside guidance and support for the process you're placing yourself.

The information above is intended as general information...  (more)The information above is intended as general information based on minimal information, and does not constitute health care advice. This information does not constitute communication with a counselor/therapist nor does it create a therapist-client relationship nor any of the privileges that relationship may provide. If you are currently feeling suicidal or are in crisis, call 911 or proceed to your local emergency room.

Taking accountability for your actions and seeking help is an excellent first step. I wonder where the anger is coming from. Learning what is at the root of it can shed some light on what the problem is and can provide some relief in itself. I would also suggest doing some self-exploration and see a therapist for individual sessions in order to gain a clearer insight as to what the cause is. There are also several actions you can take on your own to help control your anger and communicate more effectively. Here is what I would recommend you try:

Take time outs: When you feel yourself becoming upset, excuse yourself and take a time out to either think about the most appropriate course of action or redirect your thoughts all together. Often when we become angry, it is difficult to see the issue clearly, as our emotions get in the way. 

Do deep breathing exercises: Close your eyes. Breathe in slowly to the count of 4. Breathe out even slower to the count of 6. Practice this for about 5 minutes, 3 times a day and focus on nothing except your breathing during this time. Once it becomes routine for you, it will be easier to apply during situations in which you are angry or upset.

Change negative thought patterns: Try and recall or be aware of your thoughts, particularly when you are feeling angry. What are these thoughts telling you? Are they valid or logical? Is there factual evidence to support the negative thoughts? Often the answer is "no." Learn to stop the negative thoughts and replace them with logical and more positive ones. 

Communicate effectively: As a speaker, you want to use "I" statements by telling the other person how you feel instead of blaming him/her by using "you" statements. For example, you might say something such as, "I feel sad when you don't come home at a decent hour and I don't get to spend time with you" versus "You always stay out late and don't even care about me." The speaker should also avoid using black and white language such as always, never, etc. As the listener, you want to validate what you hear so that the other person knows that you are listening. You will also want to be responsive and offer fair solutions.

I wish you luck in using these tools and learning about where your anger comes from.


The information above is intended as general information...  (more)The information above is intended as general information based on minimal information, and does not constitute health care advice. This information does not constitute communication with a counselor/therapist nor does it create a therapist-client relationship nor any of the privileges that relationship may provide. If you are currently feeling suicidal or are in crisis, call 911 or proceed to your local emergency room.
Lynda Martens
Lynda Martens
Marriage & Family Therapist, MSc, RP, RMFT

Hi California,

I'm happy to hear you want to get a hold of this problem. Relationships don't tend to last when we treat people poorly. It is very possible for you to learn different ways of relating, with some strong effort. I would highly suggest working with a therapist, and I will give you a few things to think about in the interim.

Sometimes anger is there because we feel something is unjust or unfair, but many times, anger is a "secondary emotion", and it's simply there to protect us from other, more vulnerable emotions that we would rather not feel and will do anything to avoid. Discovering what vulnerable emotions you are protecting yourself from is important. Perhaps you feel powerless, or unloved, or unimportant. It may take some time before you recognise this emotion. 

Once you do, you can ask yourself about the other times in your life when you have felt that emotion. Where did it originate? At what age did you feel "too much" of that feeling...so much so that you can't stand it even in tiny amounts?

You will learn in therapy to identify the thoughts you have that are connected to that feeling. They are typically incorrect thoughts, like "No one lifes me", or "People will always hurt me". Fear tends to generalize and predict bad things that aren't likely.

Your habit is so strong that you likely have a poor sense of self-worth and you don't believe people will love you...so you hurt them to keep them at a distance. This happens in a subconscious level. Do you see how that would help you to keep people off balance or afraid or a distance away if you didn't believe in your worth? So, it's backwards really, because you think you're getting mad at people who "piss you off", but you're really just not wanting to face how mad you are at yourself.

In addition to this work, you can start to purposely treat people more kindly. Find out what respect is, make amends and  resolve to spreading peace. It might sound too simple, but if you act as though you're a person of peace, you will start to feel more peaceful.

But I hope you do contact a therapist. It will take time and support to reach your goal.

The information above is intended as general information...  (more)The information above is intended as general information based on minimal information, and does not constitute health care advice. This information does not constitute communication with a counselor/therapist nor does it create a therapist-client relationship nor any of the privileges that relationship may provide. If you are currently feeling suicidal or are in crisis, call 911 or proceed to your local emergency room.

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