Hi, I’m 18 years old and I believe I have anger built up inside me. I get mad at a lot of silly things. My family and my boyfriend tell me my attitude is awful, which I know is true. I yell once I get mad, I storm out of the room when someone is proving me wrong, and I always feel like they just are out to hurt me. I take everything very offensively. I get mad at my boyfriend if he doesn’t even text me back. But to be honest, every little thing I explode at doesn’t even really bother me as much as I show. I can yell and sock things and get so mad, but inside it doesn’t bug me. I don’t understand my problem. I hate being so angry. I just want the anger to leave me so I can be happy with my boyfriend. I am pushing him away. EVERYDAY we fight because I have something bad to say. I also am making my family hate me. They have stuck by me through everything. I just need some advice to find out why I am so mad, and how I can control it. Please someone help me.

A: Thank you for writing in. It sounds like you express a lot of anger, but don’t always understand what you are angry about. It also sounds like sometimes you make more of things than you need to, possibly just for show. I’m wondering if you do this for attention or maybe because by now you think that people expect this kind of behavior from you, so you play the part.

There are lots of ways to address anger issues. You can find some self-help workbooks, a support group, a therapeutic anger management class, take a yoga class, learn to meditate, find an individual counselor, as well as many other methods. 

However, I would suggest you first start with you. You need to spend some time looking inside to see what you are really angry about. After you have an incident in which you feel you lost your cool, try going to your room and journaling about the whole thing. Write down what happened, what you really feel about it, how you reacted, how you wish you had reacted, what the outcome of your behavior was, and what the outcome might have been if you had tried a different approach.

You can also try some of the old tricks like taking a deep breath, counting to 10, or taking a walk BEFORE you talk to the person you are angry with. The good news is that you are young and you can fix this problem. It will take some time and effort, but it will be worth it and your relationships will improve dramatically. Good luck.

All the best,

Dr. Holly Counts