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Anger, Anxiety & Learning to Cope

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From Ireland: As long as I can remember I’ve always been something of a loner with no friends in school & college, I was bullied & excluded since I was never good at sports but I did well in academics. I started to become much more hostile at age 16 & sometimes I could lose my temper at perceived affronts & to this day I can still come out as angry & aggressive if confronted for almost anything. A recent case when I acted aggressive toward a bus driver because he asked me for my age for my student discount (I’m 25)

I haven’t lashed out physically at anyone but sometimes I can get so angry I nearly could. So to get away from it I just hole myself up in my bedroom in front of video games for hours at a time even taking precedence over dinner (a flash point at home) It’s my primary coping mechanism for dealing with the world when my emotions are so out of control.

I need to know if there are any better outlets for my frustration & anger when I feel like striking out at anyone who challenges me for any reason. I plan to do an internship so learning the skills to handle my temper are important but I just don’t have them. It’s like I’m hardwired for combat by default.

Anger, Anxiety & Learning to Cope

Answered by on -

A.

I’m so glad you wrote. You are right, of course, that learning to control your temper is essential if you are to be successful in relationships or in life. Fortunately, you are only 24 so you are dealing with the issue before you’ve done many things you regret.

I’m concerned that the very thing you’ve done to avoid hurting others and yourself has now become the problem. Staying away from people will not help you learn how to navigate human relationships. Unfortunately, many video games only stoke anger. The adrenaline rush of games that include aggression can become addictive.

My advice? Get out of your room and into life. Stop blaming the exclusion you experienced as a teen for being hostile now. That was then. Now is now.

As teens, we are all kind of trapped in our school and in a particular social group. That’s no longer true when we reach adulthood. There are lots of people who are academically inclined who don’t like or aren’t particularly good at sports. Your task now is to find them.

You may need to see a counselor to help you build some of the very practical skills needed to come to terms with your feelings about the past and to build the anger management skills you need for the future. Here are some tips from the American Psychological Associate to help you get started: http://www.apa.org/topics/anger/control.aspx

But a once a week session with a sympathetic and skilled therapist isn’t going to do it. You also need to start connecting, up close and personal, with real people in real time. That means joining something where you will meet like minded people. Start or join a chess club or get involved in politics or find a charity that you can feel passionate about or learn to ballroom dance. It doesn’t matter what you do. Just do something you care about that attracts other people who care about it too.

Some of those people will inevitably say or do things you don’t like. Good. That will give you practice in dealing with issues and not throwing away perfectly promising relationships just because of some conflict. Working through conflict, not blowing up, is what makes for lasting and strong relationships.

I wish you well.
Dr. Marie

Anger, Anxiety & Learning to Cope

Dr. Marie Hartwell-Walker

Dr. Marie is licensed as both a psychologist and marriage and family counselor. She specializes in couples and family therapy and parent education. Follow her on Facebook or Twitter.

APA Reference
Hartwell-Walker, D. (2018). Anger, Anxiety & Learning to Cope. Psych Central. Retrieved on March 23, 2019, from https://psychcentral.com/ask-the-therapist/2015/10/08/anger-anxiety-learning-to-cope/
Scientifically Reviewed
Last updated: 8 May 2018
Last reviewed: By a member of our scientific advisory board on 8 May 2018
Published on Psych Central.com. All rights reserved.