Hi. I have a history of having a relatively short temper, normally this is just shouting or nothing serious. But occasionally when I get angry I lash out physically, so I’ll hit walls or pull on my hair but I’ve never hurt anyone and it’s always been in private so no one knows this has been happening. About a month ago my girlfriend told me something that made me angry. I could feel myself getting angry and started to pace around her room, she could she I was distressed and got up to comfort me but in that moment I needed space so I pushed her away onto her bed. She wasn’t hurt she was just shocked. I hadn’t even realised I’d done it. Anyway I calmed down in the end and we’ve carried on as normal. But recently we spoke about the incident again and she told me that she’s now constantly afraid to get me angry in fear that I might hurt her or go further than just pushing her away. I love her and she’s the last person I want to hurt and it kills me that I’ve given her a reason to think these things. I just wanted to ask the question here firstly to see if you think this is a serious anger issue that would benefit from speaking to a therapist or going on a course or something. And if there’s anything I can do in the meantime to make things better. Maybe techniques that can calm me down. I genuinely don’t think I could ever hurt her, she is the most important thing in the world to me. But it scares me that I didn’t realise I had pushed her. All I want is to be someone that she feels safe around and to be the best I can be for her. Any help of advice would be much appreciated. (age 18, from US)
It took courage to write in with your question, and I’m happy that you realize that there could be a problem and are taking responsibility for it. What could start out as a temper control issue or an impulse control issue could easily turn into a domestic violence issue. It’s not just that you pushed your girlfriend, but you have also demonstrated behaviors that are intimidating. It may seem that punching a wall doesn’t hurt anyone but yourself, but there is an implied message to the person seeing this that it could be them next time.
I do suggest that you see a therapist to learn to manage your feelings in a healthy way. You are young enough that you can successfully make changes to how you identify and cope with emotions and stress. Your girlfriend shared that she is scared and you can even admit yourself that you are scared that things could get worse. The time to get help is now. Seek a therapist who is trained in anger management techniques or find a group or class on the topic. In the meantime, there are many good anger control workbooks that may help.
All the best,
Dr. Holly Counts
I Have an Anger Issue and My Girlfriend Is Scared
Holly Counts, Psy.D.
Dr. Holly Counts is a licensed Clinical Psychologist. She utilizes a mind, body and spirit approach to healing. Dr. Counts received her Bachelor’s degree in Psychology from Wright State University and her Masters and Doctoral degrees in Clinical Psychology from Nova Southeastern University. Dr. Counts has worked in a variety of settings and has specialized in trauma and abuse, relationship issues, health psychology, women’s issues, adolescence, GLBT, life transitions and grief counseling. She has specialty training in guided imagery, EMDR, EFT, hypnosis and using intuition to heal. Her current passion involves integrating holistic and alternative approaches to health and healing with psychology.
APA Reference Counts, H. (2018). I Have an Anger Issue and My Girlfriend Is Scared. Psych Central.
Retrieved on July 17, 2019, from https://psychcentral.com/ask-the-therapist/2016/01/14/i-have-an-anger-issue-and-my-girlfriend-is-scared/
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.