How to control your temper.
"I was brought up in an environment where my father had regular outbursts of rage. They could be triggered over the smallest thing, like me accidentally dropping some food on the floor, or someone overtaking him in a smarter car.
Instead of discussions there were screaming matches. I felt attacked and could never get a word in edgeways. The trouble is since my twenties I also tend to yell when something or someone upsets me. One minute I am calm and the next full of rage. I find it very difficult to cope with and afterwards I often feel wretched. One trigger is when I jump to a negative conclusion about someone's behaviour and accuse them in my head of deliberately doing something against me. Often I find out later they haven't done any such thing.
I also find it very hard to tell people they've upset me. Instead my impulse is to walk away and never see then again, which, once I’ve calmed down, seems ridiculous even to me. Can you help?
Most horrid parents can’t handle their emotions and instead have irrational, sudden bursts of temper. Unfortunately their offspring often follow this bad example, because they haven’t learnt by example how to manage their feelings.
It is normal to feel angry sometimes, but it shouldn’t overwhelm you. It’s important to feel in control of yourself when you talk to friends, partners, children, other drivers, and in the work place. Even toddlers need to learn that a temper tantrum is not going to let them have their own way.
A horrid parent can also find it so difficult to talk about any strong emotion they are feeling, that they’d rather cut the person they are cross with out of their life rather than try to sort out rationally what is wrong. Any attempt to explain themselves is likely to result in them blaming someone else - they themselves are never wrong. Nor is their rage likely to be stopped by a logical or reasoned discussion. If an offspring tries to express their view, the parent will probably sneer at them, lie or twist their words. We wouldn’t advise discussing emotions with your horrid parent, but do ask advise from someone who is close to you.
Counting slowly to ten or twenty before you show your anger might help put off your rage and when the intensity lessens remind yourself that your assumptions could be wrong. Then, once you are calmer ask the person you are cross with straightforward questions to find out what they really meant or did, which might give a different perspective on what has infuriated you. Then, if you need to, make sure you have calmed down then put your view across in a controlled way.
It's also worth trying to understand the real source of your anger. Ask yourself if it is all to do with your horrid parent and if there are particular situations or people who make you furious because they remind you of your horrid parent. Work out too if losing your temper is more likely if you are tired, hungry or in a bad mood. Think about keeping a diary to see if there are any patterns. It might help you be aware when you can be particularly thin skinned and prepare yourself in advance.
See the Coping page on the website for some useful suggestions.