3 Reasons For Angry Outbursts ... And What To Do About Them
Some of us have the awful misfortune of being married to partners with bad tempers. These folks may be inclined to yell, swear, name-call, throw things, even push, hit, and otherwise intimidate.
Obviously, there is a limit to what we should tolerate: very little. If your partner is a temperamental jerk that's one thing, but physical acting out can certainly be reason enough to end a marriage or relationship.
So this blog is intended really for the problem partner, not the victim. If you are the problem partner, in this sense, you'd best read this article right now and start making some dramatic changes. Otherwise, you could be out. I find most people who have the attitude, "Go ahead, divorce me" are very sorry about their new status within weeks, if not days. The best approach is to stop your bad behaviors and not even put your toe in those waters. But what if you believe you can't control your anger? What if you say, "I just see red and after that I am not responsible," or the equivalent?
There are three simple reasons why people have anger issues.
1. You had a parent with anger issues. This is the elephant in the room. If your mother or father was inclined to swear, kick things, throw things, or hit, you were shown in no uncertain terms that acting out your distress provides some instantaneous relief or satisfaction. You started behaving in the same way. It probably worked for you because it provided an easy release, but also because you had the feeling you were sharing in the power that the domineering parent used to control and intimidate the family.
2. No one stopped you. Most likely, your parent or parents didn't have the energy, focus, discipline, or vision to make sure you stopped your bad behaviors. This is why your spouse accuses you of acting like a 5-year-old. You just kept on throwing tantrums... this is bad enough... but even more significantly, you missed out on the opportunities to develop other ways of coping with your anger. A child who knows he will be sent to his room, or get no dessert, or lose his X-Box, or be prevented from getting his drivers license has will find ways to deal with those difficult moments that don't get him into trouble. If you are still acting badly as an adult, the likelihood is that you were not forced to develop alternative strategies (in addition to not having them role-modeled). So it may be a mystery to you today how it is that other people control themselves.
3. Entitlement. And here we are. Entitlement is at the core for most people with anger issues. They feel entitled to act the way they do. They believe they are entitled because the behaviors were entitled in their family. And they believe they are entitled because it has always worked for them to live as though the bad behaviors are simply out of their control. Most importantly, they are entitled because (and this is the big one) they had to put up with their parent's bad behaviors and now they feel it's their turn to behave badly. It just seems too unfair that they had to live with an out-of-control parent and now they can't act out-of-control themselves. This one operates on a unconscious-to-subconscious level, but I bet it rang a bit of a bell for you. If not, this whole thing should be pretty easy.
The solution? Think about where you learned your angry behaviors. Mourn the bad moments of your childhood. Talk to your spouse about what you went through. Then create a C.S.E. This is a Certificate of Surrender of Entitlement. Sign it. Ask your spouse to sign it too. Because you are NOT entitled to yell, swear, name-call, throw things, even push, hit, and otherwise intimidate, no matter how you were treated as a child. Give it up. It is unfair that you had to live through that, but life is unfair. We have evidence of that all around us, every day. So give it up. And I know it's kind of tough to take responsibility for being in control at this late date. But it's time now. Just do it.
It is inevitable that we will disagree with the people around us. But we can discuss our conflicting points of view in a calm way. We can find solutions, or agree to disagree, or table an irreconcilable difference for further discussions at a later date. (You can read more about this in my blog entry entitled "7 Steps to Great Arguments"). The days of yelling, swearing, name-calling, throwing things, even pushing, hitting, and otherwise intimidating must be over as of this moment.