May 20


​Extra Help for Anger

It is entirely the responsibility of explosive people to learn to tame their temper. However, it is an easier task when family and friends are willing to learn responses that do not fuel a flare-up. Mark any strategies below that you would like others to use to help you or that you are willing to use to calm your significant others:

  • Help others convert their resentment into a request or statement of feeling—“Would you tell me what is hurting you or what you want?”
  • Rephrase, label feelings, and validate the other person before you make your point—“You’re saying I always put others before you. You must feel neglected. It makes sense that my other obligations are hard on you.”
  • Ask if the other person wants to hear you position before making any attempt to explain yourself—“You sound convinced that I don’t spend more time at home because I don’t care about you. Do you want to consider any other ideas?”
  • Ask the other person to rephrase what you’ve said after making your point—“I’m not sure if I’m making sense, would you tell me what I said?”
  • Overlook minor outbursts and do not take them personally. Remind yourself that people who are reactive to their environment tend to increase volume when they are excited or upset. Accepting occasional irritability may be a part of enjoying a passionate person’s temperament. But, take a time-out for yourself when you cannot be calm.
  • Pick your battles with people who tend to be inflexible. Point out when you are going along with something that is not your preference—“That’s not my way of doing things, but I don’t mind making a change in this situation.”
  • Set limits on issues that are important to you—“I’m really not comfortable with what you want. I’m sure we can reach a compromise, and until we do, I thoroughly sympathize with how disappointed you are.”
  • Give inflexible, explosive people time to consider new ideas—“I really want . . . . It is important to me because . . . . Please don’t give me your reaction until you’ve had time to think about it.”
  • Help others think through “unreasonable” demands by considering the logical extension of what they want instead of totally rejecting their ideas—“That might be a good idea. What would we do if . . . happens?”


Avoid asking for help from friends and relatives who are pushy, disinterested, inept, or rigid. Attempts to involve them in your recovery or make them change will hinder your progress. Be cautious of bad advice. Input that makes you feel even worse about yourself is probably not correct. Do not argue with bad advice or try to make others understand. Thank people for their concern and tell them you’ll consider what they are saying.


Because there are numerous causes for problems with anger, there are few nationwide organizations or networks devoted to this issue. However, many 12-step groups (Alcoholics Anonymous, Narcotics Anonymous, Alanon for family members, and Adult Children of Alcoholics) often deal with this topic and are essential when substance abuse contributes to difficulties. Most communities have shelters and treatment groups for domestic violence. Mental health centers and courthouses are good sources of information. Websites and books can offer additional assistance:



Counseling is very important when anger interferes with work or personal relationships. When physical abuse has occurred, the treatment of choice is group therapy in a domestic violence program. Couples should not be seen in counseling together until batterers have begun to manage destructive urges.

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