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Ryan LCSW, Mental Health
Category: Mental Health
Satisfied Customers: 872
Experience:  Individual and Family Therapist
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In short, I have anger issues and I have no idea why. Im

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In short, I have anger issues and I have no idea why.

I’m fifty two (male) and my life is better right now than it’s ever been. I have no underlying stresses or pressures or frustrations. I just have a temper. I have had it my whole life, even as a child. Fortunately I am good at covering it around friends and family. Nobody really suspects it. But if I am in a situation that affords me anonymity – look out. Over the weekend I accidentally knocked over some cartons in a grocery store with my cart and I yelled obscenities. Last week I screamed out of my window at my neighbor (whom I don’t really know or interact with) because his dog was barking (it was a profanity-laced tirade). In traffic, I’ll often shoot the finger and/or roll down the window and scream at other drivers. I seem to have a very quick indignation trigger. In these times, I seem to have a sense of where to draw the line as far as physical confrontation. I can’t imaging I would ever hit someone and deep down I’m something of a chicken and would never risk screaming at someone I thought would physically confront me. But every time I engage in this behavior, I feel humiliation and embarrassment, throwing me into a depression that will last at least the balance of the day, if not longer. I swear each time I will not behave similarly ever again. I keep the promise only until the next opportunity arises for me to make a complete fool of myself.

I don’t know what’s wrong with me. I’ve tried the counting to ten stuff. It’s a lifetime thing that I suspect requires a less superficial approach. Any ideas?
Thanks for your question.

It sounds like you've correctly identified these anger problems and it does seem like it may require a more in depth approach towards working through them aside from counting to 10 and the typical ways that people try and calm down. It is a positive thing that you are able to manage this anger around the people who are most meaningful to you. If you don't ever express anger around these meaningful relationships, it is possible that these outbursts have become an outlet for you to express some of that frustration that you can safely direct toward people who don't know you as well. The fact that you tend to lash out in situations where you have more anonymity can meanthat you're not expressing enough of your anger around the people you care about. Obviously you don't want to lash out at people, but if you find yourself almost balancing extremes (very friendly or very angry depending on the people you are around) it is possible that this is mostly a matter of learning to find the balance in both situations.

In a lot of ways being anonymous affords you to express your emotions without too many negative consequences. This may have been a productive way of coping with your anger for some time, but if you find that this is continuing to get worse or leading to embarrassing or potentially dangerous situations, that does mean that it is time to examine this more seriously.

The ideal way to address this issue would be to meet with a psychologist or a licensed therapist in order to work on handling these emotions more effectively. If a lot of these anger outbursts are spontaneous reactions on your part, it is going to take some practice to slow that process down so that you can start to prepare and deescalate yourself before the situation gets out of hand. Preparing for situations that you know can be problematic can help, but you are also correct that if there are some underlying issues to this anger problem, that resolving those will make all of this much more manageable in general.

There is a good website that you can use to find a psychologist or therapist in your area. If you need any help using the website please let me know and I would be happy to help. Otherwise, the fact that you are willing to admit and work on these anger issues is the first significant step in getting it under control. Often times the answer isn't always apparent at first, but if you are stuck, then talking through it with a professional can really help you to get a better understanding of yourself and how to have more control over these issues. I definitely wish you the best with all of this, and if there is anything else I can do to help please let me know.

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