From the Advice Sisters Signature Double-Take Q&A Archives:
I Lost My Girlfriend Because I Lost My Temper!
Dear Advice Sisters: My girlfriend of two years just broke up with me because of my bad temper.
She said she just can’t take my sudden, intense outbursts anymore.
The last straw was that I screamed at her in front of her parents, and then cursed out one of her friends. I really love this woman, and I am basically a really nice person. I have tried hard to learn how to control my anger, but nothing works. I just get triggered by something and yell. I am not physically violent. feel so ashamed and so terrible each time I lose control! My behavior not only hurts other people, but it is also hurting me What can I do to change, and get my girlfriend back?
ADVICE SISTER JESSICA’S TAKE:
Mostly, anger is a negative emotion that dissipates a person’s emotional energies.
Getting “angry” in the way you describe and taking those feelings out on others is a losing proposition that neither makes you feel better or accomplishes your purposes of finding love and happiness.
When you are angry and abusive, all the target of that emotion feels is hostility from having been screamed at.
All you feel is shame and guilt, and with good reason.
Adults are expected to behave like like adults..and that means not giving in to every emotional upset or angry feeling they have.
It’s not pleasant when small children engage in tantrums and sulking and angry behavior, but when adults do this they are viewed universally as immature and uncontrolled.
Alison and I know that you must find a way to cope with this problem before you lose those you care about, let alone jobs and other opportunities in life.
The ultimate question you need to ask yourself is whether or not releasing your momentary frustrations is worth the pain you cause others and feel yourself afterward. If it feels better to get angry and not control those feelings than it does to be on good terms with other people, then I think you will never change your behavior.
The best thing to do is to try not to react… even if at the moment, your brain is telling you how GREAT it would feel to do so.
You need to take the proverbail “time out” before you act out.
If you can’t do this, perhaps you need some professional help A
One way to help yourself is to remind yourself how awful you have felt in the past after you have shouted or shown your bad temper.
If you lose control anyway, don’t wallow in remorse and guilt. Instead, acknowledge your mistake right away. Showing you “didn’t mean it” by being apologetic and respectful will undo some of the damage if it doesn’t happen too often.
However, as you’ve already discovered with your girlfriend, being “sorry” but not changing your behavior will not be effective forever.
While you work on making permanent changes, you can start by apologizing to your girlfriend and acknowledging the hurt you have caused. Let her know that you are aware of your problem and tell her specifically what you are doing to make positive changes.
If she really cares for you, she may be willing to stick around and see how things go. If you really want to keep this relationship alive, or successfully make new ones, failure is not an option. If you find yourself falling back into your old patterns, you may find yourself alone. The only one you’ll be able to get angry at is yourself.
Love and happiness Advice Sister Jessica
ADVICE SISTER ALISON’S TAKE:
Anger is a very powerful emotion that can actually be useful to bring about positive changes. Sometimes, getting angry about something can help you channel your energy to move forward with a goal or decision. But abnormal amounts of anger and the inability to control it can sabotage your success and happiness in life, love and career.
Some experts say that there are some people who just naturally feel the intensity of both good and bad emotions more keenly than others. Others claim that adults who are highly emotional act that way because when they were younger, they were “allowed” to have temper tantrums and express everything they felt in whatever manner they liked without any restraints. You may feel so angry and have trouble controlling your emotions for a variety of reasons.
No matter where in the world you live, it is not considered “appropriate” for an adult to lose control and display the entire intensity of their true emotions, whenever and wherever they wish!
I think you should be less concerned with getting your girlfriend back, and more concerned about how being angry is hurting your life across the board. The people you know well already know that you get angry very easily and very often. Since you also have good and positive qualities that compensate for your bad behavior, people forgive you. But constantly flying off the handle, acting irrationally or being abusive will not be tolerated forever, as you have found out with your girlfriend. This kind of behavior will hurt you in your life and career as well as in your love relationships.
The good news is that you have already taken three important steps towards making a positive change in your life. You recognize that you have a problem with controlling your emotions. You feel remorse when you see that your angry, inappropriate, abusive behavior has hurt someone else. Finally, you know that you can’t handle this problem effectively on your own, and you are reaching out for help. All of these things will set you on the path to positive change.
It appears to me that you not only angry at others but that you are also angry at yourself for not having the control you think you should. Use some of that strong emotion to make some positive changes in your life! Do self-affirmations that tell yourself that you are tired of letting anger control your life and that you are going to consciously stop letting your emotions run away with you! “
When you feel yourself getting angry, remind yourself of the consequences and try to delay your reaction, if just for a few moments. Sometimes that’s all it takes to change your perspective.
Try expressing yourself in other ways such as telling the target of your angry..then walk away.
If you feel uncontrollable anger rising within you anyway, you might say: “We both know that I have a bad temper. I’d rather be using my energy in a positive way so let’s stop this before it goes any further”
Also, there may be some physical and chemical reasons why you are so angry.
Therapy, meditation, biofeedback, support groups, a healthy lifestyle, regular exercise (physical exercise calms and relaxes!) self-affirmation, and lots of willpower will help you stay in control.
Don’t count on apologies and gifts to make your girlfriend return. Show her that you are taking control of your anger and you just might get another chance. If not, not at least you will be taking positive steps towards making life better for yourself and in any new relationships.