Acting Out and Anger: Compassion is Key

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Acting out is a natural behaviour that keeps you isolated; instead, use it to improve relationships.

To regain control of impulsive behaviour, like acting out, you’ll need to learn what it means and its origin. Furthermore, it’s even better to use this to learn something about yourself. It’s quite likely insights will follow that will raise your self-awareness. Then you can free yourself from your anger issues and enjoy life instead.

A significant part of the counselling process that brings the changes you need is learning to notice the nature of your thoughts and feelings. Knowing how to spot patterns of thinking and feeling would enable you to respond more mindfully to the actual situation. You can then get the outcome you want.

What is Acting Out?

Under stress, you likely say things without thinking. You are “acting out” your feelings, which is natural. However, in these situations, you unconsciously slip back in time to the coping patterns you developed in childhood. Such regression happens because, in stress, the body’s ‘smoke alarm’ (the amygdala) to threat kicks in, and you remember a similar situation way back – as if it were happening right now.

Those old coping patterns create problems because you are not responding to the current situation but to what happened years ago.

You are upset, but by what happened a long time ago.

It’s like being in a dream-like state; a recurring nightmare means you are effectively not here now. The result is that you disconnect with yourself and those around you. For example, you feel your anger is out of proportion to the event that triggered you.

What Would Help

What would most likely help is a way of conceptualising this behaviour. Then you would be able to notice when it occurred.

Instead of becoming enraged or resentful, you could say to yourself, “it’s just my stuff from the past”. That kind of self-talk is helpful because it enables you to take responsibility for yourself. Blaming others only disempowers you, and the loss of autonomy is frustrating.

Taking responsibility for yourself is a crucial marker of progress in your counselling journey. But more importantly, it’s a way to improve relationships, and they are inseparable from living a contented life, aren’t they?

Go One Better – Use it!

Part of the process above involves a reminder of past events: things you remember because they were significant enough to impact today’s life. These are called “traumas”; by looking at them with a counsellor, you can see what you were coping with and gain a new understanding of yourself.

A more compassionate attitude towards yourself is far better than self-judgement or self-condemnation. After all, you’re trying to manage anger rather than let it take you over. Furthermore, being frustrated with yourself means rage: being infuriated with everything and everyone else all the time. 

Feeling Contented: A Result?

Life’s a trip. I mean, just when it gets going, something gets in the way. In your case, perhaps irritation. As I’ve hinted above, these things are sent to try us. On the other hand, you can learn something very useful about yourself.

So that’s why a good way to deal with anger issues is to take a close look at what’s happening with the help of a trained professional and understand what part acting out plays in maintaining it. Then learning about your traumas will help you know yourself and be more understanding towards others.

It’s a win-win situation, just looking to be unlocked.

Will you turn the key and open the door to a new and better life? It could be the start of a long journey, but one that gives continually-increasing fulfilment.

What will you discover along the way?

Main photo by Unsplash

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