Uncontrollable anger is one of the side-effects of having PTSD. Unfortunately, when I’m lost in my rage, I tend to strike out at whomever happens to be closest. I’ve found that once it is unleashed, anger tends to grow in size and ferocity.
Unmanaged anger is an ugly thing; that’s why I compare it to an uncaged tiger. For those unlucky enough to be within range, it can turn into a snarling beast that devours anyone in its path. I’ve noticed that unmanaged anger often starts out as sarcasm or a mild annoyance, but without being checked, it lashes out at others hoping to make them as miserable as it is. The good thing about the situation is that you do not have to allow anger to escalate.
It is possible to control your anger. Rather than giving in to it and letting the tiger run free, you simply have to recognize what you’re doing, and then stop doing it. I know when I’m letting my anger control me…and I don’t like it. I feel terrible that I’m out of control, and that’s when I find I usually get burned in the process too. It is much healthier for me to control my rage and not give in to the shouting, swearing, raging behaviors. Instead, I tell the person I’m angry at what they are doing to feed that anger. Then I add what I would like to see happen instead.
Some things I can do to help cage the tiger of anger:
- Realize that I am not perfect either, and so I cannot hold others to a standard of perfection
- Recognize that I do not really want to hurt the ones I love, only get their attention. There are better ways of doing that than tearing them apart.
- Acknowledge that even when the people I’m angry at deserve my rage, it only says something negative about me when I give into it. Far better to maintain my temper and not make a scene than to fly into a rage and let everyone know I’m out of control.
Uncontrollable anger might go hand-in-hand with PTSD, but that doesn’t mean I have to give in to it. I can control my anger. I can state my needs without hurting others. And if they continue to prompt my anger, I can find healthy ways to respond other than turning my anger against them.