How To Overcome Reactive Aggression
Reactive aggression is an instinctive type of anger that you really cannot control. It is usually sudden and leads to words or a chain of events that happens quickly and without thinking. To be reactive means that there is some type of external stimuli controlling your emotions. This is considered a codependent dynamic.
Reasons For Reactive Aggression
- Codependency – This is a result of feeling powerless and like someone else is always in control. These types of individuals are labeled “people pleasers” and believe that they have to make others happy who they think actually have the power or control. When a reactive person has a feeling as though they are being controlled, they will typically overreact due to panic.
- Learned Reactivity – Ultimately, your life experiences shape your innate personality. If you have nervous traits naturally, the more you try to cope and struggle, the higher the chance of developing compulsive disorders. Reactive aggression can also be a learned trait due to experiencing a traumatic event. This will often lead to post traumatic stress disorder or generalized anxiety. These types of individuals usually feel as though they have to control other people. So when something happens that triggers anger, they immediately want to react so that they can gain control back.
- Inherited Reactivity – Everyone is born with their own personality traits that include mood consistency, flexibility, reaction intensity to both negative and positive stimuli and nervousness. Some of these traits will influence how reactive the individual is in certain situations. These types of people are typically emotionally sensitive and are affected easily by their surroundings. They are often nervous and inflexible to change.
Controlling Reactive Aggression
- Realize and accept the problem that you have. You need to accept that you can change the behavior once you stop blaming other people for your reactions. You must stop justifying your overreactions.
- Understand that your reactive aggression could be learned or inherited and realize that you cannot change until you own your reactions.
- Determine what your emotional triggers are and how to deal with them. These types of triggers are basically emotional issues that have been unresolved. These could be issues left from your childhood or the result of a more recent event. A good example is childhood mental or physical abuse that could result in feelings of helplessness, low self-esteem, abandonment and jealousy. These individuals will often react to fear, criticism, guilt or judgment.
- Start an exercise program to relieve stress and tension. When you exercise, your body releases endorphins which essentially are painkillers for both mental and physical discomfort. Endorphins leave you with a heightened level of overall well-being.
- Take the time to meditate. This is by far the best method to calm your inner self. It is not hard to do and you will feel a difference the very first time you do it. Meditation calms your brain and allows it to be in a stress-free and relaxed state. The internal quieting you experience from meditation carries on throughout your day.
- Make a commitment to stop and think about why you are actually angry and if you really should be. Aim to catch yourself before your anger level builds to a higher level that you can't control. It is also helpful to think about what consequences you may experience due to your reactive aggression.
- Try not to take things so personally. Everything is not about you. If someone offends you, think about the source. Do they really mean so much that they should be able to affect you? When you take things personally, you essentially lower your self-esteem and as a result, you overreact.