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Aggressive Behaviour

Sometimes people may react to their difficult feelings by being aggressive to people around them, whether they are friends, family, partners or strangers. Aggression can be either verbal or physical. Some people only behave aggressively in very particular situations, for instance after drinking alcohol or when they feel that they are not being taken seriously or when they are very upset and raw. Whatever causes the aggression and whatever form it takes it can cause a range of difficulties. These include physical risk to self or other people, police or other authority involvement, feelings of intimidation, feelings of loss of control, guilt and increased isolation.

At first, using aggressive behaviours can help us to feel that we are getting what we want and that we can control other people. However, gradually this behaviour may feel quite frightening and out of control, as we push people further away and feel more alone. It can feel particularly distressing to find that we are using aggression when we have been on the receiving end of aggressive behaviours ourselves, perhaps earlier in our lives through bullying or from adults who should have cared for us.

If you have difficulties with aggression some of the following may be helpful:

• Try to work out what triggers your aggression and, if possible, avoid these situations E.g. drinking alcohol, feeling misunderstood and not explaining yourself

• Learning to take time to think before reacting can help you to keep control of your behaviours. Try counting to ten in your head before doing anything or walking away for a minute or two. Use this time to stop and think about why you are so angry, what could happen if you act on your aggressive feelings and what you would prefer to see yourself doing

• Learning some simple relaxation techniques can also help you to manage your stress without lashing out. As well as total relaxation, simply taking some long deep breaths or clenching your body tight and then relaxing it are instant ways to lower the stress levels in difficult situations

• If particular feelings lead you to become aggressive, get support in dealing with these. For instance there might be good reason to feel angry and expressing these feelings in a safe and controlled way could be important. Learning to recognise and manage your feelings can help you to control aggression and feel better about yourself

• If you find that your feelings are too much for you to manage by yourself then talk to someone about them. You may try talking to a friend or family member or you may prefer to talk to someone separate from your everyday life such as a counsellor

• Anger management courses can help you to understand how you become angry and how to cope when aggressive feelings are spinning out of control. On a course like this you could learn to recognise what triggers aggression and how this can be changed by learning to be more assertive in telling others what you need or want without hurting them


Related links

For more information about aggressive behaviour try:

For other sources of help:




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