+356 9901 3629


Dealing with anger and aggression

Do have someone in your life who is frequently angry, confrontational or aggressive? You know the kind of person I’m talking about. This person makes unfair statements and then cuts you off every time you try to have your say, brings up controversial topics at the dinner table and seems to pick fights at every turn. If you were to think back over the months or years, you’ll probably recall memories of this person engaging in regular conflicts with colleagues, family and friends. Whilst you may occasionally fantasise about cutting this person out of your life, this is not always an option, particularly if the angry and confrontational person is a colleague, family member or partner/family member of someone close to you.

Angry, confrontational people can have an incredibly negative impact on others, often leaving anyone at the receiving end of such hostility reeling for days after such an encounter. Therefore, to help you take care of yourself and minimise the impact on your emotional and physical well-being, I’d like to share some tips on dealing with the angry person in your life:

Evaluate the anger

Trying to understand the bigger picture may be the last thing you feel like doing when faced with someone who’s shouting at or insulting you. However, take a few deep breaths and listen to what they’re saying. Ask yourself – Is their anger justified? Is there some truth in what they’re saying? Remember that anger often comes from a place of hurt, fear or rejection. This doesn’t justify bad behaviour, of course, but trying to see behind the angry words may help abate your own anger and see the other person with more compassionate eyes. Once you’ve evaluated the situation, take responsibility for your contribution, if any, to the conflict. Apologising for any hurt you may have caused can go a long way towards reconciliation and healing.

Try to remain calm

Rather than shouting or hurling insults back, acknowledge the other person’s distress with a statement such as – ‘I can see that you’re very disappointed and hurt right now’. Back this up with non-threatening body language and open posture. This may be very difficult in light of what may be a very unfair and unkind attack, but nothing positive can ever come from meeting another person with the same level of aggression.

Don’t make it personal

It may feel very personal when someone behaves in a hurtful or aggressive manner, particularly if this person is someone close to you. However, avoid the temptation to make personal jibes and focus instead on the person’s behaviour and how you experience them. For instance, rather than telling someone they’re an obnoxious so and so, try saying something like – ‘When you shout at me like that, it makes me feel like I have no space to reply or explain how I’m feeling’ or ‘It hurts me when you call me names’.

Know when to disengage

You’re no-one’s punching bag and need to be wise enough to walk away when you know a heated exchange is going nowhere. If someone is so irate that a healthy, reasonable conversation isn’t on the cards, suggest to the other person that you meet and speak at a later time or another day. This will allow you both time to calm down and reflect on what actually happened, giving you more time to respond appropriately.

Assert your boundaries

Be clear about what you’re willing and not willing to accept. For instance, you may make statements such as “If you continue to shout at me, I’ll have to leave” or “If you continue to bring up topics you know will cause conflict, I won’t invite you for dinner with my friends”. Anticipate that asserting your boundaries may not be appreciated by the other person but assert them anyway and ensure to follow through. If not, you’ll be sending a clear message to the other person that they can get away with such behaviour without any consequences.

Remember, it’s not about you

We all get angry sometimes, and this can mean doing or saying things we regret. However, when someone is frequently angry, rude, aggressive or confrontational, the likelihood is that they’re unable to manage their own personal issues and then project their pain onto others. For instance, someone struggling to find self-acceptance and self-worth may put others down, in the mistaken belief that they’ll feel better about themselves. So, before you get lost in a whirlwind of self-doubt and self-deprecation, remember that this person’s words have nothing to do with who you are or your worth as a person.

Distance yourself emotionally

We need to accept that someone may never change their damaging behaviour and our expectations need to be adjusted accordingly to avoid repeated disappointment and pain. This may require you to grieve the loss of the relationship and accept that, at this point in time, this is all you can expect from this person. By doing so, you’ll stop handing them the ammunition to hurt you time and time again. Instead, focus on taking care of yourself and nurturing your other relationships.

Danjela Falzon - Malta therapy clinic

About Danjela Falzon

Danjela has been practising as a Psychotherapist since 2011, having read for a BSc in Psychology at Birkbeck, University of London, followed by a Masters in Gestalt Psychotherapy at GPTIM. She works therapeutically with individuals, adopting an approach which is warm and empathic, yet direct and challenging when necessary. She also works with groups, teaching mindfulness and providing support and guidance to reduce stress and anxiety.

TherapyPacks Terms and Conditions

1. TherapyPacks come in bundles of 5 or 10 sessions. Prices of bundles:

  • 5 sessions – €270 – must be utilised within 3 months from date of purchase
  • 10 sessions – €520 – must be utilised within 6 months from date of purchase

2. Bundles are not transferable. This means they cannot be used by, or gifted to, anyone else but the person whose name is listed as the TherapyPacks bundle holder.

3. Bundles which are purchased for Couples Therapy and Family Therapy can only be used by members of the couple or family with one therapist. If members of a couple or family decide to take up individual therapy with another therapist, the bundle will only apply to sessions with the therapist originally referred and cannot be also used for the individual sessions with another therapist. Exceptions will be made if the original therapist is unable to see the client or family and the couple or family are referred to another therapist. After referral, the same conditions will apply.

4. Bundles are valid for a limited time period, as listed above. This means that the bundles will expire once the respective time period has elapsed. Any sessions not utilised within this period will be lost. This means that a refund will not be given for unused sessions. Start date commences on date of purchase of bundles.

5. Bundles are only valid for full price sessions (charged at €60) and not for sessions with trainee psychotherapists, reports or assessments.

6. Full payment needs to be made on purchase, via bank transfer, cash or credit card.

7. Management reserves the right to terminate or suspend the use of the bundles. Reasons for such are at the discretion of the clinic.

8. Refunds or extensions of time period within which bundles may be used is at the discretion of management and will only be granted in exceptional circumstances.

9. Management reserves the right to modify or replace the terms and conditions. In such circumstances, clients will be given adequate notice and time to adhere to such.

10. The clinic’s cancellation policy is applicable also to bundles. Late cancellations or no shows will result in the forfeit of a session within the bundle allocation.

11. Responsibility for ensuring timely use of session bundles remains that of the TherapyPacks bundle holder or, in the case of a minor, their carer/legal guardian.