Dealing with an angry family member

Anger in families covers an enormous scale. Sometimes a quick sorry can solve the problem, other times it can esculate to devastating proportions. The most important thing to remember when confronted by an angry family member is, this is someone you love.
First of all you need to control your own responses. When faced with agression we have a natural fight or flight response. Take several deep breaths and stay calm. Make sure you stand more than an arms length away from them. Personal space is not only important for stopping a defensive response, its also far safer should the other person become physical.
Listen carefully to what they are saying. Try not to take any insults personally. Ignore them and try to discover the root cause of the anger.
Be honest either intentionally or unintentionally are your words or actions to blame for their upset? If they are then you need to apologize and discuss the situation calmly and rationally until you can reach an agreement your both happy with.
Their anger may be nothing to do with you at all. People often vent their frustration on loved ones when they are frightened, worried or in pain. This can be harder to deal with since we all respond with indignation when unfairly accused. Try to separate in your mind the person from their behaviour. The behaviour is caused by a situation which for now is beyond their control.
Listen to how they feel. Allowing them to talk provides a vent for their feelings. Where ever possible try to help them find practical solutions to their problems.
The third most common cause is drugs and alcohol. We will discuss ways to deal with addicted family members on a later blog but for now Id just like to say when confronted by someone who is under the influence of any mind altering substance do not go near them. Do not try and reason with them. Get away from them as quickly as possible. This is one time you really need to use your flight response. You cannot reason or discuss things rationally with someone who is not fully in control. They have an altered view of reality whilst under the influence and are only capable of seeing their own wants and needs.

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