Basically, I’ve come in search of help with anger management. I was raised with very strict, religious, over protective parents who constantly had violent arguments, taught me to shut down my emotions and to not express my feelings (at least not in healthy ways), taught me that the world is a dangerous, untrustworthy place, and that I cannot trust anyone. As a result, I have grown up to be very nervous, very shy, unable to trust others, unable to express love easily, unable to deal with negative thoughts or emotions in a productive fashion, afraid to be independent in the world, and constantly feel like I can’t make something successful of myself. I wasn’t always like this. I remember in my early childhood that I loved to socialize, explore the world, learn, I had dreams that I honestly thought I could reach. I was more positive, hopeful, and optimistic. Now, I feel as though all I ever feel is anger. I’m so restless. I want to do something, have fun, grow up , stop being so shy, and improve as a person, but, I don’t know where to start. And with my parents not permitting me to go out on my own, or even express my feelings to them without them thinking I’m possessed or something, I feel trapped.I’m not a bad kid. I’m sure of that. I mess up here and there but I really try. Ask anyone. I’ve been obedient, respectful, polite, patient for as long as I can remember, but, lately, only with my parents, have I been lashing out at. Of course, not physically, but I have been getting more violent recently. I’ve gotten into the habit of breaking things around me when I’m angry and just screaming and crying. It’s scaring me. I don’t want to hurt anyone. My parents have done so much for me, and I know they have tried their best at raising me, but, I can’t help but blame them for how I turned out and feel angry at them. Maybe it’s my fault and I’m too ashamed to accept that so I take it out on them? I just need guidance. I need a plan, a place to start. I hate this feeling of cluelessness as it makes me feel breathless and trapped. Thank you for listening to his wacky 16 year old rant.
I would not consider your question to be a “wacky…rant.” It is an expression of your feelings. It’s healthy to write when you are stressed. In fact, you should do it more often. When strong emotions arise write about them. Research shows that journaling is a healthy outlet for expressing strong emotions. It can also help to clarify your thinking, come to resolutions and move you past your problems. It’s a psychologically clarifying exercise that can provide a great deal of emotional relief.
Your feelings seem perfectly understandable given your family environment. You are developing your own ideas about yourself and the world, which are in conflict with those of your parents. That conflict is causing problems for you and in your emotional life. These types of conflicts are fairly normal during adolescence. In two years, you will be an adult and can live independently, should you choose to do so.
In the meantime, speak to the school guidance counselor or the school psychologist about these issues. Counseling could help you tremendously. You might consider showing this letter to your parents. They may be more open than you realize to your seeking mental health treatment. Maybe not, but it is something to consider.
Other ideas include finding alternative outlets for your strong emotions. These can include, exercise, yoga, meditation, volunteering or reading self-help or anger management workbooks. Some of my favorite workbooks are written by David Burns and there are many others. They can be purchased through Amazon or you might find them at your local library.
I want to be clear about the fact that mental health treatment would provide you with the greatest level of benefit but if it is not an option for you, some of the aforementioned ideas may be of assistance.
Finally, if you feel like you might hurt yourself or someone else, then it’s imperative that you call emergency services or go to the hospital. The staff can keep you safe and protect you from hurting yourself or someone else. Please take care.
Dr. Kristina Randle