When someone takes their anger out on you (why?)

In this guide, we will discuss what you could do “When someone takes their anger out on you” when it’s someone you care about. It could be a friend or a family member that keeps lashing out on you so here are some tips on how to manage those situations. 

When someone takes their anger out on you

You may wonder what to do when someone takes their anger on you. It is not ideal and no one deserves to be someone’s ‘punching bag’ but it happens sometimes. With this, we are not saying it is normal but it is important to learn how to react in these situations. Most likely, the person that is lashing out on you doesn’t know how to manage their emotional responses.

Think about it, when you are angry while you are with someone you love, you may say pretty hurtful things because our judgement gets clouded by the emotion. Some people will remain angry for a couple of minutes, others for a bit longer and some would like to be left alone so they can have time to vent.

If someone is lashing out on you, and it is someone you care about then you can attempt to help them calm down but this will depend on whether they are willing to listen to you or not. If they are not willing to listen then don’t try to convince them or force them to since it can make things worse. However, we need to try not to take things personally, especially if you know you haven’t done anything wrong or you are not the reason why they became angry in the first place.

Should I stay or should I go?

Needless to say, if the person who is lashing out on you has anger management issues and has gotten physical at some point then you shouldn’t stay there. However, if you know them and you know how they usually behave when they are angry then it is possible for you to stay and help them calm down. 

When someone is angry, the worst thing we can say is ‘You should calm down’ since this statement will make them feel angrier. If they start venting out on you and saying hurtful things, try to look beyond the words since they may be in going through a difficult time and could be enduring a lot of pain. Anger leads us to project what we are feeling to the outside world and many people do this unconsciously, then comes the regret. The same thing happens if someone is feeling happy, we will notice in their behaviour that they are in a good mood.

What can I do to make the difference?

Depending on the situation and the person, we can adjust our behaviour and react to their emotional state. However, it is recommended not to react or retaliate because the situation will only escalate. Our normal and most usual reaction is to react by hurting when being hurt but we need to see beyond the words because this will become a vicious cycle, pain generates more pain.

Realize this may not be about you or related to you at all and how they need love and understanding at that particular moment. You don’t need to hug them or do anything special, to begin with, just be supportive (as long as your life is not in danger). 

Adopting a different perspective

At first, it might sound as if they were angry at us but as we have mentioned, this is not necessarily the case. By not engaging in a discussion or not participating, you can avoid conflict. You could attempt to make empathetic statements so they know you are there to support and not to judge.

Depending on the situation you can say something like, ‘I understand you are angry and frustrated right now but know I am here if you need me’ or ‘I understand you are upset about something, would you like a few minutes on your own?’. You are not required to accept responsibility when it is not your fault so you don’t have to apologize but try to relate and empathise.

Deep listening

Thich Nhat Hanh is a Buddhist Monk that has written several self-help books and he is also a peace activist that dedicates his life to deliver teachings of mindfulness. He indicates, “deep, listening is the kind of listening that can help relieve the suffering of the other person. You can call it ‘compassionate listening’. You listen with one purpose, help him or her to empty his heart. And if you remember that you are helping him or her to suffer less… and then even if he says things full of wrong perceptions, full of bitterness, you are still capable to continue to listen with compassion.”

When someone takes their anger out on you (why?)

You may think it is something difficult to do when someone we love uses words to hurt us. How are we supposed to see them again and not feel hurt? Well, Thich believes it is possible to help the person correct their perception by listening with compassion. The result? Transformation and healing.

Give them space

If they say they need some space leave them alone for a while. Go and take some fresh air, go for a walk and then come back. It is Ok to take some time to be alone, a time out to think and clear your thoughts. This will also allow them to have an insight into their behaviour and probably they will realize that the way they reacted was not the most effective one to express how they feel.

When they have calmed down, you can have an open and honest conversation about what happened but avoid being judgemental or negative about their behaviour. However, you can still express how you felt about the situation in an assertive way.

You don’t have to agree with them

Even though you don’t always have to agree with them or say you are Ok with how they reacted, try to understand why and just listen. Sometimes all they want is to be heard because they are frustrated, angry and/or in pain. However, don’t waste your time and energy acting the same way they are because this will only feed an endless cycle, putting a strain into the relationship.

When someone takes their anger out on you (why?)

Remember, it is not about who is right or wrong because you both can have reasons to disagree with the situation but your reaction to it will make a huge difference. But being supportive doesn’t mean you agree with their behaviour, it is about helping them find the right way to express their feelings.

Why is this blog about When someone takes their anger out on you important?

We have discussed what you can do when someone takes their anger on you. It could be a friend, a partner or a relative, someone you deeply care about. The best thing you can do is avoid reacting the same way they did so you don’t feed their anger. You are still allowed to feel sad and frustrated but remember to try to understand their situation, empathise with them and listen to what they have to say.

If they use words that have hurt you remember it is not them, it is the anger and pain they are feeling at that moment. Just make sure to let them know that you are there for them, supporting them and listening if they need someone to talk to but don’t force them to. Give them some space to think on their own and reflect on the situation. Finally, there is no need for you to agree with them or apologize if you haven’t done anything. Help them to understand how they are feeling and how they could manage their emotions.

Please feel free to leave any comments or thoughts about the content of this article!

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) about When someone takes their anger out on you

Why do people always take their anger out on me?

It could be a generalization when you say that people always take their anger out on you because this will imply ‘everyone’ around you acts like this, even strangers. We may have a friend, partner or a relative we normally spend a lot of time with and they don’t know how to handle their frustration so the first thing they do is take their anger on us.

How do I let my anger out on someone?

If you let your anger out on someone you will probably do or say something you may regret later. For anger management, here are some recommendations:

  • Think before you speak. Sometimes we tend to say very hurtful things to the ones we love the most.
  • Take a minute to do some breathing exercises. There are plenty for you to learn online.
  • If you are feeling irritated or angry, go for a walk. Take some time to calm down on your own, to think and reflect.
  • Don’t take your anger out on the closest person. It is easy to lash out on the closest person simply because they are there and we feel the need to be heard so refrain from doing it.

What to do when someone lashes out at you?

If someone lashes out at you, try not to take it personally and ask them to take a minute to breathe (you could do the exercise with them). Give them time to calm down and suggest if they need to take a minute to be on their own. When they have calmed down, communicate with the person and let them explain what is going on.

What happens when anger gets personal?

If anger gets personal and there is a history of physical abuse, the best thing is to try to remove yourself from the situation since it can be dangerous for you. Many people don’t realize what they are doing when they have anger outbursts but it is no excuse to hurt other people.

Why do I say hurtful things when I’m angry?

We tend to say hurtful things when we are angry because our emotions are taking control of our behaviour which won’t allow us to think clearly. We may have been suppressing our emotions until it is too late and we lash out on someone. If you notice you are starting to get angry, stop for a minute and think about what you will say or do next.

References

Liveyourtruestory.com: “Responding to someone who is angry”

Logue, B. (n.d.)  A Shocking Response You Can Give When Someone Lashes Out at You. Retrieved from thedailypositive.com.

When someone takes their anger out on you (why?)

Juanita Agboola

Juanita Agboola is the editor in chief of HFNE and an expert in mental health online. She has been writing about online behavior, mental health and psychology issues since 2012. All Guides are reviewed by our editorial team which constitutes various clinical psychologists, PhD and PsyD colleagues.