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How to Avoid Being Hooked by Irrational Anger

Updated on February 14, 2011

A Seemingly Unsolvable Problem

What can you do when someone you know is especially intent on being angry, contentious and irrational? Your first reaction may be to try to smooth things over or offer alternatives. Maybe this will work. But what if it doesn't? What if your acquaintance continues to play the victim and seek disruption regardless of any truly sincere attempts you or others may make to pour oil on the waters and facilitate resolution?

Burning Up the Past for Drama in the Present

Title: Irrational Anger License: sxu license  Photographer: gerbrak:
Title: Irrational Anger License: sxu license Photographer: gerbrak:

Don't Get Hooked!

It is important to realize when this happens that your acquaintance* is attempting to "hook" you. People who refuse to be mollified, who continue to find offense and seek martyrdom no matter what is done to assuage them, are simply attempting to engage playmates in a manipulative game. This is especially true in the case of extenuating circumstances such as problems with addiction, illness, or personality disorders. This is unlikely to be a conscious decision on the part of the person in question. This kind of behavior is usually motivated by an underlying desire to avoid confronting real issues. If the person is able to keep false issues stirred up, real issues can remain masked.

Cool the Flames

Avoid Reacting

How can you deal with this? If you continue to react, you are hooked, and you are being played. So what can you do? While it may be tempting to become angry and tell your acquaintance to take a long walk off a short pier, understand that this is just playing into their hands. You are still reacting.

Respond Instead

It is in your best interest and theirs, to avoid reacting and choose responding instead. It may be necessary to make a short, unemotional statement regarding your unwillingness to play or be played and then simply step aside - or sidestep - if you will. Do not turn your back. Do not walk away. Simply protect yourself. Stand out of reach of the flames until they die down. Make it clear that you are available to provide genuine assistance when your acquaintance is ready to ask for it but not to provide a whipping post or to validate invalid anger, blame and accusation.

Call for Help if You Need To!

Of course, sometimes the flames never die down, and it becomes apparent that a person may be a danger to himself and others. When this happens, you have no choice but to call in professional help. You will feel more sure in your decision if you have been able to step aside and avoid being sucked into a manipulative blame game. By remaining objective you can be more genuinely helpful than if you allowed yourself to be sucked into the habitual or chronic anger or victimhood of another.

* Please note that I am using the term "acquaintance" to mean anyone you might know. This term is not intended to indicate the depth or type of relationship under consideration.

Copyright: SuzanneBennett: May 13, 2009


Submit a Comment

  • justmesuzanne profile imageAUTHOR


    7 years ago from Texas

    Glad I could help! :)

  • spirit929 profile image


    7 years ago from Upstate NY somewhere over the rainbow

    Hi Justme, I came across your article and couldnt stop reading once I started. I am in this type of relationship as I type these words. I can see now that I am not alone, it is a hard and painful road to travel when the person that supposedly loves you reacts in these ways. Thanks for all the info.

  • justmesuzanne profile imageAUTHOR


    7 years ago from Texas

    True! :)

  • PaperNotes profile image


    7 years ago

    I suppose that anger is an innate emotion in every one of us but when we get angry for no reason at all, then that is something more serious to tackle.

  • jayb23 profile image


    9 years ago from India

    Great Hubs and some excellent tips. Will surely keep them in mind next time I get angry. TC

  • justmesuzanne profile imageAUTHOR


    9 years ago from Texas

    Yes, that's very true Tatjana. Good point about feeling more alive and about the process being a vicious circle.

    In fact, I was thinking about the similarities in the spiral of habitual anger and they circle of allergic reaction. Often when a dog has an allergy or problem with fleas, it will get the habit of scratching. Sometimes it keeps on scratching, even after the allergy or flea problem is taken care of. The scratching increases the itching, and the itching increases the scratching, so even though the real problem is resolved, you still have the behavior. You have to stop that cycle by stopping the action and redirecting every time the scratching starts until the habit is forgotten and the cycle is broken.

    Treatment for the spiral of anger and depression is similar. It is like a spiral wall of dominoes. Hit one and all the rest fall, unless you put an immovable object between two of them and stop the pattern. By refusing to be sucked in and refusing to play, you become that immovable object that, perhaps, will stop the destructive spiral.

  • Tatjana-Mihaela profile image


    9 years ago from Zadar, CROATIA

    When people are angry, they feel more alive then when they are depressed. Anger raises up adrenalin. That is the reason why some people choose to be angry, this so often negative passion gives them feeling they are alive. Anger is fire, which can become destructive when is irrational, or sometimes constructive,  on the contrary depression is darkness - and lack of life-force. many health problems occur because of irrational anger: liver, spleen, stomach ulcers, stomach acidity, heart problems, nerves, endocrine glands...all system is suffering when is constantly burned by self-destructive fire within.

    It is the best to stop this vicious circle, like you suggested.

  • justmesuzanne profile imageAUTHOR


    9 years ago from Texas

    You're warped! But bear in mind there is a difference between seeing them get angry and contending with it on an ongoing basis. After a while, it gets old!

  • goldentoad profile image


    9 years ago from Free and running....

    am I wrong to enjoy seeing people get angry?

  • justmesuzanne profile imageAUTHOR


    9 years ago from Texas

    Thanks for all the great responses! :) I know what you mean, BK! I feel exactly the same way. Whenever this kind of nonsense starts I just feel like saying, "Oh boy, here we go again!"

    Tatjiana - Once you get the awareness to be able to transform anger, it is really helpful. Unfortunately, some people enjoy the anger more than the awareness.

    Thanks, SEM Pro! Yes, that family conditioning is hard to get past sometimes, but it can be done!


  • SEM Pro profile image

    SEM Pro 

    9 years ago from North America

    Simple and profound Suzanne with great recommendation of book "Stop Walking on Egg Shells". Shirley MacLaine once spoke of how further ahead she thought she was until she went home for Thanksgiving. It can be tough to break the lifelong games with family - established before wisdom was gained. Often lots of time together can help alleviate and work through them. But it is tempting to think that walking away will make them go away. Anger is usually unresolved issues though. Responding rather than reacting is the answer to anything unresolved.

  • Tatjana-Mihaela profile image


    9 years ago from Zadar, CROATIA

    Great and very usefull article, feelings of anger, if we get hooked to them are so exchausting.

    There is also way to use them as a "start fuel" to do something good and constructive: over the time, they just transform in completely different feelings.

    Thumbs up for you inspiring Hub!

  • BkCreative profile image


    9 years ago from Brooklyn, New York City

    You know justmesuzanne - I have aquaintances that keep doing the same destructive things over and over - and I feel we are all just too old for this -

    - so I told them to bring me some good news, not all the misery - of course I don't hear from them for awhile - but this is ok - I don't do 'victim' stuff. I'm too old and I mean that in the best way possible, you know like 'age equals wisdom' - which it should.


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