Sometimes I get so angry I can't even speak. How can I work to control that anger if my brain has reacted so much I can't put two words together?
When our emotions are heightened, especially anger, it interferes with our ability to think straight. That is why it is not usually a good idea to have discussions when emotions are that escalated. Better to wait until you have cooled off a bit. In times you are that angry, tell others you are really angry right now and need time to cool off before continuing. Just labeling and expressing that emotion should start to help a little. Leave the situation, with a promise to return. After you exit the situation, try to engage in things that will help cool you off that doesn't take a whole lot of thinking. What are your favorite relaxation techniques? Listen to music, workout, call a friend, meditation? Once you've calmed down, then you can start to think about the situation and process all your thoughts and feelings about it. Then return to the discussion with whomever the argument was with. To avoid the situation getting escalated again, plan out your communication. Approach it by calmly explaining to the other person why you got upset — what your thoughts and feelings were — without accusing anyone or placing blame. Refrain from starting off statements with "you" (e.g "You did this or that"). That automatically puts people on the defensive. Instead, start off with "I" statements (e.g. I was upset because it made me think/ feel xyz". If someone did something to upset you start off by giving them the benefit of the doubt. Give them a chance to explain their situation.
The contents of this expert answer were developed under a grant from the National Institute on Disability, Independent Living, and Rehabilitation Research the Indiana Traumatic Brain Injury Model Systems 90DP0036 and 90DRTB0002. NIDILRR is a Center within the Administration for Community Living (ACL), Department of Health and Human Services (HHS). The contents of this expert answer do not necessarily represent the policy of NIDILRR, ACL, HHS, and you should not assume endorsement by the Federal Government.
Dr. Dawn Neumann is an Associate Professor at Indiana University School of Medicine in the Department of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation and the Research Director at the Rehabilitation Hospital of Indiana.