Hurting Myself over Anger Issues 

Annette Nay, Ph.D.

Copyright 2003

Dear Annette,

I have begun hitting myself in the face, and punching myself in the face.  I also fly into rages and throw things.  I get so angry and rageful that I feel like breaking everything around me.  I attribute this a lot to the lack of help I am getting around my house.  A litter box that hasn't been cleaned in over 2 months, clothes piled so high that it takes up an entire bedroom, the acrid smell of animals (we have dogs and cat).  I work full time and have a husband and two preteen boys.  The boys help out somewhat, but my husband never completes a task - I have been waiting for over a month now for him to put new toilet paper roll holders up on the wall - but they remain unattached and unfinished.  The shower broke, the toilet has clogged -- so what does he do?  He uses the other ones that work, and leaves the broken ones ignored.

I am at my wits end, and I feel like I am only going to get worse with my rages.  Please help me!  Whenever I ask my husband for help or especially when I am at the "breaking point" and I blow up, he just gets mad at me and we get into a big fight.  ANY and ALL advice is truly helpful.  I want to be the happy, fun person I used to be.  Thank you. 

Angry & Hurt


Dear Angry & Hurt,

Lets start with the obvious.  I believe you and I agree that hurting yourself is not normal and cannot continue.  The reason for this behavior lies in one of two reasons.  Either you have a chemical imbalance in the brain, which causes you to do unreasonable things or you choose to do this behavior.  If it is the first, then you need to see and psychiatrists, who will be able to get you the medication you need to be as close to normal as possible.  As this behavior seems to only exist because of this isolated situation, I believe, from what you have told me, that the answer is the later of the two reasons. 

A behavior exists because it gets the person something s/he needs or wants.  So, what are you getting out of this behavior?  Dobby, the house elf and indentured servant to the mean wizard, Malfoy, in Harry Potter, hurts himself because he believes that he is punishing himself for bad behavior.  Are you hurting yourself because you get a release of anger that you have let built up toward your children and husband?  If this is the case then, you must find a healthier outlet for your anger.  A punching bag comes to mind or screaming into the wind or your pillow.  Whatever stressor there are in your life, you will need to practice better coping skills to help you get through them.  Beating yourself is not a good way to do this.  See:  Coping Skills (Click here)


 Assignment 1

After reading this article chose several things you feel comfortable with doing when you are stressed over this matter or any other, and DO as may as it takes to get back into control.


 Assignment 2

Another thing you really must do is find incentives and/or giving consequences to your able-bodied children to get their chores done.  You and your husband need to shut yourselves in your bedroom and come up with the job expectations and an accompanying consequence for not getting it done by its deadline.  Then, both of your must agree to consistently follow through with this decision or it will not work.

See:  Taking Control of Your Family  (Click here)

This article first suggests that you need a more stable and personable relationship with your husband.  This may also help with getting him to do his part.  However, you must remember this basic rule You cannot change anyone, only how you relate with them.  Another words, you can the only behavior you can change is your own.  Obviously, the way you relate with them now is not working, so you must change your behavior, which forces them to behave differently because of your change.  With the children, this article outlines exactly what needs to be done, to motivate them to get their work done.  DO IT

Here are three other excellent articles that if you practice their tenets, will help you parent your children better! 

Helping Our Children Overcome Bad Behaviors

A Parent's Guide for Raising Children

Family Council


 Assignment 3

Motivating a husband to do his part is another thing entirely, because you cannot exactly use the same actions to get them to do what you need them to do.  You must ask yourself 

Negotiation may be the key. 

See:  Five Problem Solving Methods

         Brainstorming Inventive Options for a Win-Win Outcomes

         Hints for De-Escalating Conflict

         Techniques for Breaking an Impasse

         What to Do if They Won't Negotiate 

If this does not work, then use natural consequences.  For example:  The plugged toilet natural consequence: If you dont fix it, somebody else will have too, only it will cost you money. 

Sweetly say:  Honey, since you are too busy to fix the toilet, I will help you by calling a plumber to fix it. Ill do that on Monday (a reasonable deadline).  He will probably say:  I can do that!  Then say:  It really needs to be done.  If you cant get it done by Monday, Ill call the plumber.  Remember:  You can catch more flies with honey then vinegar.  This means you can get your husband to do more if you treat him sweetly instead of vilely, even if he deserves it.  

Getting your husband to do his part will work better if you are taking care of your relationship, instead of ignoring it.  There are too many divorces, because couples believe that the marriage will take care of itself.  This is not true.  If you are not actively working on keeping close, you are growing apart.  This is part of the problem.  

Assignment 4

Designate a special night each week as date night and go do something with your husband, alone.  Do this consistently each week!  If the marriage is important to you both then it is worth taking care of. 

See:  Married Couple's Date Night 

Here are three other articles that are important for you to see and implement into your marriage. 

Emotional and Psychological Abuse Continuum 

The Forgiving Marriage: Overcoming Anger & Resentment and Rediscovering Each Other

 Five Dimensions Related to Success or Failure in Marriage

 All four assignments need to be put into play immediately.  Yes, this is more work for you in the beginning, but it will pay off big dividends.  You may even like your husband and children again.  Your home will be clean and a haven of peace instead of a pigsty and a contentious angry place. 

 Please do these things.  If you have given it two consecutive months and see no positive difference in everyones behavior, then seek help from a competent counselor to help the entire family to work out the problems they have let themselves fall into.  These problems are not just yours, but the whole families.  If the problem is to be fixed, it has to come from a change in everyone.  

The key here is your husband and you  BEING CONSISTENT in following through, every time!  If you BOTH are not consistent, none of this will work.  In fact the children will run right over you.

If you have any more questions, please write me again.


Annette Nay, Ph.D.

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