Q: Occasionally I become so angry at my boyfriend, I can feel the anger swell up from the pit of my stomach and I become cold and hateful. I will say hurtful things and feel the anger within me. Normally I am loving and sweet. Any insight to this?

A: Do you feel angry after he has hurt you in some direct way? If so, good for you! If not, read on.

If you feel angry when he is not hurting you in any way, what, specifically does happen right before you feel the anger? Whatever happens just before you feel this way is what I call the “trigger moment” (because it “triggers” the apparently irrational feeling).

Look closely at these trigger moments and ask yourself what happened in your life to make these moments seem hurtful or scary to you, even though, as an adult, you know they shouldn’t be seen that way.

Here’s a corny example: Suppose you keep looking at these trigger moments for a while and you find that they always involve him touching or looking at your hair. When you have time to think about it, you remember that earlier in your life some adult would touch your hair just before they ridiculed you, or just before they hurt you in some other way. To you, when your boyfriend touches your hair you feel “sure” that he is about to do this same nasty thing, so you see yourself as “striking back” at him even before anything bad happens to you!

When you find the trigger moments and make the connection to earlier life events, the whole problem might disappear.

Even if it doesn’t disappear after a couple of months or so, you can make an appointment with a therapist and walk into their office armed with detailed information about what you need to work on with them.

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