What to do if your brother has anger issues

Loving someone with mental health issues can be a challenge, but that doesn’t mean it isn’t rewarding.  One of the most difficult challenges to face in a loved one, specifically from a brother, is anger issues.


When your brother struggles with anger issues, the most extraordinary way you can show your love is to understand his feelings, be patient as he works to figure them out himself, know when to seek help, and always remember to stand firm for what you deserve as well. 


Read on to understand the challenges for chronic anger issues in a loved one and some solutions.


Understand the Difference Between Healthy and Unhealthy Anger


Healthy Anger


Anger is an unavoidable part of life, particularly in the face of troubling events and during a certain age.  For example, it’s entirely normal for your brother to experience greater trouble controlling his anger when he’s in that awkward transition between child and adult.  


Healthy Anger


While there’s no excuse for poor behavior, understand that while he’s still growing, he’s basically a giant, pulsing nerve, ruled by hormones and all manner of thoughts you probably don’t want to associate with your brother.  


When examining your brother’s behavior, it’s helpful to understand that the anger itself is not necessarily the problem; it’s how he expresses that anger.


Healthy anger:

  • Is expressed without vindictiveness
  • Doesn’t create more pain
  • Hopes to achieve a form of communication
  • Doesn’t linger after the event  
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In the shortest terms possible, healthy anger is productive and doesn’t create additional problems.  


Anger is unavoidable.  It’s vital that before attempting to “fix” your brother, you know that there is nothing wrong with the way he’s feeling.  The goal is simply to express those feelings in a more positive, productive way.


Unhealthy Anger


Unhealthy anger is a land mine to any relationship.  Once that sensitive trigger has been hit, it exists outside the realm of control, exploding without any care for what may wander into its path.


Once you’ve seen it, you know.  This is the kind of anger you need to avoid.  


Unhealthy anger:

  • Is expressed with hate and/or rage
  • Has the intent of hurting another, mentally or physically
  • Shows signs of emotional baggage
  • Is triggered rather than built up


If your brother is regularly expressing unhealthy anger, you can only provide him with the support he needs to fix this issue on his own.  For all of us, personal growth is most easily achieved with the help of a robust support system,  and your brother is no different. 


Listen without Judgement


If your brother struggles with anger issues, make sure that he understands the problem.  Talk it out with him when he’s in a positive frame of mind, taking care to express the way his lashing out affects others around him.


When speaking to him, focus on using “I” statements.  Rather than saying, “You got way too aggressive,” try saying, “I felt scared when I could see how much X troubled you.”  By steering away from judgmental language, you can help your brother think about the impact of his actions without overwhelming him with defensiveness or guilt. 

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After your brother has cooled down from an episode, revisit the moment without telling him how to feel.  For example, ask him, “Why do you think you were so deeply affected by X happening?” Listen to his response and help him understand what his triggers are. 


Sadly, when it comes down to it, there’s only so much you can do.  Everyone has a limit.  Sometimes, the hardest thing when we love someone is to admit that we can’t help them alone. 


Encourage Him to Seek Help


As much as I’m sure you’d like to sweep in and fix everything, as much as I’m sure you think deep down that you can “fix him” if you try just as little harder, it can’t be done.  The issue is out of your hands.  For serious anger issues, only a professional can help.


Encourage your brother to Seek Help


Here’s the thing: there’s more than one kind of professional. While some people may find the greatest relief in talking through their anger in therapy, others might be better off pursuing help through a personal trainer certified in these issues.


What works for one person may not work for everyone else, and your brother may have a long road ahead of him as he tries to find the perfect balance that works for him.


Whatever path he chooses, one thing is for sure: he’ll need you there. Asking for help is hard, especially for men. 


Your brother, like many men, may hold a deeply felt belief that he should maintain a sense of control.  Counseling of any kind forces a person to relinquish a bit of power, and it’s not always necessarily a comfortable feeling.

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Encourage your brother to seek help, and once you do, remind him that you are there for him, whatever he may need. Be understanding and patient with him during this period of adjustment, and ask his counselor if there’s anything more specific you can do to help him conquer his anger.


Stand Firm for What You Deserve


Through all of this, it’s important to remember that, despite your brother’s issues, you deserve to be treated with respect.


As mixed-up as it seems, it’s common to allow the ones we love the most to get away with the most.  It’s easy to tell someone you don’t especially like to “back off”; saying the same thing to your brother may be far less so.


Regardless of how you want to help him with his issues, under no circumstances should your brother be regularly berating or insulting you.  In addition, any signs of physical abuse whatsoever are not to be tolerated.  


If you live with your brother and are experiencing physical abuse, don’t feel trapped in this situation.  Reach out to local resources for help. 


The National Domestic Violence hotline is always open and available to help you if you’re struggling to free yourself from a dangerous situation.  Just call 1-800-799-SAFE or chat with one of their representatives online. 


Understanding how to help those you love while not hurting yourself can sometimes be a balance. Know your worth, realize what you deserve, and never let anyone put you in the position of deciding between your own self-respect and your relationship with your family.

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