Why do I get easily irritated and rudely snap at people? How can I stop myself from doing so?

I am in my last semester of college, living with my parents right now. My father had anger issues too. My mother was never home because she prioritized work and socialization more than anything. She cared more about how other people perceived her rather than what the truth really looked like. She and my father are separated but still living in the same house, just separate bedrooms. I never really knew my parents, they were always absent when I was growing up. I don't have the tools to control my anger.
Asked by Andy

Hello Andy,

Thank you for reaching out.

As I'm sure you can appreciate, this would likely be better answered upon further exploration in session. However if i may i'll try to offer insight for what you have already highlighted and you can see if it feels right for you.

Lets start with the question itself.........I would ask what happens for you when you respond to people in a short manner and snap at them? do you get any physical sensations? any thoughts? feelings? emotions? If yes to any of these, then this would be a good indicator as to what might be happening for you and the possible reasons behind why you might respond in this way towards interactions with other.

If you're not sure what happens for you a good way in which you can identify this is by journaling. Journaling does not have to be a complicated thing or even an everyday thing. Simply whenever you feel you have something to write. It equally does not have to be a novel it can be a few words. If you're focusing purely on what happens for you around interactions with others maybe restrict yourself to only journalling around such interactions. However journalling in a wider context could offer insight to what might be happening for you during the day. For example if something has happened in the day that has annoyed you and then you respond to others by projecting this annoyance on them, it's possible that might offer insight as to the why. But you can journal in either way.

How journalling helps............its two fold, in that one it helps us get thoughts feelings emotions out of our head and down on paper so that we can respond not in the moment with a flash of anger etc but with a mindful view. Second, it teaches us to really look at and engage with our process (how we function in thoughts feelings emotions), to look at what is happening for us, which offers insight that we may otherwise not realize or be aware of.

Now for the wider context of your question..............it could be and only you will know here, that your anger response to other could be a learned behavior on account of your Dad. What do I mean by this? Well simply that when we see our parents act in certain ways or do certain things and we are growing and developing, we take these things on board and we mimic them and respond in the same way in similar situations. However while we are growing and developing we lack the wider context as to why our parents might have anger issues, i.e. is it in certain situations with certain people or is it with everyone. Also the reasons behind those anger issues, unless they tell us why they are angry, we cannot know for sure, so we might see this as a behavior that they do, take it on board as a typical way in which we should respond too but then because we are not aware of why they were angry we simply apply it to every one of our interactions with others.

The latter half of your question speaks to parents not being around, this could be a case for you as an attachment issue in development. Which may explain how you might interact with others now, but this would require further exploration to see if it is applicable.

As to how to stop this undesired behavior, the importance of therapy here cannot be underestimated in order to explore exactly what is behind the anger response for you. It should be noted that anger might be the displayed emotion but under anger there are many more feelings and emotions that it be discovered which of these might be at play, can again identify why you might be responding with anger. Think of it like an iceberg with anger on top and the other emotions beneath the sea level.

In terms of practical things you could try to try to respond differently in the mean time, mindfulness practice may offer some respite from anger responses.

Hope this helps,



(BA, (Hons), Integrative, Counsellor)