A Shocking Response You Can Give When Someone Lashes Out at You

(NOTE – if you are dealing with someone who has serious anger issues and incidents where it is more than just someone “venting”, please refer to the bottom of this article.) 

When someone is upset and in pain, it’s easy for those strong emotions to come flying out of their mouth as words.

Those words can hurt the people around them.

Whoever happens to be in the firing line is going to suffer the consequences. The consequences of their inability to process their upset/pain in a healthy way.

Most times people don’t intend to lash out. It just happens.

I’m sure you can recall a time when you got into this state and took your frustrations out on someone else.

The next time someone lashes out at you, firing unwarranted hurtful words, looks or actions, take a moment to remember that it’s from their own upset and pain they are doing this.

Remember what it feels like to be in that situation yourself. Have a little empathy. That self-awareness and understanding is what will stop the situation from escalating.

When Someone Lashes Out, What do They Most Need?

Love and understanding.

Who is the person right there in the firing line? Who is being hurt by their words, looks or actions? Who can now be the person to give them that love?


What would stop you from expressing love and understanding to this person who is clearly in upset and pain?

You and your choices.

You can sink into the situation and become unconscious and also stuck in pain. You will therefore feed their pain, which further feeds your own pain (vicious cycle!). Or you can rise above it with conscious awareness and realize this is not about you.

“When you say something unkind, when you do something in retaliation, your anger increases. You make the other person suffer, and they try hard to say or do something back to make you suffer, and get relief from their suffering. That is how conflict escalates.” – Thich Nhat Hanh

Why What Others Say & Do is NOT About You

When someone lashes out at you, what can you do that will make a difference?

There are two effective strategies you can use.

At a minimum use strategy #1, and if you’re up for being a real game-changer, you can go further and also use strategy #2!

Strategy 1. Non-Reaction

Be passive.

Do not react.

Do not retaliate.

Do not fire back pain and hurt at them to counter the pain and hurt you feel. Break the  cycle. Be peaceful in the face of the pain (see these 13 practical steps for practising peaceful response in the face of any painful trigger).

Realize it is not about you. Realize that anyone in pain and upset needs love and understanding.

You may choose to say nothing and do nothing. Non-participation is often enough to break the cycle because by not giving a negative response, their negative energy has nothing to feed on.

Don’t fan the flames of their raging fire! Non-reaction is your best choice.

Strategy 2. Love & Understanding

You may choose to go one step further than non-participation and being passive. You may also express love and understanding.

You may say any of the following things, or similar, depending on the situation:

  • I understand where you are coming from.
  • I understand you are upset.
  • I understand you are in pain.
  • I understand you are frustrated.
  • Is there anything I can do to help you?
  • I love you.
  • I hear you.
  • I appreciate how you are feeling.
  • Thank you for sharing how you feel.


I wrote this post because this morning I was upset. Very upset.

My computer and mouse were both misbehaving and the internet kept cutting out as I was trying to finish a piece of work.

For ten minutes I fell into unconscious reaction about it all, and the person in the firing line was my husband.

My pain and upset came out toward him. It was not about him at all. And how did he respond?

He modeled consciousness. He did not react.

He left the house. He returned an hour later and…

A Shocking Response

He came bearing gifts. A new mouse for my computer and five roses.

How could I stay in pain and upset in this moment. It was impossible.

This is the shocking response you can give when someone projects their pain onto you. Shock them with your love and understanding.

It is the only way that will break the cycle – be it a long running cycle of pain or a momentary lapse into upset.

Shift your perspective and your experience of life will shift as a result. Give this gift to yourself and to everyone in your life.

[clickToTweet tweet=”If someone fires hurtful words at you, remember it’s from their own pain they do this. ” quote=”If someone fires hurtful words at you, remember it’s from their own pain they are doing this. Love & silence is a healing response.”]

Lashing Out at Someone You Love?

It’s brave to acknowledge if you have noticed your own tendency to lash out at others, including perhaps lashing out at someone you love dearly. It can feel so confronting to face our own inner challenges, and to own those and take accountability. It can be confusing to know where to start with breaking that cycle too.

If you notice that you lash out at loved ones, or people generally, consider seeing a therapist who specializes in anger management and relationship counselling. Having professional help to guide you through learning how to stop lashing out at loved ones can make the world of difference.

Below are related articles to support you with understanding anger and learning how to process it in healthier ways:

Disclaimer: Dealing with Violence / Abuse?

If you have visited this article because you are being subjected to violence or abuse of any kind (physically, mentally or emotionally), please see below.

  • This personal growth article is intended for people who have experienced one-off or infrequent issues with another person, where another person has been venting and has blurted out upset.
  • There is a significant difference between this type of infrequent hurtful encounter where angry words are exchanged (in an otherwise relatively healthy relationship), versus a situation where someone is subjected to regular bouts of abusive language and behavior, or any type of violence (one-off or repeated).
  • If you are in a serious situation dealing with someone else’s anger, lashing out, abuse or violence of any kind, or you think you might be and are unsure, please seek support. Talking to someone you trust is a good starting point – either a loved one or a professional. Help is available to you no matter where you live. Often there are free helplines and community services in place to support people in these situations.

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85 Responses

  1. My sister (2 1/2 yrs younger) has for all of our adult lives (we are early 50s) taken all her frustrations out on me. She did it when we where younger. She always blamed me for anything that went wrong with any of the men she dated. (She dated quite a few in younger years.) Also, back then any man I was interested in she would try to “take away” from me… even if I didn’t really want anything but friendship with him. (some of the men told me this back then) She ‘s been married for 23 years. Her husband is an officer. They have an income of around ~~ anywhere from $8000 to $11,000 per month depending on how much overtime he works. ($3000 of that is her disability pay as she never made it through boot camp in the army and gets full VA). Recently I lost my husband 5 months ago. (He and I lived the last 7 years off $1700 per month as he became disabled and I took care of him all that time.) I have been grieving and struggling each moment to not give in to all the pain, loss, etc. Within a month of him passing she (sister) told me I should get over it and and just go on with my life… That she doesn’t have anything more than me … I need to get over my grief and stop being down and make a new life for myself. (I have talked to her about it all (grief/loss/hurt) but I have not laid at her house, or talked everyday to her… etc.) That hurt me so badly. She has a LIVING husband, they have a brick home, new vehicles, savings accounts, he can make almost unlimited income working overtime, etc. Yet, she has ALWAYS has seemed jealous of me through the years. My husband and I had many difficulties in our relationship but stuck with each other. We have an old mobile home, no savings, no new vehicles, etc. For years she (sister) has told everyone HOW BAD her life is… how her husband never does anything around the house, how she has to do it all, etc. ( I told her to hire someone to mow her grass and do the outside work and she could just do the inside work, dusting, vaccuming, laundery, etc… Her reply to this was “I can’t do all that inside this house, there’s 3 people living her now. (~~ she recently got custody of a minor child in the family) Recently she’s been very upset her husband and taking it all out on me. She sent me like 30 screens of hateful ugly text, telling me basically how bad I am, how I don’t care, how I think I have the answer for everyone, how she takes up for me to everyone (I really don’t know who everyone is as I never see any of our family… the two older sisters, etc. and our parents are gone) In reality I have always defended her and took up for her all the way back to school but she doesn’t even KNOW this. In high school to keep a girl from fighting her, when she burned a mobile home and the investigator wanted me to go to court with him, and I refused as I told him I only had my opinion no proof, and if he didn’t have proof to leave her alone, etc. etc. etc… She’s done a lot of hurt and wrong to me through the years and yet, she can have the kindest heart and we can be close until she gets on her “fits”. I’m hurt and so tired of her doing me this way. I could not believe she told me she didn’t have anymore than me and I needed to just get over my husband dying. (this was nearly unforgivable) No I’m not perfect, but I’m not at all like she’s saying. She’s basically talked behind my my husband an my backs also to others before in years gone by. Another reason I’ve been “out of the sister group” in years gone by with she and two other sisters is because they have did not legal things for money before such as burning the trailer for insurance many years ago, etc.) They could talk among themselves if I wasn’t there, etc.
    I also never ran with different men a lot, never tried drugs, etc. I mean all my life I have tried to “fit in” with my 3 sisters and I just don’t care to “fit in” anymore. I’m struggling daily to get over all the pain of the last 6 months of losing my husband and I’m trying to rebuild a life for myself. (all that’s kept me going a lot of times are my pets and the Bible verse “whatsoever things are good, whatsoever things are lovely, think upon these things…”

    1. Thank you for sharing and my deepest sympathies to you with the transitioning of your husband. I hear your pain and grief, and acknowledge you. Grief is so immense and it takes much time to process and heal from the loss of a dear loved one. No one can put a timeframe on this at all. We must feel to heal, and grief has many stages we go through. I have shared a link below to a free online class I did a few years ago with a friend who is also a coach, where we both shared support for processing grief, as we have both been through that and wanted to help others. I hope in some way the class may be helpful to you at this difficult time.
      As for the way your sister has treated you, I hear how much pain that has caused you. You deserve to be treated well and sometimes we have to lay down new boundaries, to care for ourselves. It’s not necessarily easy putting in place new boundaries, shifting communication, stepping back etc after years of the same pattern, but trust your own intuition about what you need, what does and doesn’t work. If you were to set up a new path going forward, honoring how you feel, see what intuitively what comes to you.
      I send love and sympathy your way.

      1. Welcome to your awakening. You deserve peace. Walk away and never look back. After losing people that were my world to Heaven. Ive realized i dont need or have to deal with people who are not good for my soul. Not that you dont wish things would have been different or bad days wont happen because they will. You just poor all that energy into you♡ Time for you!!!

  2. Hi, I would like to thank you for your article “Shocking Response you can give when someone Lashes Out at you”. I honestly wish it was me who was “lashed out” at, but it is me who does the lashing. At first, it seemed to come out when I was at home, between my adult son and I. I feel he takes advantage of me, and I do not hold him accountable. He has some disabilities that lead me to believe that he would not survive on his own. If something happens either at work or driving home, I tend to lash out at him. Then apologize, but the things that come out of my mouth are shocking to me and seem to get worse in each fight. The fury is a tangible entity.
    First, I’ve not been this way forever. I’m a kind person who works on herself to be the best version of “me” that I can be. But I am learning that since I became “sober”, I do not know how to control my response to anger very well. It feels like I missed the lessons others have had to learn to control their anger outbursts. But I’ve been sober for 11 years, the time to learn is right now.
    Twenty-one months ago, I blew up at long time friend. Our relationship had been strained. She “seemed annoyed about something I had done” but would not be specific and tell me why she was so distant. I had a lot of stressful things going on in my life. The biggest thing I was struggling with at that particular time was that I had to put both of my two dogs down within a four-month span. One dog was 13 and a doctor at the emergency clinic, talked me into putting her through surgery. By doing the surgery, she was unable to walk and still had to be put down after racking up a ton of medical bills for her.
    My other dog was my sister’s dog, whom I had adopted when my sister passed away. He was only 7 years old and that same darn doctor at the emergency clinic told me that my little boy had developed leukemia, which could not be humanly treated. To stop the vomiting, he had to be put down immediately. Well, my friend’s response to Max having to be put down was, well at least he is now with your sister. I went postal and told her to never talk to me again. I wanted to forget that this friendship ever existed. That I would never let her hurt me again ever again. After eight months I called her, texted her, emailed her and she would not respond.
    I stopped at her home on Sunday, June 9, 2019. I was determined to have us talk and see if we could mend fences. I missed her so much. Not a week went by during that 22 months time did I not think about her and regret how our friendship ended.
    When I got to her house, I saw it was For Sale. I rang the bell and didn’t hear her dog bark, I peaked in the window and all her things were gone.
    When I Googled her house listing, her obituary came up. My friend died on August 24, 2018 and no one notified me of her passing. I’ve since tracked down a friend of hers who told me that she had suddenly became septic and died suddenly. Why didn’t I go to her house initially?
    Life is just too precious. We wasted time that could have been spent enjoying each other’s company. Rest in peace my friend.

    1. Hi Kathy
      Thank you for sharing your journey and experiences, and my deepest sympathies at the loss of your friend and also the passing of your beloved dogs. Life can be so challenging and I hear how much pain you’ve experienced with these situations, and acknowledge and respect your continued desire to heal and grow through it all. I hope the resources on offer here will be in some small way a support to you, and feel free to reach out anytime. Sending love, Bernadette

  3. Hi Kathy,
    My son has been married for about 5 years now and he has had a very difficult marriage with his wife hard to live with he said. Wife is pregnant with a second child on the way. When we see them for get togethers they get into it and argue. Daughter in law has treated us very disrespectful and a few months ago really lashed out at us. I have set up boundaries and distancing. We may not be able to see our grandchildren in the future because she has deep seated anger. She was adopted in an ophangage at the age of 3 1/2 so we know that she might have attachment disorder and narcassism. I have done a lot of research on this topic. I am trying not to take the destructive and hurtful behavior personal but it is hard. There has been a lot of drama and emotional instability in their relationship. My son is very stable and if it had not been for him I am sure everything would fall through the cracks. She was abused in the orphanage we found out on the day that they got married which was a shock to me. I am realizing now the pain that she is going through. I strive to have peace, harmony and simplication in my life and had to set up boundaries with them as it was getting out of hand. I have also sought councelling in order to learn how to deal with this. I am not used to being around this type of person and is an abnormal situation. Life is too short for fighting and discord going on. Any further suggestions in dealing with this problem? She is very controlling and insecure also of my son. It is hard for me to take harrassment and aggression when we have been so good to her and we are undeserving of this type of behavior displayed. She has no control over her behavior and what she says around people.

    1. Hi, thanks for your message, this is Bernadette here. I hear you that this is an extremely difficult situation. There is an immense amount you and your family are being put through due to pain spilling over from this person who is clearly in deep pain and suffering from her own background/past and her present level of consciousness and free will choices. The best we can do in these times is to keep to those firm, healthy, clear boundaries, retain calm but direct and authentic communication about what is and isn’t ok (from a place of compassion and understanding), and to retain the knowing at all times that the person you are dealing with is lost in their own pain. It’s important to both acknowledge that but also not let that be a reason or justification for behavior that isn’t okay, and the only helpful response to that is to lay boundaries just like you are. While it is so difficult to see her impact on your son, and that impact on you to watch this and to know it may affect access to your grandchildren, we also know in these times that we can only control what we can control, and we have to let go of the rest. So focus entirely on your wellbeing, on boundaries, calm clear communication, holding the possibility for your son and grandchildren that they will have peace, that she will find healing, and that somehow in all this pain there are potential life lessons being learned (for all involved). Challenges are such a big part of our lives, and from all of them we can find powerful growth and healing, if we look for it. I take a very spiritual approach to situations like this, as well as the practical in taking care of boundaries and communication. Personally, I would spend time meditating/praying for her healing, that she have peace and happiness in her life and that miracles occur in this situation for all.
      I send love and peace to you,

  4. Thank you Bernadette. Your comment has been extremely helpful to me. I am striving through prayer and God that everything will calm down and work out. She blames myself and husband for everything. I have had counselling on this to realize what she is doing. I am so glad that I found Thedailypositive.com.

    1. I’m glad this was helpful, and it’s wonderful to have you with us in the community here. I hope the resources provided will be of use to you for your situation and journey in life. Much love, B

  5. Hello
    I had a friend for a short time. We never met in person but through email and phone calls our friendship became very deep and intimate. We shared very personal things about ourselves. She suffers greatly from rheumatoid arthritis and has had several surgeries. I learned a lot about this awful disease and I read about how it can cause depression and mood swings in many people. And she had told me that her attitude and mood was often determined by her physical pain at any given time. This made me feel a bit edgy but I care for and love my friend. And I agonized over her pain and worried about her. She was prone to compression fractures and it was always something. She had a cancer scare that we got through together. It made our friendship that much closer. But she could be Jeckl and Hyde/hot then cold from one moment to the next and it could feel like walking on egg shells. She talked about us meeting in person for months, then, almost overnight, she changed and became upset if I even hinted a meeting. It was too much pressure she said, and a reminder of all she could not do. So I dropped that subject. We emailed each other everyday to check in. It was mutual. It was sweet and we would exchange loving and uplifting words and enjoyed the interaction. Her health weighed on me. She was always in pain and in the hospital for infections due to the immunosuppressive meds RA patients take. It is an awful disease. I tried to be careful and a loving friend. She gave me her husband’s cell phone and said I could call him anytime. So at a particularly bad time, after she’d had surgery and wasn’t doing well, she emailed me and said she’d be off email for a while and didn’t want me to worry. A couple of days later I texted her husband and only said that I was concerned about her. That’s it. Within 2 hours she emailed me and said some incredibly hurtful things. I was pushy, demanding, needy, like a stalker she said, my interaction was abnormal, I was too attached, and she had to stay in contact with me or I would freak out (which never happened). She said she never should have continued the friendship as long as she did. On and on it went. It broke my heart. And she cut me off. That was 6 months ago and I haven’t heard from her. I still miss her and still sometimes cry thinking about her pain and wishing I could have been the friend she wanted and needed. I have since sent her a Bday card and another card recently. Just told her that I still care deeply and I’m still here for her. I just remember what she said -that she might seem bipolar to me because of her sudden mood changes and I’m wondering if this is one of those instances or if she really thinks so badly of me. So I feel somewhat stuck and without closure. I hate giving up on people who meant a lot but I am getting to that point. I don’t want to be the “stalker” she accused me of being but I want her to know that I hold no grudge and I’m here. Have I said enough to her and it’s time to let her go, or do I keep at it every few months? I’m leaning towards acceptance and letting her go. Sorry to go on so long

  6. Hi
    I should have mentioned that my immediate response to the deluge of hurtful remarks was your strategy#2. This was followed by an email about how I don’t respect her or her boundaries. And I apologized and said I never would intentionally hurt her. We had a wonderfully supportive friendship while it lasted. I was caring for a mother with Alzheimer’s so she would comfort me. And I comforted her as best I could. It was intense. But maybe her pain was just too much and my friendship felt like a weight and a burden. And maybe our contact was too frequent. She didn’t suggest it was and I didn’t see any warning signs. So it really came as a shock, ending it the way she did.

    1. Thanks for sharing about your experience with this friend. A tough situation, and no doubt confusing given you valued the friendship and were so thoughtful about trying to be the type of friend she needed, and considered in what you did and said. All we can ever do is be our authentic self, and to know that sometimes that won’t be the person others want or need, and that doesn’t mean there is anything wrong with you or with them, it just means the 2 of you don’t gel together for whatever reason. You have much love and kindness to offer a friend, and while this person was an important part of your life for that period of time, they have chosen to cut themselves off… so rather than thinking about how to be different / to be the person they wanted… I encourage you to know that you are 100% more than enough just as you are, and that the natural loving, caring friend you were and are now is the exact person to continue being, and you will attract into your life new people who resonate with that energy. Relationships can be season, reason or lifetime. Perhaps this person was a seasonal or reason relationship, and as you move forward just think about what the relationship taught you, what it showed you does and doesn’t work for you, have gratitude for the good, and look forward with an open mind and heart for new people who are right now ready to enter your life and connect with you in friendship.

      1. Thank you Bernadette. Your reply is very much appreciated. I really loved the way we checked in with each other everyday. We shared big and little things. There is no one else like that in my life. For a while, I did try to plan an in-person meeting. In hindsight, it probably just felt like pressure to her. She is sensitive. I guess it’s normal to look back and think of what you could have said or done differently. Maybe things would be different. Maybe she felt she could not be the friend I needed. We made mistakes; I just felt like we had a connection and there wasn’t anything we couldn’t have discussed and resolved. But you’re right, she chose to walk away and that is her right. But, OMG, I miss her so very much. And it’s very painful. Thank you again for your kind comments

  7. Hi Bernadette,
    I recently received an email from an ex that lashes out at me and it bothers me a lot. I know all the things he laid against me are false but it hurts me deeply. It makes me wants to cry just emailing you what he said to me. Except, he’s told me the opposite of what he wrote in the email about me when I was with him. He said I was beautiful inside and out. So, how could someone who claims to love me very much say awful things? The relationship ended because I felt it was a roller coaster ride for me. What broke the straw was he accused me of not caring for him and not calling him to check on him after his colonoscopy. I did called him at work and he did not answer, I assumed he was upset at me. That weekend, I had my best friend visiting so he was very short with me. I assumed he was upset with me because he didn’t answered my text. The following Tuesday, we had made plans to have lunch but he stood me up and went to lunch by himself without telling me. I sat in the office waiting for him to text me when he was done with his meeting. I texted him “Are we still on for lunch?” He responded “I am at _____, you are welcome to join me.” I responded “that’s rude.” He responded “it is also rude not to call or check if I am ok.” I felt he retaliated because I didn’t check in on him or call him while I was spending my weekend with my best friend. I honestly don’t need this kind of relationship, it is draining me mentally. I finally skyped him at work “please stop.” That’s when he stopped skyping me at work. Now, he can only email to my personal account because I refused to answer his calls at work. I responded to his email he sent in December on February that I could not be in a relationship with him because I don’t trust him. I also emailed him the picture he sent me, it showed he was having dinner with someone. So, he responded to me last Wednesday saying what a bad character I am. If I am so awful, shouldn’t he be happy that we are not together anymore? I shouldn’t have responded to his email but instead I did respond with a short one but it could hurt him back as well. I emailed “You are absolutely right, I am a heartless person. I abused and used people. You and everyone should thank God for removing me in their life. Everyone dodged a bullet….pray for my next victim.” He said he wondered who’s my victim these days. He’s trying to fish to see if I am dating anyone. Honestly, because of him, I don’t trust guys and I haven’t gone out to meet people since our breakup from August. I am not interested, I am hurt and I feel it would be hard for me to give my heart out again. I spend most of my time with my family and then go spend it at my ex-husband’s house with the boys. I lost hope and faith.

    1. Hey, I hear the pain you’re going through and please know that through all adversity, pain, difficulty, confusion and breakdown, there is ALWAYS HOPE and space for healing, and through our healing journeys we rise up more our true selves than ever before, and we can choose to make the coming days brighter than they have ever been. There are trustworthy people, it is possible to trust, it possible to open one’s heart again. These are all choices we make… choosing to believe in a better today and a better tomorrow, using the pain of the past to heal and become stronger and more true to ourselves, and to know that we can create a future that aligns with our deepest values and desires. Faith and hope are always available, even in those times when it feels you’ve lost them. I send much love your way at this time, may peace be upon your mind and heart. B

    2. I lost this guy i really loved i said really mean things to him that i wish i could take back i want him to forgive me and take me back he wanted to marry me in person too one day as well he cheated on me several times though i cheated on him several times too he needs to promise not to cheat on me anymore and i might take him back.

  8. My fiance will take, running out of time in the morning, to, telling me she hates me, and things not associated to the frustration.
    I have taken step one, I say, I know exactly your frustration, silently stepping away, to allow her space. That usually just begins, just like you to not care and walk away.
    Keep in mind, I fell victim early on, and usually took the react with stupid comments, and now my own frustration for her frustration, that’s when I started to let the meltdown happen, say something kind, and step away. But, that didn’t work. Sourly because it was taken as not caring. Even though I’ve said prior, I’m just going to allow your space when those moods approach.
    I’ve resorted to positive comments, not saying anything and just hugging her, or holding her, to usually just be pushed away…silence.
    But, here is the question. She will often later, still angry, say, Sorry you cant understand what it’s like to have depression or be bipolar. I completely understand having meltdowns for very minimal things. And, not my problem. It’s the resorting to the attitude that, it makes it almost a free pass card, to get away. With saying some of the most off the wall, hateful, and truly hurtful things, that have absolutely nothing to do with, the “frustration” at that moment.

    I’m in no way saying I’ll ever understand the complete package of certain mental issues, bipolar, depression etc. ..I know I’ve experienced plenty of my own issues in life, but, I’m not saying every single person can help, deal, or understand their own episodes
    I’m just asking why some, resort to acting as if it’s just ok, .afterwards and still angry, say.. you think I can help this?
    Thankyou for help or thoughts

    1. Hi Scott, I hear you and it can be challenging and frustrating. It may be that perhaps doing sessions together for personal growth or counselling would help, where you can have someone mediate to allow you both to better understand each other’s viewpoints, and come to common ground. People have all sorts of drivers as to why they behave how they do, and why they may or may not accept responsibility or see things more clearly or see your perspective. Each person is unique and we all bring our history and ‘stuff’, beliefs, and pains, hopes and dreams, to each relationship, as well as our level of consciousness of course. It sounds like you’ve taken multiple approaches to ease the situations and to find a new path forward and so you’re being proactive. If it feels like nothing is working, then as mentioned perhaps seeing a relationship expert for couples counselling would help, to work out together with that expert a way to better understand each other and find a better way of handling upset/difficult situations, better processing of feelings etc so you can both move forward together in the type of love and relationship you both want and deserve. Wishing you the best. B

  9. Me and boyfriend usually get along well, we enjoy each other companies and usually help each other when they’re feeling down or upset. I deal with massive anxiety and major depression so people getting irritated with me bothers me hard and there are times when he will get upset or frustrated at something and his whole demeanor will change and he won’t talk to me or communicate at all besides I’m fine and if i ask a question he gets somewhat annoyed or aggravated. Or if there’s something i need help with he’ll get frustrated even more. Typically when that happens it’ll trigger my anxiety right away, and I’ll tell him he’s angry right now and taking it out on me but he continues to say he’s fine and he doesn’t mean too.It’s been happening more recently with covid being everywhere. What’s a way to help and let him know I’m there while simultaneously not getting triggered due to his responses and not taking it personally?

    1. Hi Davey, I hear you. It’s great that you’re self aware enough of what is happening and also proactively wanting to find a better way to manage the situation, to be supportive of him and also honor and care for your own needs. The pandemic is certainly bringing up a lot of things in people, increasing stress, fear and anxiety levels and so it’s a time to be consistent with self care and mindfulness to release and reduce the effects and pressure. When it comes to helping him and letting him know you’re there, it’s as simple as saying to him that you understand he’s feeling XYZ way, and that you’re there for him if he wants to talk. Then it’s up to him to manage his own mindset and emotions as/how/when he chooses to. You might, if you think he’s open to it, suggest tips/tools that you find useful. For not getting triggered by his responses and not taking things personally… it’s okay to be triggered (you’re only human), and it’s more about what you do/how you behave when you realize your hot buttons are pushed. When triggered we have to choose, to let painful reaction take us over or to consciously cultivate peaceful response. There are 2 things I suggest… 1) create more peace, calm and space within you proactively (outside of times when you’re triggered), e.g using daily meditation, mindfulness/presence practice, journalling/self-reflection, calming/relaxing/empowered guided visualizations and affirmations, deep diaphragmatic breathing, EFT/tapping are all wonderful rituals for regular use which support more presence, less fear, less anxiety, less stress and less reactionary behavior. Then 2) in the moment when triggered, it helps immensely to remember “what others say and do is not about you, it’s a reflection of their inner state”. When someone directs their words/feelings at you, remember this. You still need boundaries and healthy communication about what is and isn’t okay, but ultimately the non reaction comes from you realizing this situation is not about you, stepping away and allowing yourself to process whatever has been triggered inside of you. I have lot of resources on all these topics and suggestions, so if anything resonates and interests you, you can look on my website to dive deeper or email to [email protected] and I can send you relevant starting links. I also suggest you subscribe to my regular emails as I’m always sharing tools/tips to help with general day to day life challenges like this. Love!

  10. I’m not even sure where to begin, well, maybe telling you that I scrolled down to the bottom of the article as soon as I read the first few lines, might tell you more about my situation.
    Firstly, I do acknowledge that I’m not blame free in this but I’ll get to that.

    My partner (4years) has a way of belittling and humiliating me, sometimes in public. I think it has gotten worse when I decided to start taking care of myself more and lost a lot of weight!
    The other day, with his young (4&6) sons (from his ex wife) in the car he told me that I’m terrible and that I make hime so unhappy and that if he wanted to be unhappy he would’ve stayed with his ex wife. I stayed calm throughout the whole thing as I’ve always tried to be a good example of a relationship for the boys as I don’t want them to have a skewed view of relationships when they grow up. My partner kept on shouting at me and I couldn’t take it anymore so as soon as he had to stop at a traffic light and it was safe, i got out of the car and walked home. I felt so trapped and sad that the person I give all my love to and take care of could treat me like this, especially in front of his kids!
    -that was Sunday. And I refused to soeak to him when he got home. I was too sad to spaak.
    We didn’t really see much of each other on Monday but he didn’t apologise or even acknowledged that he was wrong but still wanted to have sex, which I made sure he understood was not going to happen.

    Jump to Tuesday (yesterday). The day started off well but by lunchtime I had heard that I’m lazy, worthless, pathetic and demanding. Which I know none of them is actually descriptive of me but it still hurts especially when he says it in public!!!

    I stayed calm throughout all these jabs and verbal attacks.

    Until, we were at home, after dinner and this time he jabbed at my parents. Then something just snapped in me. I felt like my words were powerless and that he couldn’t hear when I asked him to stop insulting me and my family.

    (Trigger warning!!!)

    I jumped up from the couch where we were sitting and onto him. I put my hand over his mouth and pleaded for him to stop. He threw me off of him, accusing me of hitting him then punched me twice. Once on my shoulder, once in my face and kicked me on my knee. I immediately retreated and went to the bedroom. I was and still is in shock about what happened. In all of this, he told me he will kill me one day.
    His emotions fluctuate so often and I never know when he’s going to take yet another jab at me, verbally or physically.

    Why am I staying with someone who can do all if this to me? Why am I staying with someone who can’t, honestly say sorry. I’m on my knees every night praying for strength to know what I need to do. And in the morning I just go on with the day, wondering when he will be in a “bad mood” again!

    I’ve been to a psychologist to talk about my current and past trauma to understand why I react the way I do. I asked him to see one too as there is definitely something underlying that he’s not addressing. He made the appointment and then lied to me about going; I knew he was lying so I actually used technology he invented to confirm my suspicions. He still kept saying he went even though I had proof! (I only checked in on him like this once, because I knew my gut feeling was right!

    Please give me advice, i need it!

    1. Ann, thank you for reaching out and sharing. Firstly, it’s great you’re seeing a psychologist who is equipped to help you and advise you, and qualified to do so. As a personal growth Life Coach, the only thing I feel compelled to offer as a response is that your safety physically, mentally and emotionally is of the utmost importance and abuse of any type is not okay. You deserve to be safe. Ensuring your safety is #1. I highly recommend you have professional support, as with your psychologist, on a regular basis in supporting you to make the changes that will provide you safety and healing from this situation. I send much love to you.

  11. I’ve been having a very difficult time with my boyfriend. He is an alcoholic and has been having mental health issues. He is very emotional abusive. Lashes out at every thing and says mean hurtful comments all day and blames me for everything. He asked me for help a couple months ago and then started drinking again and quit his job we have two kids whom he does this stuff in front of them. He punches walls and door and slams them too. I am all out of options and do not know what to do I’m scared and I distance myself and I’m afraid he is going to hurt me or my kids. I have asked him to go get professional help but he says he doesn’t need it. Clearly he does his behavior it comes out of know where. I’m concerned about the kids and myself what do I do?

    1. Hi Mary, please definitely seek professional support in your local area asap, to help you create a plan of action that will keep yourself and your children safe. This is the most loving thing you can do for everyone involved. A therapist or counsellor is a good place to start, including asking them for advice and information about local community support services to help you. I believe there are also support groups like AA that help people who are affected by loved ones with addiction. If you feel overwhelmed or unsure where to start with finding help, consider if there is a trusted loved one, friend, family member etc you can talk to and ask them to support you. You are not alone, and the safety of yourself and your kids is the first priority. Sending love, B

  12. It’s overwhelming to read about so much love and hurt at the same time! Which loved ones are still feeling objectified? I hope they’ve found a way to emotionally disconnect through all the blame shifting.

  13. I have had a brief connection with someone on Social Media (initially with public posts). As a friend and I risked sending a DM which led to some very innocent and sweet exchanges and rapport then suddenly the mood changed the DMs seemed more remote though ok. On posts a little more subdued bearing in mind these were public and involved other people too. Then I sent an ambiguous comment not realising what the in this case documentary was about. He was enraged and just lashed out. I tried to explain the mistake numerous times. But I also couldn’t believe from the communication we had that he would have believed I would do what he accused me of. As well as the comment I made being far from specific. He unfollowed me and I was so hurt. I started replying to his public messages again liking things and also being supportive he liked things though he was very cool with me particularly then he did start replying to some things genuinely though here and there a few times I felt he made some very barbed replies. He sent a universal video then just out the blue blocked me. He is a person who is a known performer. Has very strong views about conservation and animal welfare as do I. He has been reactive to other people and has lost some support from them. At times he appears to miss being loved but then seems to reject someone who wants to just be a mate. I just don’t know what I’ve done wrong. I’ve had to make peace now but I still can’t understand his behaviour. I believe he has problems or maybe it was me.

    1. Hi Heather, sometimes we have to just do what we can to clean up any misunderstanding, and then forgive, hold space to be forgiven, and then let go. Sometimes people have their own views, inner triggers, beliefs, emotions and things happening in life that may be going on for them which we can’t see or understand, that colors how they respond/react to what we might say/do. So much can become lost in translation and nuances missed with online, written communication. Just know in your heart who you are and what you intended, and I find it helpful to wish the other person peace and happiness (in your own mind/heart and meditation), and then move forward. Sending love and peace your way.

  14. These are great tips for managing a situation when somebody who’s normally rational and considerate has lost the plot a bit as a result of stress. I’ve used them in the past to very good effect. Unfortunately, recently I found myself facing a bout of alarming rage from somebody who is much further down a dark path than I realised. He lashed out with even more venom, because he regarded my response as “patronising”. I suspect he’d have been preferred it if I’d lashed back with equal venom. If you’re dealing with somebody who has major self loathing and a strong sense of inferiority, it may well be that they only feel relatively good when they’re around people who they believe are in an even worse place than they are.

    An emotionally healthy, empathic response to somebody like that can produce unexpectedly virulent responses. Personally I think unless you’re very certain that you can physically restrain the person if their lashing out turns physical, it’s best to get out of a situation asap where somebody is lashing out at you. Managing difficult people can be a very useful skill, but it’s vital to recognise our limitation when dealing with somebody who’s lashing out because they’re extremely disordered and in a very dark place. Subscribing to the notion that they can somehow manage somebody (and, indeed, that they have any responsibility to do so as a compassionate person) like that could result in a person placing themselves at unacceptable risk.

    1. Hi Karina, thank you so much for sharing this. And yes indeed! It’s important to see the boundaries and what we are and are not responsible for, and to first and foremost in all situations place personal safety and wellbeing first. Your input and experience in sharing this is appreciated. Love to you!

  15. I have an extremely verbally abusive sister. The slightest issue causes her to go ‘scorched earth’ esp if you try to either try to tell her she has misunderstood something or if you try to defend your honor. She wants complete groveling and submission. Im so done with her. Really I am. Which is why I am here in the middle of the night on this site. I need answers and responding in love is what I have already done. Im more at that stage of blocking her phone number and never talking to her again. I avoid conflict and just cowtow to her. But tonight was way over the top and I need to find out what I can do/say to put her in her place. Honestly, love doesn’t work on her. She is one tough chick. Maybe just walking away is all I can do now..

    1. Hi Kelly, thanks for reaching out. I hear you and I’ve put a few related resources below in case these are useful for you. But yes as you say, sometimes you get to the point where behavior doesn’t change, people aren’t listening and the toxicity is damaging to your own wellness, whereby you might need to consider new boundaries and reducing exposure until such time as something changes. It can be helpful to clearly communicate that to the person, in the hopes they will understand and take on board the feedback.
      – How to Deal with Difficult Family – https://www.thedailypositive.com/dealing-with-difficult-family-members/
      – How to Have Difficult Conversations – https://www.thedailypositive.com/how-to-have-a-difficult-conversation/
      – 6 Steps for Dealing with Difficult People – https://www.thedailypositive.com/6-steps-for-dealing-with-difficult-people/
      With love and best wishes

  16. Hello ms.bernadette
    I am vaibhavi a thirteen year old teenager going to be 14.I came here to read this article when my mother lashed out at me,and I am here again now.actually Last night I was doing some creative work and so put some things on my younger brother’s bed.our room has a little recently undergone a transformation.in the previous arrangement,the computer table was on the left side and I used to keep my things there.but now my brother’s bed is on my left side.my mother tells me not to put things on the floor or on the bed but I can’t help it(our room is small),but am trying.so when after dinner when I completed my work,(around 10) I went to the hall and found my brother watching TV with his father.he ended it around 10:30.and went to brush. After that I brushed,and took some time to change into my night dress 👗 and clean the room.my mother called
    me and I opened the door,put some things on the floor and when began dusting my bed.my mother came into the room while I was doing it and asked me to put the things somewhere else.I said I would do after doing my work but she insisted, so I did it.and she got angry as we were sleeping around 10:45.she blamed me for disturbing my brother’s routine (where it was him who was watching TV),threw my pillow down and kicked it out of the room,declared I would be sleeping out in the hall that night and dragged me to the hall and told to me to talk like an adult.at these moments,I have always kept quiet and heard all the things she has said in her anger.just to avoid worsening conflicts. I don’t give my feelings out and keep them boiling in.but this time I could not control,so told her that what’s right,said that some things which she said were wrong and said I will raise my voice.as I knew,the matters worsened and she is not talking to me now in the morning.ms Bernadette,I know my flaws,and am trying to fix them,coping with my school assignments,classes and other classes .this time is crucial for me also and I am not able to find someone who can listen me everything.my brother does,but he is small,so I can’t tell him everything.please help me,ms Bernadette.🥺

    1. Thank you for sharing and I hear you and understand. Sometimes things can be challenging, and all we can ever do is to do our very best. It sounds like you are doing your very best. Always remember you are good enough, you are enough and you are appreciated. Maybe it might help if you write a letter to your loved ones, to help explain how you feel and that you’re doing your best, and they can read the letter in a quiet calm moment. Sometimes writing and reading a letter is a good way to communicate when words in conversation are not being heard or understood. It may also help to reach out to a trusted adult that you know personally in your family or at school, to have someone who knows you that can be there with you in person to listen when you need someone to talk to. Sending love and blessings to you and your family.

  17. Hi. My sister and I have had our share of differences over the years. She’s a rebel type. I hate confrontations and always try to make peace. 2 wks after dad died (2015) we were having a phone conversation on my birthday when some just triggered and she started screaming at me. She started bringing up things from the past. She accused me of stealing money from our parents (we had power of atty for them). I tried to make peace with her, inviting her over for holiday dinner and all. She was very toxic in all her communication with me, we didn’t talk for about a year. Fast fwd Mom died (2017) our special needs brother (for whom we are co-guardians) has been staying with me during the week and with her from Fri night until Sun afternoon. When she gets into her snits she simply says she “needs a break” and can’t take him for the weekend or when we go on vacation. When this happens she doesn’t talk to me. The latest was last week- all was going good-I went over to pick my brother up and we had good conversation and then I happened to mention if she would take my brother in Nov (supposed to go to Fla) and she just snapped! She ranted for at least 10 mins-it started I TOLD you LAST year I wasn’t taking him blah blah you only remember what you want blah blah and proceeded to spew family things from 30 yrs ago. (Mind you I take care of all medical and financial and she does fun stuff like bowling shopping and lunch)Then she screamed to my special needs brother while pointing her finger at me “SHE! SHE’S A BAD PERSON! When her switch turns on she is very accusatory-brings up the past (like 30 yrs ago)-has a hatred for my husband-that I’m self entered that I don’t see her as family…need I go on. Th wen sh Ed texted me early the next day that she wasn’t taking my brother the next two weekends. That Sat I texted her to retrieve my brothers bowling ball that he needed for his league and she replied “I’m not home. Don’t know when I will be”. Mind you she is divorced and never goes anywhere. My husband gets mad at me because we have to cater to her whims. He’s ready to go after her. I hesitate to create more animosity as this would only be worse for me in the long run-and then there’s coguardian issues to deal with. I am am beside myself. I wish I could walk away but I feel stuck in the middle. All I can do is pray this latest temper tantrum pass quickly and the next be a long ways away. I do see a therapist but lately have started to take Xanax too. Sorry to ramble. Hard to summarize.

    1. Hi, I hear you and just wanted to send sympathy for the loss of both of your parents, and to acknowledge all that you do for your brother in caring for him. I send peace and best wishes that calm settles upon your situation with your sister and I hope the resources we have here will be of some use to support your mind, heart and wellbeing. Blessings, B

  18. How do I balance sending love to a person who has hurt me verbally, with my need to be treated well? I know everyone has an specific inner life, experiences, past trauma, that we can’t fully understand. How do I know when a (long-term) friendship is worth saving? My friend lashes out at me when he’s depressed/upset, and I never do that to him. Sending love to him feels beyond my ability right now. Another friend told me to “just put him out to pasture for a while.” That feels good. But in the meantime he is angry with me (unjustified in my eyes) for perceived slights on my part. I hate being judged unfairly. How do I be the bigger me and send love?

    1. Hi Francene, I hear you. It’s really important to listen to what feels right and good to you, to what resonates, what your inner voice tells you. No one else gets to say what is right for your unique needs and unique situation. It sounds like the idea of “letting go” of this person for the timebeing feels good to you per your message. Setting that boundary and letting go is a loving thing to do for both yourself and that other person, by stepping away from someone who is harmful and hurtful, we remove their ability to continue to run unhealthy patterns and that in itself IS an act of love (and is just as powerful as the idea of “sending love”). The challenge you mentioned is how you process inside of yourself the fact that he is angry at you for no reason and feeling upset about being judged by others. This is a tough life lesson to learn for many of us, how to let go when others misunderstand/misperceive and judge us, and the best I can suggest is to a) process and release the anger and any hurt you feel and a great practical way to do that is EFT/Tapping (link to info below in case you’re not familiar with it) and then b) focus on the truth that you know in your own heart, as often we get so focused on what the other person thinks that is wrong and the distress of not being able to convince them otherwise, when we are better to focus on ourselves and continuously remind oneself of the truth (you knowing the truth is more important). Another tip – focus on “what can I control in this situation?” this helps by stopping energy flowing to what is outside your control and starts to pour your energy into what you can control.
      With much love

  19. Hello, hope this message finds you well. I have been with my long distance bf for 2+ years, I am in my early 20s and he is in his mid 20s, my bf has struggled with anger issues and he also has anxiety, he has never lashed out at me, he has yelled at me in arguments before but never called me out my name, i’ve had multiple discussions with him about raising his voice and not talking over me and treating me respectfully because i do not behave that way when im angry, Im very soft spoken and thats where i think i get taken advantage of at times. Recently, i had to put my foot down and break up with him because he lashed out at me over nothing and called me out my name and cussed me out to the point where i had to just block him off everything then and there because it was so aggressive. After some days, we discussed the things that happened and he took full accountability and was very apologetic. a month prior he had lost his job and was very stressed out and after breaking up with him he had informed me that the last 2 months of our relationship he had been supporting his mother from being in/out of the hospital and it had been straining him mentally from a decrease of income to trying to pay for medications that weren’t covered by insurance but still being on top of his bills even though the new job he had found was a significant decrease in income and he was already struggling. She had asked him not to share anything and to keep it in the family and now that she is on her death bed he had just told me. and even though he was very accountable for his actions and pain caused, he explained that he had just been extremely overwhelmed with life and didn’t have coping strategies, he has since started therapy. I am happy on my own but I do miss and love him so much, what do u suggest should be my next step, continue with him cut off or love him through this tragedy

    1. Hi Lauren
      Thanks for your message. That’s a tough situation, and I’m sorry you had to experience that hurtful outburst, and also that he is going through this painful family situation. No one else can answer that question for you, about whether to stay out of the relationship or to go into the relationship again. You can remain single and still be kind and loving toward him as a friend while he goes through this, allowing him time to deal with his family situation and importantly allowing him time to learn new coping skills in therapy. Listen to your own inner voice about what feels right for you at this time. And what feels right can change, you might feel differently in future, but you can only ever go with what your gut instinct tells you in this moment. Wishing peace for you all. Love, B

  20. Hi. I must not really understand because I think it teaches them to do more lashing out so they can get what they want. Kind of rewarding bad behavior. I get it, they have some kind of mental issue causing them to not be able to function properly in society. In my situation I can make peace but they never accepts responsibility or accountability let alone admit they were wrong in the first place. It’s always because of something else. The person I’m dealing with is smi. Has anger issues and has admitted using anger to get what he wants. I’m no doctor but I’d say sociopath line of problems. We’ve had arguments where he’s gone through all emotions trying to win an argument within 10 mins. Mad, pleading, sad, justification, pity, guilt trip… as if he was just changing channels on a TV. Anyways I get the basics I guess, in some cases I think ya it would be the right action. It’s not about others it’s about them and their pain.

    1. Hi Drew, yes indeed in that situation where it’s not a passing instance of an otherwise balanced person who is in pain spilling over, but a person engaging in a repeated pattern of anger management issues and manipulation to get what they want through various emotional projections, I would suggest looking at resources about dealing with people who have anger management issues, how to deal with toxic patterns etc I have a colleague/friend Michelle Farris (LMFT) who is a specialist in anger management and has provided resources here on my website sharing about this, and while it’s focused on helping people who have the anger issue, it can also be useful for someone who is dealing with someone with anger issues. I’ve also linked other resources below to support you that might be useful. While not all of these resourcex will be relevant to your situation, some points might help. It’s super important in harmful situations (someone causing you emotional, mental or physical harm) that first and foremost you have boundaries to care for your self, and to know that removing yourself out of harms way is sometimes the first step to helping to heal oneself and to ensuring the other person knows that this is not acceptable. If the other person does not want to get the help they need to heal, then remaining in the interactions with them may only perpetuate the problem.
      Sending much love your way.

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