Hi Dr. Conte,
I was recently arrested for 4th degree domestic assault (first offense). I have no court date as of yet, and I was wondering if there are any books to help with anger, or tips that might help me. Also, I chat online a lot, and two people have unfriended me. I hate to lose friends, but I cant get them to add me back. Do you think its best to just move on and forget them?
I’m sorry to hear about your current situation; sometimes it takes being arrested to realize that you have to get control of your mind and actions. A great book to help with anger is Rage, by Ron Potter-Efron, and an important video that you can watch is my Getting Control of Yourself: Anger Management Tips and Techniques, available here.
In terms of the people who have unfriended you in chats, it’s best to move on and let that go. I’m guessing it’s difficult for you to accept that people see your actions, not your intentions, and regardless of how you’ve meant for others to see you, the reality is, people only experience how you’ve actually come across to them.
I could be wrong, but I’m guessing that it might be tough for you to truly learn to accept that it’s okay for you to not get what you want in life, and that includes not getting people to say and do the things you want them to say and do. It’s never okay to hurt others, and regardless of what you might tell yourself in moments of rage, your violence toward others is not justified. People have free will, and they have a right to disagree with you and act differently from how you want them to act. You cannot control others, and you do not have a right to hurt them if they don’t think, feel, or behave the way you want. Learning this probably stings, but the reality is that without even knowing you, I believe in you. I believe that you have the strength to accept this feedback and learn and grow from it.
One of the biggest challenges you might encounter is this: Even if you do come to an awakening about how you’ve been toward others, you cannot expect others to just forget what you’ve done to them or how you’ve treated them. Just as you are not quick to simply forget what others have done to you, you cannot reasonably expect others to magically forget how you’ve treated them. Be mindful of this as you move forward. It will take time for you to truly learn about yourself, and it will take time for you to change your ingrained behavioral patterns. And however long it takes for you to genuinely change, it will take significantly longer for others to see that you have truly made those changes. Only time will demonstrate if you’ve made these changes, promises won’t.
Please remember this as you learn about yourself and make changes: It is not other people’s responsibility to believe you that you’ve changed; it is your responsibility to show them that you have. This process of personal growth will take time, and the process of having others learn to see you differently will take longer still; but it is ALL worth it. Changing and learning and growing is ALL worth it. You being a better man for your family is ALL worth it. Do NOT give up. Do NOT take the easy route of blaming others. Get yourself to a mirror – look in it – accept complete responsibly for everything you’ve done – and then commit yourself fully to personal growth.
You are a three-part being: Mind, body, spirit. Work on all three parts as you move forward on your path.
Sending you all the best and much peace, brother.
*Names have been changed for privacy.