Management of Aggressive Behavior: 3 Strategies

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How can you work on your management of aggressive behavior? Are there ways to work on your aggression?

Management of aggressive behavior is important. If you have aggressive tendencies, you will want to make sure you learn how to manage and control them.

Keep reading to find out more about management of aggressive behavior.

Management of Aggressive Behavior

Most people have medium-to-high levels of aggression, and these need to be expressed somehow. There are three ways you can choose to handle it and work on management of aggressive behavior. The third one is most viable:

Strategy #1: Repress and Control Aggression

Some people are so uncomfortable with their aggression—it seems shameful, risky, and unlikeable—that they try to repress it. As we’ve learned, though, masking an emotion doesn’t get rid of it; it simply relegates it to the Shadow and doesn’t help management of aggressive behavior.

Repressed aggression leads to the formation of an “internal saboteur,” which is an entity that directs your aggression towards yourself. It tries to create control by reducing you so there’s less unpredictability in your life. It judges you, reminds you how easy it is to fail, and dulls your other emotions because they could open you to criticism. You become too scared to try anything new.

Strategy #2: Use It to Develop Skills That Give You Control

When you were a child, your aggression made you adventurous—you wanted to explore, both mentally and physically. You can still use your aggression to learn as an adult by developing:

  • Professional skills. Having skills helps you feel more in control (and therefore less aggressive) about your job and financial future.
  • Social skills. These help you influence others, which gives you control over them.
  • Hobbies. These help you satisfy the need for excitement, which you might otherwise get through aggression.

Skill development has limits when it comes to siphoning off aggression—it takes time and you have to learn to manage how to control your aggression well enough to attend work, social events, or classes or lessons.

Strategy #3: Translate Aggression Into More Productive Emotions

The existence of aggression isn’t a problem; the difficulty is how to direct that aggression towards something positive and use it for management of aggressive behavior. There are four more productive emotions we can channel our aggressive energy towards:

1. Rage. Rage has some negative connotations, but in fact, anger can be motivating and healthy if you know how to control your aggression. Anger is only negative when it’s unrelated to reality—for example, it’s directed at a scapegoat, fueled by a conspiracy, or masking failures. If your anger is specifically aimed at something and justified, you can use it to take down a target. It can give you fuel for a fight rather than an outburst. 

2. Ambition. Like rage, ambition has a negative connotation. However, the connotation stems from enviers who dislike it when other people accomplish things. (In fact, attempting to appear unambitious is an ambition.) 

In reality, ambition can be very useful—it motivates you to achieve your dreams, which increases your self-respect. The best way to use ambition is to reflect on what you wanted when you were young and tweak your desire to be relevant to your current self, and learn how to control your aggression.

Additionally, ambitions need to be specific to be useful—if they’re vague, such as wanting money, you’ll never be able to achieve them because there’s no endpoint, and this might lead you to aggression. 

Once you achieve an ambition, pick a new one to help with management of aggressive behavior.

3. Relentlessness. Relentlessness helps you achieve your ambitions—when you want something, you keep working at it and you use your full mental resources. Human relentlessness is very strong—there’s little in the world that is invincible to it.

  • For example, Marie Curie discovered radium because she kept trying.

4. Boldness. Like relentlessness, boldness helps you achieve your ambitions. To become bolder, first, decide you deserve good things. Then, learn to defend your deservedness by speaking up to people in low-stakes, everyday situations. As you practice, you’ll realize that being bolder doesn’t come with negative consequences. When you’re more confident, you can practice being bold in bigger situations, such as negotiations or work. 

Example

John D. Rockefeller was a sophisticated aggressor who took down many people who didn’t know how to defend against him.

Like many chronic aggressors, Rockefeller experienced a lack of control early in life—his father was a con man who came and went unexpectedly, and the family’s finances were always unstable. From these early experiences, Rockefeller learned to be ambitious about money and to dislike disorder. When Rockefeller grew up, he gravitated towards the oil industry because it was volatile and if he could tame it, he would conquer unpredictability. 

Rockefeller went into partnership with a man named Clark because he needed help with funds, but he didn’t actually want a partner because that would mean sharing control. Once their business was stable, Rockefeller purposefully annoyed Clark so much that he left the company, giving Rockefeller full control.

Rockefeller bought refineries from other people using a combination of bribery, fear tactics, bankruptcy, and pressure. He made people so emotional they became irrational, which is a classic aggressor technique. Eventually, his company, Standard Oil, had a monopoly.

Rockefeller felt the need to justify his aggression because he was Protestant and couldn’t square wanting to control people with his beliefs. He created an “aggressor’s narrative,” a story that reframed his quest for control as part of a purpose. Protestantism already had a possibility—rich people were favored by God because they could give money to the church and community—but Rockefeller expanded the narrative even further—he decided that getting the oil industry under control was a divine mission. 

Management of Aggressive Behavior: 3 Strategies

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  • Why it's in your nature to self-sabotage
  • How you behave differently when you're in a group
  • Why you're wired to want the wrong things in life

Carrie Cabral

Carrie has been reading and writing for as long as she can remember, and has always been open to reading anything put in front of her. She wrote her first short story at the age of six, about a lost dog who meets animal friends on his journey home. Surprisingly, it was never picked up by any major publishers, but did spark her passion for books. Carrie worked in book publishing for several years before getting an MFA in Creative Writing. She especially loves literary fiction, historical fiction, and social, cultural, and historical nonfiction that gets into the weeds of daily life.

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