Overcoming Aggressive Behaviour Linked to Childhood Trauma. 5 Step Method.

overcoming aggression

childhood trauma and aggressive behaviour

I have already written at some length about how childhood trauma can lead us to become full of anger and prone to aggression in later life in other posts on this site. In this post I want to look at a 5 Step Method which can help us to overcome this problem. The goal of this 5 step process is to try to develop a more tolerant and accepting attitude to things which previously could have made us act aggressively.


These may include :

– finding it very difficult to accept criticism or acknowledge our own faults – this can result in becoming very defensive which might include becoming enraged and aggressively counter-attacking the individual who challenged us

– trying to get our own way with little or no regard for the feelings or wishes of others

– shouting and becoming verbally abusive and hostile when others fail to comply with our wishes

– turning discussions into heated arguments and trying to dominate the other person by talking over them, interrupting and generally not giving them a proper opportunity to put their own views across

– using threats (both verbal and through body language) or physical assault to get our own way


If we think some or all of the above may apply to us, a method frequently used by therapists involves carrying out a practical exercise involving 5 key steps. I give details of what this exercise involves below :

1) Try to recall a specific example of a time you were in a situation in which you think you acted aggressively, think you might have acted aggressively or were accused by others (either correctly or incorrectly) of behaving aggressively (what does not seem aggressive to us may still be perceived as aggressiveness by others).

2) Write down how you behaved in terms of body language etc, what you said, and how you said it (tone of voice etc)

3) Write down what the consequences of what you said and did were, both immediately after the event and later on. Also, write down how what you said and did made you feel (again, both immediately after the event and later on)

4) Write down what you could have said and done in a calmer way

5) Write down what you think the pros and cons of acting in the calmer way you described in step 4 may have been.


If you think that the pros outweighed the cons in step 5, make a conscious decision to experiment by acting in this calmer way next time a situation arises in which you may previously have behaved in an aggressive manner. See if you feel better for having behaved more calmly, and achieved a better outcome. If you find you prefer acting in this calmer way in situations which in the past would have provoked aggression, by consciously reminding youself to behave in this new way it should become an ingrained characteristic.

I hope you have found this post useful.

Best Wishes, David Hosier BSc Hons; MSc; PGDE(FAHE)

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About David Hosier MSc

Holder of MSc and post graduate teaching diploma in psychology. Highly experienced in education. Founder of childhoodtraumarecovery.com. Survivor of severe childhood trauma.

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