why are you so angry?
Often my kids come to me with a complaint about what someone else is doing and how it is causing them to feel. I do my best to listen, hear them out, and seek to understand. Eventually it comes back to the phrase, “Well, you can’t change others’ behaviors. But you can choose how you behave.”
I tell this to my kids….but I often need to stand in front of a mirror and tell it to myself.
Do you find yourself overreacting to little irritations? Your partner forgot to pick up something on the way home – and it sets you off in a bad mood for the entire evening. Your child tracked mud on the freshly mopped floor – and you explode. You find yourself steaming with resentment when your boss simply asks you to complete one more task before headed home. If these types of things are causing your mood to tip from ‘barely holding on’ to ‘full blown anger’ it’s time to take a closer look.
intentionally look inward
If we are going to be intentional with how we use our days, then we need to be intentional with the emotions that come our way. Take some time to reflect on the following:
- You’ve been repressing anger. Anger can sometimes live inside of you for years. Your parents hurt you with harsh words or severe punishment. Your peers made fun of you as a teenager. Your boss treated you unfairly. You’ve held all of these hurts inside, and now your stored anger is showing up in your behavior.
- Your expectations aren’t being met. Expectations are tricky. We should have them, but sometimes they can be unrealistic or unreasonable for the season we are in. It’s been said that the distance between our reality and our expectations causes internal conflict, and that conflict will often express itself in our behavior toward others.
- You don’t feel loved or valued. We are wired for connection, whether from our family, friends, or community. When we feel loved, appreciated, and valued, the world is much brighter. When we feel unloved and under appreciated, we can sometimes get defensive and put up walls to “protect” ourselves from feeling hurt. When we feel like we aren’t valued, we can easily fall into resentment or cynicism that feels much like irritation.
- Your stress level is at capacity. Under stress, people can say and do things they would otherwise not—sometimes even things they regret. The issue is not that they have no filter or are uncaring, but rather, they’ve reached an unhealthy capacity (emotional limit) due to stress. The energy needed to “tame” their emotions, and not react to things that may frustrate or upset them, is at a low.
intentionally take action
If you find yourself irritated by things that most likely shouldn’t get under your skin, consider writing in a journal or talking to a trusted friend about what may be bringing out your irritability. This may help show patterns and even get to the root issue underneath it all. Nobody wants to live in a constant state of frustration. Finding out where these irritations come from may help to decrease unnecessary friction and give you the ability to enjoy the moments you are given even more.
questions to ask yourself
• How often are you guilty for blaming others for an irritation that may not actually be their fault?
• Which of the 4 points made above resonates with you most?
• What actions can you take to keep yourself from allowing your irritations to overflow into your behavior towards others?