Do you find that you are always angry about things? Sometimes when something doesn’t go your way, you get so annoyed, you just have to ‘get it all out’ there? Or sometimes you don’t lash out but keep everything bottled up; but you know deep down that you’re a walking timebomb – one trigger and that’s it!
I have my moments too – partly, due to my struggle to balance things. Every time, I have one of my emotional outburst, I will regret it afterwards. I am still on a journey in trying to learn to manage it.
Disclaimer: I am not a professional; I am merely sharing my own journey of self-discovery. If you believe that you have chronic anger issues, please seek professional help.
Why should you bother? Why does it matter? Everyone gets angry – it’s part of human nature. You’re not going to go to the extreme and kill someone.
Well not on purpose perhaps; but what if you’re driving while you’re angry, and you got careless and cause an accident? Or what if you hurt someone with your words that in turn cause that person to harm him/herself or others? Or what if despite you being fit and healthy physically, all that pressure in your head caused you to have a mental breakdown or just get very ill? Or what if being angry on the inside makes you seem resentful to everything, and you end up pushing your loved ones away? There can be endless ‘what-ifs’. As per Stephen R. Covey – ‘While we are free to choose our actions, we are not free to choose the consequences of our actions.’
Anger is becoming a serious problem, especially in today’s fast-paced world. It’s important to understand and manage it. Just a month plus ago, in Malaysia – there was an argument between two car drivers that ended up with one of them dead. The other party is now being charged for murder. These are your average guys – who led very normal working lives with families of their own. And there are many other examples on the web.
For me, I guess I felt (whether right or wrong), I was at the receiving end for some time, and that, coupled with other stress factors, got me really frustrated. I snapped ‘big time’ several times and I saw the pain in the eyes of people around me. Life is too short – you don’t know how long you will have those people in your life. I felt like I needed to become a better person.
Types of Anger & Impact
If you can identify with any of these, then maybe it is time to do some heavy self reflections and assess your next steps.
If you are the type who lashes out, in the heat of the moment, you may say things that offend, or so hurtful and once they are out there, you just can’t take it back. This can hurt your relationship – whether at home or work. You may also create fear, especially when the relationship is not equal – like a manager and staff, or parent with kids or even between spouses. People will distance themselves from you, and they will probably stop having deep conversations with you and stay only on safe topics.
Passive Aggressive Anger
This is when you avoid saying you’re angry, but you show it in a different way like avoiding conversations or become snappy or sarcastic with your comments. This is normally not a big deal. But, if the root cause of the anger remains unresolved, and you continue to keep things bottled up, you may become resentful and every little thing just irritates you more and more. At some point, people around you will stay away as nothing seems to be right by you. This is also one of the key reasons for relationship failures.
Physical Anger/Outward Aggression
On the extreme side, you may even cause physical harm to yourself or others – you could outrightly hurt someone or damage someone’s property etc. If your anger outburst leads you to react aggressively to yourself and others – please get professional support.
Why Are You Angry?
There are several reasons why you are always on edge. You need to know this so that you can deal with or channel your anger properly, and not direct it to people have nothing to do with the reason you are angry in the first place.
This is probably the most common issue – when you are dealing with a lot of things – financials, relationship, work pressure, family demands, sometimes you just lose the plot. A small, unplanned incident that doesn’t fit with your agenda can cause a major outburst. You’re juggling so much, you feel anxious when things break down somewhere.
A lot of people don’t really want to deal with confrontations. Difficult conversations are simply hard. It can be at work – with your manager or staff, even your peers. It can be at home – with your spouse, your parents etc.
Sometimes people just give up because they have tried and the response from the other party was negative. If the matter remains unresolved, and if they are not able to “let go”, then the problem gets bigger, and every small thing can become an annoyance.
After a major incident – like losing your loved one, losing a job, divorce etc., you may have a lot of pent-up feelings. On the surface, you may look fine as you try to go about your daily routine, but you can lose your temper over the slightest thing that may be totally unrelated to what is causing your grief in the first place.
How you were brought up may also influence how you deal with issues. If you have strict parents, who deal with things in very authoritative manner – it’s “my way or the highway” kind of thing, you may end up treating your own loved ones the same way. If you deem a “behaviour” or “situation” is inappropriate, you may react aggressively.
Just to be clear – when talking about children, some discipline (as long as not harmful) is good. You just need to make sure you put in the right balance – you should be instilling moral values not creating fear. You do not want them to be doing things behind your back – or take out their frustrations on others.
This could be the fear of making a mistake, for example, or getting hurt. Fear of making a mistake will make you feel like you are always walking on glass; you are always anxious and on edge. Every little mistake or even potential mistake causes so much stress that you become angry most of the time. It’s either you let it out, or you don’t. Sometimes the fear of a person or a situation may result in you taking out your anger on another unrelated person instead.
Dealing with Anger
Getting angry is only human. And anger is not a bad emotion if expressed appropriately.
Once you understand the reason for your anger, then you can explore ways to resolve the issues. If it’s balancing life and work – then you need to reprioritise and look at how you are planning your time. Or get outside help if it’s becoming unbearable. The first step is to recognise that you have a problem – only then, you can take stock and re-assess your priorities and the way you deal with your emotions internally and with people around you.
Read my next post on Dealing with Anger.