Ok….I confess it. I get angry pretty easily. It doesn’t take very much at all for inconvenience to slide into annoyance; for annoyance to turn into irritation; and for irritation to morph into Incredible Hulk like anger! Even the smallest things can turn me from a relatively calm person, to a complete a**hole.
You know that’s common with people who suffer from anxiety, right? Well, now you do.
Not too long ago, I was in a local big box store (I won’t say which because they’re all the same). I don’t like going in those stores. I find them to be frustrating and major triggers for my anxiety. Unfortunately, where I live there are not many other choices.
It wasn’t all that crowded–it was the middle of the day. But, somehow or other, I managed to find myself on every aisle that had either employees stocking shelves, or customers…you know the ones…who stop their buggies in the middle of the aisle and look. Juuuuuuuuust loook…and never really decide on anything!
I’m not kidding. It happened over and over again that day, and I had a pretty long list. That coupled with my already short patience for big box stores and customer in them proved disastrous.
After being stymied time and again, I had it! I pushed my semi-full buggy into the middle of an aisle, slammed my fist against the plastic flap where little kids are supposed to sit, and said, “MORONS!” at the top of my voice.
Do you know what I accomplished in doing that? Precisely nothing! In fact, the people in the aisle didn’t even look at me.
Anger is often a symptom of fear or anxiety
I wasn’t angry because people were in the middle of the aisle in the store. I was angry because my anxiety was peaking, and anger is an easier emotion to deal with than fear and anxiety.
Joshua Nash, a counselor based in Austin, TX wrote in a 2014 article on GoodTherapy.org, “Anger very oftentimes is indeed a symptom — it’s the expression of judging another emotion as too painful to address.” (Link to the full article by clicking here.)
The problem for me and many others who suffer from anxiety, panic attacks, and depression is that we already have trouble controlling our thoughts and emotions. So, when anger enters into the mix, it can get out of control and ugly really fast.
We end up saying and doing things that, ordinarily, would never be things we’d say or do. We end up hurting people (emotionally or physically) that we care for and love the most.
We become so affected by our anger that we fail to be effective in controlling the situations that frustrate us.
Be less affected and more effective
I’m not perfect. I haven’t mastered any of what I’m about to tell you, but I am trying, and I have found it to be helpful. So, hopefully you will, too.
When you feel angry, ask yourself:
- Is this situation really something that should make me feel angry? Am I really angry, or am I anxious?
- Is anger useful in this situation? Will it lead to the resolution I desire?
- What is the outcome that I desire in this situation?
- Is this a situation I can or cannot change? If it is a situation I cannot change, wouldn’t I be better off just ignoring it and walking away?
- Did the person who angered me do it on purpose? If so, was it because of some inner turmoil of their own?
- If I hope that my anger at someone will hurt them, am I really accomplishing anything? Will it end up hurting me just as bad?
Before you react, do these things:
- Wait 10 seconds to 24 hours before you respond to someone who has hurt or angered you. YES, I really said 10 seconds to 24 hours!
- Sleep on it. Oftentimes, situations that seemed particularly bad yesterday don’t look so serious the next morning.
- Think before you speak or write. Choose your words very carefully and consider their possible ramifications.
- Use “I” statements and not “you” statements. “I felt angry yesterday when we argued about….” “Sometimes I get frustrated when I feel like I’m not being heard…” “YOU” statements tend to be accusatory and rarely accomplish anything.
- Ask yourself again if you’re really angry or if you’re anxious.
Finally, and most importantly: if you have trouble controlling anger, and if you find yourself doing serious physical or emotional harm to yourself or others, please seek help. There are trained professionals who can offer effective treatment. Here is a good article with some more information about anger and anxiety.
So, tell me what you think! In the comments section below, tell me about a time when you became angry about a situation that didn’t warrant it. Or, tell me about techniques you use to control your anger. Or, just offer an encouraging word. REMEMBER: YOU DON’T HAVE TO LEAVE YOUR NAME OR EMAIL ANYMORE IN ORDER TO COMMENT! 🙂 (You’re welcome!)
Until next time…