Removing the Anger Quotient: Being less affected and more effective

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.

picture of bill bigsby turning into the incredible hulk

You wouldn’t like me when I’m angry!

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.

Wow…..nice, Jason.

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…

Much love!
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3 Things People With Anxiety Do That People With Anxiety Should Never Do

Generalized Anxiety Disorder, panic attacks, and depression can be a real mine field for people who suffer with them. Often times, the very things we want to do and feel an irresistible urge to do are the very worst things to do. That’s what is so insidious about these illnesses–they become a vicious cycle of self-defeating behaviors that only make them worse.

I’ve engaged in those self-defeating behaviors many times over the years. When I first began having the types of panic attacks that have dramatically impacted my life at age 19 (my history with panic attacks is complicated and goes much further back — you can read about it by clicking here), I had no idea what was going on, and I did everything you’re not supposed to do.

I ran. I convinced myself that everything was hopeless. I failed to recognize the need and reach out for help.

In short, I sabotaged myself before I ever knew what I was doing. That has continued for almost thirty years, and I’m only just now recognizing the mistakes I made.

I don’t want you to make the same mistakes I did; so, to that end, here are…

3 Things People With Anxiety Do That People With Anxiety Should Never Do

1. Engage in avoidance coping.

woman with worried look resting head in handAvoidance coping refers to refers to choosing your behavior based on trying to avoid or escape particular thoughts or feelings (Psychology Today). Often times, people who suffer from anxiety and panic attacks choose to avoid potential triggers for their anxiety.

I am an absolute PRO at avoidance coping. When I am in what I refer to as a “malignant period” with my anxiety (a period of time where my anxiety and panic attacks prevent me from living my life fully), my go-to reaction is to avoid going anywhere or doing anything that might possibly cause anxiety or a panic attack.

However, while this may sound like good common sense, it is, in fact, a means of self-sabotage. Avoiding those triggers, or potential triggers, often causes people with anxiety and panic attacks to walk away from things (and sometimes people) that are important to them. This becomes a form of negative reinforcement. While avoiding those triggers can stave off unwanted feelings, it is self-perpetuating. In other words, once it starts it never stops.

It is vitally important for those of us who suffer from anxiety and panic attacks to overcome avoidance coping and to face our fears in order to lead and full and happy life. You can read more about avoidance coping by clicking here.

2. Engaging in negative self-talk.

This one is HUGE for me!

Negative self-talk is the act of, consciously or sub-consciously, focusing on potential hazards or dangers and convincing oneself that every possible bad scenario will be what happens.

Studies have shown strong links between negative self-talk and anxiety. According to the Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology’s Mental Wellbeing and Counselling Services, “Anxiety can easily and quickly be generated by repeatedly making statements to yourself that begin “what if”, which make you anticipate several scary scenarios that make you want to avoid the situation all together” (RMIT).

Oftentimes, I don’t even realize that I am engaging in this negative self-talk until I have “talked” myself into a panic attack. It very often occurs on a completely sub-conscious level. That is why it is so important to learn to recognize it and to replace the negative dialog with positive, self-affirming statements.

I will be addressing negative self-talk in more detail in a later post, but in the meantime, I encourage you to take a look at this PowerPoint put together by the RMIT Mental Wellbeing and Counselling Service.

3. Failing to recognize when it’s time to seek help.

man with worried look with hands on sides of headWhen I first began having really bad panic attacks, I didn’t tell anyone. What would I have told them, anyway? I had no idea what was going on, and I was scared to death that I was either dying or going insane. I kept my problem hidden for years, until it finally boiled over in 2002. That was the first time I ever sought help for the problem, and by then, it had dramatically impacted my life and the lives of many people I cared for.

Recognizing when it is time to seek help, and then seeking that help is absolutely imperative in overcoming anxiety, panic attacks, and depression.

According to Tammy Heilemann, LCSW,  and Therapist at Memorial Care Center for Mental Health & Wellness, Community Hospital Long Beach, “Anxiety disorders are the most common mental illnesses in America – affecting close to 20 percent of the population.” That means that, chances are, either you or someone close to you suffers from one or more of the 11 recognized anxiety disorders (Heilemann/Memorial Care Center).

Unfortunately, because of the stigma attached to mental health treatment, about 1/3 of people who suffer from these disorders never seek treatment. If you are experiencing the symptoms of anxiety disorder, and especially if anxiety, panic attacks, and/or depression are having an impact or your ability to cope with everyday life, seeking help is vital.

Some symptoms of anxiety disorder/panic attacks are:

Emotional Symptoms:

Feelings of apprehension or dread
Feeling tense and jumpy
Restlessness or irritability
Trouble concentrating
Anticipation that something bad is going to happen (looking for signs of danger)

Physical Symptoms:

Pounding or racing heart
Shortness of breath
Upset or tightness of the stomach
Muscle tension
Dizziness
Fatigue
Insomnia

There are numerous avenues of assistance available. I have listed some of those resources below. If you are suffering, or if you know someone who is, please seek help immediately! There is help, and there is hope!

So, tell me what you think. I want to hear from you! Please leave your thoughts, questions, experiences, or words of encouragement in the comments section blow. Simply click on “Leave a Reply,” enter your name and email address (I promise I won’t spam you), and write away. Also, please remember to like and share this post!

Until next time…

Much love!
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Resources to Get Help!

I hope these posts are helpful to you, whomever you may be. If you’re struggling with anxiety, panic attacks, and/or depression, there is hope and there is help! You can call the Panic Disorder Information Hotline at 800-64-PANIC (72642). (The page links to more information about anxiety and panic disorders.)

As always, if you or someone you know is suffering from any sort of mental illness or disorder, please reach out for help because there is help to be found!

Please share this post! Even if you don’t suffer, or don’t think you know anyone who does, you might just reach someone you didn’t even know and offer them HOPE! Thank you!!


Are you, or someone love headed back to school? Be sure to check out…

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