Thursday, September 17, 2009

How do I stop being so angry?

Dear Edahn,

What is wrong with me? I'm always irritable and short-tempered. I'm constantly snapping at people. I'm anxious throughout my day. Lately, I've been having trouble getting out of bed too. I wish I was less angry but I don't know what to do. Everything gets me so worked up.

First, you will want to buy a book on anger management. If it's really destructive in your life, then you should consider visiting a therapist, or even joining an anger management group in your area, which sounds like oodles of fun. You may also want to buy a book on anxiety management. I'd suggest How To Control Anxiety Before It Controls You by Ellis, the founder of REBT.

Second, I think you would benefit by a little insight and empowerment. Your thinking and worrying are putting you on edge. In order to take that edge off, you're lashing out at people. Maybe you're doing it out of confusion, but I suspect that lashing out gives you some comfort. It could be that it gives you a sense of control and power, but my guess is that the feeling of anger replaces the feeling of worrying. Anger can be empowering like that. Unfortunately, it also has drawbacks: it makes you tense; robs you of your silliness and spirit; and slowly constricts your social network.

Your reaction to anxiety (and to anything that presents conflict) is still in automatic/unconscious mode. But now that you are aware of what's going on, you can't remain unconscious anymore. You can choose how you will respond to your anxiety. You can choose anger if you want to, but it will end up hurting you and will never produce any real results in terms of combating your anxiety or fixing a situation. Instead of anger, you can start experimenting with other ways of addressing your anxiety. Maybe you have a calm conversation, make a difficult decision, take a walk, try and relax, breathe, do nothing, talk to yourself, or study how it feels and works like a scientist. If you're open to finding alternatives, you'll figure something out that create less drama and chaos and actually reduces your anxiety, rather than just postponing it. This is what I call living your life with wisdom. 

Take a look at the way anger has created chaos in your life. If it's not really solving things, or creating new problems along the way, then make a commitment to forbid yourself to use anger anymore and find alternative solutions. Say it out loud when you're ready.


Anonymous said...

Easier said than done. Is this the best advice you can give? read a book?
how about some real answers for people who suffer from this problem for real!

edahn said...

Interesting. Did you read anything after the first paragraph?

Anonymous said...

Very wise advice. Great insight, Edahn! I am certain that you are well read though the advice you give requires so much more than just reading, an understanding of the human condition. I take pleasure in reading what you have to say and also try to apply some of it to myself. Keep on advising, people are listening!

edahn said...

That's very kind of you to say. Thank you.