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Why Am I So Angry?

“This may seem contradictory, but some people keep their hurt alive to justify feeling angry.” Dr. David Viscott

You remember how you were treated; each experience becomes a keepsake to remind you of people, places, or things. At times, without hesitation, you recall these memories. Not just the pleasant experiences but the ones that left you resentful and feeling unfairly treated.

Therefore, the way you remember people, places, or things can keep you angry “all the time,” mainly when the source of your anger is inadequately addressed. You can yell and scream at someone all you want, but it only provides temporary relief. It is essential to draw a distinction here; the person is not the source of your anger. It is the person’s behavior. Of course, the person is responsible for their behavior, but without the person’s behavior, you would not be angry with them.

For example, your best friend is strong-willed, and every time you plan to do something, it is your friend's way or the highway, so you track every time your friend behaves in this manner. You are peeved, but you go along to keep the peace. One day, your friend's behavior gets on your "last nerves" without warning, and you unleash your pent-up fury.

This may seem a simple example of an anger-provoking situation, so think of highly emotionally charged situations in which you predominantly practice repressing your feelings. Only to unveil your absolute displeasure with the person, place, or thing later.

You begin your statements with phrases such as:

  • Remember when you...

  • You must think I forgot when you...

  • You must think I'm a...

  • Six months ago, you...

  • I overheard you saying...

The nostalgic recall of anger and resentment interferes with your present functioning and relationships. But in a moment, it all bubbles to the surface.

Two reasons you may seem angry all the time:

First, you may seem angry “all the time” because you tend to gunnysack your anger. What does it mean to gunnysack your rage? Instead of expressing your feelings, you silently store the feelings of resentment, hostility, irritation, and annoyance until your sack is filled. Once the bag is filled, it must be emptied. The emptying of the sack usually coincides with an escalation of anger, even for what seems like a minor violation.

You may think any situation resulting in an escalation of anger cannot be minor. On the surface, yes, but when all your frustrations are stored, anything that triggers a recall of the held feelings, your reactions can be more significant than the situation justifies.

Imagine a wife repeatedly asking her husband for assistance with household chores, but all she gets from him are promises to help. Then, one evening, he drinks from a glass, places it on the kitchen table and walks away. She explodes into a rage. Is she upset about the glass or repeatedly asking for help?

Second, when not gunny sacking, you collect straws, and though each seems lightweight and insignificant, you collect so many straws, leading to the proverbial straw that breaks the camel's back. In other words, you collect and stack them one on top of the other until balancing and managing them becomes frustrating. Like gunny sacking, you order and store your frustrations until you collect the “final straw,” followed by brimstone and fire.

If you have trouble controlling your anger, consider the following:

  • Frustrations need an outlet, and assertive communication is one of the most practical approaches to anger management. How do you feel about the situation courteously, calmly, clearly, and concisely?

  • Practice using the Situation-Behavior-Impact Feedback Model

  • Let it go. Holding grudges makes it challenging to free yourself from the hurt you feel. Dr. David Viscott said, “Hurt has a way of rationalizing itself, even when most of the damage being done by holding on to it is done to you.”

  • Develop an awareness of your warning signs that you are getting angry. Consider your thoughts, images, mood, situations, and behaviors.

  • When you pretend not to be upset, it does you no good, so get comfortable expressing your thoughts and feelings.

  • What are your anger triggers?

  • What are your anger cues (emotional, behavioral, physical, or cognitive)?

  • What are your internal coping strategies when in anger-provoking situations?

  • Who can you contact for guidance when you get angry? Hint: Do not contact someone angry with the same person.

While it is easier to avoid expressing your anger in the short term, the long-term consequences of such action can be catastrophic, especially if you tend to gunnysack your anger or collect straws and stack them high. Therefore, resolving your anger towards people, places, and things is necessary. If a compromise is required, make one for the best outcome.

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