Everything makes me angry

This letter writer is struggling with anger issues. 

You are in charge of your thoughts and emotions, says our elder. Try resetting your expectations of yourself and others. 


Dear EWC

Lately, I’ve been dealing with severe anger issues. As a student, it is very stressful during school. I used to get angry at things for a certain reason, but now every single thing makes me angry. I’ve been having a hard time controlling my anger. I’ve been debating myself whether I should ask my mother if I would be able to get professional help but I’m afraid that my mother just doesn’t care. If I do end up deciding that I’ll ask her, I just don’t know how to ask her.


Grandpa-Matt replies

Everybody gets angry from time to time. We cannot stop ourselves from having those feelings, as that emotion is a messenger from your mind about what is going on inside. It is a signal to respond to what is happening in your life. You react quickly to the negative messages or emotions, arriving in your consciousness of the people or circumstances causing the problem.

In my experience, anger comes from a desire to control the situation, the people involved, or yourself. In your case, many folks stay stuck with saying this is who I am, and I can’t change my personality. Besides, what they do to justify their anger is to take on a victim’s role and blame everyone else for their upset. They blame others, family, co-workers, institutions, government, and or strangers for how they interact with them.

Let’s look at anger. Each of us has expectations of other people, and some are irrational. For example, “You should always treat me with respect” might be one of the rules for other people’s behavior. If they don’t always do that, you get hurt, upset, and angry. The trouble with that “rule” or expectation that you set up in your mind is that no one can always do anything. That rule calls for perfection. You have set up a trap for yourself when you see anyone breaking that “rule,” and anger arises. We are all human and sometimes fail, and we sabotage a relationship every time we expect perfection!

Serena Williams won multiple championships, one of the best female tennis players in modern times. She is a most excellent performer. Does Serena lose any points or games? Yes, she does, as she is not perfect! Yet we consider her the best. I am suggesting that you give up the idea of expecting perfection and trade it in for the standard of excellence. Being excellent, one can fail from time to time and still be acceptable.

You are the Ruler in your universe, and when you see violations, anger results. The quickest way out of that trap is to modify the rules you have for others. It might be like, “You should treat me with respect as much and as often as possible,” leaving room for people to be human. We all fail sometimes. If you view others as excellent people and allow them to not live up to your rigid standards, you will all be happier. 

You are 100% in charge of your thoughts and emotions. No one can make you happy or angry. You are the Ruler in your universe and responsible for all the actions and reactions in your life. Nobody can upset you without your consent. For example, if someone told you to “cheer up”, whose choice is it? Maybe you do, and perhaps you don’t. All emotions, both positive and negative, give you a choice of how to respond. It is one thing to feel angry, and choosing what to do with that anger is another thing. You always have a choice about that. 

It is essential to distinguish between the emotion of anger, on the one hand, and, on the other, your behavior when you get angry. Someone can say or do something that triggers you, but only you can choose your response. Your feeling of anger and expression of that emotion are two different things. 

A couple of thousand years ago, Epictetus (an ancient philosopher) said, “It is not the events in life that trouble us, but only our reactions to them.” That is a statement of absolute power because only you control your attitude. You are never the victim of anyone’s thoughts, behavior, or judgments about you. It is like the old saying, “Sticks and stones will break my bones, but words will never hurt me.”

I guess you are highly critical of yourself and get your anger, self-directed from time to time. There is a technique based on neuroscience that can be very helpful to bring balance to your life. This article that I suggest to you is ‘The 90 Second Rule to Control Your Emotions’. If you want to be more self-controlled, this article spells out the chemical basis of what goes on when your anger hijacks your mind and suggests how to handle things.  

With anger, what you can do is reset all your expectations for yourself and all the others in your universe. I suggest that you give everyone a break by:   

  1. Expecting that other folks cannot read your mind as to what will make you happy;
  2. Expecting people will not live up to your rigid expectations of them;
  3. Not being the victim of others when they say or do things contrary to your wishes;
  4. Knowing you are not a victim of circumstances;
  5. Accepting things as they are, instead of getting upset at what shows up; and
  6. Realizing that you can cope with everything that shows up in life because you are a survivor!

I believe that these six things will assist you in becoming more patient. Test these out for a while and see if they work for you. If not, asking your mother for assistance could surprise you, as the fear that she doesn’t care is something you made up. It takes courage to risk asking for help. Your willingness to risk gives you the key to unlocking the prison of non-action that you voluntarily entered. 

Don’t wait for the courage to show up. You could remain forever. The Wizard of Oz said it best. “Courage to act shows up to support you as soon as you take action.” That word originates from the old French word equivalent to cuer (meaning) heart. After all, you have nothing to lose. At least you can give yourself a chance for success. Trust your heart and take the risk to move forward. Nothing ventured, nothing gained. 

Would you please write back and let us know how you are getting along?  

Article #: 485397

Category: Self-Improvement

One Comment

  1. I love your response to the letter writer, and the link is fascinating and perfect, too!

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