This is a regular question we get asked. Here is a brief summary of possible issues and how you need to tackle them.
Anger is a great motivator, protects us from attack and helps us assert ourselves in the face of massive odds. It can be healthy but for many it is ruining relationships and hurting job prospects and in extreme cases abusing others.
You may have grown up in an environment where you did not feel loved, did not have healthy role models and were not supported. You parents may have argued continuously, you may have experienced violence and you may not have felt safe. A child growing up in an environment like this will develop coping mechanisms, one of which may be to protect themselves with their anger.
You were not responsible for your past. You are responsible for your behaviour in the present.
It could be that you have experienced one off or repeated trauma such as being bullied, beaten, blown up, (extreme but does happen) or mentally or physically abused. Trauma is anything that overwhelms the senses and if an individual does not have support or their own healthy resources to process trauma then it stays locked in and reappears periodically as rage. Extremes of this are PTSD but this is the extreme and many other lesser impacts and issues associated with trauma exist and are toxic to your emotional health and relationships.
Experiencing the trauma is unlikely to have been your choice. What defines you going forward is the choices you make around processing that trauma.
Shame by its very nature is the secret that we lock away and will never tell anyone about. Because of the way our psyche works with shame we stigmatise our experiences and do not tell anyone. It is associated with trauma but is also an exclusive category in itself. Once shame is talked about it no longer has any power and will cease to be a source of anger. If you hold onto shame and you suspect someone may get close to guessing your shameful secret that is when you will become irrationally angry.
This is one of the most challenging areas to deal with because it requires you to allow your vulnerability to the surface. It can be done and there is on yl one person who can make the choice to deal with it.
If you have been wronged and you feel powerless, hopeless and helpless to do anything about it then this is likely to come out in anger. Maybe you have been sacked without due cause, bullied out of a job or friendship group or had possessions or loved ones taken from you. Your anger is often a way of protecting yourself from the helplessness. It is not, however, helpful or healthy.
Low Self Esteem
If you are really good at taking things personally then you have some challenges with your own self value. People are not going around sneakily insulting you. Your unhealthy self esteem is interpreting neutral or helpfully critical comments as criticism and attacks on you personally.
Separately, but connected, If you find yourself getting angry because you do not feel valued, appreciated or respected (to name just 3 of many) you have challenges with you self esteem. Your need for others to validate you is not being met and you get angry to compensate. It’s not their issue, it’s yours.
Stress is about fear. Fear that something will or will not happen. It is about feeling vulnerable and we do not like feeling vulnerable. Instead of accepting that sometimes we feel vulnerable you are protecting yourself with your anger because that takes your feeling of vulnerability away. Stress is often one of the foundations of anger. Have you noticed that when you relax you have a much longer fuse than when you are stressed.
Your unrealistic expectations of yourself and others causes you to get angry. You get scared you will let yourself and others down and, back to stress, you cannot deal with that so you get angry.
Finally, because you can.
It is possible that a long time ago you got angry and you got away with it. Maybe it got you what you wanted, be that power, influence of a cathartic release. Over the years you have got angrier and angrier and your loved ones let you get away with it “it’s just the way he/she is,” but the reality is you are a bully. Sorry but the truth hurts.
The good news
All of the above can be dealt with, over time, with some support and some focused effort. You are not doomed to be angry all of your life. This is not “the way I am, so deal with it,” it is an imbalance that has developed over time that may have started out protecting you, but it needs to go.
One thing is certain, your behaviour impacts others. It hurts them and it scares them. It hurts your relationships and it damages your job prospects. It stops you from developing in to your best self and stops you taking responsibility for your behaviour.
The only person that can do something about this issue is you, so stop playing the victim, stop blaming others, your past or luck, and do something. It is not “who you are” and it is your issue, yours to fix and your responsibility.
The really good news is that there are compassionate people like Calm People around who will listen, help you understand yourself and help you work on ways of improving your emotional health and becoming, over time, calmer.
This article is deliberately challenging and critical. It may have been hard to read. If you got to this point well done.
All that remains is for you to make your choice about what you do next.
If part of that choice is to have a confidential telephone conversation with Calm People then either email firstname.lastname@example.org or call 01332 869211 and ask for Julian.