Why do I feel so Angry all the time?
For many men, it can seem like they are either angry or feel nothing at all. This is a problem, not only for them, but also for their relationships and their health. Men who only communicate through aggression will eventually alienate themselves and often turn to alcohol or other substances to numb the pain. But anger isn’t the problem.
Anger is a natural emotion which alerts us that something isn’t right or that we need to make a change. Everyone feels angry sometimes. Anger becomes a problem when expressed through rage or violence.
The real problem with anger is that we don’t allow men to express it in helpful ways.
Anger is an ‘Umbrella Emotion’
Anger is good at covering up other emotions such as sadness, guilt, jealousy, hurt… This comic from the Owl Turd pretty well sums it up:
It is so much easier (and more socially acceptable) for men to show anger. Showing other emotions and being vulnerable often gets men labeled as being weak or too sensitive.
Anger is Not the Enemy
The world would be a terrible place without anger. It may seem strange for me to say that, but it’s true.
Anger can help motivate us to seek justice or resolution. If we didn’t get angry, we would just be complacent with the wrong in our world.
Now I must be clear: there is a huge difference between anger and rage. Anger is specific, and you can typically trace its source. Rage is un-targeted and often causes collateral damage.
The key is to work with our anger as it arises rather than allowing it to fester into something worse. The first step toward this is recognizing the warning signs of anger,
Think about the last time you were angry
Most of us don’t have to think terribly hard about this. I was last angry about 2.3 minutes ago when my daughters came knocking on my door to bug me for the 437th time in the last ten minutes.
Think about how it felt when you were angry. What sensations do you recall in your body? Perhaps your heart began to beat faster and stronger. Maybe you noticed that you clenched your jaw or your fists. You may recall that your face became red or flushed. Your face may have even begun to feel hot.
Everyone experiences anger differently and obviously to varying degrees. I didn’t clench my fists or yell at my daughters a few minutes ago. It was a minor blip on the anger scale but anger nonetheless.
Learn to Talk about Anger
We have so many great words to use when we’re feeling angry. You may feel: frustrated, annoyed, irritated, exasperated, enraged, furious, agitated, vexed, pissed off… The list goes on.
Why, if we have so many words for anger, do we not talk about it more? Talking about your anger can help you to control it. Get it off your chest.
Anger is like a water balloon- it can only take so much pressure before it bursts. For many men, these bursts are much more like explosions.
What Pisses You Off?
The next step in managing your anger is to figure out what the hell is causing it.
What irritates you or grinds your gears? What are some of your pet peeves? What things do people around you do that really gets under your skin?
Make a list. See if you notice any common themes.
I hate being late. I also hate when people drive under the speed limit in the far left lane. It also irritates me when I have to tell my daughter to put her shoes on for the 37th time before we leave the house.
A lot of mine have to do with punctuality. I have a whole other list devoted to things related to social injustice and the equitable treatment of people, but that will have to wait for a different blog post.
Take a Breather
Once you learn how it feels when you start to get angry, you can start noticing the things that lead to your anger. The next step is to cool it down.
Take a deep breath. I know it sounds cliche, but it works. Close your eyes and count to 10.
The reason these things work is because it shifts the focus of your attention. You can’t easily think about what’s making you mad if you’re concentrating on your breathing.
Deep breathing also puts pressure on your vagus nerve which helps to tell the body to calm down.
Once you have a little more mental clarity, ask yourself, “is it worth it to be mad about this?” The answer may be yes, and we can then move on to ways to fix the problem. More often than not the answer will be no, and we can then move on to letting the anger go.
Anger is normal and can be helpful but only when it’s truly warranted. Often times, we as men, walk around angry for little to no reason.
It’s just easier to be angry. People are less likely to ask us how we feel and more likely to leave us alone. We begin to feel comfortable just being angry, and that’s not good.
If a family member, loved one, or coworker has told you that you may have anger issues, I implore you to seek help.
It may take time to address the underlying issues, but your mind, your body, and your relationships will be better for it.
Feel free to join the conversation online on my Facebook page.