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Ask our panel of experts
Why am I always so angry?
I always thought I was coping with life but now the slightest thing makes me angry. I'm not confrontational when someone annoys me, I just keep it to myself and keep thinking about what they've said and what I should have said back. I replay conversations over and over again. I've always done this since childhood, I learned that to confront something and give my view would only make a situation worse. Now I find I spend all my time mulling over what started as quite trivial things and I blow them out of proportion. I am becoming withdrawn from my family and friends, who say I'm just being silly. I think of past conversations I've had when I felt I was right and they were wrong, but I never stood up for my opinion.
Answer by our Psychologists:

First of all the most important thing is to realize there is an issue and ask for help. Congratulations on doing that. You are not being silly as you have some insight in knowing where this is coming from. Here are some tools to help you stop festering away.

The good news is that you are the only person in charge of your thinking and you can change this and chose what your thoughts are as you develop your awareness. The “mind chatter” is the part that replays conversations in the mind, blows them out of proportion and makes the situations worse. After a while there is such a build up that the frustrations are overwhelming and the isolating feelings of anger develop. Family and friends are sometimes too close or don’t know how to help or the right things to say.

If you start to be aware of what you are thinking, when the conversations start make a conscious effort to stop that thought and change to a more positive track. If you are concentrating 100% on the job you are doing in the moment that will focus your mind and cut out the negative mind chatter.

When you feel the anger inside, you might consider writing it out, keeping a daily anger journal so that you are able to express your anger as it arises and stop suppressing it, as you had learnt to do in the past. When anger is pushed down and internalized, it is not buried dead but buried alive and can come back at a later time. You may feel a huge amount of stored anger, inappropriate to the situation you are dealing with.

To handle the old stored anger, you might consider writing out some of the incidents that you remember from the past and putting them on paper. As you start to recognize what you would have liked to say, this action can help to reveal where you want to be more assertive for yourself now and in the future and what you would really like to say. Know that you count and have a voice to be heard now. Become aware of your thoughts and know that you can change all of them. Be patient with yourself as this takes time. You have taken many years to come to this place, it will not rectify itself over night.

You might want to read some literature. I would suggest Louise Hay’s “You Can Heal Your Life”. Later something on anger or assertiveness could be helpful to understand what has happened to you in the past and how it is influencing your present. Amazon has many publications if you go into their ‘search’ box.

Please feel free to call me if there is anything more you would like to know.

Anne Pilling

Your question reflects your awareness of feeling annoyance and anger in relation to things others can say, with the effect this having on your interaction with others.

The "inner dialogues" we all have within ourselves, where we replay conversation or imagine one to come are inevitable. We do this constantly and it can often be useful in providing us the benefit of reflection. However if this has reached a stage of mulling and as a result, you feel yourself withdrawing from others, it would seem that there is some deeper matter which is preoccupying you.

As a child, you realised that giving your view only made things worse, hence a preference for avoiding confrontation. Can you remember a particular moment which marked you? And in what way did the situation get worse ?

A reaction of annoyance can be in response to something which somehow resonates deeply within us, as if a personal "truth" has been revealed and this can in turn make us feel vulnerable. We can feel as if a very intimate part of our self has been exposed, a little like the "touché" in fencing and what the other person says can appear almost threatening. Anger can therefore result from this fear of being exposed, similarly to the way fright can induce a fight response. If this has become a lesson learnt from the past, perhaps during childhood, then one can prefer to use a "flight " response, ie avoiding any situation which can be considered even vaguely conflictual or confrontational.

You have been able to cope with life previously, so that you know you can feel better than you are currently. Most people agree that talking things through makes them feel better and it is a fact that putting thoughts, ideas and feeling into words in an external dialogue helps clarify things, make sense of them and put them into some sort of order. Working through issues leads to better understanding and acceptance of ourselves and we usually can only feel improvement. It does not have to be a long term exercise, but taking (some !) time out for this, with or without professional assistance, is almost always beneficial.

Nikki Thomas-Orler

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