Wednesday, February 8, 2017

Why Am I So Angry?

I am realizing that I am angry.  I am realizing it because I feel annoyed and irritable, I think it is anger, and I am trying to figure out what to do about it. It is affecting me and it is affecting my relationships adversely.  I have to stop it, but knowing that and doing it are two very separate issues. I know I’m angry, now I need to know why. 

I’m really a thinker, I analyze everything. I even analyze other people, which isn’t a fair thing to do, but I feel like I am a very empathic person, I read faces and I make judgements based on that.  (That’s why it is not fair, to make judgements)  But, the analyzation trait is why I feel a great need to figure this out in myself.  Maybe analyzing myself is not healthy, I don’t know, but it is what ultimately drives me to make changes in my life.

I notice my irritability at stupid issues in my life like people being late, people asking me to do things, frustration with people’s comments or attitudes.  But, I have heard that anger is just a secondary emotion that is always caused by another emotion.  Anger is a chosen reaction to another emotion.
I found a good article by Catherine Pratt on called, “Why Am I So Angry All The Time?” which is exactly what I typed in to the search bar on my computer!  It actually explained a lot of what I am feeling to me, which I am thankful for. 

So, what did I discover?  So many things…..  Now I don’t wonder WHY I am so angry all the time, now I wonder why  WOULDN’T  I be so angry all the time!! But, the point isn’t to justify why I am angry, the point is to IDENTIFY why I am angry, and learn how to deal with it better.  It’s a secondary emotion, it’s not helpful, and getting stuck on the anger is bad for me and my relationships with people I love.
The article had 11 possible reasons behind anger, and I recognized 6 of them in myself. Just to be brief, here are the 11 reasons:

1.       Fear

2.       Powerlessness

3.       Frustration

4.       Pain from the past

5.       Bad habit

6.       Feeling overwhelmed or exhausted

7.       Jealousy

8.       Approval seeking

9.       Hurt

10.   Manipulation

11.   Health

The issues that resonated with me are:
Powerlessness- When we feel powerless in a situation, sometimes we use anger to regain the control we need in our life to feel better.  Because we feel powerless in the certain situation, we have anger, and then we hold it in because it is not appropriate to be angry. The problem is, the next time someone irritates us, we vent that bottled up anger at them, even though it is not them we are really angry with. That is me totally!  I hold the anger in because it is not a nice thing to be angry, it is not acceptable to be angry, so I control it, or I think I do.  So, what am I feeling powerless about? It’s probably different things at different times, but I know what it is for me right now. And, I AM powerless because I can do nothing about another person’s actions, only my own. And just when I have accepted that and worked hard to create some boundaries to protect myself, something happens to show me that this situation is affecting me again, and I can do nothing about it. I express anger or irritation, and get called on it! Then I feel bad that I have such an ugly trait that is making someone I love upset at me, so…. time to hold it in again.

So, what do I do about powerlessness? Two things I have done in the past that really seemed to help me is 1. creating my boundaries of what I can control, and 2.  I have found in the past that I can actually vent some of my anger over uncontrollable situations by going on a hike. I haven’t been able to do much of that in the last few months due to weather conditions and lack of time. It takes at least an hour to drive to a decent hike, then fairly short hikes are about 3 hours including stops for lunch and photo taking. So that it a minimum of 5 hours, and usually it’s more like 7 hours. Hard to fit that into the time my grandson is in school. I know these are just excuses, so I need to find a way to hike. I need to do closer in hikes, maybe in parks close by. They aren’t the type of hikes I love to do, but they may suffice until I can get back to the longer more beautiful hiking. As far as my boundaries go, I have been worrying that I will be asked to relax them for the sake of family. It has happened before, and I acquiesced, but I don’t plan to do that this time. But my worry is that my family will be angry at me, and blame me for causing discord in the family.  I have to try not to “borrow trouble’ by worrying about something in the future, and deal with it only if it happens.  It’s just my empathic self that sees it coming, that’s all.

Frustration- When you feel frustrated with something in your life, you might respond with anger. Frustrated with something you are learning to do, or are new at, frustrated because you don’t know what to do about something, or frustrated about situations you can’t control. 
Lately, I notice my frustration in my parenting.   We have our 8 year old grandson living with us, which means that I am a “parent” again! It is an adjustment, and it is a source of worry for me. I worry that I am too old for all that entails, or that I am too lazy to do everything that a parent should do. I also feel frustrated that I can’t be a grandma, and instead I have to be a parent who enforces rules and corrects behaviors. I feel frustration that my husband still gets to be the fun grandpa who let’s our grandson break the rules “just this once” and I watch as our grandson looks at me and then his grandpa, and then me again with his wide eyes and waiting to see if grandpa has veto power over grandma!

I notice frustration that I am doing 90% of the parenting, in a situation that is caused by someone who I resent. I resent my grandson’s parents for being so inept that neither of them is able or willing to be unselfish enough to be responsible for raising their own child. Believe me, I know these are harsh words, and I feel very uneasy about them, but they are the thoughts that are bouncing around in my head! 

I want to make it very clear that I adore my grandson, he is the most loving, sweet, and helpful kid I have ever known (besides my niece and my son!). He is thriving with us, and he deserves this opportunity to be in a stable loving home, so I want him here, I want to give that to him and I would be devastated to lose him. 

Pain from the past- I am not sure this one really applies to me, I don’t have a traumatic event in my past to resolve.  However, it is possible that my failings as a parent to my son have me worried that those failings may affect my grandson in the future. My son and I had a very tumultuous time during his teens. He was very rebellious and I didn’t handle things well. He and I have since talked about all of it, and I feel that we are good in our relationship at this point. He’s an amazing man, doing life his way, and I am getting better at letting him and loving him for who he has become! There might be a slight worry that my grandson will rebel against me too, and I would be so sad if that happened.
The one thing that made me think this might apply to me is unresolved grief. I know that sounds weird, I didn’t think I had any grief either, but I read that grief isn’t always about losing someone you love, it can also be about losing what was or what could have been. Grief is mourning the loss of something that was important to you.

So, how might I be grieving? In the last couple of years, my husband and I have been talking about things we’d like to do together. We wanted to start travelling, which we started doing with our trip to Norway a year and a half ago!  We also bought a Sportsmobile so we could travel the USA and do some hiking and camping anywhere we wanted.  We had a 2 week trip planned for last August, but when our grandson came to live with us, we cancelled that. Thanks to our daughter, who took our grandson for 10 days, we did a shorter version of that trip! If we end up raising our grandson, we will be committed to that for 9 or 10 more years!  I can do that, it is important! But, I am grieving for our life that was supposed to be, and now may not be. I have to let go of it and change my priorities, but that is a loss.

Feeling Overwhelmed or Exhausted-  I am 30 years older than I was when I raised my son! No matter how active and healthy I try to be, I am not 29 anymore, and I get tired, A LOT! I am an introvert by nature, and what that means to me is that I recharge my “batteries” by being alone. When you are a parent, you don’t have that luxury as often. When I do, I am very thankful!  I also am notorious for not asking for help when I need it. I guess I feel like it is a sign of weakness to need help.  I don’t think of asking for help, because I want to be seen as a person who can handle everything. So, I get angry at my husband for not helping more, like he is supposed to read my mind and offer to take over. He does give me breaks, especially on weekends. He is also gone a lot, so he can’t give me breaks then. Even just writing this, I want to delete it all because I still want to be seen as the person who can handle everything, and I don’t want this weakness to be out there in the universe. So, I am moving on and forgetting I wrote this.

Approval seeking- When someone needs the validation or approval of others, they might get angry when others don’t give them that. They feel hurt and unappreciated so they get angry as a way to deal with those feelings.
I have always been a “people pleaser”; it has been who I am since I was very young. I didn’t learn it; I was born that way I think. I take care of people, I try to make things nice for people, I try to make people know how much I love them, and I like to make sure everyone is happy! None of that is bad, except for the fact that I may be doing it because I don’t feel good about myself inside, and I need to please other people or they won’t like me.

I’ve known this about myself for many years. I believe some of my relationships in the past were created out of this need to make someone else’s life better and make them happy. That doesn’t work out in the long run, I have learned. (Fortunately, by the time I met my husband, I had figured that out about my previous relationships, and he is a totally different kind of man, one that I can be equal partners with.)
There are sometimes situations where I am planning an event, and I pour myself into making it a great gathering, taking care of details, and planning far ahead to make it exactly like I want it. But then, something comes up, people don’t let me know they aren’t coming, someone takes over a detail that I already have worked out, or whatever, something isn’t the way I planned it. It makes me angry. Why? Because I have worked really hard to make it special, and when something isn’t right, I feel like no one appreciates how hard I worked. That’s so stupid! I know it is!  This is something I am currently trying to work on, because it is ridiculous to feel that way. But, it is the dark side to my people pleasing approval seeking personality!

Hurt- If you feel hurt by someone else’s actions, you might choose anger as a way to NOT deal with the hurt. I know about this, I have been personally attacked by someone who should be close to me. I was completely shocked by it, and had never been so blatantly demeaned by ANYONE in my entire life!  After months it evolved into attacks on everyone in the family, to a point where it had to be just ignored. There was an attempt to reconcile, and we seemed to really be making progress, until it resumed again. I am hurt by it, but to cope I have compartmentalized it, built a wall around it using anger.  I can go long periods of time without it bothering me, and then BAM!! the anger is back! Unfortunately the recipient of that anger is my husband who really doesn’t deserve it. I don’t blow up at him, I just get quiet about it, and probably a bit bitchy, and that’s the wife he gets. I suck!  I apologize, we go on, and so it goes.

At the end of this article, there is a thought that I am hoping to take to heart, and that is that when you gain an awareness of WHY you’re reacting the way you are, you no longer have to respond that way.  I need to look at my anger when it comes up, recognize it for what it really is, or for what the underlying emotion is, and learn what it’s telling you.   

So here I am.  I have laid out all my weaknesses, insecurities and flaws, and it is very uncomfortable! Trying to work on this is like trying to change my whole way of being in life! But, it’s not working for me now, so what do I have to lose and what do I have to gain?!  Everything!

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