Why Do I Get Mad So Easily Over Nothing?
By: Corrina Horne
Updated December 21, 2020
Medically Reviewed By: Martha Furman, LPC, CAC
Sometimes feelings of anger are more than just emotions related to upsetting things people say or do, but rather the ordinary and annoying things that occur all day every day. If you feel yourself getting mad at the little things, then there may be some underlying issues that have gone unchecked that are causing you to explode or lash out at others.
The Upside of Anger
Anger can be a normal, healthy emotion. It highlights areas of your life that need attention, and it can open a window to your passions. Anger itself is not a bad thing. But when your anger becomes overwhelming, uncontrollable, or violent, you need to do the work to understand exactly what has sparked your anger in order to keep it under control.
If you're getting angry over nothing, it usually indicates that something else is going on; surely, you're not really angry about a bit of water spilled on the floor. You could be angry, however, with your child's behavior over the past few weeks. You aren't likely to be angry when a coworker sends out an email with grammatical errors, but you may be sincerely angry that the same coworker was offered a promotion instead of you despite numerous flaws in their performance. Irrational anger is usually an arrow pointing at a much deeper issue.
If depression is not present, then there are other reasons for unexpected anger, and these often include other mental health troubles. Feeling unheard or undervalued can make anger rear its ugly head, as can feeling overwhelmed. Anger is often a smokescreen, of sorts, covering up a myriad of other emotions; anger creates distance from these emotions instead of allowing them to come to the surface where they can be addressed directly. Finding the actual root cause of your anger is one of the most important steps toward resolving it.
Identifying Your Anger
As stated above, the little things that turn into enormous explosions of anger are unlikely to be the true source. This is why it is important to not only reduce the triggers, but also to get to the source of your angry outbursts.
- Breathe. When exploring the source of your anger, it can be helpful to take a moment to breathe before you allow anger to erupt. Breathing for even a few seconds can help bring calm to your body and mind, so you can better see or understand what it is that really triggered your anger. If your cat has urinated in your potted plant once again, you might be angry about that, but you also might feel like a failure for having repeatedly forgotten to clean out the litter box.
- Know Your Warning Signs. Anger is usually accompanied by a few warning signs. For some, this might be a crawling feeling along their spine. For others, clenched fists and a rigid jaw indicate that an eruption of anger is on the way. For still others, there is quiet or an eerie mental stillness before anger spews forth. Knowing your warning signs can help you remove yourself from a situation in order to remain calm or temper any outburst that does occur.
- Journal. As soon as possible after an outburst, write down what you were thinking and feeling at that moment. In the split second before you yelled, threw something, or derided someone, notice if you felt any other emotions. Embarrassment, fear, anxiety, confusion, and shame can all be common triggers for anger; identifying that corresponding emotion can help you trace the source of your outbursts.
- Seek Professional Help. Sometimes, getting to the core of anger is not easy, and it requires professional intervention. This does not mean that you are flawed or broken; on the contrary, therapists are equipped with tools to dig deep and more fully understand the scope of human emotional and behaviors. A therapist may be able to help you tease out underlying emotions and experiences that you're not aware of.
Other Causes of Anger
Although depression is often a key part of unexplained and irrational anger, there are other factors that can come into play. Anxiety, too, has been linked to anger. Constantly feeling anxious can put your body on edge, and many of the physical symptoms of anger are also the physical symptoms of anxiety. These include a racing heart, elevated breathing levels, and a sudden flood of adrenaline. Both anger and anxiety are linked to shorter life spans in addition to a higher risk of heart disease and other cardiac problems. Fortunately, treating one often helps in treating the other.
Shame and embarrassment can also cause anger. When you feel ashamed of something, you might immediately become defensive and on edge, throwing anger at anyone nearby. Embarrassment can elicit a similar response; instead of allowing embarrassment to bloom, some people will turn that embarrassment into anger, which can feel less painful and overwhelming than fully realized embarrassment or shame.
Ironically, suppressing anger can also lead to anger upheavals. Feeling anger is allowed! Anger can be healthy, useful, and productive. It is only problematic when anger becomes overwhelming or incapacitating. Fear of getting angry can lead to an unhealthy relationship with anger, feeding the bubbling inferno within, so allowing yourself to feel your anger in an appropriate way is an important part of creating a healthy, happy headspace.
How Therapy Can Help
Feeling angry all the time is not only a risk to your physical health, but it can also have a negative effect on your mental health and self-esteem. This is where a counselor can be useful. Therapy can assist you in getting to the core of your anger, and a counselor can work with you to address any emotional upsets, trauma, or unresolved mental health issues. Anger is often resolved, not through focusing on anger, but through resolving and healing unattended wounds embedded in your past.
Many people begin struggling with chronic anger issues in childhood or adolescence, and the presence of anger can signal the presence of an unmet need. A therapist can help you sort through any anger and pain from your childhood and beyond, so you can get the help and support you desire in as an adult. Below are some reviews of BetterHelp counselors, from people experiencing similar issues.
"Steve is amazing and does a good job at making this seem like less of a counseling session and more of a conversation between friends. He helped me talk through my anger issues and road rage and gave me lots of problem-solving tools. I highly recommend him!"
"Regina helped me pinpoint where my anger issue stemmed from in the very first session, and has been helping me become more self aware of my warning triggers. Very insightful and helpful!"
Anger issues might not seem like a huge deal in the beginning, but they can get in the way of living a happy, healthy, and productive life. There are steps you can take to heal your body and mind from anger and its effects. You can learn how to live alongside anger instead of being controlled by it. Take the first step today.
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