Anger Answers

How do you get over anger at siblings because of grief and loss.

Thank you for reaching out for support and for submitting your question. I am very sorry that you are currently experiencing difficulty and challenges in your life right now. And I am sorry for the loss of your parents.There is a saying which seems like it might be appropriate in the scenario you are describing: “Resentments are like swallowing poison and expecting the other people to die.”Resentments and anger are those ongoing feelings we hold towards others because of some injustice (often real but sometimes imagined). If we keep holding on to these types of emotions then eventually we find it harms not the other people, but ourselves. We might suffer emotionally and ultimately we can develop physical maladies, from chronic disease (heart disease, stroke, digestive issues, hypertension, etc.) to chronic aches and pain. Also, it can lead you to start responding to neutral persons with a spirit that is irrational or impulsive – which can end up damaging personal and professional relationships. Yet, how do you let this all go? First, anger and resentment are usually secondary emotions. In other words, there are some other emotions which are underlying (fear, pain, hurt, vulnerability, etc.) and the anger and resentment are just what comes up to the surface and can be what is displayed externally. But there is usually something else beneath all that. In this case you did have something happen and it caused you upset and pain. You did not choose for your siblings to act that way. Nor did you choose for your parents to be in those circumstances. There is, however, something you do get to choose in all of this – how you will feel and respond. You get to decide that you will not hold a grudge and that you will be forgiving of your siblings. What’s your alternative? You can certainly choose to continue clinging to anger. But who does that ultimately impact? They will in all probability go on living their lives while it will be you, in fact, who suffers the consequences of the anger. In some ways, you become a slave to them and all those emotions. It becomes a sort of emotional, spiritual, and mental bondage. Can you wish it were all different and that they had showed up? Of course. But that cannot be changed at this point. What you can change, what you can control, is how it is going to make you feel going forward. You do not need to forget the act, but you can set yourself free from the hurt it has caused. Overcoming resentments and anger does not necessarily happen overnight. It is more of a process that requires some patience and practice. You might need to keep reminding yourself that carrying these feelings and emotions is a heavy burden that you yourself are forced to carry around – and that you have the option of putting them down. It is okay to feel some anger and resentment. But then perhaps you do something different with the feelings instead of holding on to them. You can try journaling. This is one tool which will allow you to get all the thoughts and emotions out. You can seek support from a trusted friends or another relative that you are close to. Is there an individual with whom you could sit and have a conversation with about all of this? Communicate with them what you have been going through. Also, some type of physical activity is another way of discharging some built up anger and resentment. It might mean going for a walk or a run, or playing a sport. And while it might be challenging, consider changing the way you treat your siblings. At the moment you want to unleash your fury towards them. That is understandable. But it won’t change the past. And it likely will just cause further damage and problems. So what if instead you displayed kindness? Yes, it could be difficult at first. Acting with love, kindness, and compassion towards them will potentially do something quite interesting – it might, over time, transform how they act towards you. Does continuing to live forever with an angry, embittered dynamic help anyone? What would changing the relationships so that love and kindness eventually predominate mean? You cannot change what happened. They cannot go back and change it. But can you perhaps be the catalyst here? Could you show kindness towards them, which could potentially change how they live their lives in future? We certainly cannot predict outcomes in this case. Yet again, though, you get to choose. Be angry towards them? Be kind? Which will leave you personally feeling better in the end? Unless you have the unique ability to travel into the past to make things look different, it comes down to deciding that you have to accept things as they are. It is as good as it will ever get. You do not have to like it. Letting go will help you release pain. Letting go allows you to redirect your attention and energy into what you can control. Also, you can make choices going forward that might influence your siblings positively – although there are no guarantees with this as we never get to control anyone else’s choices in the end. You have been through a lot and it can be difficult to process and navigate all of this on your own. If you cannot locate good support in your personal life, then it could worth it to think about speaking with a therapist. In the therapy room you will have the chance to explore all the feelings you are going through – the ones you are currently aware of, as well as some you perhaps are not (those one which could be hidden below the surface). A therapist can partner with you to help you learn to cope with all of this. And together you can come up with some good, individualized strategies that will help you move forward in a more positive direction.
Answered on 02/06/2023

How can I manage my emotions? How does one not be so reactive and defensive?

Hi T, thank you for your question, it can take courage to express how you are feeling so openly as you have done.   Emotions, thinking and acting/reacting are all linked.  It sounds like you often act in a way that later on you think perhaps you could have done it differently.  Communicating how we are feeling is difficult if we do not do it enough.  Having the right vocabulary for the moment is hard.  Knowing what to say and how to say it can seem impossible at times.  I think there are a few things to bear in mind.   1. Our brains are wired in such a way to keep us safe.  You react quickly because of a perceived threat and you need to defend yourself from it.  Perhaps you have been hurt in the past and do not want to be hurt again.  This part of our brain works way quicker than we give it credit for.  To slow this down takes effort, but can be done.  Try and slow down in others areas of your life.  Make a conscious effort to stop before you react.  This will give a chance for the rest of your brain to catch up and so you can respond appropriately.  This takes practice, so practice it in other areas of your life, in situations you are in control of, taking a cool, calm and measured approach.  Building this routine can help when you are in more difficult situations. 2.  Talking about emotions and how we are feeling can be hard.  Practice by speaking up when you need or want something, gaining confidence in explaining to someone else what you need will build confidence as will expressing to others how you feel.  Perhaps after a film you could say 'That film made me feel really happy/really sad!'  Practice doing this at least once a day. 3.  As you become more confident in communicating your feelings and it becomes more natural to you, you will build the vocabulary and self-awareness and will have a great insight into your own behaviors and they will change for the better. Because our thoughts, emotions and behaviors are all linked, if we can change one thing in the cycle it will change the outcome overall.
Answered on 02/03/2023

How do I keep my feelings from affecting my work, relationship, and mood for the rest of the week?

Feelings.  They exist without our say-so. They come in like a wrecking ball and totally disrupt what would otherwise be a very intelligent and well-thought-out response. When we lose something, get tired, experience extra stress at work due to pressures also unknown to us, we live on their highs and lows and yet we cannot seem to do anything to fix them. These emotions, as it turns out, are ours and we had better get accustomed to them in our life, otherwise, we will end up spending the rest of our days wanting to rid a part of ourselves that is very necessary.  Emotions are necessary, and often when we think of emotions that get our attention by the destruction they cause. Often it is when we feel hurt, frustrated, sad, guilty, shameful, and angry, even if we experience too much happiness. Yes, any one emotion lived out to its extreme will cause disruption in life. Here are some rules to follow to manage emotions:  1. Practice listening to what your mind is telling you. Notice your thoughts, your interpretations, and judgments of things; these are what get your attention and either come from an emotion or are the result of an emotion causing you to react. Your mind knows things you will never be consciously aware of. So, when triggered, it isn't about stopping the emotion or thought, but learning what to do when they show up. What are these thoughts and emotions trying to get me to do? 2. You've heard this before, but give it two seconds before you do anything. I am saying that you can do whatever you feel like doing, but give it two seconds before you do. There may still be destructive behaviors due to emotions, but that little bit of time allows the higher portions of the brain to kick in with their logic. The lower parts, the midbrain, limbic system, amygdala, and so on, are all about reaction. So, when you are triggered, the quicker you respond, the more likely it is a lower-level response.  3. Do not try to fix your thoughts or what the thoughts tell you. Instead, allow them to come to you and allow them to pass. You do not need to remedy the content of the thoughts. All you have to do is notice they exist, they are captivating, and let them go by. This, too, shall pass. So let it.  4. Your thoughts do not define you. You have thoughts, but they do not represent the total you. You are not the content of your thoughts nor are you a bad person for having bad thoughts. You have a brain that releases thoughts, and then you judge or hold on to them. You judge yourself for having them and never pay attention to what they say or what you are really thinking. Be honest with yourself, notice the thoughts as they really are, and imagine they pass by on unicorns (or clouds, anything really).  5. Beliefs. Beliefs are the foundation of emotions and thoughts. Beliefs are what we tell ourselves about ourselves and what we make every decision in service to. Beliefs need to be identified to see if they still hold up. These beliefs were often formed early in childhood and never addressed again (such as self-worth). If these beliefs aren't true, then act as though what you believe is true. If you are enough, then make the decisions as someone who is enough would make.  These are some ideas to get you started, but here is a video to help:  It's a great metaphor.  Emotions come from thoughts triggered by beliefs. We can notice this, and instead of participating in this constant routine of turmoil, we can step back and watch ourselves notice thoughts. Notice you notice these thoughts, and the emotions can subside as well. 
Answered on 01/27/2023

Why do I cry when I am angry?

Thank you for reaching out and asking this question via the BetterHelp Platform.  Why do we cry when we are angry? Crying, I think, is our body's way of managing and processing our emotions. When I was younger, I angry cried as a child, and I still angry cry as an adult, because it was one of the only 'acceptable' ways of dealing with anger in the household I grew up in. Sometimes if we weren't allowed to shout, or lash out, or break anything or even communicate why we were angry, the only way we could release some of that energy would be by crying or sobbing.  You could unpack this and process it with a therapist through the lens of racket feelings (a feeling we are allowed to express in place of a feeling that we aren't allowed to express - example, if we were angry as children but we were only allowed to communicate this as 'I'm tired'). Or you could look at what's going on physically as well as psychologically when you feel angry and the tears start to come froward. I would probably want to explore your family history to see how your parents reacted to your emotions, and how you were allowed to express them, and how much of your past coping strategies have carried forward into the here and now. It's not a simple question, or piece of work, and it can be really intimidating and emotionally draining to face these questions. Expressing, understanding and managing our emotions in different settings It is really interesting that you've mentioned this occurs in a professional and personal setting. I would be curious as to how you would prefer to react, behave or express yourself when you are angry in the personal and professional environments. Crying isn't solely reserved for when we're sad. We can also cry when we're happy, in pain, grieving, angry and frustrated. It's, to me, an outlet of emotions. I would take the approach of exploring what 'acceptable' or 'desirable' expressions of anger would look like, and what would happen if you expressed your anger in those ways and what it might feel like. What now? Well, it's up to you how you decide to proceed. I would recommend looking for a therapist who you feel you would be comfortable having these conversations with. We're not all one size fits all, and not every client is going to like the first therapist that they are matched with. The great thing about BetterHelp is that you can switch until you feel comfortable with your therapist. Whatever path you decide to take next, I wish you all the best and just want to reiterate and validate that crying when you're angry is OK if that's what you need to soothe yourself and be OK! Best wishes, Jess
(Diploma, Psychotherapeutic, Counsellor, Pass)
Answered on 01/26/2023

How do I calm myself down?

Hello H! Thank you for reaching out to BetterHelp with your question regarding anger and getting annoyed easily.  Anger is certainly a natural human emotion; however, when it feels constant and becomes difficult to control, it may be a sign that something more is going on (such as stress or even anxiety). I want to preface this by saying that it is okay to get angry! Let's be real, life does not always happen the way that we want, and anger or irritability is a natural response. I want to offer you a few strategies that can hopefully help reduce your anger so you can feel better and more at peace. I think a good place to start is by acknowledging when you are feeling angry. You don't have to announce that you are feeling irritable to everyone, but simply acknowledge it to yourself. Take it a step further and rate that anger on a scale of 1 to 10 when you feel it. Once you have acknowledged that you are feeling anger and rated the intensity, then you may want to try and determine if there is a clear cause for this emotion. Sometimes it may be very obvious and at other times, you may feel frustrated without really knowing why. Taking a minute to self-reflect may help you recognize that you're stressed out, anxious, hungry, or that you haven't been spending time taking care of your mental health as you should be. If you can determine the source, you might be able to better solve the problem. I'm going to encourage you to take a few deep breaths in the moment. I know it seems like generic advice, but it is very beneficial. Deep breathing can calm your physiological response. When your body gets calmer, your brain tends to get calmer too. Try inhaling slowly to the count of three through your nose. Hold your breath for a brief pause and then exhale slowly through your mouth. Do this 3 or so times and see if you feel better. It's also important to reframe your negative thoughts when dealing with unpleasant feelings. If you become aware that you are thinking about an unfair situation or how much you dislike something, try to reframe it. Stick to the facts, rather than your judgments and emotions surrounding those facts. Simply asking yourself, "am I basing this thought on fact or feeling?" or "Is this thought helping me or harming me?" can be a good place to start. I will conclude by saying that extreme anger or constant frustration can be a sign of a mental health issue, like depression, anxiety, or a mood disorder. So if this continues to linger, I will encourage you to seek professional help such as a licensed counselor or a doctor. Remember that adding a little more self-care into your daily routine might be all it takes to bring you to a healthier state of mind.
(M.A., LPC)
Answered on 01/25/2023

How do I keep myself from letting my anger get the best of me?

Hi, great questions and thanks for the background. Anger is an emotion that gives us insight as to what we are experiencing. Many people verbalize their anger while others keep it in. What is your anger telling you? A lot of times our society and/or our upbringing showed us to keep our anger inside or to cover up our anger because it wasn't proper or you aren't able to show that side of yourself. When we understand our anger and allow ourselves to feel angry this will show us the path to move forward to process what we are going through. We all have primary emotions, some of us get sad easily while some of us get angry easily but whatever your primary emotion is, utilize that to find a channel to the other emotions that show us symptoms of our pain. It must be hard to go through postpartum depression, anxiety and rage.  As you explained, you're taking care of children while also taking care of your parent, seems that there may be a lot on your plate and it may be hard to focus on yourself once in a while, and difficult to have your needs met and to not feel like you can just take care of yourself or even having a support system around you.  With the postpartum depression allow yourself to feel what you're going through and grieve. What do you need to grieve but also what are ways you want to heal? With the depression, what is making you feel sad or losing hope, and what are things that need to happen in your life in order to feel you can overcome? With the rage, is there a way you can vent? Is there anyone in your life you can talk to where you can release this rage or do you feel like if you do, you won't be understood and you will be judged? I hope you can find peace and also strength at this time through all of your challenges and that you can begin your journey to healing and hope.
(LMHC, LPC-, Provisional)
Answered on 01/24/2023

How do I not shut down when upset?

Thank you for reaching out. And I am sorry that you’re experiencing difficulties. It’s a great first step to acknowledge that you’re struggling with these issues. Having insight is a critical and foundational aspect of healing and moving forward. If we don’t know what the problem is, then there is little potential anything will ever change. So, you’ve already made a positive step by formulating some insight as to what is getting in your way. The next battle to tackle – what to do about it? It sounds like you’re struggling with a phenomenon known as stonewalling. This involves deciding to halt communicating with another person. You withdraw from interacting and create a barrier, create distance. By deliberately shutting down during disagreements, the end result is hurt, harm to the relationship, and immense amounts of frustration. Stonewalling may include discomfort surrounding talking about feelings and emotions, dismissing the concerns of the other person, not responding to questions, and simply just walking away and refusing to engage any further. It hardly ever is an effective method. And, in fact, can be a destructive force in a relationship. Notably, it should not be confused with taking a step away to gather your thoughts and calm down. It’s an entirely different thing if, in the heat of the moment, you calmly and respectfully express to your partner that you’re feeling overwhelmed, need twenty minutes to gather your thoughts, and then you’ll continue the discussion. This is a better way to handle situations when you’re overcome with emotion. Stonewalling involves ignoring your partner. Storming off angrily without saying a word. Refusing to answer. Making accusations as opposed to having a reasonable discussion. Engaging in dismissive body language such as rolling your eyes. It usually never ends well. And it causes more problems in the relationship. Often, all of this isn’t planned out as a means for being hurtful. Stonewalling is, more often, an unhealthy behavioral pattern with roots in anxiety, frustration, and fear. It could be a habit learned in childhood. Perhaps your parents interacted this way and that’s what was modeled for you. So, while it might, on the surface, seem to be an intentionally aggressive way of interacting, it more than likely is a learned behavior that’s actually a defensive mechanism. Overcoming this pattern requires patience, practice, and communication. It’s possible to learn more effective ways of interacting, to reprogram ingrained habits. Some strategies that you might consider working on to change this pattern include: Deciding with your partner that you’re both okay with delaying certain conversations if one or both of you feel overwhelmed. Work on this ahead of time – select a time when you’re both relaxed and come up with a game plan. Figure out what taking a break will look like. Perhaps decide on a neutral signal to let the other know you are flooded emotionally and need a break. This could be as simple as raising a hand into a “stop” position. It can be a word, it can be a silly dance you break into. A funny signal could help calm things down more! It can be anything. But decide that giving the signal means the discussion pauses and you both will step away for a break. Agree you’ll both honor the signal. Make your break at least twenty minutes to give your body time to relax. Paying attention to your body language as you’re speaking and listening. If you catch yourself engaging in something that is sending the wrong message (you know that dismissive facial expression you give!) then stop and readjust. Consider calling yourself out and apologizing. Say “sorry, I didn’t mean to roll my eyes. I’m feeling overwhelmed but that was wrong of me.” Taking time to calm yourself a bit ahead of a talking about a contentious issue. Think about what you want to say. Take some breaths. Take a walk before talking. Listen to calming music ahead of time. Prepare yourself. Being open to clarifying what the other person is saying to ensure fewer misperceptions or mistakes. Sometimes it helps to repeat back what the person said. It’s not uncommon for us to hear one thing when, in reality, that wasn’t what the other person meant. Being open to accept feedback. Fully take in what the other person says before launching into your own reply. We often are already formulating what we’re going to say before they finish speaking. But stop this if you catch yourself. Pause and refocus on listening. Being sure that your language is more neutral and less accusing. All of these strategies are certainly sometimes easier said than done. Don’t expect to get it all right immediately. And, too, remember that you don’t have to do any of this alone. A therapist can be a great help when it comes to changing how you communicate. A therapist can help you understand some of the causes behind this pattern you’ve developed. Oftentimes, anger is a mask for some other deeper issue. Additionally, a therapist can help you practice new, more effective ways of responding to your partner.
Answered on 01/16/2023

How do you control your anger and not let your anger control you?

Thank you for reaching out for help to understand the feelings of anger that you are experiencing. I am sorry that you are going through these feelings. It's important to see that there is help that can make a difference. Learning how to control emotions will help you control and express your feelings, which can also include sadness, fear and disappointment. The way you describe your anger it sounds like this way of expressing your feelings could come after a build up of emotions. Exploring the reasons behind why you are unable to discuss these in a calm way will help you to break the behaviour of getting angry   Anger allows for all emotions to be expressed, even if the feelings being experienced include other emotions. (as listed above)The risk is that to the other people involved, they only see the anger and nothing else and this can bring feelings of not really being heard   Becoming angry, although helps to say how you feel, it is a very stressful way of coping with your feelings and is likely to have an effect on your mental health as It can take so much out of you. The recovery time after an outburst can have a negative impact, such as, leading to feelings of guilt, anxiety as well as feelings of being understood, which can lead to depression. Learning new ways of coping with your emotions will help you to feel present with your feelings and will encourage validation that your feelings are important and necessary to be heard. Alongside therapy, writing a journal is a good way of releasing your feelings and it helps you to become in tune with what emotion you are feeling at the time. Writing provides your future self with the coping strategies that you have learned work and you show you that there is often a different way of approaching things that are more positive for you.  Talking through your experiences with a counsellor will give you the support for you explore your memories of your life's experiences, to help you to gain a deeper understanding of yourself. This will help you to identify the triggers that cause the anger and allow you to learn new ways of coping with your emotions in a more positive and calm way. 
Answered on 01/13/2023

What are some steps I can take to become more of an approachable and understanding person?

Hi, thank you for asking this question. So many others are on this journey with you and experience difficulties with being limited by their mindset and feeling overwhelmed, unable to manage intense emotions. It is clear you have insight to a goal for personal growth. I appreciate how you are observing something about yourself and connecting it to how its impacting your life and interfering with your goals in relationships. We may not have caused all of our own problems but we have to solve them anyways for our own sake. You brought up similarities with other relatives, there are many paths to how we get to be who we are and to explain our behaviors. Some people have a biological disposition to be more reactive, this would be the hot-headed nature you have described. We also have models for emotional expression, what did we see other relatives do with their emotions? Emotions also have to be experiences and tended to. We need to allow space for them, they have an important function in our lives. There is hope in that with recognition and developing skills, we can then learn to manage emotions and minimize consequences from the emotions we experience. In addition to this, we can also work to reduce our own susceptibility to experiencing negative emotions by taking care of our health since emotions are biological responses to our environment. We can improve our resistance towards anger by eating healthy, exercising, avoiding substance use, sleeping and making sure we are getting routine medical care and managing health concerns. Everyone has beliefs that influence and drive our behaviors. The my way or the highway mindset sounds inflexible, and we know rigidity can lead to us feeling less happy. There are so many things in life we don't have control over, adaptability leads to experiencing more moments of joy. It's important to re-examine the beliefs we are raised with that have been passed down and modeled for whether or not they lead us to the life we want to live. All or nothing thoughts also lead to unproductive behaviors, and high levels of distress as well.  You sound very motivated to make some of these changes, this is the first step. The next step is to identify what exactly your goals are and how your emotions and thoughts fit into reaching your goals. It helps to practice self-compassion, sometimes it's more about bringing awareness, practicing acceptance and reframing our thinking to better control our responses, than it is changing who we are. Congratulations on taking the first step by inquiring about how to make progress towards this area of growth for yourself. I hope this information is helpful for you to start taking more steps towards your goal.
Answered on 01/12/2023

How do I stop with my anger? I want to get better.

Hi, I hear that you are feeling disappointed in yourself, and that you feel you are letting yourself and your family down because you are feeling angry all the time.  Anger is a strong emotion, that always has a lot of other negative emotions lying beneath it. I always describe anger to my clients as being like an iceberg, the anger is the small piece of ice we can see protruding above the water, and this anger can be seen as yelling, crying, frustration, sulking, passive behavior, but underneath the water there is a whole lot of other emotions going on underneath the surface.  The emotions that lie under the surface are : Guilt, Scared, Nervous, Depressed, Confusion, Worried, Lonely, Tired, Anxious, Helpless, Shame, Insecure, Rejected, Unsafe, Fear, and Hurt. These are all the emotions that can be going on inside for you. It is important to try and be aware of the other emotions that are under your anger, and by identifying them, you may be able to work out why you feel so angry so often. The feelings of jealousy can also make you feel angry, and feeling irritated by others is another symptom of your anger. Getting help through therapy will help you explore your anger and help you deal with it. A therapist will be able to help give you coping techniques to help deal and process your anger. Some simple things that you can try is some mindfulness exercises or breathing techniques. There are a lot of self help techniques for mindfulness and breathing exercises online, try Google or any search engine. I sense this is having a negative impact on your life and it is something you would like to change, by taking the first step of asking the question is the first step to change. Therapy will certainly help you have a better understanding on where your anger stems from, then this will give you a base that you can grow and understand more. Good luck in whatever you choose to do and remember any difficult situation that we challenge leads to growth Kim
(Bsc, hons, counselling, and, psychotherapy, Psychotherapist)
Answered on 01/04/2023

How do I move forward?

It is an unfortunate part of life that we all get hurt by others. Hurt happens in degrees of severity. Sometimes it is fairly minor whereas other hurts are traumatic. Like physical wounds, hurts that go untended can and do fester. In the absence of antibiotics even a small cut can turn life threatening. In an emotional sense, untended hurts can lead to resentment, contempt, controlling behavior, and repeated patterns of behavior that hurt others. This in turns lead to the possibility of being hurt again and the pattern repeats.  Just as swelling and oozing are signs of infection with physical wounds, bitterness, resentment, and contempt are signs of untended hurts. Untended hurts can also lead to anxiety and depression. It is important to tend to hurts as early as possible. One thing that can be helpful is learning to pick battles. Some hurts are relatively minor initially. This is where communicating the hurt and setting clear expectations about how one wants to be treated is important. People tend to assume that people should be able to just know what's expected. Instead, speak clearly, gently, and firmly when communicating those expectations. Clear communication insures that the other person has an opportunity to correct any undesirable behaviors. There are times where a person has all of the information needed but refuses to listen when hurt is expressed. Stronger boundaries may need to be put in place. Some relationships are toxic and may even require separation. Separation is not always complete or permanent but there are times when it may need to be. Professional help can be sought to help in assessing what's needed for the situation. Often, anger is held on to as a shield. Anger's purpose is simply to signal that change needs to happen. Held onto too tightly, and it becomes toxic. Forgiveness allows for the releasing of hurts while maintaining appropriate boundaries. This may or may not include reconciliation. It also allows for the opportunity to learn from the situation instead of continuing toxic patterns. If we are honest, we all have hurt others whether intentionally or not. Maintaining a gracious spirit that leans towards appropriate boundaries and forgiveness allows one to reclaim their sense of peace and happiness.
Answered on 01/01/2023

I need assistance to stop being angry and be gentler

Thank you for the interesting question. Your question shows that you already have awareness and insight...two key components to changing our thoughts, feelings and behaviors. No one is perfect, and to some extent we are all trying to improve on areas of ourselves that we wish were better. I like to call these areas our "shadows". We all have shadows, or shortcomings, that with a little effort and commitment, we can improve on.  We all have shades of narcissism. There are times when we simply must put ourselves first above all others. While in many cultures and families of origin this trait is frowned upon, in others it is praised as "independence" "go getter attitude" or "ambitious". We all need to be a little narcissistic to have our needs and wants met. If we find that we constantly put our interests before others and it starts to create problems in our relationships, then it might be time to make some changes. It may be helpful to ask yourself these questions:  - Have many people told me I am narcissistic or selfish? Or is it just one person? Just my family? Just myself? - Am I focused so much on my own wants and needs that it is damaging my relationship(s)? - What messages/beliefs does my family of origin have about 'putting myself first'? Sometimes when people have experienced a traumatic event or multiple traumas, they develop certain coping mechanisms (even if they are maladaptive) in order to protect themselves in the future. People who have experienced trauma may have difficulty trusting others, may worry often, have difficulty with concentration and completing tasks, and are quick to become angry/irritated. This may not be applicable to your question, however if you have trauma in your past, it may be worth considering if this plays a role in how you are feeling.   Regarding anger, I often tell my clients that anger is a "secondary" emotion. Underneath anger, there is usually something else going on. For example, if someone has a big deadline coming up that they are worried or anxious about, they may find themselves shorter tempered or irritable with their coworkers, friends or family. Sometimes we show anger to others when we are actually hurt or sad about something. For example, if everyone else is invited to a social gathering except me, I might say something in anger to the party host. Underneath the anger, I am feeling very excluded and hurt by not being invited. Try considering the following question: - What am I angry about? What is underneath my anger? Sadness, hurt, guilt, anxiety? To be gentler and calmer in your responses to people, it is important to first reflect on why you are feeling upset. I recommend journaling to gain more insight. Other suggestions to reduce high emotional reactivity with others include: - Wait at least an hour before responding - Run your response past a trusted friend - Practice deep breathing or guided meditation - Go for a walk to clear your head I hope you find some of these suggestions helpful. Even just making one small change can lead to more change and eventually, progress. Keep up the good work on your mental health journey!
Answered on 12/28/2022

Why do I get angry or embarrassed while receiving criticism?

Hello, This is a great question. Thank you for writing about your concerns. Maybe it will help to first understand your anger. Anger is often a secondary emotion. It often comes after something else, like hurt, sadness, or disappointment. When these things are not dealt with, the accumulate. Your feelings may stack on top of each other. Anger eventually comes out as a way to regain control. It's not a conscious decision. It happens involuntarily.  When I hear someone say little things are getting on their nerves, it makes me think there are other things that have built up over time. Your anger may be a defense mechanism designed to keep you from receiving information you may not like or may not agree with. You may first want to evaluate where the anger is coming from. Is there something underneath it that needs to be addressed? Are there things going on in your life that have led you to feel overwhelmed? Are there certain triggers that seem to repeat over time? If you can get to the root of the anger, you may be able to diffuse it.  When exploring feelings you can go through this acronym: RAIN R - Recognize the feeling A - Accept the feeling I - Investigate the feeling N - Nurture yourself Step one: What emotions are lying underneath the anger? What are the feelings that you may have dismissed or put aside? Step two: Accept the feelings for what they are. Do not judge yourself for having them. They are feelings. Feelings are normal. It's ok to have them. Make a statement of acceptance. For example, you could say, "It's ok for me to feel hurt over my recent break up."  Step three: Why do you feel this way? Has this happened before? Is there trauma in your past that may be contributing to the intensity of these feelings. For example, you may say, "Rejection is hard for me. It reminds me of when my parents divorced and my dad moved out." Step four: How can you cope? What is something that lifts your spirits? What are some healthy coping skills for you?  Here are some examples of healthy coping skills: Going for a walk Spending time with a pet Journaling Exercising Talking to a friend or loved one Being creative Reading Watching your favorite show or movie Meditating Doing Yoga Enjoying nature Learning something new Laughing Gardening Baking  Once you have a good understanding of you feelings, you can utilize your favorite copings skills to get control over your emotions. Next, you can work on finding ways to deal with criticism in a healthy way. Here are some tips: 1) Don't react immediately. Give yourself time to think and process what has been said. Allow yourself to think rationally about your response. Take your time.  2) Assess the criticism. Take a step back: Who said it and Why? Are they trying to help you, but did not communicate their point of view nicely? Or are they trying to be mean? Taking a step back allows you to determine if perhaps the criticism has some real value that maybe you had not seen before. Could it help you in some way? Or if it's not helpful, brush it off. 3) Don't take it personally. Whether the criticism is intended to be helpful or not, you can't always be sure. You can always be in control though. Remember, sometimes people do things not to attack you, but to vent our anger or frustration. You have control over your response. You can choose to consider the source and move on if needed.  4) Use it to your advantage. If the criticism has some truth to it, then the best thing you can do is to figure out how you can apply it to improve. If you have assessed the situation and the criticism is invalid, simply smile, walk away, and don't let it dent your self-confidence. Take a deep breath and blow it off. Life is too short to be angry.  "You can't shake hands with a clenched fist" said Indira Gandhi during negotiations over a border dispute in the early 1970's. Some people think that being tough and coming in with a clenched fist is the way to get what you want from people. You're expecting them to do the same, but often you have to be open and trust other people to get things accomplished. 
(M.Ed, L.P.C.)
Answered on 12/24/2022

Where do I start as far as coping so that I'm able to control my anger and hurt

Hi Kristyn.  Thank you so much for taking that first step and reaching out for help.  I know this can be a hard thing to do.  There are coping skills you can implement to manage anger, mood, and decrease stress and anxiety. Meditate and relax by sitting quietly in a room.  Sit or lie down in a comfortable position.  Focus on breathing cool air in through your nose and exhaling warm air through your mouth.  This type of relaxation will calm your mind and body. Journal to self reflect and identify your thoughts. This will allow you to understand triggers and realize unhelpful and irrational thoughts. Spend time outdoors in nature, get sunlight.  Go for a walk to increase endorphins.  This will help boost mood and decrease anxiety.   Practice mindfulness and gratitude.  You will notice the positives in life and appreciate the small things.  This will reduce negative thoughts, helping to heal your mind, body, and spirit. Manage anger by naming your feelings.  Validate your thoughts and emotions.  Anger can be constructive.  Anger is a natural, healthy emotion.  Respond rather than react to a person or situation.  Channel that energy to uncover what makes you feel passionate and strong.  Take a moment, breathe to process what is causing anger. It's important to process past trauma.  The results of unresolved trauma can include anxiety, misdirected anger, health issues, chronic stress, suppressed emotions, poor coping skills, difficulty communicating, and conflict in interpersonal relationships.   A trained, experienced trauma counselor can help you identify triggers and isolate where the anger is stemming from.  You will meet with your counselor virtually in a safe space free of judgment.  You will develop healthy coping mechanisms.  Your counselor will establish rapport and build trust with you so you can feel safe to explore your past and work to process and resolve the trauma you have experienced throughout your life.   Please keep reaching out for help and support.  By recognizing the trauma and working towards healing you will learn how to move forward on a path to mental well being and emotional stability.  There are resources and supports out there for you.  
Answered on 12/21/2022

I get mad so easily over the smallest things

Hi Dre.  Thank you for taking that first step to reach out for help.  Anger is an organic way to respond to a threat.  There are several kinds of anger, anger is expressed differently in each one.    When we are passive aggressive, we may silently harbor angry feelings. By holding in our anger, it will manifest in different ways and not always in response to the person or thing that makes us angry.  Open aggression is an outward expression often involving verbal and/or physically aggressive behaviors. We say and do things that we cannot easily take back. Assertive anger is a controlled way to respond to anger and address what is the cause of our angry feelings with open communication.  Uncover anger triggers.  Anger can be triggered by feeling attacked, having our feelings invalidated, frustration, lack of control, depression, anxiety, stress, environmental and social factors.  We can control anger by responding, not reacting in difficult situations. When we respond, we take a minute to process and speak.  It's ok to put the pause on a conversation to compose yourself, take a deep breath and formulate your response.   Suppressing anger can result in misplaced, unresolved feelings.  We need an outlet. Finding healthy expressions of anger is important.   Express and openly communicate how you are feeling using "I" statements. "I am feeling upset and stressed."  Take time out for yourself.  Write down your thoughts.  Take a walk.   Don't bottle your feelings.  Take frustrations out by working out.  The endorphins you generate will calm you and boost your mood.   It's ok to feel angry.  Anger is a natural human response.  We need to feel our feelings and validate our emotions.  Anger becomes a problem when we don't deal with it and let it affect ourselves and hurt those we are close to. You can learn to express your anger in an appropriate and healthy manner.   Work one on one with a trained mental health professional.  You will be able to explore your feelings, identify triggers, role play, and learn healthy coping skills in this safe space.  Wishing you all the best on your self discovery journey.  Keep reaching out for help and work towards your goals of healthy expression. 
Answered on 12/19/2022

What can I do to control my anger and the stress I have?

Hello, thank you for your question. I can see that you are experiencing a lot of anger right now and it sounds important to you that your toddler doesn't pick up on this issue or model their own behavior after yours.  Anger is a natural emotion and part of being a human being. Perhaps anger could be perceived as being a negative thing, but sometimes it can actually be a positive, for example, it can help us to identify when something is a problem to us or causing us harm so that we can take steps to move away from that or give us the motivation to make changes to ourselves or our circumstances. Anger can also activate the "fight or flight"response within us, giving a sudden burst of energy which can be needed in dangerous situations where we need to defend ourselves.  However, for anger to be healthy, it should feel manageable and not have a detrimental affect on life. It sounds as though perhaps your anger is impacting on your life and having negative consequences. You didn't mention any specific problems it is causing you, except for your concern about your toddler. Perhaps it could be impacting on relationships - perhaps you are being easily triggered by other people, what they say or things they do, and you recognize that your reaction is disproportionate to what they have done. I can also see that you are a single mum, which can be stressful enough by itself - maybe you are not getting breaks from the daily grind of life and looking after yourself adequately, which is causing you to get annoyed at things faster than you would like.  It sounds like you could do with some support. Is there anyone around you who can offer some practical support - help with your toddler so that you can have some time to look after yourself? I understand that not everyone has a support network around them, and this can be upsetting in itself. Perhaps you are considering therapy to gain some extra support and learn some tools for managing anger. In the counseling environment, there is no judgement and you are always held in positive regard and with empathy. Your therapist will see the world through your eyes and try to support you. Being able to talk about your experiences without judgement, opinion or constant solutions, can be a unique experience for some, and also what they need in order to feel heard and validated. This allows you to reflect on your situations and your roles within them. Reflection will help you to grow as a person and become more self-aware. With increased self-awareness, you will start making better decisions for yourself - whether that be putting in boundaries with certain people, or understanding your own triggers and modifying what is going on around you so that you can be more content in life.  It sounds like you are motivated to make changes for yourself and in turn your toddler. This is a great first step and you are willing to be proactive to seek out those changes in yourself!
Answered on 12/18/2022

I’m always snapping at everyone for no reason. I feel stressed all the time and overwhelmed. Why?

Hi Riri.  That's for reaching out for help.  We all experience anger.  It's a healthy emotion. It's how we express anger that defines whether it's problematic.  When we become impulsive and aggressive, anger affects our relationships and how we feel about ourselves.  Suppressing anger and not expressing our emotions can lead to irritability, anxiety, depression, and anger towards others.  There are healthy ways to express anger and manage emotions.  This can be accomplished by paying attention to the situations and circumstances in which we get angry, learning to convey our feelings and communicate our emotions.  Once we identify these triggers we can adjust accordingly.  For example, take a step away, set healthy boundaries, and do some deep breathing.  There is a difference between responding and reacting.  Taking a few breaths and pausing before responding can help us from being reactive.  Grounding exercises, mindfulness, and calming strategies help relax us and can be the tools we need to respond thoughtfully. Being self aware and insightful helps us manage our emotions effectively. Reflecting on the situations and issues that cause anger can help us be better in tune to our feelings and emotions. How is anger affecting your life and those around you?   We can utilize "I" Statements to express our emotions and validate our feelings.  Rather than judging others and blaming them for our behavior, we can respond by saying "I'm feeling overwhelmed, I need a few minutes to process this.  Can we take a break and continue this conversation a little later " Journaling is a helpful tool to relieve stress and self reflect. It's a great tool for a space free of judgement to get your thoughts out.  Therapy can help us identify those triggers and situations that lead to stress, anxiety, and anger.  Through cognitive behavior therapy (CBT), a therapist can help teach us coping skills and anger management techniques.   Reaching out for help is a great first step.  This means we are ready to take action to learn to manage our emotions and develop healthy coping skills.  Wishing you all the best on your journey to improved mental health and wellness. 
Answered on 12/08/2022

I seem to struggle showing my true emotions

Sometimes we utilize humor to mask our true feelings because at some point in life we learn that it is risky to feel vulnerable. This is very common and it's a defense you have built over time. As you have noticed yourself, this can lead to us not feeling authentic and holding those feelings inside instead of being able to express them. The anger you mention may be linked to this holding of feelings because when we are unable to express how we feel, we store it in our bodies instead. Anger is a bit like an inflated balloon; once it reaches its limit, it explodes uncontrollably. If we are able to let it out a little at a time, it becomes more manageable, we hold less, and that limit is much less likely to be stretched. Being able to express how you feel instead of masking it with sarcasm is a skill, it takes time and practice to learn. As with learning any new skill, it is likely that you will make mistakes along the way. A good way to begin this process is just to recognize what you are feeling. You can begin to do this by setting aside a few minutes each day to just check-in with yourself and notice how you feel. Simply recognizing the feeling within yourself can be really powerful. Feelings exist to inform you about other people, the world around you and the world within you. Ignoring how you feel does not eradicate that feeling, it just buries it until it is triggered again. Repeatedly doing this means that all these feelings get sort of mushed up together and this can get quite overwhelming so that the next time you feel something, you really don't want to deal with that because it means dealing with all of it and who wants to deal with years' worth of emotions? Taking the time to separate each emotion, recognize it and understand where it is coming from puts you back in control. Your feeling is acknowledged so it doesn't need to wait to be seen, it's done its job and can rest.  We all have a thinking brain and a feeling brain and we need both to make decisions which are truly best for ourselves. Really paying attention to how we feel requires a willingness to feel vulnerable and this is a scary thought but did you know that thoughts are often more scary than the actual experience?  
Answered on 12/05/2022

How to control my anger?

Hi Akshay - thanks for reaching out and for your question.  Can you tell me how you express your anger, what you mean by not being able to control or manage your anger?  Do you act out physically, verbally, e.g. yelling or putting others down, etc...Additionally, how long has this been an issue for you?  Often, when one is overcome with anger, there is generally a primary emotion that precedes it even if one is unaware of it in the moment.  For example, one may feel hurt by something another person has said and instead of experiencing this hurt and responding to this emotion, one may immediately react with anger and lash out.  Often, one learns these patterns through their upbringing where one was not given tools or strategies to manage uncomfortable affect such as hurt, pain, disappointment or frustration and learned that reacting in anger either at least temporarily addresses a situation or helps release and divert from the pain that one may have to face and experience.  I'd also be interested in what you mentioned about mostly overthinking 'negative' thoughts which may suggest a level of anxiety and/or depression that you may also be experiencing.  You mentioned that you are in love though there seems to be a bit of conflict.  Are you able to communicate with one another when you are not feeling overaroused with anger?  Have there been any particular strategies that you have already attempted to manage your anger and/or emotions?  The final parts of your statement in the question about wanting to control your mind and be peaceful also suggest racing thoughts perhaps or difficulties in staying in the moment?  I wonder about how you witnessed or experienced important people in your past handling conflict and their emotions.  One often consciously and otherwise reenact the modeling from their childhood experiences from caretakers.  Therapy may be a beneficial avenue for one to explore these topics, identify triggers to anger or other emotions being aroused and learn more healthy and effective ways to cope with them.  It is a sign of health that you acknowledge this concern and have reached out.  Hope this helps.
Answered on 12/05/2022

I have anger issues lately, how to deal with it?

Hello, I'm sorry about your loss. I don't know whether that has been the primary reason that you've been feeling so "angry," but anger is often called a "secondary emotion" because there are generally other feelings below the anger. For example, maybe you're feeling intense grief and that's causing you to be more irritable than usual? Maybe there are other emotions connected to your relative's passing, like regret, guilt, abandonment, resentment, etc. When looking at how to deal with the "anger," it's important to first identify what the underlying feelings are.  You are describing what could be a depressive episode--headaches, changes in sleep and eating patterns, sadness, loss of motivation. I encourage you to try Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, which is a great tool to combat mood disorders. If your depression is particularly severe or is lasting for weeks or more at a time, you may want to talk with a doctor about whether you would benefit from medication. There are other things you can do yourself, too. Even though you are experiencing low energy, try to get yourself to exercise. Try to set short-term goals, goals that are easily attainable. Reach out for support. While many people who feel depressed tend to isolate and reject help from others, this is the time that you especially need support. You may also need accountability from others in following through with self-care activities and taking care of general responsibilities. Try to pay attention to what you're telling yourself that is contributing to the feelings that you're having. Once you do this, you can evaluate the thoughts and determine whether they're adaptive, and if they're not, you can utilize counter statements and positive self-talk statements.  There are also a number of coping skills that can help with general anger, like deep breathing, pleasant imagery, and mindfulness techniques including meditation. You may want to also look at your life and see if you are taking on too much right now and if that has contributed to a sense of burnout. As you lost a loved one recently, take a look at what you're doing to allow yourself to grieve. Are you giving yourself the opportunity, or are you trying to suppress or ignore the emotions you're encountering? Try to remember that no matter what is going on, how you feel right now is temporary, and you will feel better. Reaching out for help may allow you to feel better more quickly. If I can help at all, just let me know, and take care of yourself, and allow others to be there for you too. Nicholas DeFazio, MRC, LPCC-S, LICDC
Answered on 11/29/2022