I need assistance to stop being angry and be gentler

I feel I am a bit of a narcissist. I get angry easily and answer with haste which can give the wrong impression of me aside from not really conveying what I really wish to say or achieve. I feel I cannot trust easily and I end up in a vicious circle. I wish to be more gentle, calm and understanding, stop procrastinating and be more disciplined.
Asked by Nairi

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!