I Hate My Life! I’m Always Angry! How do I Change It?
Anger can be a normal and healthy response to a threat, insult, injustice, or mistake. It can be a force for good, pushing you to correct wrongs and improve yourself. But if you find yourself always angry, you might be saying “I hate my life! How do I change it?”
Chronic anger can have a variety of negative effects on your life, damaging your relationships at work and at home, causing you to have high blood pressure, or influencing you to make poor decisions “in the heat of the moment.” Yikes! How can you go about changing these angry effects on your life and start feeling more Zen?
Let’s start by thinking about potential causes of anger.
Anger can be symptomatic of many things. Depression doesn’t always manifest itself as sadness, but can make sufferers angry and irritable, even at people they love. Mania, PTSD and other psychiatric disorders can also involve chronic anger. Many individuals with physical conditions like a heart murmur sleep poorly, and find themselves quick to anger as a result.
If you experience chronic anger, know it’s okay to reach out for help. A licensed professional is there to guide you to a happier state of being.
What are some basic tips I can start using to change my life today?
Anger can essentially be boiled down to how we interpret things, says Howard Kassinove, PhD, director of Hofstra University’s Institute for the Study and Treatment of Anger and Aggression. No one can force you to be angry! You are in charge of your anger. Doesn’t that sound empowering? Use these tips to start adjusting your thinking and stop hating your life!
- Never say “never.”
Avoid exaggerations and extremes in your language or thoughts. Replace “this is the worst” with “this is unfortunate.” Next time you find yourself thinking “I can’t take this anymore,” replace those words “I really don’t care for this.” Even better, try to stop using negative extremes like “never” and “always.” You know in your heart of hearts, that your coworker doesn’t “always” leave their coffee mug in the sink, and that it’s untrue that other drivers “never” use their turn signals. You’ll be surprised how much less negative energy you feel, if you train yourself to use more moderate speech and thoughts.
- Hate the game, not the player.
Again, try replacing thoughts like “that driver is such a @#$#%” with “that person’s driving isn’t great.” You can even practice trying to find a silver lining that transforms “that jerk ran a red light” into “he must be running late to pick up his kids from soccer, and doesn’t want them to worry.” It can be kind of fun to invent these little stories, and also helps you remember that people are complicated, and don’t do things just to irritate you. You may remember that you frequently forget to bring in the paper or that you’ve stopped too short at a red light a few times yourself!
- Find your happy place.
It might sound a bit silly to you right now, but next time you feel anger coming on, concentrate on your breathing. You can imagine a peaceful scene like sitting on the beach or relaxing with the sun on your face. Imagining you’re far away from your stress can help the stress start to feel less immediate. Slowing down your breathing also helps relax your muscles, and makes you less tense, stopping your body’s natural “fight or flight” response to anger.
- Plan ahead.
You will feel angry again. And that’s okay! By accepting that non-chronic anger is natural, and by planning ahead to control your anger, you can live a much more positive life.