Why You’re Always Angry
If you clicked on this it’s likely you’ve struggled with spouts of anger at some point in your life. I have good news, you aren’t alone. I once struggled with allowing my emotions to control me and I’ll admit that, at certain points in my life, I still do. There is an ancient philosophy that shows us the way to freedom from this plague, today I’m going to share my experience and, by the end, I’ll give you the tools I’ve used to overcome my anger problem.
Why Do We Get Angry?
Early in my recovery journey I was presented with the source of all of my anger: resentment. Anger usually doesn’t come from somewhere inside of us, it comes from the actions of others. We tell ourselves that others are trying to harm us intentionally, we hold onto an insignificant occurrence for months, and honestly we simply care too much about what others are doing.
Think about the last time you were angry, what happened? I want you to find somewhere to write and be as honest with yourself about that situation as possible; feel free to do so in the comments if you’d like to share a dialogue with me about this topic, but the point is to admit the fault to ourselves. Some of us are naturally calm but many of us struggle with some form of anger problem. Wherever you sit on this spectrum ,this exercise will help you 99% of the time if you simply let it.
Why Do We Feel Like We’ve Been Harmed?
Pinpointing a singular answer to this question is almost impossible, hence the importance of writing our feelings down. A few months after starting this daily exercise you can revisit what you wrote at this point in your life and you’ll be amazed at the progress you’ve made in your thinking. But in order to get to the point of reflection we have to start somewhere.
If I’m answering my own question, which I generally have to every morning with The Daily Stoic Guided Journal (non-affiliate link below), I do my best to be as honest as possible. The first part of my answer is a piece of me still wants to believe other were the cause of my current pain. The truth is yes, some of my pain is routed in the actions of others during childhood; however, it’s my own choice to allow that to continue hurting me today. The second part of my answer is realizing I don’t have a reason to tell myself that someone did this to me. No one hurt me intentionally or without being provoked, so I can absolutely find a way to release that pain.
It’s terrifying to think about going back to past experiences, but during my search for self-improvement when I’m able to be as honest as possible. I realize just how much harm holding onto any particular event has hurt me over the past 20 years of my life.
Will I Even Remember This Situation In the Future?
TLDR: NO! I get it, at some point throughout each day we have some type of negative interaction with another person. It’s uncomfortable, we feel like we’ve been attacked, and soon the resentment sets in as we go through our day. It’s natural human nature to protect our ego, but as the title to one of Ryan Holiday’s many insightful books says: “Ego is the Enemy”.
One of the greatest tools I was ever given by a mentor was “Brock, why are you going to let five minutes ruin five months, five weeks, five days, or even the next five hours?” That was powerful and, frankly,I hate whenever my mentor tells me what I need to hear, gotta protect that precious ego after all! I find that it’s uncomfortable to think about my own defects of character, but discomfort is where we grow as people. We are often not measured by our success, we are only measured by our failures. The gift we’ve been given as free thinkers is the ability to examine ourselves, the problem is that primal nature simply doesn’t want us to.
Why Do We Care About The Actions of Others?
Whenever a negative interaction takes place, our fight or flight hormones are automatically activated. Our brain pumps cortisol and adrenaline through our veins. We feel our face heating up, our fists clench, and, afraid or angry in that moment, we begin to succumb to our ego. What happens after these interactions? Generally speaking we probably remain angry. What good does allowing anger to spill into the rest of our lives or worse, holding it in and allowing it to consume us, do? The answer is none at all.
After years of repeating this resentment cycle each day I was presented with the aforementioned advice from my mentor and I had the sudden realization, “what can I really do about the actions of others?” Repeat after me, there’s absolutely nothing I can do about it. The ego doesn’t want us to admit that; however, the ego is also responsible for the majority of the negative emotions we feel throughout our lives.
arely is another person’s actions towards me actually a personally attack on my character. This knowledge is a tool. If I stop to think about that whenever I have a negative experience I’m allowing myself notice a truth in it: when people attack us, it’s actually a projection of their own internal struggles. If I wasn’t doing wrong prior to that moment, their burst of anger actually had nothing to do with me. The only thing I can do about it is pray for them to find freedom from their struggle, and remember that the control I have in life stops at the end of arm’s reach.
What Does All Of This Mean?
The fight or flight hormones are critical for survival, but they aren’t critical for normal situations in everyday life. It’s difficult to free ourselves from the chains placed on us from birth. If we are able to separate our emotions from what happens around us, we begin to break those chains and move towards a better life.
The journey towards inner peace t is a path as long as life itself. We can’t possibly overcome our anger in one day, but what we can do is work towards improving by 1% everyday. Write your thoughts down every day, and in one year see the incredible progress you’ve made.
You’re doing great!