Written by: Jenny Smith
Are you able to list all the things that irritate you? Things like people talking loudly on their mobiles on public transport, or being stuck behind someone on a go slow on a national speed limit road? Or do certain accents or tones of voice push your buttons or the way the news gets reported or the limited story lines of most popular television shows?
Know what pushes your buttons
Knowing what pushes your buttons is a healthy sign. It shows an acceptance that you are human and that you have a short fuse in certain areas of life. Being triggered into feeling annoyed is a little way off actually losing your rag, but you may have noticed that the stimulus appears to be the same yet for some reason today you’re yelling and screaming until your face goes red whereas normally your response would be closer to a snide one liner delivered with a withering expression.
So if it’s not the trigger itself, what is it that causes you to lose control of your anger and scream, swear and threaten? It’s usually a combination of a number of factors ranging from simple accumulation of dealing with the same situation on numerous occasions to feeling out of control when plans change without warning.
Other factors involved
Taking a situation personally can also lead to a loss of temper. This often happens unconsciously and only becomes clear if the person is willing to be honest with themselves about the internal messages that they are running about what is going on. Scripts like ‘this only happens to me’ or ‘he’s trying to wind me up’ fuel a belief that someone or something is out to get you which in turn give rise to a feeling of needing to attack as a way of defending yourself.
Similar but different, is the sense of something being unjust. Many of us grew up harbouring feelings of how unfair life was when parents or teachers were inconsistent and seemed to dish out different responses to different people. The world is largely ‘unfair’ and witnessing those injustices can touch some extremely sore spots in us. There’s one thing in effectively challenging a corrupt system or organisation but when the situation pushes your button to this degree there is almost always points to there being some sort of personal identification with what is going on.
Expectations from yourself
Personal expectations can also lead us towards strong feelings of disappointment and rage. We have an assumption and a hope that someone is going to behave a certain way or that a situation is going to turn out in a different way. Again a lot of this is unconscious and it’s only through reflecting in hindsight, that we can bring our patterns and beliefs into the light. It can be liberating to realise that you have a belief that you are only respected if you are spoken to in a particular way! From that perspective you are then able to make clear choice about whether it’s more important to you to hold on to that opinion or choose to loosen around it and foster a feeling of self-belief instead!
Anger management experts tend to agree that it’s better to explode than implode where all the anger goes inside and results in a person feeling depressed. However there are situations and people that you may want to protect from an unpredictable outburst, so taking a bit more notice of your triggers and signs of stress can be beneficial all round.