I hate what is going on in the world today! The COVID-19 pandemic has me so scared about going outside…But I also feel enraged that my family and I have to endure this! This has caused so much stress in my life and now I may lose my job. I find myself feeling on edge and irritable all the time. I worry about how people will treat me and whether they will disregard my feelings. Of course, now I feel a sense of loneliness too.
I just hope that I’ll be able to control my rage cause my patience is wearing dangerously thin. When I snap there will be requiem to pay. Any suggestions for how to deal with this? Struggling
Dear Struggling Friend, I wonder if you would be willing to start changing yourself? You can’t change this situation we are in with the pandemic and you can’t change others or the way they treat you. What about working on building your confidence, finding coping skills to deal with stress and finding ways for controlling your anger? Actually, concentrating on yourself and finding ways to adapt to this highly stressful situation will help defuse your anger. Anticipating the What If ? questions which run through your mind and how people will treat you is triggering anger prior to any stressful event occurring.
One is when a stressful event occurs which actually triggers your thinking and anger because someone has disappointed or frustrated you by what they have done or not done. The other is when you anticipate someone will disappoint or frustrate you or something will go wrong – that thinking is the real trigger for your angry feelings.
Expect disappointment but, don’t let it overwhelm you. People will disappoint us and let us down. That’s a fact of life. Maybe you have suffered from some abuse or discrimination. But, you are valuable. You have talents and a unique personality and gifts. You have a God-given purpose for living! Because of these and other reasons – the way people treat you should not control how you feel about yourself or your emotional response.
It’s normal to react with anger when someone disrespects or humiliates you. But, how they treat you should not cause you to overreact, feel shameful about yourself or insignificant. It’s when you lose value in yourself that you will react angrily.
Don’t let anyone control how you respond. Think this way instead:
1. “I can’t be certain that I will be treated negatively – I should just give them the benefit of the doubt”
2. “Maybe they are having a bad day”
3. “This isn’t worth losing my cool over”
4. “I may deserve to be treated better but, I’m not going to let this person trigger my anger”
5. “I’m going to take a time out to think over how to respond and then, come back to this person”.
6. “I’ve got better things to deal with now”
7. “Don’t pass a judgment on them – he/she doesn’t understand what he/she’s doing”
8. “I’m going to let this one pass. It’s not worth getting angry over.”
9. How can I adapt to this crisis? What can I do to keep myself calm? What skills can I build on? How can I communicate my needs more clearly with respect? How can I grow spiritually during this time? What can I do to connect with and help others during this time?
Rise above any trigger or scenario by changing your thinking, developing your emotional intelligence, increasing your self-esteem, growing in your faith and anger management skills.
© copyright 2020 by Lynette J. Hoy, NCC, LCPC, CAMS-V; President, Anger Management Institute blog, podcasts and resources