I feel so angry

Everyone has days where they feel grumpy and irritable, especially when they’re tired or when they’re going through the hormonal changes of adolescence. But sometimes it can seem like you’re irritated all the time.

You can wake up feeling angry and you have no idea why. You might lash out at your family and lose your temper at school or at work, and you seem to be caught in conflict wherever you go. But it doesn’t need to be this way. There is a lot you can do to manage that anger and resolve the underlying issues.

Signs of anger issues

You might hear someone say, ‘Oh, he’s such an angry person’, but nobody is naturally angry all the time. Signs of anger issues include:

  • Taunting or winding people up
  • Shouting at or verbally abusing other people
  • Hitting or physically hurting other people
  • Breaking things

But being angry doesn’t make you a bad person. Anger is a defence against feeling hurt and vulnerable, so something deeper is nearly always behind it. It might be that you feel inferior, unloved, judged unfairly, or perhaps confused about your gender or sexuality.

If we don’t deal with these deeper issues, anger can lead to depression, self-harm or substance abuse. These, in turn, encourage more anger, setting up a vicious cycle that destroys your relationships and makes your life hell.

What can you do?

1. Learn to recognise the physical signs

Notice what happens when you’re about to lose it – tightening and tension in the neck and shoulders, clenched jaw, tingling or heat in the face or chest, a racing heart – this is the first step in managing anger.

2. Calm yourself

Teach yourself deep-breathing or some other self-calming technique, such as counting to ten.

3. Walk away

If you know you can’t calm down in time to stop yourself doing something you’ll regret, walk away and use exercise to release the pent-up emotions (go for a run, a bike ride or use a punching bag or skipping rope).

4. Get support

I know this is a cliché, but men are more susceptible to anger issues. Mensline (1300 78 99 78) offers telephone and online support, information and referral for men dealing with relationship problems. It offers a free call-back service 9am–11pm; and free 30-minute online text and video counselling sessions for men Australia-wide.

It’s very powerful to find out what’s underneath your anger. In time you will not only be able to manage it better, but also have fewer episodes of uncontrollable rage. Whenever you feel it happening, you will recognise that this, too, will pass and you will look forward to feeling in control.