Where is so much anger coming from?
June 25, 2014 9:03 PM   Subscribe

Have you been in a similar situation with respect to anger? What helped? How did you identify where the anger is coming from? Were you able to resolve it? If so, how?

The backstory- Had a bad last year or so, which continues in many ways. I am at crossroads personally and professionally. Not where I want to be, and it feels like being held hostage all the time. This situation is expected to last anywhere from 3-12 months, and after that, it will be rinse and repeat (change jobs/country, adjust to new workplace, start a social circle from scratch and the whole shebang), not to mention that some personal things wont be resolved/begin to heal till I leave present job/place.

The problem- I have been remarkably and unusually pissed since the day I arrived in the present country, most of which was normal given the circumstances. (Already sought professional help so there's that. The conclusion from that is that after a point, its just a situation/place in life I have to live through to come out the other side). The problem is that after eight months of shit, daily trivial things have begun to get to me big time instead of things settling down over time. I am extremely frustrated at my own frustration. I am frustrated at the intensity and depth of anger that I experience, which I cannot understand where its coming from. I am frustrated at not being able to stop myself from verbally lashing out or wanting to lash out at every idiot that I encounter (mostly at work, no time to build social life yet/any time soon- really. This isn't a "oh if you really want it you can make the time for it" things). I am frustrated that these very idiots are slowing my work down so the longer it takes for me to get things accomplished in this position, the longer it will take for me to get out. Above all, it's the anger and the irritability quotient- the intensity and pervasiveness- that I want to resolve to find some level of inner peace that isn't disrupted so easily by environmental/situational factors.

Your help- I am looking for anecdotes from people who have been in similar situation with respect to anger, and who have learned to overcome it. What helped? How did you identify where the anger is coming from? Were you able to resolve it? If so, how? Any professional reputation saving tips and tricks in the meantime?

Thanks in advance.
posted by xm to Grab Bag (31 answers total) 12 users marked this as a favorite
This is very tough bc I struggle here too. More in the stupidity of others... It drives me nuts. I talk about it by seeking help which suggests I just slow down.
Once in awhile I can get by just in thinking; everyone is struggling & broken, im not seeing their struggle but it is there. I get caught in the "poor me" once in awhile. I will be interested to see what people advise and if anything is realistic. I wish you luck, my friend.
posted by femmme at 9:26 PM on June 25, 2014

I struggle with very similar feelings in a different context, and meditation has been the only thing that even comes close to touching it. I'm currently reading Thich Nhat Hanh's book on anger, and it's helping tremendously. I recommend it.
posted by linettasky at 9:46 PM on June 25, 2014 [7 favorites]

I'm not sure if this is what you want to hear, but what helped for me was to walk away. I lost a lot of my identity in doing so. I was no longer important. In the big scheme of things. I had to accept that I am not part of the big wheel that goes round and round, and I had to accept that not only was my identity lower, my income was lower, and the respect of my friends and family was lower. In short, I had to become nothing for a while, in order to become something in my own eyes, not the eyes of other people. Do you think you can go through that? Can you leap into nothing and try to grab onto a bar to swing you forward onto the other side of the abyss?
posted by Marie Mon Dieu at 9:46 PM on June 25, 2014 [21 favorites]

For me, that level of irritability is all about anxiety/depression, not about the actual minute-to-minute situation. All the usual boring advice about what to do to cope with your mental health symptoms holds - maintain your sleep hygiene, get as much exercise as you can, eat right, take lots of breaks to look at dandelions or do controlled breathing, avoid substance abuse, set up a reliable routine so you don't get too hungry-angry-tired. So boring, so unsatisfying, so necessary.

None of it helps in the moment when you desperately want to shank a bitch, but it can help inch down the background level of rage to the point you might be able to maintain control so you only, you know, briefly glare at a bitch and then say you just thought you were going to sneeze so they don't know how close they came to your frothing rage.

Quitting a really fucked-up job situation can also help enormously but I'm pretty sure you'd be doing that if you had a choice.
posted by gingerest at 9:48 PM on June 25, 2014 [11 favorites]

I've felt similarly at times in my life, and I've found that regular exercise helped me more than anything else.
posted by Kevtaro at 10:42 PM on June 25, 2014 [3 favorites]

I kinda hate when people respond to an AskMe thread by saying "READ THIS BOOK," but your awareness of your emotions and the questions you've posed remind me rather strikingly of certain parts from Paul Ekman's Emotions Revealed. He talks about anger specifically and some of its evolutionary causes and physiological symptoms, and I found the discussion helpful in discovering how to manage my emotions.

Depending how you "lash out," Rory Miller's Facing Violence is also a great read for guys who envision a calmer, more mature personality but maybe don't know quite how to get themselves there. Good luck.
posted by cribcage at 10:42 PM on June 25, 2014 [3 favorites]

You sound like you are pretty fundamentally unhappy with your life and lashing out at everybody in it. I would start by looking at your unhappiness and dealing with that. Gingerest has excellent suggestions.
posted by SLC Mom at 11:06 PM on June 25, 2014

Anger comes from frustration and powerlessness for me. Looking for control in other areas helps as well as trying to remember why I'm accepting powerlessness (for the money, because acting against this problem will create a bigger problem later on, because it would hurt someone I love more than this hurts me, etc) and keep that in mind.

My partner expresses his anger at others verbally to me, like talks about how angry he is and what he wishes he could do, and that narrating helps him. It doesn't work for me though.

Another thing that helped when I was super angry about some things was reading the Jesus and the moneychangers' scene with a new perspective. Jesus gets angry about a lot of things in the bible and that anger is a good thing. I had been raised to think anger was a terrible emotion, and improperly used, it is, but anger can also be the emotional recognition of wrong, the defence of the hurt and the energy to start doing something about that. Anger just is. What you do with it is what makes anger harmful or helpful.

Reframing myself from a person who was bad because I was angry to a person who was angry at bad things helped a lot. Now when I get angry, I go more directly to figuring out why and that makes the anger into a controlled fire, not a blaze.
posted by viggorlijah at 11:12 PM on June 25, 2014 [6 favorites]

Sometimes when I'm fuming/ready to snap, I can't think of anything else except how mindlessly angry I am feeling. If I can get to a safe, alone space, I do so immediately - bathrooms work in a pinch.

I grab a few sheets of paper/open a new document/text myself, and just start writing/typing. I just write and write and write every awful frustrating thing I'm feeling, what I want to say to the other person, how unfair/ridiculous this situation is, what should have happened/didn't happen, whatever. Smartass remarks I wish I could say to their face. How i want this to play out. I just keep writing until I honestly think that I've covered every possible situation or thought pertaining to whatever set me off. When I can't think of anything else to write down, then I save it on a USB/ pop in a discreet folder/save as an email draft, and put it in a safe place.

If I'm still frustrated a bit later, I revisit the document and write some more. Sometimes I read it, and come away with a new perspective on the situation based on what I was feeling and wrote in the moment. It's not always the situation that is chewing at me; sometimes, it's someone else's actions/personal characteristics that I feel angered by. In those situations, it's one of my own sucky characteristics presenting in someone else (eg. someone being slow in getting back to me - I hate that I do that too); or, I feel disrespected/powerless/neglected/unappreciated/sad when someone does X, even if that X thing wasn't directed at me.

I write, because it is sometimes the only way to get it out into the universe, in a concrete way. It also means that I don't have to carry the whole concept around my head, rehashing why i'm so angry and thinking it through. It's down, I can leave it all on the paper.

I'm also a talker, and it helps to have an objective person to listen to me and help me problem solve, if necessary. I now have a lovely, objective therapist that is willing to listen to me talk this stuff out, and sometimes asks me questions. Having to explain the situation calmly, in context, (to someone who isn't focused on patting my ego by saying I'm in the right) is a great help for me in getting down to what is bothering me exactly... and it isn't always obvious.

Nthing good diet/sleep, and especially exercise. I appreciate that your time is very limited, and you feel that you have no time for socializing with other people. Is overtime actually required, or are you choosing to put in overtime hours in the hopes of getting out sooner? When you aren't at work, I promote you devote energy to caring for yourself, and doing an enjoyable activity or two (at least one exercise-based) in your you-time. Block the work stuff/work phone, whatever you have to do to firmly separate work from your you-time. Exercise really helps to decrease my baseline daily irritability - I definitely get more wound up more easily without it.
posted by NorthernAutumn at 12:12 AM on June 26, 2014 [1 favorite]

Also, try writing down the time whenever you are getting angry/overly irritable, to help ID what is setting you off. Sometimes it corresponds to blood sugar/afternoon nap needed/insufficient coffee/lousy commute/checking work email as soon as you wake up/listening to dumb conversations on the bus.
If you can pinpoint the missing/wrong aspect that might be precipitating later frustration, you can take a preventative step such as getting a snack or coffee/ using the stairs at work super slowly for a walk/not bringing your phone to bed / wearing earbuds on the bus.

(Eg. I'm super snarly in the morning if I don't get a decent breakfast; thus, breakfast becomes a number 1 priority in the day, whether I have to get up a bit earlier, or make a stop on the way to work. Either way, me getting fed decreases my overall irritability).

Stopping preventable ridiculousness in my day from happening, decreases the potential for my anger.
posted by NorthernAutumn at 12:26 AM on June 26, 2014 [1 favorite]

I never identified where the anger was coming from. I acknowledged it (by writing an AskMe I never posted, actually), and that moved me through the anger into the next phase (fast plummet into depression symptoms like being unable to work and wanting to weep all day). I acknowledged that and the fear it evoked (by rewriting the aforementioned never-posted Ask, actually), plus got some sleep, and it passed in a few days (even though it related to a big structural issue like your situation does). My advice? Go inward, listen to how you're feeling and how you're feeling under that, journal... I'm sorry you're stuck in this difficult situation.
posted by salvia at 12:29 AM on June 26, 2014 [1 favorite]

I knew someone that was going through a perma-angry year and one thing they realized is that because of work and stress they were drinking mass amounts of caffeine which only fed into the cycle. They are still dealing with little things making them feel angry but cutting down to one cup of coffee each day also helped immensely. It sounds sort of obvious but it wasn't to this person until a doctor pointed it out to them--tea, soda, chocolate, and coffee were all being consumed as a part of the exhaustion/stress cycle.
posted by dottiechang at 1:18 AM on June 26, 2014 [3 favorites]

Anger is a drug and a damn good one at that. Recognizing that there are circumstances beyond your control but that you can control your response helped me.

"Any professional reputation saving tips and tricks in the meantime?"

The supervisor of your supervisor will be embarassed if there is conflict. Hide. Seriously.
posted by vapidave at 2:13 AM on June 26, 2014 [1 favorite]

Have you been in a similar situation with respect to anger? What helped? How did you identify where the anger is coming from? Were you able to resolve it? If so, how?

Yes, on several occasions. It was because I was unbelievably unhappy and depressed and I was hating my life and feeling despairing and it was manifesting itself as rage. It kind of sounds like you can't stand your life and you feel trapped in it. Angry seems like a reasonable way to feel. Are you in a situation where you're really and truly stuck or is it possible for you to not live life this way and do something else instead?
posted by A Terrible Llama at 2:44 AM on June 26, 2014 [4 favorites]

I struggle with anger in my work, it's something I have to hide. I don't know where it comes from, but sometimes I know I'm just being hard on myself, frustrated with how slow or stupid the world can seem, bored and tired of being forced to do the same thing day in day out? And so on, even though life on close inspection can be great.

Any professional reputation saving tips and tricks in the meantime?

I try to avoid being judgmental except in situations where I have to be, as in it's a drug to be struggled with sometimes. Makes life more bland but manageable? Or sometimes more relaxed.

The other thing I do to try to restrain outburst or anxiety is to take six deep breaths, which always briefly relaxes me and sometimes changes my outlook. It has taken me a while to realise breathing and posture can dictate my mood, just like shitting, eating, hydration and sleep. Anger can often dictate (out of fairness to others) that I baby myself.

Listening to music. I keep forgetting to often because I'm wound up, but for me a few minutes walking or working with a good song makes me forget whatever's got me riled up.
posted by Wonton Abandon at 3:09 AM on June 26, 2014 [1 favorite]

Here's an obvious question that needs to be asked: do you like your job? Is it what you want to be doing with your life? Because everything you've said goes against that idea.

The best thing I can suggest is exercise, two different kinds. Exercise of the mind, and exercise of the body. The latter is obvious, you know you should eat right, work out, etc., if you're not doing that already. The other is exercise of your mind through meditation.

There's nothing religious, nothing mystical to meditation, or at least there doesn't need to be. You just sit comfortably and be aware about your breathing and that's it. Actual thoughts are the enemy. Or rather, thoughts are these things that come and go, but you stay rooted in place, with an empty mind.

After a while (like physical exercise, it takes time and dedication to get good at it), you'll be really good at being able to separate the emotions you are feeling from the you that is you. And not just during meditation, but in your day to day life, you can get a grasp of those angry feelings and recognize that they are this sort of thing separate from you. Right now you are probably conflating your anger with you, and labeling yourself as Angry Person. With meditation, you can learn that the angry is something that you can learn to look at much more objectively, and therein you might find the source of your problem.

I don't want to oversell meditation; it's not magic. The physical exercise analogy is apt. You will get out of it what you put into it. Having a buff body takes work, and so does a mind that can flit away negative thoughts like they're flies. (I'm still working on both of those.)
posted by zardoz at 3:51 AM on June 26, 2014

Check in with your body whenever you remember to. Better, write reminders to check in with your body. Make sure your shoulders aren't hiked up to your ears, that your forehead isn't crinkled in stress, and that you're not otherwise physically tense. A tense, stressed out body sends signals to the brain that feed into cycles of stress and fightiness.

Relaxing the body is such relief.

An exercise is to clench your fists and jaw and curl your toes and flex your every muscle as hard as you can for like, I don't know, 10 seconds, and then ("ahhhh") release it all. Stress, away!

But, yeah, jeez I wish you were in a more enjoyable, less maddening work environment. Best wishes to you.
posted by little_dog_laughing at 4:14 AM on June 26, 2014 [1 favorite]

Nthing the recommendation to exercise. Do whatever you have to do to give yourself a chunk of time to exercise. Even telling people to fuck off because you need to exercise is in itself rewarding.

I went through a very angry period when things were, in fact, going pretty well in my life. What changed that was doing yoga and going for daily walks. Any exercise will probably help, but yoga and walking also have a kind of meditative component. I wasn't even looking to change the anger, it just happened.

It sounds like you are unhappy in your situation but you either can't or don't want to change that, so you're feeling powerless. Advice to make sure you're getting regular exercise might sound trivial because it doesn't address the real world causes of your anger, but it will clear your mind to the point where you can let smaller things go, and figure out whether you really can change anything for the better.
posted by maggiemaggie at 4:43 AM on June 26, 2014 [1 favorite]

I am extremely frustrated at my own frustration. I am frustrated at the intensity and depth of anger that I experience

This bit is, for me, exactly where anger and other negative emotions become really destructive: when I'm not just experiencing the emotion, but also experiencing and reacting to second-order emotions, e.g. anger at myself for being angry.

Two tricks I use, typically in this order: 1. accepting my anger, and 2. deconstructing my anger.

1. Accepting anger. Nthing everyone recommending meditation, especially linettasky's recommendation of Thich Nhat Hanh's Anger: Wisdom for Cooling the Flames. The first time I read this book it made me, uh, angry (and embarrassed to be caught reading a corny self-help book). But there's some stuff in here that has worked AMAZINGLY well for me, in dealing with long-term recurrent flare-ups about a particular situation. There's a bit early on where he talks about cradling your anger, as if it were an upset small creature you're tending in its distress. He also talks about how we think of anger as garbage we want to throw away, but garbage is actually useful if we kind of sit on it for a while until it turns into compost. I'm not explaining it well, but look for the sections where he talks about these two images.

2. Deconstructing anger. Emotions are a combination of two things: thoughts, and bodily sensations. [At least, that's the way emotions are analyzed in traditional Buddhist psychology, which for me has been a useful framework.] There are ways to disentangle those two things: paying attention to both of them, but separately.

(a) For the thoughts: if the professional help you sought was from a cognitive psychologist, hopefully they taught you some tricks for questioning and deconstructing the thoughts, treating them as just thoughts rather than realities. In your post, the mentions of 'idiots' stand out to me as thoughts it might be especially helpful to interrogate in order to feel some distance and freedom from them.

(b) For the bodily sensations: hold yourself still and interrogate your body. Where are the sensations located? In your belly? In your face? In your hands? In your toenails? (Probably not toenails, but you're the only one who knows for sure.) What kind of sensations are they? Itching? Cramping? Burning? Just notice the sensations without judging them or worrying about what they mean. Here again, meditation and Thich Nhat Hanh were incredibly helpful for me.

Oh, and 3. Mountain meditation. Basically you mentally reconfigure your body as a mountain that endures through all kinds of changes of season, weather, etc. I especially enjoy (a) imagining a particular beloved mountain, and (b) imagining the people who are pissing me off as walking across the mountain briefly, and the mountain is like 'whatever', and then they go away again and the mountain is still the mountain.
posted by feral_goldfish at 4:45 AM on June 26, 2014 [3 favorites]

It took me a while to connect the cause to the effect, but after my mom died I became a very angry person (it didn't help that I was also pregnant and hormonal). For me the temporary solution was self-control - stop and consider before making a nasty comment, take a deep breath, try to calm down. The long term solution has been time... A year later, I feel like I'm back to baseline.
posted by amro at 5:24 AM on June 26, 2014

In this life, I am the star of the show. I am also the director. Did i mention the scriptwriter, too? Problem is, other people don't follow my script. Never mind they don't know there is a script and they have supporting roles. The point is, they are not following the script, acting as they should do, performing as the script demands. Result? I get angry.

What to do? Accept I am angry. Just that. Not follow that up with reams of supporting evidence as to why I should be angry. Not stew about the fact that these people don't know about the script, don't know the world revolves around me, don't know that I have a Divine Right to expect the world to operate as I deem fit.

What else? For starters... Make sure I eat right. Make sure I get more than enough physical exercise. Find books, people, films that make me laugh. And, as others have suggested, take time out to meditate. (Others have mentioned books about meditation that you may find helpful.) Meditate for two, five, ten, 20 minutes. Whatever duration works for you.
posted by Mister Bijou at 5:25 AM on June 26, 2014 [1 favorite]

Anger can be a mask for sadness. With the help of a therapist using EMDR (eye movement desensitization and reprocessing) I have discovered that there some very deep sadness from my childhood with an abusive father. I was able to recall memories from the age of 4 that had a very deep impact on me with regard to suppressed fear and sadness. I have an inappropriate flight response that manifests as anger and agitation that is triggered very easily in situations that I feel slight frustration. This sadness is so sad and unbelievable to me (a severe betrayal of trust for a caregiver at a young age can do that) that I cannot feel the sadness but can only feel anger about it. The sadness is much more complex to process than anger. I'm still working on it but the therapy has been a huge help.
posted by waving at 6:09 AM on June 26, 2014

I am frustrated at not being able to stop myself from verbally lashing out or wanting to lash out at every idiot that I encounter (mostly at work, no time to build social life yet/any time soon- really. This isn't a "oh if you really want it you can make the time for it" things). I am frustrated that these very idiots are slowing my work down so the longer it takes for me to get things accomplished in this position, the longer it will take for me to get out.

A little bit of humility might be in order here. I'd wager that you're not as smart as you think you are, and they are not as dumb. Try and develop some empathy and patience for people who are also probably having a hard time in their life. You're not the center of the universe.
posted by empath at 6:34 AM on June 26, 2014 [5 favorites]

Look up the empty chair techhnique as a way of releasing it in a controlled way and Gestalt+ empty chair technique. Also co counselling uses a lots of this in a supportive forum where its safe to unnleash that side of yourself (within reason).. get it out.

CBT techniques can also be good for anger/noticing your thinking pattern.

Think about chanelling it through sport/art/theatre/writing whatever might be your thing. Think if aggressive sport etc relieves you or fuels the anger.. there are different theories/fashions re: this.

Try thinking about what emotions are underneath the anger? Sadness? Frustration? Anything that helps with them?

Remember anger is really bloody scary for a lot of other people and is seldom likely to get the best from them or help you get what you want from them.

In the moment, count to 10, remove yourself, have a distraction up your sleeve.. 5 minutes of Sudoku?
posted by tanktop at 7:12 AM on June 26, 2014

I have a hard time understanding why people feel that they are held hostage or trapped by their situations. There is rarely a reason one has to stay somewhere, or with someone or in a particular job. Not a real reason, and certainly not if it makes you a miserable son-of-a-bitch to be around.

When I am frustrated, I find that actively planning my extrication from the situation makes me feel better about it.

If my job annoys me, and I've done all I can to make it better, I actively start looking for another one.

If I was in a relationship that was sapping energy instead of giving me nourishment, I'd get out of it.

If I was in a bad place, one that had bad ju-ju, I'd make plans to pack and move.

Even if actually acting on these plans was unfeasible, I had a lease I couldn't afford to break, I'd forfeit moving expenses if I left my job, my relationship had to hold together for some reason (I can't imagine what that might be), I would still feel better about making my escape plan.

But seriously, if you're miserable, find a better job and then quit. You're a liability if you're not nice to work with.
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 7:16 AM on June 26, 2014 [4 favorites]

Wow, I relate very much to your feelings of anger, feeling stuck, feeling like things (all the things) are against you...I imagine there are quite a few people feeling this way.

Well, lots of therapy was helpful for me, and there were some core skills that I needed to work up, like having perspective, realizing my own ability to change my experience (from the inside), and seeing things more clearly/rationally/realistically. Partially, it helped me to realize I have the ability to make small changes, and small changes can sometimes have a huge impact vis-a-vis getting unstuck without you realizing it. Like in a period of desperation, I tried a written gratitude practice. Every day for a long time, I traded lists of things I was grateful for with my sister, including things like “I’m grateful for coffee. A comfortable bed. The way the sun is shining this morning ‘cause despite the fact that I’m so godamnawful angry, the light falling on those leaves is sure is pretty.” et cetera. I think it worked, ‘cause I realized I had more in my hands that was good than I originally thought, which made the present more bearable.

Another little thing my therapist told me was always go towards what feels good, and I applied this to little things. I have been trying to sell my house for ages, and a buyer finally appeared, but then backed out. I was devastated and feeling stuck, AGAIN! I was in tears, but then tried to practice “what would make me feel better right now?” Somehow, I came up with getting a tasty bowl of seafood noodles (a food item I don’t eat often, but like). Very temporary, but very pleasing fix. But that morphed into, "I will go out and find all the noodle shops in my vicinity (large radius) and find the best one." That drove me for months on a very pleasant search for the best seafood noodles (whilst the house was on the market and being in an overall situation I did not enjoy). One of the bonuses of this search was that I ended up exploring places in my area I had never been to, and realized, despite wanting to leave the area, it has it’s beauty.

When all else fails, there’s something cathartic about throwing things and breaking stuff (without harming anyone). One time, I was very angry about yet another relationship failing, and was so angry, I couldn’t sleep. I got some small object and started throwing it hard at an ugly piece of furniture, for maybe 20-30 minutes, and man, my arm really hurt afterwards, but I really felt better. I think it helped that I broke parts of the furniture...

Oh, last thought about where the anger comes from - I, too, couldn’t quite figure out why it was so intense and so pervasive...in my case, there was a tangle of living other people’s expectations instead of doing what I want, and also being frustrated with my inability to make changes. But the making small changes, incrementally over time, I think is a method of getting through the hard period that will inevitably become a better time. Sometimes, you just have to wait it out.
posted by ihavequestions at 7:19 AM on June 26, 2014 [2 favorites]

Can you lower your expectations? Your expectations are very high, and their ability to produce/meet those expectations seems very low. When there is such a disparity, there is friction and conflict.

If you lower your expectations of others, they will disappoint you less, and you can accept them for their true qualities more. Then you yourself might be more pleasant to work with.
posted by Jacen at 7:22 AM on June 26, 2014 [4 favorites]

When I felt like that, what I needed to do was get a new job. Sorry.

Have you tried physical release? Running, kickboxing. I did an inordinate amount of ice skating in those days. I was full of hate but my legs and butt were a thing of beauty. Working out gets out some of the aggression and helps you get solid sleep, which you need.

You are probably too busy for creative activities but if you can draw or journal, that is a good way to deal with feelings.

If you drink or use substances, watch out. They seem to help in the moment but there is a rebound effect. Anger in particular seems to be reinforced by drug use and it can turn into full-on paranoia. This kind of temporary job situation, along with social isolation, is a hothouse for that sort of thing. Practice self-care.
posted by BibiRose at 8:04 AM on June 26, 2014 [1 favorite]

When my father died I started to get profoundly irritated at every little thing. I felt like I had no control and I think it's that terrifying feeling of powerlessness that eats away at you and triggers the rage. I received a lot of practical advice from the green but the single most helpful coping strategy was to carry around a stone or other small object in my pocket and every.single.time i felt the anxiety and rage welling up i began to turn over the object in my pocket. focus on it, the way it felt in my hand, the little ridges or imperfections in the surface. it was an instantly calming activity and at times i had to rely on it to an extent bordering on obsessive but it's one of the few things that got me through that very very difficult period without lashing out at others and spreading the hurt around. Good luck to you.
posted by TestamentToGrace at 8:47 AM on June 26, 2014 [2 favorites]

Thanks all for the responses. I'll be perusing and re-reading the responses soon; however, to respond to a few things that were raised-

1. I can't just up and leave the job. Joys of being a foreigner, among other complications. It will be resolved, just not right away. Maybe in 3-12 months. Also the cost-benefit has tipped completely one side or another which makes the limbo worse.

2. Its also not a question of humility - them being idiots and me being smart. To recognize a bad fit isn't a lack of humility, nor is calling a spade just that. Not a question of "winning the argument" either. I am too old for all of that. This is a genuine bad fit- situation you can't get out of nor be happy while you are there so you have to put up with it and ride it out.

It isn't getting better right away and I don't need help with problem solving that part. All I want to do is change myself and certainly do something about the intensity of anger and irritability. Anger at any and all things that have happened- it doesn't even make sense coz logically I can see that there is no point in being angry at people of what happens in your life. And yet, I am seething with rage at trivial things that I need to just let go of already. I'd like to understand what emotions anger is really a cover-up for, and if you were in a similar situation, how you came to understand your anger better and hopefully, conquered it.

Thank you!
posted by xm at 12:13 PM on June 26, 2014 [1 favorite]

And also, there is a lot of hurt. Not necessarily a question of "why me" (which never really struck me) or a feeling of things being "unfair". Just hurt. Anger. Enormous levels of irritability.
posted by xm at 12:17 PM on June 26, 2014

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