The Source of Our Anger

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This is what it looks like to be caught up in negativity. Image courtesy of Noah Buscher, Unsplash.

When there is no ememy inside, the enemy outside can do us no harm.

Eric Thomas

I was already too stressed out. Every little thing drove me nuts. That day as I was driving home, the car on the road ahead of me couldn’t seem to figure out which way to turn. I’m sure they were just trying to figure out where they were. But the choice of turning left or right was too much of a challenge, so coming to a complete stop in the middle of the road seemed like a good idea. This forced me to take evasive action & swerve out of the way.

At that moment I was about to explode. I was furious! Are you kidding me? Where did all these morons come from? Who birthed them? How do you get so stupid?!

I had a classic case of road rage.

If only these people could just use their brains I would be okay and wouldn’t have any stress…

But the truth is if that person hadn’t caused me to swerve – I’d still be stressed and look for other problems that I can tell myself are the reason why I’m unhappy.

The real problem I feel this way on ME. My road rage was on me.

The negative cycle

Inherently we as humans are generally happy creatures. I mean we don’t intentionally choose to be unhappy. We don’t wake up one day and say “today I am going to be unhappy!” We become this way slowly little by little until we are convinced that the world is out to get us. For most of us, we need a trigger – an event or two that seemingly does us harm. These events add up until we believe everything seems doomed for disaster and then it is.

It’s a self-fulfilling prophecy

Maybe you ordered a coffee at a drive-through this morning and they got your order wrong or maybe you spilled hot coffee on yourself. This puts you in a downward spiral. Next thing you know every traffic light is red, so you speed attempting to make it to work on time. Unfortunately, it didn’t help since every light was still red but now your boss mentions something to you about being late for work.

Classic domino effect.

The truth is these things were going to happen anyway. You just took it to heart thinking the world is out to get you. But it’s just the product of the events causing the perception in your mind.

Believe it or not, these things happen more than you think. They happen to me all the time! I remember a day when I was sick of people messing things up for me constantly. I mean none of these people could follow simple instructions and they all lacked common sense. So I took initiative as I tried to prevent the inevitable. I placed an order for delivery and mentioned that I wanted my order spicy. Can you guess what happened?

Everyone except me got exactly what they wanted. 4/5 of the dishes were perfect. Mine on the other hand looked like it was put together by someone who was about to walk out the door while flipping off their boss.

It ruined my night.

Me trying to think ahead probably came off the wrong way assuming they’d mess up and gave them the bright idea to purposely screw up my order out of spite. So I think our intentions might have something to do with life’s outcomes…

I’m sure something like that would upset anybody but I was so angry that I let it get to me. I mean I did the work to make sure that this wouldn’t happen… AND IT STILL HAPPENED. So next time I’m not even going to tell you what I want because you are just going to give me whatever you want anyways.

But why did I react too harshly? What caused me to be this way?

Have you ever had someone lash out at you for the smallest thing, only to come back later and apologize for taking their anger out on you? We tend to amplify our point of view when we are angry or stressed, saying hurtful things or something we don’t mean. That small thing you did might have annoyed them but under normal circumstances, it wouldn’t be enough to cause a meltdown. So don’t take it personally. Believe me, I’ve been on both sides of the fence.

With that said, I’m not proud of everything I’ve done, especially when there’s something boiling up inside me. I’ve said things I shouldn’t have said and those things I can’t take back.

I wasn’t always this way.

My life has had enough ups and downs. I’ve seen the highest highs and the lowest lows. Unfortunately, I’ve let my lows gradually get me here.

I used to feel invincible. I was happy, full of energy, confident, and positive, my creativity felt endless. I was the best version of myself. There wasn’t anybody or anything that could tear me down. I had the “Nothing Can Go Wrong” mindset. It didn’t matter what happened to me, I looked at everything through a lens of what was happening for me rather than what was happening to me. I always saw the positive in every moment. I could play off any situation to my benefit and I was always able to move on and let go of anger.

I never went to bed angry because no matter what happened I had the belief that it didn’t matter. What really mattered was my next moment and what the future had for me. I focused on making the next moment a better one.

Maybe you embarrassed yourself, or you wronged someone. Maybe you really ruined an opportunity for yourself. I tell you it doesn’t matter anymore. Nobody remembers or even cares what you did last week. So act as if it never happened!

The truth is we are hateful & have unnecessary angry outbursts because we are simply unhappy in the first place, and it eats us up inside.

Holding onto hate or anger is like swallowing poison and expecting someone else to die.

I remember times when I was so unhappy in my life that I wanted to make other people miserable so that I didn’t have to feel bad about my own unhappiness. If I found out that someone I knew found success or they were living their best life, I got jealous & wanted to tear them down. If I couldn’t be happy and enjoy success then neither should they! Misery loves company because my life just couldn’t compare.

Why do we get caught up in a negative cycle?

Even though we might be feeling shitty, these feelings have a purpose. A lot of the time it’s there so we know to change something in our lives. Unfortunately, negativity holds up captive whether we know it or not.

This is because we are hard-wired to solely focus on the negative factors in our lives. That is how humans were able to survive here on earth for this long. Our mind wants the best for us – to keep us ALIVE so it has a built-in negativity filter to keep us safe. It’s the most basic survival mechanism to protect us from predators like tigers.

Fortunately, most of us are no longer in danger of being eaten by large wild animals but our minds can’t really tell the difference. It just sees “threat”. So when we spill hot coffee on ourselves our mind thinks “Oh my God this could kill me! Let’s never do that again.” Obviously, this won’t be hurting anything other than our ego so let’s not cry over spilled coffee.

Breaking the cycle

There was a time when we were happy so although we are stuck here now doesn’t mean we won’t ever be happy again. We’re just caught up in the wrong things. It takes time to relearn the right habits. Happiness is possible.

I suggest you keep your chin forward and eyes where you want to be, not on what is happening right NOW. Even if you automatically want to revert back to the default “everything and everyone has wronged me” mindset. We have to keep consciously changing our habits, and practicing the things a happy person would do. This is how we re-wire our brains.

So what do you do when you are steaming? When all your emotions are building and you feel like a volcano about to erupt.

Take a second, take a breath, and step back. Ask yourself why this person might be acting this way. It makes a difference when we understand a person’s motivations behind their anger. This helps us respond to stressful situations instead of reacting.


Force a smile if you have to! Imagine yourself happy for a moment, even though you probably aren’t. Try doing this next time you have bouts of anger.

The simple act of smiling is known to change the chemicals in your brain to make you feel happier in real time. Remember when I said your brain can’t tell the difference between spilling hot coffee and a predator? Well, it can’t tell the difference between a real smile and a fake smile either. It just knows you only smile when you’re happy. So if you’re smiling you must be happy!

Here’s a shortcut to boost your mood: Listen to your favorite song. Stay away from sad music because that can only make you feel worse.

This video has the idea.

Try thinking of something you are grateful for. It will elevate your mood and change the way you see the world around you. Since most people are reactive, your more positive actions will produce a positive response from others. So now not only do you feel good, but you’ll feel good about how you’ll be treated.

So in conclusion

Use these tips to help you break the negative cycle. They’ll help you in the long term find happiness again and smash those negative lenses.

The change you need will come with enough time and practice and eventually it will be effortless. Before you know it you’ll have a chain reaction of positive events in your life.

Remember you have the choice… the choice of how you want to respond to everything.

You will be the person you want to be again. You will find peace.

Happiness is not determined by what’s happening around you, but rather what’s happening inside you. Most people depend on others to gain happiness, but the truth is, it always comes from within.

Adrian Corday

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