I get short, testy and sometimes even angry when I get questioned by my girlfriend. I honestly think I’m never wrong (although I know I am sometimes). She is just trying to understand and I take it as a challenge. I don’t want to be this way any more! I need to understand why. I wish I could be easy going and let things slide off my back. It has happened with others. She just happens to be the most frequent. I am a very anal, organized, tidy person. I am also a perfectionist. Please help me understand!
It’s good that you recognize this as a problem. Acknowledging that a problem exists is the first step to making a positive change. It also means that you’re open to change. You have set the stage for a positive outcome.
You have described a very correctable set of problems. You’re short-tempered and impatient. You take out your anger on your girlfriend and perhaps others. Your behavior makes being in your presence unpleasant and undesirable. It could cost you your relationship with your girlfriend. It’s a problem that needs to be corrected.
Anger is a perfectly normal human emotion but it has become out of control for you. Reacting inappropriately with anger and being impatient ultimately stem from an inability to see reality clearly. Picture this scenario: you are driving to work and end up in a traffic jam. You are running late and can’t get there because you’re stuck. It’s infuriating. Your anger reaction is caused by the unrealistic expectation of there being no traffic. While that might be your expectation, it’s not the reality. The reality, at that moment, is a traffic jam. There is nothing you can do to change it. Sitting in traffic is agitating but anger does nothing to change or improve the situation. It’s an inappropriate reaction. What’s the more appropriate reaction? Accept the reality, see it for what it is and adjust your mindset accordingly.
There are several ways to address this problem. The most effective method of treatment would be to see a therapist who specializes in anger management. Therapy will likely focus on the development of new coping skills and new ways of thinking about life situations.
Also consider taking an anger management class. A well-designed anger management program can be immensely effective. You can learn how to properly express your anger in a healthy, constructive manner. You’ll learn that while you can’t control your feelings you can control how you react to them.
A self-help approach involves educating yourself about anger. This would include reading anger management books and workbooks. You may want start with a book designed specifically for men with anger problems called Beyond Anger: A Guide for Men: How to Free Yourself from the Grip of Anger and Get More Out of Life. Please take care.
Dr. Kristina Randle
Mental Health & Criminal Justice Blog