“Why Am I So Angry”
Over the past several years, there has been more evidence that there is a strong emotional component to ADHD. Folks with ADHD often have a difficult time regulating their emotions and when faced with overwhelm, can have ‘angry outbursts’ that hurt their relationships in the process. Men with ADHD are especially prone to frustration and anger for a number of reasons. It is possible that these males feel worthless, guilty and ashamed. A sense of failure may make them angry with themselves. The rage and anger that results may be taken out on loved ones. It may be like a pressure cooker with tension building up; if the stored-up anger is not slowly released, explosive behavior may result. Expressions of anger may stem from not feeling lovable, feeling out of control or rejected.
Take the example of Brett, a 45-year-old male diagnosed with ADHD, who contacted me for coaching because of anger issues. Brett was a highly successful businessman and brought in lots of business for his company. You would never imagine that he had any problems when he was on the job. He rose quickly to the top as a manager because of his leadership skills. Yet when Brett returned home after working late hours, he seemed to ‘lose it’. His wife would immediately ask him to give her a break from a day of taking care of their very active children. Brett typically came home exhausted from work and the last thing he wanted was to deal with more chaos. This would quickly lead to frustration and if left unchecked, uncontrollable anger toward his wife and children. Brett was able to eventually manage his angry outbursts toward his wife and children after months of coaching.
Is anger hurting your relationships with your family and with your friends? Here are some truths about anger when it is not controlled:
- It impedes our ability to be happy.
- It can send marriages and other family relationships off-course.
- It compromises our social skills, thus interfering with healthy relationships.
- It can even result in non-productivity because of strained relationships.
- It can lead to health problems because of increased stress.
Anger is not bad. It is a natural reaction to feelings of hurt and betrayal. It needs to be expressed at times and not held inside. Men often struggle with buried feelings because they are ‘taught’ that if a man shows emotion, he is weak and ‘not a man’. Feelings can be so deeply hidden that there is no sense of feeling at all. These feelings often don’t come out unless there is a life-changing episode such as life-threatening trauma, loss of job or other significant change of life. However, aggressive forms of anger that are out of control can hurt a person socially, mentally and physically. The goal of anger management should be to help you find ways to express that anger and resolve the issues that trigger it. Here are some tips for you to follow:
- Develop an awareness of early warning signs. Give yourself a “time out”. Find a safe spot for yourself and try deep breathing to calm down. Close your eyes and breathe all the stress out.
- Give yourself a break. Go for a walk, get some exercise. Fresh air will do you good. Later you can come back to the problem from a new perspective and solve it!
- It is OK to express your anger in a healthy, non-confrontational way. Decide what the real ‘issue’ is and once you are calm, state your concerns while being sensitive to the concerns of others.
- Learn to recognize those ADHD moments that trigger your anger. Think about what effect your anger had on others around you. How might you handle the same situation differently from now on?
- Ask yourself this question: “Will the object of my anger even matter ten years from now?”
- Take care of yourself. Make sure that you get enough sleep, eat a healthy well-balanced diet and exercise regularly.
- Brainstorm positive solutions to the problem
- Learn to think before you speak. In the heat of a discussion it is more difficult to listen. It may be easier for you to ‘pause in the moment’, allowing yourself to collect your thoughts and to reflect upon what the other person is saying.
- Know when to seek help from a counselor or coach.
Terry M. Dickson, M.D., ACG, CPCC
Your ADHD Family