The Anger Switch – on/off?

I have the temperamental gene (ha, what, really?!). I also have clinically diagnosed pms issues and this happy combination manages to turn me into a horrible bitchwomanfromhell for a few days a month every month. (I am aware of this and have been working on it for years.) My anger issues are compounded substantially, by lack of sleep and a number of niggly worries which my regular readers are aware of and which I won’t go into here, but today I made an observation. It was probably the most blatantly obvious of revelations I have ever had, but I was still quite proud of it and so am going to share, for the benefit of anyone else who has not had it yet and who could do with a little ‘calming’ every now and again. (I’m blonde so please bear with me).

So this morning I was Ms Angry. I yelled before Kindergarten and I yelled all the way there. However, being firm in my philosophy of “Never leave / go to bed on an argument without a cuddle and saying I love you”, I made it up to my child … and then got back in the car and seethed all the way home – at myself.

I was absolutely furious, again, to the point of tears and hitting things and hitting myself …

Once home, I threw a load of washing on (‘threw’ probably being the operative word) but, while stomping back up from the cellar, I passed the old man’s door and remembered he had been quite poorly yesterday, so, hearing him move about inside, I buzzed to see if he needed anything. We chatted for 5 mins. – about him.

I then left, came back upstairs and logged on to start work. Whilst I was working I tweeted intermittently with @fleetwoodboy, a good friend  I have made on Twitter and who has become very dear to me. He initiated the conversation today and I didn’t tell him how I felt. After an hour or so, I realised I didn’t actually feel angry anymore and I started to wonder:

Do we really have the ability to flick a switch and turn our emotions on or off at will?

Does anger only exist longterm if propogated … ? Instead of screaming at someone else, or even just brooding to myself, I had shelved my mood and put on a smile the moment I buzzed at the old man’s door and, because it was an action I had initiated myself, the will to be ‘smiley’ actually took over and I was. Again, in my tweets to @fleetwoodboy, I was genuinely interested in the conversation and didn’t want to bring it down by letting on that I felt pants … but in effect, despite being in horrible pain, and feeling  totally washed out from the ‘monthly syndrome’, I actually started to feel a hell of a lot better. Not rocket science, I realise this, but having suffered from anger issues for many years, I do wonder what is at the bottom of it and how much we really can change. Is anger a chemical reaction? … a physiological response to something which affects us … and if it is, it blows my mind to think that we have the ability to actually change that with an emotional one.

I know there have been thousands of studies performed on the root cause of anger and how it can be treated, but wouldn’t it be great if there really was an inbuilt remedy .. called “I can stop being angry right now so I will.”

What do you think?



This entry was posted in Anger, Kids, Life Stuff, Parenting, Philosophising, Relationships, Single Mum, Single parenthood, Work, Work-Life Balance and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

13 Responses to The Anger Switch – on/off?

  1. Him Up North says:

    The only thing responsible for your emotions is you. We blame everything and everyone else but it is ourselves who makes us feel how we feel. The outside factors are just that: factors.

    What you described is a perfect illustration of how differently framing our thoughts can make the seething recede. You made a conscious effort to alter your view and it worked. It doesn’t have to be neighbours or online friends. It could be a favourite memory, or a photo or anything.

    I don’t know if I’d call it a switch. It’s more mixer, like an EQ on your stereo. You can dial down the heaviness and dial up the lighter tones. But it has to be you who does it.

    Great piece, hon. x

    • Sorry it’s taken so long to come back to this; I loved this reply. It really is about mind over matter and looking for new perspectives. After things have gone wrong I’m great at analysing the whatsits off the situation and can be pragmatic and even positive about ‘what I’ve learnt’, but in the moment I’m crap. I see red and find it very difficult to get around that until it’s blown out and is too late. The most I can hope for is a distraction, but that’s the cop-out. I have to find away of breaking the ‘explosion’ before it happens. That’s one of the things that’s tough about severe pms – the hormones kick in and kick rationality out in the space of a split second. Fighting them is a nightmare. I don’t believe it is impossible tho, and that’s what I’m working on.
      Thank you for your thoughts x

  2. fleetwoodboy says:

    Perhaps being kind,informative and patient with my problem is the switch you talk about. @himupnorth could be right and there is no on/off switch however you weren’t going to be rude to me so perhaps that feeling took over the rat bag one . We are only humans afte all even if some of us don’t admit it. Loves you a lot dear lady. :-) xxx

  3. Rugbymadsdad says:

    Anger is new to me probably had my first experience in November and a few times last night….it totally throws me and i have to hide away as i am scared of what may happen…..but i dont take it out on people but the poor hoover does suffer (dont understand what has the hoover ever done but it has been kicked and pushed about) I just long to get back to the non anger days as its something i dont like feeling…. Hope all is well for you x

    • Wow, how amazing to be ‘new’ to anger. I seem to have been born with it!!
      I have to say it scares the pants off me too and expecially as I can see the domino effect – I’m ashamed to say that my boy is picking up some of my traits where he was actually a very peaceful baby. This is the main reason I have to find another way of dealing with mine other than shouting so he can see that there is an alternative. Otherwise it just goes on and on.
      Taking it out on the hoover is a great way of letting off steam, I tend to clean the house too when I’m cross! which I guess is probably the only advantage of it :-)

      Hope you sort out whatever it is that’s been getting you down.
      Take care Hun and thanks for commenting.

  4. ExtraStoat says:

    I get the feeling that the anger switch is much the same as flying, from a Douglas Adams point of view. In other words, if you focus your thinking on it, you’re never going to be able to escape it’s grip. It’s only once a distraction takes your focus away that you can soar. You can train yourself to allow distractions to divert your attention.

    Something like that anyway.


    • Brilliant perspective. Just brilliant. I’m going to remember this and use it … if I may?
      How are you Darlin. Haven’t seen you around on Twitter for ages. Hope things are good and life in Notts is settling down a bit.
      Call me for a chat soon?

  5. dadwhowrites says:

    Anger. I spend altogether too much time being angry but there does seem to be that switch – mostly.

    I certainly think that without access to a level of compassion for others (as you demonstrated over and over in that post) the switch stays altogether out of your control.

  6. I think maybe half the trick is also to get out of that ‘getting angry because we get angry’ rut. That in itself, I think, is the toughest challenge. If that circle can’t be broken, it leaves nothing left for compassion. My circle gets bent a bit every now and again – sort of distorted as I push outwards at the elastic perimeter. It helps for a while, but it’s like a bungee, until the outer rim snaps completely, I feel like I’m always panged back into the middle to start the squeeze again.
    Metaphors metaphors. Does anyone ever get what is really going on in my head?? Probably not.
    Thanks for taking the time to read x

  7. Andrew says:

    Hello MJM (I hopey ou don’t mind the abbreviation of your name!)
    My name is Andrew, we haven’t communicated at all, I came accross your blog whilst doing some research for a possible article I am writing on Anger.

    A little context on how this came about, I noticed via Onlydads a possibility to advertise counselling services on that and onlymums website.

    In the process it was suggested that I may perhaps write an article on Mental Health, specifically for the Onlydads site, I thought this wasa great idea. Initially I thought as an introduction it would be a good idea to write on the topic of Reflection/Relaxation.

    I thought it would be good to research what mental health “issues” (I do so dislike this word, however, I am at a loss to find an appropriate alternative) reading a few of the blogs from dads I thought it would also be useful to see if there were any corresponding concerns that mums had.

    It was during my reaidng of blogs that I came accross the above blog on Anger from your good self.

    You ask some really intersting questions and make some really good points (I particularly liked your reference to metaphor in one of your responses to a comment) this is because I am a great beleiver in metaphors and that they can be the key to overcoming emotional distress, along with other things of course.

    I guess I am asking, from your perspective as a human being who has succumbed to anger in the past, what would you like to see in an article about Anger.

    Would it be :-

    What is Anger
    Why do we have anger as an emotion
    Myths De-Bunked regarding Anger
    The Close connection between anger arousal and sexual arousal
    The power of dreams in relation to emotional arousal and expectation fulfillment theory
    Our needs being met and our innate resources being used appropriately
    Relaxation and Reflection
    Stress and Everyday 21st Century Living
    Hidden Causes of Anger
    Differences in the brain between men and women (Pertinent in view of research recently shown that men see “Taking as a waste of time” ?
    Reasons for anger
    Or simply how to overcome anger – with several tips/techniques/tools/exercises?

    Or a combination of theory and practical advice.

    I would really appreciate your perspective, I would really like to provide worthwhile information. so your thoughts would be greatly appreciated.

    Many thnaks in advance
    Andrew Hamilton

    • Hi Andrew,

      Many thanks for the query!
      Is there a way I can get in touch with you offline? If you don’t want to leave a mail address on here you can contact me through OnlyDads.
      I look forward to corresponding with you :-)

  8. Andrew says:

    Hi MJM
    Thanks for getting back to me so quickly.
    I don’t mind leaving my e-mail address, its
    Twitter @amygdala_101
    Look forward to speaking to you soon.

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