Do You Know Why You Get Angry?

Angry face
I can’t pretend to remember (or know) all of the things I’ve been angry over. If you’re a dad… or a mom… or a human being, then I’ll hedge my bets and wager that you probably can’t either. I know I’ve been angry, but I don’t really remember why.

I was really angry with my kids just mere hours ago and, this time, I know why. I can remember. I was angry because I wasn’t getting my way. Because I felt like my desires/needs/rights were being infringed on by my children.

I didn’t notice at the time. Of course I didn’t, or else I wouldn’t have gotten angry in the first place. (I like to think.) They were disobeying by not listening to me when I wanted them to because I wanted time for myself. Which isn’t a bad thing… until you let it drive you to yell at your children… like I just did. All because I wasn’t getting my way.

Which, if I’m not mistaken, is called a tantrum. A temper tantrum, to be precise.

I just threw a temper tantrum.

I could blame it on a lot of things. Lack of sleep. Stress carried over from work. Hunger and dehydration. Brain malfunction due to my children’s mind-numbingly loud shrieks. The melting of the polar ice caps. All are great excuses, and most are relevant to my situation. But those are just exacerbating the real problem: selfishness.

Parenthood, much like marriage, is really, really terribly/wonderfully good at rooting out the core selfishness in a person. Like insanely good at it and, just when you think it’s all been plucked up, more always seems to be surfacing. So much so that it almost feels like I’m more selfish now than when I first became a dad. Which is no good, especially as I’m realizing that pretty much all of my shortcomings as a dad, including my anger, stem directly from my selfishness.

A father carrying his sleeping son You see, the external triggers that I generally like to blame (stress, fatigue, dehydration, grasshoppers) really just reveal the true nature of my selfish heart. Because, it would seem, if I wasn’t so selfish then my reactions to the stressors would likely be much different.

I tried to rationalize my anger away as simply being stress-related, until I found myself yelling at a blank bedroom wall for no reason other than wanting my kids to go to sleep so I could have my “me time.” Subtract selfishness from the equation and, even though the external stress still exists, the yelling at family members and inanimate objects can be more easily addressed and nixed.

It’s all very important, I’m discovering, because if I wasn’t so worried about what I felt like I was missing out on I’d be better able to enjoy the moment I’m actually in. I would be better able to see my kiddos struggle with the concept of staying in bed as gentle learning experiences rather than as deliberate attempts on my sanity. (Even when it really, really feels like the latter.)

Do you struggle with this at all? Or have you found that your anger has another source? Or are you just never angry?

I think it’s worth digging through the muck to find the roots. I want to for my family’s sake and, honestly, for my own sake too. I think healing can start and be most effective there. At the source.

And who knows? If we can figure out why we’re actually angry, we might just find ourselves well on our way toward having happier families.

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