On Frustration, Anger and Assertiveness

Wanting To Tell The World and Everyone In It To Fuck Off

Ever gone through one of those phases where you just want everyone and everything to piss off and leave you be?

Where every little exchange with people seems to be a snipe, thoughtless? Other people just wind you up? You go into town and politely ask the woman parking at the end of the bay if she could move forward so you can park behind and her and she won’t, and you think you rude, selfish, cow to yourself, or you might even say something to her through at least being passive aggressive. Or you lean on the car horn when someone cuts in a little close and you mentally call them an arsehole. When a friend sends a message which you think is really insensitive and you think what kind of a friend are you, screw you. When someone you don’t even know makes a judgement about your behaviour and you think well fuck you. Or you start slamming around, not caring how stroppy you’re being, throwing the hoover attachment about as it jams on the corner of the bed resenting your partner because “they never, you always” do the hoovering.

Excuse the language, but you know how it goes. We start name calling in our head. The inner bitch fascist comes out to play.

They’re being the arsehole, not us, of course.

We’ve lost the ability to cut a little slack, find our ‘inner zen’ and are poised on a hot tripwire, whirling our sword around, ready for a fight with the next imbecile in our path. Like a child in an ill-fitting, homemade superhero costume (apologies to all creative mums).

Our tolerance is minimal. Numerous small episodes that we may normally allow or not notice become loaded with meaning and layer into a stack of Wrongdoings of the World. Fuel for a sense of injustice.

We are functioning around a hyper-sensitivity. We have become defensive. We do not want and can not handle anymore stress on our overloaded high alert system and so become aggressive (rather than assertive), unpleasant and randomly attack.

We have had Enough. From the world persecuting us and feeling like a victim where everything and everyone seems personally against us, we then switch and become the persecutor. Facing off at others, being on the attack and losing contact with the original source of our feelings.

Fight gives us power to stand up for ourselves, but rarely gives us what we want if it’s like crossfire, used to pick random fights.

So what’s got us to this defensive, hot state and gnarly mind set?

A client described an aspect of the tendency to explode (or hit out, generally at another) as ‘disproportionate frustration’ as a result of suppressed reactions peaking on a (random) trigger. Another, as a result of pretending to be adult and polite, withstanding and hiding true feelings, until no longer tolerable from that source any longer. Peak. Bang. Rage.

So, we need to check in with ourselves and see what the anger is telling us.

Emotions are messages. Frustration tells us what we are doing is not effective. So the question we need to ask ourselves is what can I do differently (not what they should do differently)? What’s blocking me here? If we don’t answer these questions, continue to employ the same strategies and don’t adapt, the emotional state that develops can becomes rage, around powerlessness. In other words frustration can lead to anger (it may feel very similar).

At some point, somewhere proceeding this anger, someone or something has hurt and every little slight is becoming the echo of that. We generally experience the same issue over and over until we address it. If we feel hurt we can start to see hurt everywhere. If someone has let us down BigTime, other people’s small actions may also be perceived as letting us down. If someone has crossed a boundary, others will be seen to be doing the same. If we have been undermined by someone significant, strangers may seem to disrespect or lack consideration. The same person doing a similar thing over and over becomes a smarting sting instead of a scratch.

There is nothing wrong with anger when we use it to direct our agency around the specific issue that has caused it. It is the energy we need for self-protection and putting our stake in the ground. Becoming a generally pissed off, intolerant, FFS person means we haven’t dealt with what we need to address and have become stressed. Anger lifts when we take the action we need to assert ourselves.

It may also mean we need Alone Time to drop back into ourselves.

We don’t need to fight the conspiring world, or push back, we need to look after our frazzled, agitated, selves and work out what we need to ask for and say instead.