Why am i so angry all the time now?
I don't know what we're yelling about!
Where are the turtles?
You read something in an email.
Sorry dude missed your texts
I assumed we'd meet at the bar.
Whatever I don't care. Whatever I don't care? And smoke comes out your ears.
You're walking and you see somebody doing something they shouldn't be and you want to shout at them. Oh yes!!!
That's what i should have said!!!
Someone you like says something
That says decaf. You got me decaf?
Oh yeah there's been some sort of mix up there.
It just makes you really upset.
Why am i so angry all the time now?
It has to do with the way our brains handle stress,
and something called adrenal activation. In this video, I'm going to share
a little bit of the neuroscience of anger and give you some strategies for decreasing volatility and finding a little bit more patience with yourself and others
in this time of dramatic stress and disruption.
Now put that thing back where it came from or so help me!
I think it'll help if we understand a little bit more about how our brains work.
The first thing you need to understand
about stress and anger is that it's there for a reason.
We become agitated because of perceived threats
and we have evolved this system so that we can deal with dangers that are around us.
Some of these dangers are very short-term
but some of them are lasting.
So our brains have a system for reacting
very very quickly to a stressor and then returning to a baseline level of calm.
We have a second system which triggers something
called the autonomic nervous system
which allows us to stay stressed for a longer period of time.
As i've explained in other videos,
stress simply means that we're perceiving the threat is bigger than our resources
And when we have many many things that are outside of our control,
we become stressed.
It's our brain and body's way of preparing us
to deal with this threat. The problem is that
in this circumstance we're not in a situation of a quick
attack by some tiger
we're in a situation where we're in a long-term prolonged
stress environment and so we need to manage our brain's automatic reaction
and help ourselves and each other through this period of time.
I want to remind you that anger is not actually something negative there's nothing wrong with it
As Aristotle said, the real challenge is to be angry with the right person, to the right degree,
at the right time. To use our anger in a way that's productive
When things go wrong,
Anger is there.
This is Anger. He will make sure the world knows Anger is in control
But what you really need to watch out for is when he's OUT of control.
Anger is a message that says i want to move forward
but something's blocking me
and the purpose of anger, is to focus our attention on that obstacle
and give us the energy to push through it.
So it's actually really valuable and it's connected to motivation and drive.
It's connected to a sense of achievement. It's connected to our wanting to move.
The problem is when we misdirect that anger
and we're really angry about this big thing over here
but it's easier to take it out on this person here.
Oh shut up, just shut up. You are unimportant okay, and you have suckered on to me like
some sort of a car window Garfield.
We're really angry about this crisis that we're in,
but it's easier to take it out and direct it at this person who's close to us.
And you my friend are responsible for delaying my rendezvous with Star Command.
You are a toy!!
You weren't the real Buzz Lightyear!
You're an action figure, you are a child's play thing!
You are a sad strange little man.
And that's very destructive we need to apply our anger where it's suited.
We need to be angry about the big problems and the injustices
and the ways that people are not taking care of each other and our world.
That deserves our anger.
And if we can galvanize and use our anger towards those big problems
that actually is empowering for us. And we feel a sense of agency. And in that agency,
we're directing and using our anger for the right things and we feel a lot better.
So essentially you can think about stress as an alert meter.
As we move closer and closer to red alert,
as our stress level goes up,
we'll become more perceptive we become more likely to see something as a threat
We're in the green zone and we're not very stressed and we read something in an email.
We say "oh that's kind of lame but it's no big deal."
When we're in the red zone, that very same sentence in the email
causes us to go into high reactivity alert.
It's because we're in a heightened state of sensitivity.
Now what's interesting is when we're in a volatile circumstance,
when there's threats all around us,
and people around us are more agitated,
we also become more agitated because emotions are social.
It's part of the way that we work together as pack animals. And in this context of emotional
volatility in this context of polarization we're much more quick to go into the stress reaction.
Just keep moving and don't look down,
Don't look down. Don't look down. Don't look down. Don't look down.
Day after day of this long year we keep activating and reactivating this adrenal system.
The adrenal system draws a lot of energy from our body. It's preparing us to fight,
flee, or freeze. So every day we're activating and reactivating the system. And it's exhausting.
but it's also pushing us to perceive these relatively minor things as big threats.
We're over estimating the threat level
because we're in the red zone and we're staying in the red zone.
And what happens for people who stay in the zone for a long time
is post-traumatic stress or post-traumatic stress disorder.
And there are many brain injuries and psychological illnesses
that are related to prolonged and deep stress.
So it's very important for us to learn tools
to come back down out of this red zone and find a place of more equanimity and more balance.
Because when we're angry all the time, we're affecting ourselves,
we're affecting each other
and we're affecting this context
we're setting ourselves and others up for greater and greater volatility.
We have a model called the reaction cycle
which helps explain what's happening in this process.
Basically there are three stages in the reaction cycle.
We get ready for the reaction.
We call that the setup phase.
And in the setup phase, it's our lack of sleep,
it's our lack of exercise,
it's what when we're not eating well when we're not taking care of ourselves
we're not going to church or we're not meditating.
There are all of these things that might put us into a condition
to be more reactive. That's the setup. And then there's a trigger.
Something happens, you read an email, you hear something,
somebody tells you something,
and then you interpret that trigger.
You interpret it based on your current circumstance.
Again your stress level, your emotion level, is a kind of filter. It's like a pair of glasses
and as you get more reactive and volatile, the glasses that you're wearing are glasses about
looking for these threats. Looking for things that make you volatile.
And so we move into this interpretation phase. It only lasts about a quarter of a second,
but in that quarter of a second we're assessing "How dangerous is this?' "How big a threat is this?"
and then we begin our reaction.
We start producing these chemicals in our hypothalamus.
They're released through the pituitary gland. They start affecting all of the cells in our body.
We then go into an escalation phase, and we start saying to ourselves
"this is terrible" "this is bad" "there's nothing i can do,"
and now we become in a heightened state
of reactivity. And in this heightened state of reactivity
we're going around the cycle again.
And now we're set up with more readiness for the next reaction.
These three stages also give us a clue about how we can get out of the reaction cycle.
In each stage, there's a basic tool that we can use to help us shift
and move out of the reaction cycle and back towards balance.
So in the setup phase,
what we're doing is we're putting ourselves out of balance.
We're moving into a situation where we're more likely to appraise something as a threat.
The secret in this stage is simply noticing
and saying "oh i'm a little bit out of balance here.
I didn't sleep very well last night. I usually go for a walk in the morning
and I didn't go for a walk. I was late and so I didn't eat breakfast
and I'm a little bit discombobulated.
I'm a little bit in a state where I might be more likely to see this thing
that normally isn't a big deal as a big deal."
If we can notice it before we have the reaction
it's relatively easy to deal with it. This is where a little mindful breathing,
a glass of cold water, literally going and smelling a flower, going for a little walk, stretching,
something that helps us shift physically mentally and emotionally
back towards balance.
Appreciation is incredibly powerful in this stage.
And just noticing even though there's a lot of crappy things going on
there are still things that we can appreciate in our lives and in the world.
The second stage as I said is only a quarter of a second long,
and so it makes it very difficult to do something in that quarter second.
But what i suggest you try, is just observing.
Notice yourself reacting "Oh there i go. I'm getting upset." And the more you practice noticing and just having like 10 percent
of your brain holding back to observe yourself in this process,
the more you practice that, the more likely you are to be able to notice it before the trigger.
And then in the final phase,
the escalation phase,
this is where the six second pause comes in.
Literally doing something as simple as six math problems
or counting to six in a foreign language
or alphabetizing six places you wish you could travel right now.
This will shift your brain activation by
engaging your cortical or cognitive brain for six seconds
and allow the flood to subside a little bit.
Perhaps the most important strategy in moving out of the reaction cycle
is remembering that you have choice.
You might not have total freedom ,
but you have some choice.
And when you notice that you have some choice about how you think,
how you act, and how you feel,
that recognition itself gives you freedom to say: I can choose something different right now.
This process of noticing our feelings and harnessing and directing these feelings
is something we call navigating emotions.
And one of the essential pieces of navigating emotions
is to validate. Say yes that is what i'm feeling.
And I'm feeling it for a reason. There's a lot of reasons why i'm so angry all the time now.
Just recognizing that, and saying
that is an appropriate feeling given the circumstance.
And now that you know that
you have choice what are you going to do?