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  • Is anger genetic?

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    Old 01-13-2012, 04:20 PM   #1
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    Is anger genetic?

    I'm a 31 year old female; mother of two and wife. I grew up with a parent who was very prone to "tantrums"--we all lived in fear and dreaded this parent's presence in the home. At spent my childhood and young adult years shut down and withdrawn as a survival mechanism.

    Somewhere in young adulthood, I began "tantruming" myself, feeling very irritable all the time, responding in anger to any feeling (stress, sadness, hurt, etc.). I have two siblings: one is the exact same way, the other isn't at all. It makes me wonder why two of us seemingly caught the anger illness and the other didn't.

    I really hate it. I think my irritability is so ugly and shameful. But I am so hardwired to be irritable. Throw on the stress of motherhood, lack of sleep, responsibilities and when things don't go my way, my blood pressure goes through the roof.

    I am medicated for anxiety and depression. I have been on several different medications including Lexapro, Prozac, Paxil, Effexor and Pristiq. None of these have ever gotten rid of the irritability. They may subdue me somewhat, but I am still a moody thundercloud.

    I get overwhelmed SO easily. It really sucks to live life like that, to feel out of control and angry all the time. I know I shouldn't...and I feel silly and petty for getting upset over trite things. But my blood just boils, out of my control.

    I'm definitely better at handling it and slightly improved with medication, but it's still bad compared to the average non-angry person. It just feels so ingrained in me, like a scar I can never get rid of.

    Why do people "inherit" anger like that and how do you manage it when it's so much a part of who you have always been?

    My spouse is an angry person as well (we actually find that sharing this attribute strengthens our bond since we understand and are able to support one another), but he did not come from an angry home. He just became an angry adolescent and adult, easily frustrated and angry at the whole wide stupid world.

    So where does this yuck come from, why some of us and not others?

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    gabbylove (02-06-2012)
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    Old 02-10-2012, 04:30 AM   #2
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    Re: Is anger genetic?

    I think a lot of the time it is learned behaviour. When we are developing we learn by watching our parents and I think it's common to adopt their coping mechanisms at a young age. I grew up with two angry parents and I also withdrew as a way to cope. I ended up marrying a very calm laid back person and I think that also had a calming affect on me. One of my siblings is a tantrum thrower still, the other is sort of apathetic.

    Over the years I have become so much better at dealing with stress without getting angry, but I think it's just because I learned certain things and accepted certain things. For example, I now accept that things don't always work out the way I hope, but getting angry doesn't help the situation and mostly it just gets in the way, it's more productive to sit down and figure out what I can do from that point forward, sort of like plan a didnt pan out so what's my plan b?

    I also had to get over my perfectionism and realise I was never going to be perfect, no one else was ever going to be perfect, life was never going to be perfect and every day there are bumps in the road, so I try to deal with them instead of reacting to them.

    Sometimes I still get angry but it's not often, and really instead of inflicting it on someone else I'll take some time out by myself to calm down, once I'm calm I'll think about why I got so angry and what I can do to change it in the future so I don't end up getting angry over the same thing again. I think it's just a process but you have to just stop accepting that you have no control over your emotions, it might feel like it, but you have more control than you think.

    That involves learning ways to relax so you aren't a walking powderkeg, having different expections from yourself and others to not be so perfect, accepting that stuff happens but getting angry doesn't make it better and instead of expecting things to run smoothly just accept that they usually don't but calming down and thinking things through to find a solution works better, and just finding better ways to cope with the crap that life throws at you.

    I think when we get angry a lot our brains are just so used to being wired that way but with practice and finding other ways your brain starts responding differently but you have to consciously work at it.

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    tiredofbeingmad (04-11-2012)
    Old 04-11-2012, 09:00 AM   #3
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    Re: Is anger genetic?

    Do you take it out on your kids? That is my problem, I snap before i even know why I snapped. My son is 4 1/2 and always asking me why am I angry or sad. Doesn't want to tell me things because he is afraid of my reaction. This is why I need the help and support. I'm scared my anger will drive my son crazy and he winds up becoming angry and bitter and takes it out on the women in his life.

    Just saying that made me tear up and mad!!! I want it over....

    Thank you for posting... If you ever find ways please share.
    "Only after the last tree has been cut down, Only after the last river has been poisoned, Only after the last fish has been caught, Only then will you find that money cannot be eaten."

    Old 04-11-2012, 04:57 PM   #4
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    Re: Is anger genetic?

    tiredofbeingmad, it sounds like you need to find a way to lower your stress levels to start. Sometimes we can get so stressed and tired that the littlest things set us off that have nothing to do with why we get angry. I've found that just taking 10 mins a day to just close my eyes, relax and focus on my breathing really helps, but you could do some exercise or listen to some relaxing music, and just take 10 minutes to bring your stress back down, and allow yourself to be calm, don't think about anything, just keep clearing your mind of your thoughts, and give yourself that time to just focus on relaxing. It takes practice but you get to a point where you can shut everything out and just relax.

    The other thing you should try to work at is stopping the reaction. As soon as you realise you are lashing out, stop, take a deep breath and give your mind a moment to think about how you want to respond. You have to break that cycle of "reacting", but right now that happens so instantly that you don't have a chance of thinking first. If you make a conscious effort to stop that instant reaction when it happens, breathe, think, and you keep doing that it becomes a new habit instead of reacting.

    But don't expect these things to work over night, you have to really decide you are going to work at it and practice these things, but you can teach your mind to stop that instant reaction and teach it to take a pause to think first, and that gives you control because when you react, you don't have any control of what you're saying or doing. Hope that makes sense.

    Last edited by captjane; 04-11-2012 at 04:59 PM.

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    anger, depression, family history, genetics

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