When things don't go your way

Let me preface this by saying I’m not looking for tough love. If I’m struggling with something emotionally, telling me to stop being so selfish, such a baby, etc. will not actually stop be from being that way. I’m looking for emotional coping strategies.

I went through a couple major life changes recently: I moved onto a new project at work in May, and moved into a new house in June.

Since then, I have started getting really irate when things don’t go my way. Like, if I want to have happy hour and my coworkers wind up choosing another bar, it bothers me way more than it should. Or if I want to get together with someone at a certain time, and they can’t get together at that exact time, it upsets me even if they suggest a different time. I know it’s unreasonable so I try to keep a lid on it, but inwardly it still upsets me. Like I said, I think it is correlated to the other changes going on in my life. Anyways, if you have any advice on how to mentally calm myself down, I’d appreciate it!

Stress leads to anger. Moving and major work changes are high on the stress scale. It’s perfectly normal to be stressed out over these changes, and have it reflected in other behavior. Some people get upset because they get upset over things that are not directly related to whatever’s causing the stress. Mrs. B., in particular, has an inability to understand that pressure from one thing can lead to outbursts etc. over others - even though she does precisely that displaced behavior herself.

One thing I’ve told myself, and others, over the years, is “don’t get depressed over being depressed.” You’re down about something, real or imagined? Fine. But don’t let it turn into a spiral where you are further down and depressed and angry because you are down and depressed.

You’re irritated and upset over things in your life? Okay. But don’t get more irritated and angry because you’re irritated and angry. Make sense?

And do what you can to blow off steam in a safe direction. Exercise can do wonders, even just an evening walk.

Amateur Barbarian has good advice.

I would also say that being as open about your stress to others can help in a number of ways. First, you can let people know that you feel very vulnerable and on edge and they’ll try to work with you (most people, at least). Second, just having them know might help. Sometimes it just helps when you feel like someone understands what you’re going through, even if they can’t directly help or change anything. And third, hopefully they’ll cut you a little slack. Stress isn’t an excuse to run wild, but I know that I’ll try to be more forgiving if I know something’s up.

It’s a tough place to be.

A handful of things that have helped for me, which I offer with all humility.

–Deep breaths.
–Saying to yourself, “In the general scheme of things…”
–Acknowledgement: “It sucks that I can’t…”

I’m sure others will be along soon to offer more.

I do have one other thought. I notice that both your examples deal with going along with what other people (friends. coworkers) want–situations in which you’re being social. I have no idea how social/sociable you are, but I know that in my own case when I am feeling that the world is against me, about the last thing I want to do is be around other people (my family excepted, and sometimes not even that). There’s an argument to be made that your enormous irritation is functioning as a kind of warning signal. Given the big changes you’re going through, is “the wind of your soul” telling you that you need more time and energy to deal with these changes on your own or in other not-so-social pursuits? Again, I don’t know you at all, and I could easily be waaaay off the mark here, but it does seem worth a look. Offered as I said above in all humility…

What I would do in those situations:

  1. Tell my friends “I’m going to Bar X. Have fun at Bar Y”. Nine times out of ten everyone winds up at Bar X.

  2. Tell friend, “Well, I’m going there at 8. Maybe we’ll meet up there later”.

Maybe I’m selfish, but things usually wind up good.

Interesting you should mention this, because I’m actually struggling with the opposite problem, but it may be related. You see, my project switched to a work-from-home four-days-a-week policy, and man, you want to see something get me irate. I felt absolutely crushed at this idea, because I like coming in to the office, seeing other people and talking to them. My coworkers protested that I could still come in to the office if I wanted to, and I do end up coming in to the office most days, but since many of my coworkers work at home it doesn’t feel quite the same.

Additionally, my husband works odd hours, so some nights (or weekends) I come home to an empty house, no kids or pets. As a result, I make a concerted effort to make plans with other people, to plan lunch dates or mid-day workouts with other coworkers, to make plans to talk on the phone or get together with a friend when I know my husband will have to work. In all honesty, I think a bit of the reason I do it is because talking to other people keeps me from having to be alone with my thoughts.

When I think of previous points in my life, this need to be around people is somewhat of a departure from my past. When I was younger, I would go the entire summer without talking to many of my friends in person, some days not leaving the house all day, and was perfectly content reading books and simply corresponding with my friends via phone or e-mail. As an adult, I used to enjoy my alone time, and now I dread it. And I am quite sure that some of it is a psychological unease, trying to distract myself from the major changes in my life.

You might look into types of volunteering that would get you some personal contact without necessarily requiring firm time commitments. Interaction without losing control might benefit you.

Or, firm commitments might make you feel better because they are structured. Sometimes, when I work at home, I feel at loose ends because the day isn’t structured the same way. So doing specific volunteering, or a class at a local college or gym, or something that adds more structure and gets you out into the world might benefit.

You might have to play around with lots of different options to see which ones help and which just add to your burden…

Ha, I just did this on Tuesday! I volunteered with the fire department for five or six years, and just resigned this past May due to some internal politics I wasn’t happy with. So then on Tuesday night I submitted an application to a department near my new house. I felt really excited after doing that. When the political stuff went down at the fire department, I cut back my volunteer hours a lot, and I think diving back into it will really help, not only because it’s something to do in my free time, but also because it really lends a sense of meaning to my life.

Sometimes when I am going through something stressful, I look forward to a time when the situation will no longer have to be dealt with. It’s a tip I picked up from my mother, when my children were young. I was deep in diapers and nursing and messy house, and she said, “remember when your sisters were babies and how much work that was? Now look back and see what a short time it actually was, and how so very much time has passed since then!”

So that’s what I do now, anticipate the end of the stressful thing. Tell yourself this is temporary, these feelings of stress due to the move and the loneliness of working at home or being by yourself when your husband is gone. Remember how you used to enjoy your alone time and tell yourself you will again. Then look forward to the time when that will indeed be the case.

Hope that helps.

You are a “people person”!

The best thing long term for you is getting another job in which you would deal with people/the general public. I should think that would make you happy! (Me too as I am also a people person. :slight_smile: )

I read a meme online that helps me some when I’m feeling similar. When something changes beyond my control and I’m not to happy about it, I briefly pretend I’m an actor in a movie who, after learning all my lines for the scene that day, is given a new script to memorize mere minutes before the camaras roll. So, in order to make the director happy and give the best performance I’m capable of, I simply try to take it in stride by yelling, “Plot twist!” Amazingly, it seems to help and as a side benefit, usually gets me laughing too.

I love this.

I used to be like that. Things had to go my way or I would be upset that I didn’t win. I’ve since learned that most of life is no big deal, and that control is just an illusion. And that going along with other people’s plans is not losing.

Exercise is good. Taking yourself away from yourself is good, like getting involved in a book, or with a pet.

So basically the Serenity prayer.

If you get into all the underlying factors it is far too complicated to analyze and fix. Sometimes it is a simple matter of making a conscious decision not to let things anger you. For a while you may have to fake it until you make it but not allowing yourself to dwell on things that don’t go you way really works.

  On a scale of 1 to 10 we all fall somewhere in between on the sanity scale. Your ability to accept that life is difficult is in direct proportion to you level of sanity. Try the serenity prayer every time you get angry. After a while you won't need it anymore.

Do your best to ignore what happened and think of something else.

Go back and read Desiderata again. It’s a pretty blunt instrument.

I’ve been havingnanstring of failures at work lately, despite my best efforts. I couldn’t figure out what I had done wrong, because it seemed like I made all the “right” decisions.

So I sat down and rewatched the TNG episode, “Peak Performance.” It made me feel better.

It is on Netflix if you’d like to see it.

Wind, do you have more difficulty concentrating than you used to?

When undergoing stressful times, it often happens that the fight/flight parts of one’s brain become overactive while the concentration/foresight parts of one’s brain become underactive.

I’ve found meditation to be useful. One should be careful while researching it because there’s a fair amount of woo around it. It’s also one of those things where the more you can benefit from it, the more difficult and unpleasant it is at first.

I won’t go on much about it unless you are interested in more.