Overcoming situations that lead to irritation and anger

When are you more prone to treating people unkindly? Joe Sikorra, licensed marriage and family therapist and host of The Joe Sikorra Show, recommends that you give this question some good thought and contemplation. “Are there times when you’re tired, when you’re hungry, when you haven’t watched your favorite soap opera, when you haven’t spent time in prayer – when do you become a jerk?”

It can be difficult to admit when we need to change our behavior, but this is important to helping you grow in love and charity. “When you recognize that you’re not at your best, and you go, ‘yeah I wasn’t very good right there. I wasn’t my loving self, I wasn’t loving my enemies, my friends, loving everybody as God wants me to love. I was kind of a jerk!’ If you learn when you are a jerk … you’re not going to do it again,” says Sikorra.

He shared that being late for something can cause him to become irritated at those around him. “I am not in a good, holy place when I am rushing, when I feel that crunch of time. So even if I’m going to Mass, if I am rushed, I am more likely to be a jerk,” said Sikorra. “If you find yourself … saying things, doing things to even people that you love or ignoring people that you shouldn’t ignore, that person in need – it might be that you have too much on you plate. It might be that you just need to slow down.”

Being in a rush can cause us to stress and focus on ourselves rather than those around us. We may ignore someone who needs our help because we are hurrying to get somewhere, or act rudely to the person who gets in our way. Rushing can also become dangerous, says The Joe Sikorra Show co-host Fr. Dave Heney, when you’re driving. “Many times I’m on the road and out of nowhere this car comes zooming by me and I see it zigzagging up between cars, going through traffic changing lanes rapidly, trying to get 30 seconds advantage. And they’re putting so many people’s lives in danger, including their own, all because they didn’t leave earlier. If they had left 10 minutes earlier they could have relaxed and been listening to Relevant Radio® in the car. Instead, they’re panicked and anxious and really making things unsafe.”

When we are overwhelmed with bad news, this also may lead to anger or lack of charity. Whether it is the loss of a loved one, a scary medical diagnosis, or other difficult event or high level of stress, these things often cause us to look inward and focus on ourselves. The key to not letting these things get the best of us is to focus on others. When Fr. Dave Heney was going through his own diagnosis of cancer several years ago, he said that it helped him to take care of those around him so as to not become too focused on his own victimhood, but rather feel empowered by serving others.

Are there specific situations that cause you to lose your cool? What can you do to overcome or avoid the situations that result in irritation or impatience?

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Lindsey is a wife, mother, and contributing author at Relevant Radio. She holds a degree in Journalism and Advertising from the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee. Lindsey enjoys writing, baking, and liturgical living with her young family.