I’d like to think I have a small ego that’s been reducing in size since 2014. I’m quiet most of the time. I spend way too much time in my home office nerding out on reading or writing.
In the last few months I’ve acted angry. Many of you reading this can relate. Perhaps after reading this you may even admit it.
The hidden cause
I had a kid 8 months ago.
She’s cute as a button. We hang out a lot and giggle. But she’s a lot more work than I expected. Let’s just say she’s not a “sleeper.”
She wakes up at all hours. Sometimes she doesn’t sleep at all. A month ago my wife and I experienced 4 weeks of her waking up every hour of the night.
We became sleep deprived. I suspect that’s what fuelled my anger. Or maybe I’m looking for a convenient excuse to take the blame away from myself. Highly probable.
This didn’t help
In the last two years I got married and bought a house.
Owning a home is supposed to be a joy. What we forget is it takes 12 months to turn a house into a home.
You’ve got to buy hoses, wheelbarrows, cans of paint, kitchen appliances, rugs, front door mats, doorbells, and hedge clippers. Especially if you came from a lifetime of student apartment living like I did.
It’s been 3 months and I haven’t mowed the lawn yet. A lawnmower costs $600. With all the other costs that come with buying your first home, you have to go one step at a time.
The backyard of the home I bought was a disaster. I should have got a building inspection. Every other home I looked at and wanted to buy got one.
But after we had so many building inspections we decided to only do them on properties that were must-haves. The house we bought, we thought, didn’t need an inspection. Turns out it did.
When we moved in I got a building inspection for peace of mind. The inspector noticed two major walls were sinking. The backyard was full of badly installed pavers that didn’t allow for drainage.
Every time it rained the water was going straight into the foundations. To solve the issue we had to do landscaping.
The landscaper came and fixed the issue. We laid fake grass in place of the pavers because I’m a lazy bum and don’t want too much mowing to do.
The problem is I gave the landscaper the last payment before he finished. He never came back to complete the job. I tried to chase him for a month. He ended up screaming at me. I yelled back.
When someone runs away with your cash it hurts.
Trying to control your anger in these situations is easier said than done. Eventually I got over it. I counted it as a loss. I started to finish the job myself. My dad helped too. It has cost a few extra thousand dollars.
The decision I had to make was…
- Stay angry about the landscaping. Threaten the landscaper with legal action. Report him to the tax office for not giving us an invoice.
- Pay the penalty, finish the job myself, and move on.
I chose option two. I’m learning fast that anger just isn’t worth it.
The damn banks didn’t help
Many of you can relate to this.
We got our home loan in March. Since then we’ve had more than six interest rate rises. Our repayments have almost doubled.
We all know interest rates can hurt. But we’re never great at preparing for their impact. While I think rates will come crashing down, for now, they hurt and only add to my short-term anger problem.
Many of my investments also went down in the recession. I expected this to happen. What it did, that I didn’t expect, is it took away some of my peace of mind. The safety blanket became smaller so my risk appetite decreased.
The neighbor from hell
When we moved into our new home it was a quiet street.
On the second night we discovered the small hall up the hill from our home was a Community Hall. No. Actually, it was a performing arts center.
They played loud music late into the night. They did this 5 out of 7 days of the week. The music was so loud my baby daughter couldn’t sleep.
This only made the sleep deprivation worse.
Even on public holidays they’d play loud music. They’d sometimes start at 8 AM on a Sunday. It was relentless.
I reported them to the local authorities. Nothing happened. Many of my neighbors had done the same.
After a lot of arguing the council finally stepped in. It turns out they didn’t have a permit to do what they were doing. They were breaking more than ten local laws and putting the lives of children at risk.
They didn’t even have an evacuation plan or the proper fire safety equipment. The council told them to stop. They refused. Things got heated. I rallied together over 100 neighbors to join the cause.
The issue is still ongoing but it looks like they’ll need to move locations.
On the one hand I felt good about it all. I was able to impact change. One neighbor said I should run for mayor.
On the other hand I felt like a grumpy, angry old man. I helped get the local kid’s little hall shut down because of noise. Sure, they were breaking the law. But did I overreact? I don’t know.
The only way I can sleep at night is knowing that I will help them find another location if the worst happens.
Now we get to the outrageous part
This is the bit I’m ashamed of.
All of the above has made me angrier than normal. Recently my wife sent me to Ikea to pick up some things. On the way out the boom gate wouldn’t open. 20+ cars behind me couldn’t get out.
I went over and yelled at the parking attendant. “Why aren’t you paying attention? Help me! This ticket is supposed to be free!”
Turned out I didn’t read the parking instructions properly. I let anger get the best of me.
Yelling at service workers is a no-no. I went and apologized. The guy was nice about it but I still felt bad. It’s not who I am.
The week before I was driving past KFC. I was hungry and couldn’t wait until I got home to eat. So I ordered a naughty large fries.
I assumed they’d just scoop the already-cooked chips into the bucket and hand them over. I was wrong.
A simple chips order took 30 minutes. The anger mounted. It bubbled to the surface … and I blew up.
I asked to speak to the manager. I made a song and dance. I rallied the other customers who were also sick of waiting.
There I was again. Angry. For no reason. Over freaking chips.
This was perhaps the most profound sign of this recent anger problem. Again, I apologized to the worker and left with my chips.
Two teenagers saw me at my car eating them and screamed out “Did you get your chips ya little b*tch.” I felt humiliated … and I deserved it.
I kept thinking “Is this who I now am?”
The antidote to anger I’ve discovered
I can now safely say I’m calming my farm.
There’s still a process to work through though. What I’ve found is you can’t fix anger until you admit it. As soon as I accepted my current state, I was able to make a few changes.
Even writing this article and sharing it with all of you is part of the process.
I think I know why I became angry: stress.
Over the last year many tiny stresses have been accumulating quietly in the background. None of these by themselves are a big deal, but when added together they’ve led me down a path I don’t like.
Another thought hit me yesterday…
My baby daughter is watching all of this happen. Right now she’s too young to see the truth. But soon she will start to wonder why I’m behaving like this if I continue.
She will copy my anger if that’s how I act.
So it’s crucial I get it under control — and I am. The only reason I’ve been able to take action is thanks to self-awareness.
I like to get radically honest with myself. Because the person we lie to the most is ourselves. As cheesy as it sounds, gratitude has helped too.
When you appreciate what you do have and what people are doing for you, it acts the same way the reset button on a Playstation console does.
The upside to anger
You probably didn’t expect this. There is an upside though…
Anger = Energy
Yep, read that again. Anger is energy that you can channel into other things. It can become a source of inspiration.
It can help you seek out new alternatives, like letting steam off at the gym, which ultimately gives you more energy. So not all of it is bad.
That’s the final lesson this short battle with anger has taught me. Forgive me for my anger dump. I haven’t lived with much anger before so this is all new to me. I hope this was useful to you.
Don’t let anger ruin you.