I don’t know anyone that isn’t more irritable now than they were a year ago, but do we know why? And what do we do about it? This seems like a fairly accurate picture of our current situation:
“In fact, neuroscience tells us is that irritability and anger aren’t in our conscious control. Think of it this way: Just as fear alerts the body to danger, irritability is a signal of unmet needs and unresolved conflicts we need to address.
For instance, feeling exasperated may mean we need extra sleep or some alone time. If we’re feeling hopeless and grief-stricken, we may need to talk to a friend or ask someone in our pandemic pod for a hug.
But instead of reaching out, we often stay silent because we fear burdening others or coming across as weak. Or we shy away from sharing our suffering because another person’s pain is worse. When these false narratives guide us, we hold back our sadness, fear and anger, which can lead to depression, anxiety and irritability.”
We can’t do a lot to change COVID-19, natural disasters, or social justice issues that may be causing us stress and to feel irritable right now, but we can change the one thing that the authors point out, which is to talk about it. To express those emotions so they don’t remain bottled up in frustration and irritability that boils over into lashing out at people.
That’s something we can do, as is listening to each other as we talk about these things. If not, I fear this irritability is going to drive more and more people into isolation, which is not going to end well for any of us.