• Quote of the Day
    "For most people, transformation is slow. It happens without you realizing it."
    Marsha Linehan, posted by Daniel

Qgirl

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Hi, I'm new here and seeking help to address and change the way I deal with my moodiness.

I have always had a quick temper, I come from a family where yelling and threats were the way I was kept in line. I am 33 years old now. 4 years ago, I was in a serious relationship with a man I was planning to marry. Ultimately, he broke up with me. One large reason for this is my unpredictable moodiness. Although I am usually quite cheerful and attract many people with my personality, I admit I have a dark side and I cannot control it.

I am not violent and I do not throw things, but I do get worked up quite easily. After that relationship, I went to therapy to work on conflict resolution skills. Now, I can say that I can successfully talk through a conflict, calm down, and work towards a resolution. I also have worked on letting go of past fights and allow myself to calm down after agreeing to make up.

However, I still have one large problem. When I am in a bad mood, I often do not even realize it! And I end up snapping at whoever is closest to me for no reason, often overreacting to whatever they have said. My most recent boyfriend has just broken up with me for this reason. I talked to my best friends and they admitted that it is true. That sometimes they are nervous and uncomfortable around me because I snap at them undeservedly. Honestly, I had no idea that I have been doing this for years! Otherwise, I would have brought it up in therapy before. Now, I am unemployed and cannot afford to see a therapist. Therefore, I'm on my own.

How do I recognize when I do this? How do I figure out why I do this and what causes it? How do I gain awareness of when I am in a bad mood and about to snap at someone or overreact? I think this happens when I am frustrated, embarassed, or annoyed, but I am not sure. I have no idea how to act in any other way but I would really like to try.

Feedback and advice would be greatly appreciated!
 

David Baxter

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Hello, Qgirl:

This is just to let you know that i read your post and will reply when I have a chance to do it properly -- I'm on the run between phone calls and clients this week and I don't want to give you one of those superficial "25 words or less" replies.

Like Arnold Schwarzenegger, "I'll be back."
 

Qgirl

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Thanks, I appreciate it.

I understand that this is not going to be an easy thing for me to work on. Since I haven't been able to monitor my behavior before, I am not sure how I am going to catch myself now, even though I want to. In particular, I am interested in a Cognitive Behavioral Therapy approach to this problem.

But since I have recognized this as a pattern in the way I treat the people that I am close to, I have a strong desire to address this problem so that I can have a lasting relationship with someone. I am deeply afraid that this issue will prevent me from a loving and lasting relationship. I was wondering why I feel "chronically single" and I think that this might be a large reason why. The fact that my very close friends agree that this is something that bothers them also reinforces my resolve to do something about it.

I have a large host of other issues going on and I have sort of spread them around this board already. I appreciate any feedback you can give me. Thanks!
 

David Baxter

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Unfortunately, I have to run out again for a while, but I noted (I think) that you said that at the moment individual psychotherapy isn't an option for financial reasons (?).

For now, have a look at these self-help resources and see if you can find a copy of this book on cognitive behavior therapy: David Burns, The Feeling Good Handbook. Penguin, 1999

See also: http://www.psychlinks.ca/pages/anger.htm

I have some questions I want to ask befoe I point you in any other directions but that will have to wait.
 

Qgirl

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Thanks, you are the second person actually to recommend that book by David Burns. A friend of mine yesterday sent me a link to it. Definitely going to order it asap.

Yes, at the moment individual psychotherapy is not an option for me. I have run out of unemployment benefits and still have not been able to find a job. I signed up to a Temp Agency but they haven't found an assignment for me yet. This is a difficult period of my life, and my priority is Rent Money. So I am doing as much as I can to help myself on my own.
 

David Baxter

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One more thing: Look at the threads on omega-3 essential fatty acids in this forum (probably under Alternative Medicine).

Back later...
 

Qgirl

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I do eat plenty of foods such as salmon and dark green leafy vegetables. Do you suggest a supplement? A friend of mine takes something called Sam-e. Would that possibly be helpful?
 

David Baxter

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SAMe has been reported to be helpful, yes. Tryptophan may also be helpful but you'll need a prescription to get that.

However, I still have one large problem. When I am in a bad mood, I often do not even realize it! And I end up snapping at whoever is closest to me for no reason, often overreacting to whatever they have said. My most recent boyfriend has just broken up with me for this reason. I talked to my best friends and they admitted that it is true. That sometimes they are nervous and uncomfortable around me because I snap at them undeservedly. Honestly, I had no idea that I have been doing this for years!
Do you see any pattern to this at all? Does it happen when you are worried, stressed, nervous? Or perhaps when you are overtired?

Step one is to try to identify what is going on when you get into these moods -- what is happening in your life -- what are you thinking, saying to yourself -- what is the trigger.
 

Qgirl

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David Baxter said:
Do you see any pattern to this at all? Does it happen when you are worried, stressed, nervous? Or perhaps when you are overtired?

Step one is to try to identify what is going on when you get into these moods -- what is happening in your life -- what are you thinking, saying to yourself -- what is the trigger.

I agree... I need to identify what is the trigger. Unfortunately, I have been so clueless about this, I have NO IDEA what I was thinking at the time of all my past lashing outs. I asked a couple of people to relate recent stories and they both had something in common... I think I was embarrased, I felt like I was being mocked and it made me angry. These scenarios make me sound completely stupid, but I will mention them anyway.

1) Sitting on the couch watching tv with a friend who isn't known for her tact. A button on my shirt near my bellybutton is open and she points at it and says, "You know... your shirt is open. Don't you want to close that?" I snapped at her and said, "Ok, so? Does it bother you?" I was annoyed that she was pointing at my stomach and it felt like she was accusing me that I should be embarrassed about it and close it up. I felt that it was unnecessary of her to point it out, particularly since no one else was there and she has done things like totally unbutton her pants in front of me if she's eaten too much. And no, I do not tell her to button them.

2) I was with my ex, he was visiting me and we needed to catch a bus to go to a restaurant. It is the busline I always take, but I was unfamiliar with this particular stop. I wasn't sure which block the stop was and I got it wrong. Finally we made it on the bus and he chided me for not knowing my own city. That angered me profusely and I started snapping at him. We got off at the stop for the restaurant and I didn't see it and started walking in the wrong direction. He stopped me and laughed again at my mistake and pointed out that the restaurant was behind me. By this time, I had worked myself up so much that I started walking away to go home and said I wasn't hungry anymore. It turned into a fight and he had to calm me down and convince me to go inside. Once inside, I told him that I thought it was mean the way he was making fun of me and that is why I was upset. I was frustrated and embarassed that I was making mistakes and he was pointing them out. He says that he didn't feel like he was making fun of me and was thrown off guard by my responses.

I think the two triggers here were being embarassed because I felt foolish? When I am alone and make mistakes, I am ok about them. I guess I don't like being made fun of, or having my mistakes pointed out to me, it hurts my feelings. I know I shouldn't have taken it so personally, but at the moment all I could feel was a flush in my cheeks and feeling heated.
 

Qgirl

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Should I post my responses here or should I be filling this out privately?
 

David Baxter

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Qgirl said:
I think the two triggers here were being embarassed because I felt foolish? When I am alone and make mistakes, I am ok about them. I guess I don't like being made fun of, or having my mistakes pointed out to me, it hurts my feelings. I know I shouldn't have taken it so personally, but at the moment all I could feel was a flush in my cheeks and feeling heated.
Try the exercises above -- where do these feelings come from? When you are reacting to other people pointing out your mistakes, what does that remind you of? In what other circumstances has this happened to you?
 

David Baxter

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Qgirl said:
Should I post my responses here or should I be filling this out privately?
Privately. This is to help you better understand what it is (and maybe who it is) you are reacting to...

If you wish, when you're finished, tell us what patterns you noticed coming out of the exercises...
 

Qgirl

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I filled out the questionnaires. I have already noticed one pattern... and it is something that now I remember was mentioned in my past therapy sessions.

I get very angry and resentful when I am not being seen. When I am not recognized for my abilities, not seen for who I really am, or when feel I am being judged or criticized unfairly. For instance, being criticized at work for something I was not responsible for. Or conversely, being the person who was instrumental in a project and not being thanked although my coworkers were.

My mother once yelled at me and accused me of being a slut because I came home 45 minutes after my midnight curfew. A boy had driven me home from a chaperoned party and had gotten lost. Although he gave me a kiss on the cheek goodbye, that is all that had happened. Yet, my mom called me a slut for a month and gave me the silent treatment. I resented her wrongful accusation, and still do.

I am also accustomed to being regarded as responsible, rational, capable, intelligent, and street-smart. When someone says I am not any of those things, I get upset and angry. I simply cannot handle it when I am not seen for who I think I am.

I am not quite sure what this has to do with being mad that my shirt was unbuttoned. lol.
 

David Baxter

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Well, one thing that occurs to me is that you are being criticized in all cases, perhaps in a way that doesn't fit with how you see yourself -- but is it how others see you?

Take some time to think about your responses... maybe add to them... let it sit for a while and see what comes out of it.

Then try this exercise on Influences on Self-Concept.

What you're looking for here is what is it that you are reacting to? It's not just the unbuttoned shirt. It may not even be just that friend. It's perhaps several other things that the situation or the feelings remind you of -- or past hurts or rfesentments that weren't resolved and are therefore being triggered by this event, which is what makes your reaction at this moment so extreme.
 

Qgirl

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Thank you so much for the suggestions, they have been very helpful. I have pinpointed a few past hurts and resentments that I can still feel the sting of, several years later. Embarassing moments or instances where I was being insulted or made fun of as a child. I was very shy and never knew what to say to defend myself. Now, as an adult, I am no longer shy and sometimes I get defensive when I don't need to be. It has been an eye opener.

I talked to my ex and discussed the last instance this happened, the bus stop example that I had mentioned in this thread. We talked it through together and I explained what I was truly feeling inside was embarassment, frustration, shame. I was beating myself up for looking foolish at the time and I automatically assumed he was beating me up too. Of course, he had no idea what was going on in my head and he was angry that I was treating him that way and confused about my behavior.

It was good to tell him the truth of how I felt, although it was difficult. For some reason, it was hard for me to admit that I was embarassed. But once I said it, and he didn't laugh at me or mock me, I realized it was ok. I apologized for the way I acted, and he told me he was impressed that I have gained this much insight about that situation. It wasn't something to get mad at myself for. It's ok to feel flustered or embarassed and I could have laughed it off, but instead I had just gotten angry. I hope I can learn how to deal with embarassment better from now on.
 

David Baxter

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That's very impressive, Qgirl -- and it must have taken quite a bit of courage for you to do that. But this is the route to understanding yourself better, communicating with others better, and understanding other people better, so you don't have to take life so personally and feel attacked or put down as often have you have in the past.

Do try to find a copy of that David Burns book, though... there's lots more in there you will find very helpful.
 

Qgirl

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David Baxter said:
Do try to find a copy of that David Burns book, though... there's lots more in there you will find very helpful.

I finally have that David Burns book, "The Feeling Good Handbook," in my hands. This book is HUGE! It's like a bible! It scares me just to look at it! I'm diving into it tonight. Coincidentally, I had an argument with my ex tonight basically because I blew up at him for something really stupid. I realized I had overreacted and apologized, but the fact we argued at all still bothers me. (Oh, and the fact that I am still talking to him is probably not a good idea either, but that is a different issue.)
 

David Baxter

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:eek:) It is huge... and not exactly a barn-burner where you're so excited reading it you force yourself to stay awake all night so you can see how it turns out...

Best to keep it close by and read it a bit at a time... then give yourself time to ponder the concepts and strategies, try out the "mood log" technique, and then come back and read a bit more.
 

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