Anger and defensiveness

It’s raining. My mood matches the weather. I accepted this job while also being angry at the way it was offered. I found it so hard to think/feel about it properly. Whenever I thought about trying to make a decision, yes or no, I’d just feel this big black ball of stress, which didn’t help me make a decision one way or the other. All I could think about was getting rid of the stress of having to decide.

I do have reasons that made taking the job at least a somewhat reasonable choice. Besides the panicked ‘needing money coming in’ feeling. I could have lasted a lot longer than four weeks looking for work without doing serious damage to my finances.

I feel I have not been doing well in my last three contracts. Well, I think the third last one wasn’t my fault – that was just a really bad manager who took against me for reasons of his own. But the other two, I think I had difficulties that were largely my fault. I need to handle my anger and defensiveness. I would get overwhelmed with anger about what someone did, usually a boss, though not always, and then I would fight. There must be a better way.

The last contract was chaotic. Yes, the managers there were also at fault. But I didn’t help matters.

I remember having full-time jobs, about a decade ago, and doing an average job in one, but in another two cases, basically being fired. I believe these problems were basically interpersonal. I do have excellent professional type writing qualifications and did well in school, so I don’t think it was my skills.

I need to get on top of anger and defensiveness, without becoming subservient or a door mat. My thinking is that with a lower level job, I can concentrate on that aspect. Because the angry feelings become so overwhelming, it’s hard to know how to help myself. I’m thinking if maybe I can contact Ron when that happens, maybe by text or email, to give me some breathing space and time to reflect before I act, maybe that would help. I’ll talk about this with him next week.

Maybe knowing this is a problem I’m on the road to solving it.



  1. its a good idea you had about texting or emailing ron. I hope he says yes to that. If it turns out he say s no, perhaps you could write about the anger and defensiveness, sometimes getting thoughts out helps to reflect before acting? XX

    • Ellen said:

      Yeah, that’s a good idea Many. Thanks.

  2. Rachel said:

    I do agree, knowing a problem exists is the requisite for solving it. I don’t know how long it will take me to not react out of my anger, either. But I think it is worthwhile to really explore and try to tolerate those urges to lash out. Long enough to get underneath the anger and try to meet that underlying unmet need. Obviously, ms impulsive email here doesn’t have it perfected, but, I relate. Anger is a tough one.

    • Ellen said:

      Yes, it is tough. With anger, there’s such an impulse to act right away, at least for me. Thanks

  3. e.Nice said:

    Breathing space is good. Creating that space will take practice but I think you can figure it out. One thing that works for me is I write really unprofessional emails and don’t send them. Then when I’m calm and back in my professional mode (sometimes a couple of days later but usually just the next day) I go back and either delete it or tone it down. (I have been known to share an original with a coworker or two who can appreciate it if I’ve written a particularly witty and scathing one). The problem with my method is that you have to be able to recognize when you are back in a professional mode. I did send a modified one to the head directors once and it wasn’t modified quite enough… still was kind of worth it, if his ego could be bruised that easily, not really my fault, right? I just realized I’ve done this with Elle too. I have a number of unsent draft emails from times I was upset. It does seem to help get things out and get me back into my less reactive self. Sorry didn’t mean to make this about me. The point is there are lots of different tools that will help you and it will take some time to figure out what tools to use when.

    • Ellen said:

      He he. I like your method. I think it suits your personality. I might try this for emails. In person is a bit harder. I’d still need to take space somehow or other.

      As to Elle – I don’t think she’s in the same category as your professional colleagues. I’d think it would be good to let down your guard with her – she has training not to be defensive, and she has your best interests at heart. I’ve sent Ron many very angry upset emails, and sometimes it’s helped, as he didn’t get mad about them, but just wanted to hear my point of view. Maybe you’re not in this type of therapy, but that’s what it’s like for me.

      Thanks for sharing your experience Nice – I appreciate that and am interested.

  4. e.Nice said:

    I kinda make it work for in person too. Sometimes I start composing the email response in my head before the conversation is over 🙂 Usually I’ll just say something like “That’s interesting, let me think about that and get back to you.” Or “I’m not sure, I’ll do some checking and get back to you.” That gives me space.

  5. Unrelated to your post, I wanted to say that I didn’t find therapy helpful with relationships (beyond a certain extent), but I find it helpful now. It seems like it created a habit of analyzing the dynamic in the relationship (how is it affecting me? how is it affecting the other person?) and also of thinking about how my responses were affecting the relationship. I am using those skills with C a lot.

    • Ellen said:

      Interesting. I’ve found that therapy has helped me with relationships. Of course I’m not trying to do therapy on anyone else – these are just everyday relationships. I feel like I have more of an appreciation of the effect I have on people, and just more empathy with how they are experiencing me and life in general. Not sure why I lacked that before – I guess no one had done that for me. And because I can tolerate my own feelings better, I generally am better at letting other people have theirs. The exception here is anger, which I don’t have a handle on. When I get angry or defensive, any insight seems to go out the window for the moment, and i do damage to the relationship. I feel so stupid that I’m still in this place to tell the truth. So I think I need some strategies that I’ve worked out ahead of time, that are easy, so that maybe somehow someway they’ll pop into my mind when I need them.

      Thanks for sharing your experience, it’s helpful.

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