How to Overcome Irritability?

Archpriest Andrei Efanov | 22 December 2020

Archpriest Andrei Efanov

Archpriest Andrei Efanov answers a reader’s question on how to overcome irritability:

One can overcome a situation where everything seems annoying and causes anger, if one has determination and will.

As soon as you decide to change yourself, actions must be taken immediately and at several levels.

First, you need to ask God for help to change you. To do this, you can pray to God in your own words every day and many times, so that the Lord will help you 1) not to show anger; 2) to purify your heart from anger.

I also recommend that you read the morning and evening prayers every day.

You must have a firm determination to completely change the way you respond to a situation. Church sacraments are there to help you. Indeed, changing yourself is possible with the help of God. And know that God is always on your side. He is against sin, but He is on your side and there is nothing that the Lord would not be ready to forgive, if a person sincerely repents of what he or she did! Therefore, it is necessary to begin to confess regularly, because in the Sacrament of Confession a person receives grace. Grace heals the wounds inflicted on the person’s soul by sin and helps to correct the wrong patterns of behavior and thinking to which the person is accustomed to. If any obstacle arises, you should overcome it with prayer and come to confession.

After confession, you can ask the priest how often you need to confess, and strictly follow this suggestion.

As for the Eucharist, you can also ask the priest how often you should participate in this sacrament.

Second, a person needs to decide for themselves that from now on they do not react with anger to anything. You know, in any situation, you can express your opinion calmly. Therefore, before you react to words or a situation, say the prayer “Lord, have mercy” several times. This should save you from rash actions. Promise yourself a reward for abstaining from anger and screaming for half a day, for example. It can be some kind of fruit or candy. Something symbolic, but which is pleasant to you. This way you will accustom yourself to peace.

You can come up with a way and discuss it at home that, for example, when you fill anger, you begin to tear a piece of paper or do something else to express your emotions. Let your loved ones support you in your desire to fight your anger. Believe me, this kind of work on changing yourself deserves only respect! If someone starts joking or laughing at you, do not pay attention: this is a temptation. It is better to put it all in a joke yourself: “Here I am, all fiery, yes, but now I am fighting with my fire and am putting it out.” This takes a long time, but it is a very kind deed, believe me! You will have so much energy free for life!

I also advise you to sign up for sports, start running, play football with your friends, and so on, so that your emotions are released. In general, sports are very useful for a person at any age. If you already do sports, you should intensify your training.

Third, you can consult a psychologist. Together with a psychologist, you will be able to figure out why there is so much anger in you, what you are trying to release, what prevents you from communicating in a calm way. This work needs to be done in parallel with what I wrote above.

And know that there is nothing special in your disposition. There are people with different temperaments, the question is whether they know how to control it or whether they allow their temperament to control them. I don’t think it’d pleasant for you to be ruled by someone or something, right? Therefore, I very much wish you that your work on self-restraint and self-discipline will bring the kindest and most abundant fruits!

God bless you!

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