It typically starts as an undefined restlessness. This restlessness carries a whispering voice that prods and goads. Sometimes you can’t hear the words. Other times, they are painfully clear…you’re no good. Life sucks. I don’t feel like doing anything. Is there a meaningful point to anything?
This pervasive restlessness grows into full-blown irritability. A general pissiness at yourself and everything that crosses your path. When irritable, you see certain aspects of life with such clarity that your spirit actually hurts. Millions of people, in planet destroying vehicles heading to mind-numbing, greed based jobs. The homeless man sleeping on a bench. The creepy guy who passes you on the street with eyes that make Charles Manson look angelic.
This irritability builds. You feel it growing inside you. You know it. You own it. You hate feeling this negativity…but you do. And it needs to be released. People who live in a constant state of irritability are prone to misery and violence.
So, what do you do?
Recognize, feel, own it. Don’t try to deny it or run from it. It will return with a vengeance. As you are owning it, take many deep breaths. This will help you focus and get centered. After you are focused enough, add a mantra to your breathing. Breathe in positivity. Breathe out negativity. Or yell out..”I am so blessed!”. This confuses your irritability.
These breathing exercises are essential to owning and dealing with irritability. If you don’t, the release will result in hurting yourself or others. When in the powerful grip of irritability, punching someone sounds tempting. Just remember that the short term relief is not worth the long term pain. We learned this with our active addictions and we can apply the same principle here.
As addicts we are so prone to dramatic, all-or-nothing thinking. When you are in the depths of irritability, please know that this is normal human behavior and that it won’t last forever. If you feel it and own it and breathe, it might actually pass quickly.
After you’ve focused on your breathing and centered yourself, take action. Do something constructive. Irritability is essentially negative energy. Taking a healthy, positive action will release it. Some suggestions to get you started include:
- pray/chat with you Higher Power
- call a friend
- write in a journal
- go for a walk
- listen to calming music
And now we will end at the beginning. Did something specific trigger your irritability in the first place? Were you hungry or tired or overwhelmed? Have you been living an active program of recovery on a daily basis? There is a magical axiom in recovery that the more spiritually centered we are, the less often we feel negative.