The Yomiuri ShimbunDear Troubleshooter:
I’m a female part-time worker in my 50s. I’m worried that I can’t control my emotions.
I have a fiery temper, and since I was a fifth- or sixth-grade primary school student, I would often vent my frustrations on my mother when I became irritated. However, I behaved decently outside my home. Sometimes, I was even regarded as having a mild temper.
After I got married, I was able to suppress my feelings in the workplace, although I sometimes vent my frustrations on my family. This is probably because I’m more conscious of my image among other people.
However, around the time I turned 40, I began losing my temper or suddenly crying, even at work. At those times, I feel the blood bubble up in my brain and my body begins shivering. Although I say to myself: “Oh, no! I’m about to lose my temper,” I can’t control myself and feel like I don’t care what will happen.
After erupting, I always say to myself, “Ah, I did it again,” and I get deeply depressed.
I think I should breathe deeply when I’m about to lose my temper. However, I can’t at that very moment.
Please give me some advice for keeping calm.
M, Chiba Prefecture
Dear Ms. M:
Your inability to control your emotions may be partly because you are undergoing menopause, considering you are in your 50s. As you have previously had difficulty controlling your temper, it seems your disposition has become fiercer.
I can suggest some steps to take. First, if you notice you are irritated, be alert to your emotions for the rest of the day. Secondly, if you get angry, go somewhere else. Make the gesture of asking people to pardon you before you say something.
Next, think about the basis of your anger. What do you become angry or feel irritated about? You didn’t write about this in your letter. So, why don’t you find out and think about it?
You are in your 50s, which is the time for people to start thinking about their lives again. Having built a family and raised your children, do you feel you live a fulfilled life now?
If your future life aim isn’t fixed, your emotional energy will have nowhere to go and explode in the form of frustration or irritation with other people or family members.
So, think calmly about whether dissatisfied feelings or mental conflicts about your life are at the bottom of your anger toward other people. Calm down and think about it sincerely.
Junko Umihara, psychiatrist