What is anger? Why do I experience it as a parent?

Our emotions are mental reactions to things. But some mental reactions can be difficult and unpleasant.

What is anger? Why do I experience it as a parent?

Definition: A strong feeling of being upset or annoyed.

A strong feeling it is. I am referring to our good old anger.

Anger is simply an emotion. Just like our other emotions which we -most of the time- enjoy.

Think of your excitement, joy, happiness, bliss, love...

Our emotions are our mental reactions to things. Our mental reactions are sometimes easy and pleasant to experience.

Remember that last time your coffee was served to you at your favorite cafe? Your mental reaction to it was quite pleasant to have.

You might have felt the joy evoked by the smell and the sight of your coffee. Maybe you felt the excitement before taking your very first sip. And maybe you even felt the happiness after you took it.

All of these mental reactions were welcome and very much enjoyed.

But our mental reactions to other things can sometimes be equally difficult and unpleasant.

As a new parent, one of the first things that I learnt was life was never going to be polished anymore. Things, my hair, our house, my child's clothes, our dinner, my coffee would be far from perfect for a looong time. And that it was okay.

Parenthood puts us in an infinite number of moments every single day when things don't go as we expect them to. Difficult emotions, one being anger, appear as mental reactions to these unexpected life circumstances.

But the interesting twist is that you don't feel angry every time a small thing goes out of its way.

Maybe you take it with grace when your baby wakes you up at 5:00 AM to start the day. You might smile and clean the floor when she breaks a carton of eggs. Maybe you even agree to having to pee with an open door because your baby would be calmer to hear you talk to her as you pee.

But when the last straw hits, when she "just won't go to sleep" after a 2 hour bedtime topping off a long and exhausting day, you cannot help but experience that difficult mental reaction. A reaction, which signals to you that your tolerance has been depleted.

Anger lets you know that it has arrived by giving you physical sensations that you recognize.

What to do with it is the real question. And that is where a real difference can be made.


Wanting to be calmer and more present? Try out our Stress Bundle series for meditations and guided exercises for parents.