7 Reasons You Feel Irritable Around Your Family & How To Cope

Thứ sáu - 26/04/2024 23:11
Identify the root of your anger and learn how to deal with it If you feel like you're always upset and irritable while spending time with your family, you might be wondering if there's a reason for that—and we're here to help you figure it...
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If you feel like you’re always upset and irritable while spending time with your family, you might be wondering if there’s a reason for that—and we’re here to help you figure it out. Irritation can be caused by many different factors, from a lack of boundaries with your family to feeling like your family doesn’t respect or support you. Once you know why you feel irritated, it's much easier to find a solution and start feeling better. Read on for a complete guide to why you may feel irritable around your family, with tips on how to cope with your feelings and improve your familial relationships.

This article is based on an interview with our clinical psychologist and published author, Asa Don Brown. Check out the full interview here.

Things You Should Know

  • You may feel irritable around your family if you feel like they’re unsupportive of you. You may also feel that way if they use you and take advantage of your kindness.
  • Your family may also irritate you if they criticize you and your choices too much (or single you out for criticism over other family members).
  • Cope with your irritation by practicing relaxation techniques and setting boundaries with your family. Try identifying specific triggers that irritate you and addressing them.
Section 1 of 4:

Reasons You May Feel Irritable Around Family

  1. Step 1 You may not have strong boundaries with your family.
    If your family tends to dictate things for you and tell you what to do (while ignoring whatever it is you actually want to do), it might be because you haven’t set boundaries with them. Alternatively, your family might be ignoring the boundaries you tried to set. Feeling like your family is ignoring your needs and prioritizing their own can easily leave you feeling irritable and angry toward them.
    • For example, if a family member asks you to do something that makes you uncomfortable and you say “Yes” regardless, that’s a sign you might be struggling to set boundaries.
    • On the other hand, if you’re pressured to do something that makes you uncomfortable even though you’ve already expressed your feelings about it, that’s a sign your family is ignoring your boundaries.
  2. Step 2 Your family may criticize you too often.
    Do you feel like your family always finds a way to critique what you do or singles you out with their criticism more than most? That kind of unfair criticism may leave you feeling like nothing you do is good enough for your family—or that they have some kind of invisible criteria you’re struggling to fulfill. In short, criticism can easily make you feel irritable whenever you’re around your family.[1]
    • If your family is critical of you, they might seem unsatisfied with any aspect of your life, from your current job or career path to your personal life and relationships—even though they have no right to be. Your life is your own, after all.
    • Remember, your family’s judgment doesn’t actually reflect your worth or acceptability. You’re much more than your family’s perceptions of you.
  3. Step 3 Your family may not be supportive enough for you.
    If you don’t feel morally and emotionally supported by your family, that might be causing you to feel irritable and resentful around them as well. Support is important because it makes you feel safe, valued, and encouraged to pursue your dreams and life goals. When your family doesn’t support you, it may feel like they don’t believe in you or care for you.[2]
    • For example, say you’re upset and want to confide in someone. Do you feel like you could talk to your family and get support from them, or do you feel like there’s nobody you could talk to?
    • You deserve to feel confident that your family will listen to you and validate your feelings when you confide in them. If you don’t feel this way, that indicates a lack of support from your family.
  4. Step 4 You may feel like your family is using you.
    Do you feel like your family (or one family member in particular) tends to take advantage of your kindness or act like you owe them something? Exploitation takes many forms: they might ask you for favors or money, or pressure you to take care of them instead of pursuing your own goals. Regardless, you may feel irritated if it seems like your family only contacts you when they want something.[3]
    • For example, if a parent asks you to send them your hard-earned money or demands money (and says something along the lines of, “I raised you, so you owe me”), that’s a sign they might be using you.
    • Similarly, if your grandparents tell you that you shouldn’t move away for a dream job because you need to stay put and take care of them, that’s another form of manipulation.
  5. Step 5 You may feel like you don’t fit in with the rest of your family.
    If you have different values and beliefs from your family, it might feel like fitting in with them is impossible. You might even be used to arguing with your family if they refuse to acknowledge your beliefs because theirs differ. Regardless, feeling different from the rest of your family can make it hard to get along with them, and you may end up feeling irritable as a result.[4]
    • For example, if your family is strictly religious and you’re not, it might be tough to relate to them, especially if they treat you differently or give you a hard time.
    • Remember that your beliefs shouldn’t have to perfectly line up with your family’s. You’re all different people, and that’s okay.
  6. Step 6 You may have toxic relationships with people in your family.
    A toxic relationship with someone in your family (or multiple family members) can leave you feeling emotionally drained or even threatened whenever you’re around them. In short, it’s very normal to feel irritable, angry, or upset with a family member whose behavior toward you is toxic.[5] Try recognizing the signs of a toxic relationship so you can take steps to fix it. For example:
    • You may feel like your family doesn’t respect you, your needs, or your well-being.
    • Toxic family members often have very high expectations of you but get angry if you expect anything from them in return.
    • Toxic family members likely won’t make an effort to truly understand and appreciate who you are as an individual.
    • You may feel isolated and alone—like your family won’t back you up, even if you really need them.
    • You may feel bad about yourself, other people, or the world in general after seeing them; toxic relationships bring out intense negativity.
    • Toxic family members rarely take responsibility for their mistakes, so you may find yourself catching all the blame instead.
  7. Step 7 You may have a physical or mental health condition causing irritability.
    Although there are plenty of reasons why your family could be causing irritation, it’s also possible that an underlying condition is making those feelings even worse.[6] Generally, if you only feel irritable around your family, it’s safe to assume they could be the cause. However, if you feel irritable most of the time, you might be affected by a condition such as:
    • Depression, bipolar disorder (BPD), attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), or anxiety
    • Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)
    • Stress
    • Thyroid problems (an underactive or overactive thyroid)
    • Chronic pain
    • Low blood sugar
    • Pre-menstrual syndrome (PMS)
    • Substance withdrawal
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Section 2 of 4:

How to Cope with Irritability

  1. Step 1 Accept your feelings and identify the triggers that irritate you.
    Before you do anything about your irritation toward your family, it’s important to acknowledge it—as well as the reasons why you’re feeling that way. Figure out what your family does to make you feel so irritable, and look for triggers when you spend time with them. Then, rather than blaming yourself for getting irritable, be kind to yourself and validate your feelings instead.[7]
    • While looking for triggers, try keeping a journal or writing notes whenever you feel irritated around your family. That way, you’ll be able to look for patterns or identify a particular behavior that bothers you.
    • Accepting your feelings makes it easier to cope with them in the long term because you’re more likely to look for solutions instead of denying or fighting the fact that your family makes you feel irritated.
  2. Step 2 Set boundaries with your family to limit stress and irritability.
    If you feel irritable because of a lack of boundaries with your family, that’s very understandable—and, fortunately, fixable. The next time a family member crosses a line or makes you uncomfortable, calmly and clearly explain your boundaries and set limits on your interactions with them. The more you set and enforce your boundaries, the more empowered you’ll feel.
    • For example, if you feel overwhelmed and irritated by your family coming over to your home unannounced, try setting a limit on the number of times you see them in a month.
      • You might let them know that you need them to call before coming over in the future, but you’re happy to set up a monthly date for all of you to spend time together.
    • If certain conversation topics make you uncomfortable, let them know. Say something like, “I really don’t want to debate politics, so I’d appreciate it if we avoided that subject going forward.”
  3. Step 3 Protect your privacy from any family members that irritate you.
    If any of your family members have a habit of using the personal details of your life against you, it might help to intentionally keep those details private going forward. When one of your family members tries to pry, change the subject instead and redirect their focus onto another topic. Alternatively, if you can’t distract them, directly explain that you’d prefer to talk about something else.[8]
    • For example, if you find it irritating when your family pries into your dating life, you might try to redirect the conversation when they ask about it.
      • Try saying something like, “Oh, I’ve got nothing new to report—besides, I’m dying to hear about your vacation in California! How’d that go?”
    • However, if you need to directly tell your family that you don’t want to talk about your dating life, say something like, “Actually, I’d really rather not discuss my relationships right now. Let’s talk about something else!”
  4. Step 4 Use relaxation techniques when you start feeling irritable.
    If being around your family is really bothering you, try stepping away (if you can) or leaving altogether and calming yourself down using relaxation techniques. Luckily, there are plenty of different ways to relax, from breathing exercises to simply taking a walk (or doing some other kind of physical activity, like jogging or swimming). Other techniques include:
    • Listening to music or watching a TV show you enjoy
    • Reading a book
    • Taking a relaxing bath or shower
    • Doing something creative, like drawing or knitting
    • Doing yoga or pilates
    • If you want to do a breathing exercise, try the 4-7-8 technique. Inhale deeply for 4 seconds, hold your breath for 7 seconds, then exhale deeply for 8 seconds. This form of breath regulation can help with stress, irritability, and anxiety.
  5. Step 5 Get plenty of sleep, especially before seeing your family.
    Lack of sleep (or poor quality sleep) can leave you feeling tired and irritable during the day, so make sure you get the recommended amount of sleep at night. Adults need at least 7 hours of sleep each night, and teens need at least 8 to 9 hours of sleep. Good, quality sleep is important too, so if you find yourself waking up in the middle of the night or snoring, consider talking to a doctor about possible causes and solutions.[9]
    • It might also help to reduce the amount of stimulants you have during the day, such as coffee, tea, and other caffeinated drinks. If you smoke or use tobacco, that may also affect your sleep and irritability (since nicotine is a stimulant).
      • While alcohol isn’t a stimulant, it can still affect your mood—so try to reduce your alcohol use if you start feeling irritable.
  6. Step 6 Decide what you need from your family going forward.
    Depending on your relationship with your family, you might feel like there’s a way to cope with their behavior or reconcile with them. Alternatively, if their behavior directly harms you and your well-being, you might decide it’s best to cut ties with your family. Whatever you decide, it’s a personal decision that nobody else can make for you—or judge you for.[10]
    • If you decide to cut ties with your family, it’s also important to decide how long you plan to step away. You might decide to step back temporarily and get some space, or you might decide to make the separation permanent.
      • When a family member is hateful or abusive toward you (due to your sexual orientation, race, or religion, for example), you might feel that cutting ties permanently is necessary.
    • On the other hand, if you find your family’s behavior irritating but not harmful, you might decide to work on repairing your relationship with them instead.
  7. Step 7 Make peace with your decision if you break ties with your family.
    Ultimately, it’s important to do what’s best for your health and well-being—but cutting ties with your family can still be a painful and upsetting thing to do. It’s very normal to feel conflicted about it, especially if your family tries to make you feel like you’re the villain. Keep reminding yourself that you’re just taking care of yourself, which is exactly what you should be doing![11]
    • If you’re having trouble accepting your decision, it may help to confide in a close friend you trust completely.
    • Alternatively, consider talking to a mental health professional (such as a therapist) about your situation and feelings toward your family. They may be able to help you make peace with the decision to cut ties.
  8. Step 8 Mend your relationship with your family if you feel it’s important.
    It’s very possible to mend an unhealthy or toxic relationship so long as you and your family are committed to doing so. So, if you feel that it might be possible to rebuild a sense of trust and positivity with your family, consider asking them to do family therapy with you. A therapist can improve the communication between you and help you feel better about your familial relationships.[12]
    • Just remember that relationships don’t mend overnight. It’s going to take time, and that’s okay. Take things slowly and incrementally let yourself engage and share more with your family as you start getting comfortable with one another.
    • However, if your family doesn’t seem to care about building a better relationship with you, don’t feel pressured to reconcile with them.
    • Relationships go both ways, so reconciliation is as much their responsibility as yours.
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Section 3 of 4:

What is irritability?

  1. Irritability is a feeling of sudden anger, frustration, or impatience.
    When you’re irritable, you may find yourself reacting angrily to even a slight provocation. In short, it might feel like you’ve got a short temper, particularly around your family. You may find yourself snapping at family members who irritate you or simply wanting to be far away from them.[13] Irritation is a very common emotion, though you may have other associated symptoms or feelings like:
    • Restlessness
    • Aggression
    • Agitation
    • Rapid heart rate
    • Moodiness
    • Difficulty concentrating
    • However, even if you feel irritated, restless, agitated, or any of the above symptoms or feelings, it’s not a bad thing—it simply means that something is bothering you and should be addressed.
Section 4 of 4:

Should you see a doctor for irritability?

  1. Talk to a doctor or psychologist if you start feeling irritable all the time.
    As mentioned above, being irritable all the time is a sign that your family might not be the only reason you’re feeling that way. If you feel irritable constantly regardless of whether you have to see your family, a health condition may be causing those feelings. Talk to a doctor or psychologist to find out if that's the case.[14]
    • For example, a doctor might recommend psychotherapy or medication if your irritability is linked to a mental health condition like anxiety or depression.
    • If there’s a medical reason you’re feeling so irritable, a doctor can not only give you a diagnosis but also provide treatment (and hopefully get you feeling better with time).
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