4 Ways To Stop Grumpiness That Feels Uncontrollable

It's hard to change our reactions when we're not sure what is happening.

Ways To Stop What Feels Like Uncontrollable Grumpiness Dean Drobot | Canva

Crankiness gets the best of all of us from time to time. And the ones who feel the outfall are the people around us. 

Like a sudden push of a button, our irritability springs up seemingly out of nowhere and wreaks havoc in our relationships.

Why do we get annoyed at the drop of a hat or overreact in ways that don't make sense? It's hard to change our reactions when we're not always sure what is happening. The good news is we can figure it out and change our thinking so we can enjoy more satisfying relationships.


Four ways to stop grumpiness that feels like it comes out of nowhere

1. Recognize your buttons

The first step to curbing this behavior is paying attention to what happens in your body right before you lash out. Maybe you feel tense, breathing deeply to curb tension, or sighing.

When you notice these physical sensations, take the next step of noticing how something is off, and think about why. Actively taking note of where your irritation stems from activates more of your brain, coping mechanisms of curiosity, problem-solving, and reaction choice.

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She feels uncontrollable grumpiness, the face of anger Master1305 via Shutterstock

2. Understand the origin

The things that push your buttons have likely pushed your buttons for a long time. Once you've put on your thinking cap, you'll probably notice certain triggers are predictable for you, like being interrupted while doing focused work, people arriving late, or irritating sounds.

If you reflect, you'll likely find an incident where the button was first activated. Or, physiological issues might cause your irritability. You may suffer from low blood sugar, chronic sleep deprivation, or hormone shifts related to your menstrual cycle or menopause.


Still, understanding your triggers is half the battle and can help you predict better coping strategies.

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3. Remember this is your problem, not theirs

When we're irritated, we tend to believe the other person triggered us "on purpose," when, in reality, their actions seldom have anything to do with us. Chances are, they didn't even know there was a land mine to step on.

Woman writes in journal about uncontrollable grumpiness Daniel Hoz via Shutterstock


Your noisy, symptomatic co-worker is probably unaware of his impact on your concentration, your hungry spouse probably just forgot his manners, and your mercurial teen was just trying to put off doing something she doesn't want to do (just like we all do). Not only does your knee-jerk reaction not help, it's often not even fair.

If you do snap before you catch yourself, circle back and say a sincere sorry afterward. We are part of the problem, too. Knowing our vulnerabilities and regulating our expectations goes a long way to taking responsibility for our irritability.

4. Have patience with others and yourself

Wanting to change this behavior is great! But doing so takes time. Simply identifying your buttons is a huge first step. From there, practice taking a breath and making a new, calmer choice when you feel agitation building.

@neuroqueercoach Despair looks like many things other than sadness. Do you know domeone who is always irritable and raging? I wonder what heartache they have? #despair #rage #irritable #impatient #alwaysmad #heartache #lonliness ♬ original sound - 🧠Pasha Marlowe, MFT, AuDHD

It will get easier as you mindfully keep at it. And as you improve with mastering your impatience, perhaps you'll find yourself being more understanding and forgiving of it in others.


If you want to feel less irritable, you can! Like with all change, the place to start is in recognizing what's driving your irritability. By rewiring thoughts, recognizing buttons, and changing unrealistic expectations, you can mobilize adaptive and creative coping strategies to handle irritability.

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Dr. Alicia Clark has been a practicing psychologist for over 25 years and has been named one of Washington’s Top Doctors by Washingtonian Magazine. She is the author of Hack Your Anxiety: How to Make Anxiety Work for You In Life, Love, and All That You Do.