Grumpy and Irritable

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Hazel
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Grumpy and Irritable

Post by Hazel »

Hello,

I am grumpy and irritable the vast majority of the time. At the very least I'm whining about something. It drives me nuts and likely the people around me as well.

What sort of practices and/or areas of study are good to work on to address this?

It's a pretty wretched feeling.

:tantrum:
narhwal90
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Re: Grumpy and Irritable

Post by narhwal90 »

Volunteer work gets me out of that grumpy place, which I've had difficulty with in the last couple months. We fed 500+ people over the weekend, was a much needed breath of fresh air.
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Re: Grumpy and Irritable

Post by Könchok Chödrak »

Buddhist Mantras help. Also, cultivating compassion and thinking about the people you care about, even if it hurts, brings eventual equanimity to heal the emotional scars of this life. The best thing to do is treat yourself with the most Maitri was possible then extend this Metta to others. If something is really bothering you, let someone else help you. Even if in just conversation. I wish you all the Best. Aum. :namaste: Don't ever leave the Dharma and continue on your Path, that is my sincerest advice! :anjali:
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Johnny Dangerous
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Re: Grumpy and Irritable

Post by Johnny Dangerous »

Hazel wrote: Tue Dec 22, 2020 7:25 pm Hello,

I am grumpy and irritable the vast majority of the time. At the very least I'm whining about something. It drives me nuts and likely the people around me as well.

What sort of practices and/or areas of study are good to work on to address this?

It's a pretty wretched feeling.

:tantrum:
In my experience a lot of this has been physiological, it's always been a deep part of my system, below the level of conscious thought patterns. The thing that helps me the most is hard physical exercise and somatic practices. I.e., meditation on physical sensation of the body. There are lots of ways to do this of course, but honestly just lying on my back and beginning a practice session with total relaxation and coordinated breathing isn't a bad start. There are practices like Tsa Lung, that has helped me a lot too, if you get the opportunity for such teachings, take it. I also practiced Qigong for years, that can help but I feel like it requires you to be bit calmer in the first place, which makes it less practical in some ways.

Basically, anything to release grasping onto the underlying feeling of irritation, which can be very subtle.

You can try working with your thoughts too, Lojong practices help for that. In my personal experiences cognitive approaches were limited though. For me this particular issue a very visceral thing, and trying to change thoughts just stirs the surface of things, never addressing the deeper situation that the thoughts thrive on. YMMV.
"...if you think about how many hours, months and years of your life you've spent looking at things, being fascinated by things that have now passed away, then how wonderful to spend even five minutes looking into the nature of your own mind."

-James Low
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Kim O'Hara
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Re: Grumpy and Irritable

Post by Kim O'Hara »

I was going to suggest metta meditation in response to the OP but I also agree with the two people who have replied already.

:meditate:
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Re: Grumpy and Irritable

Post by Sunrise »

Hazel wrote: Tue Dec 22, 2020 7:25 pm Hello,

I am grumpy and irritable the vast majority of the time.
Do you know why you feel grumpy & irritable? For example, are you dealing with chronic pain, or living in a loud or chaotic environment, or dealing with people that continually put you down?
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Re: Grumpy and Irritable

Post by karmanyingpo »

Johnny Dangerous wrote: Tue Dec 22, 2020 8:31 pm
Hazel wrote: Tue Dec 22, 2020 7:25 pm Hello,

I am grumpy and irritable the vast majority of the time. At the very least I'm whining about something. It drives me nuts and likely the people around me as well.

What sort of practices and/or areas of study are good to work on to address this?

It's a pretty wretched feeling.

:tantrum:
In my experience a lot of this has been physiological, it's always been a deep part of my system, below the level of conscious thought patterns. The thing that helps me the most is hard physical exercise and somatic practices. I.e., meditation on physical sensation of the body. There are lots of ways to do this of course, but honestly just lying on my back and beginning a practice session with total relaxation and coordinated breathing isn't a bad start. There are practices like Tsa Lung, that has helped me a lot too, if you get the opportunity for such teachings, take it. I also practiced Qigong for years, that can help but I feel like it requires you to be bit calmer in the first place, which makes it less practical in some ways.

Basically, anything to release grasping onto the underlying feeling of irritation, which can be very subtle.

You can try working with your thoughts too, Lojong practices help for that. In my personal experiences cognitive approaches were limited though. For me this particular issue a very visceral thing, and trying to change thoughts just stirs the surface of things, never addressing the deeper situation that the thoughts thrive on. YMMV.
How about Ligmincha Tsa Lung. I have heard that recommended. Is that okay?

KN
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Re: Grumpy and Irritable

Post by Johnny Dangerous »

karmanyingpo wrote: Wed Dec 23, 2020 3:10 am
Johnny Dangerous wrote: Tue Dec 22, 2020 8:31 pm
Hazel wrote: Tue Dec 22, 2020 7:25 pm Hello,

I am grumpy and irritable the vast majority of the time. At the very least I'm whining about something. It drives me nuts and likely the people around me as well.

What sort of practices and/or areas of study are good to work on to address this?

It's a pretty wretched feeling.

:tantrum:
In my experience a lot of this has been physiological, it's always been a deep part of my system, below the level of conscious thought patterns. The thing that helps me the most is hard physical exercise and somatic practices. I.e., meditation on physical sensation of the body. There are lots of ways to do this of course, but honestly just lying on my back and beginning a practice session with total relaxation and coordinated breathing isn't a bad start. There are practices like Tsa Lung, that has helped me a lot too, if you get the opportunity for such teachings, take it. I also practiced Qigong for years, that can help but I feel like it requires you to be bit calmer in the first place, which makes it less practical in some ways.

Basically, anything to release grasping onto the underlying feeling of irritation, which can be very subtle.

You can try working with your thoughts too, Lojong practices help for that. In my personal experiences cognitive approaches were limited though. For me this particular issue a very visceral thing, and trying to change thoughts just stirs the surface of things, never addressing the deeper situation that the thoughts thrive on. YMMV.
How about Ligmincha Tsa Lung. I have heard that recommended. Is that okay?

KN
As far as I know TWR wants anyone who is interested to do that practice. That said, I learned it from him at a seminar in a form that was pretty different from the book. We had a whole talk on "secrecy" and availability of practices in the modern age there as a group , actually. I think what I took from it is that we had his complete blessing to do any of the practices he teaches in books, etc., but that you really should take them seriously and put effort into internalizing and working with them, rather than just picking up and putting down. Hope that makes sense, I only mention it because it's relevant to the question. The book is very good of and within itself though, Awakening The Sacred Body, it also comes with a DvD. It's a good practice, and honestly it is one of the handful of things I go to during periods of serious turmoil.
"...if you think about how many hours, months and years of your life you've spent looking at things, being fascinated by things that have now passed away, then how wonderful to spend even five minutes looking into the nature of your own mind."

-James Low
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Re: Grumpy and Irritable

Post by DharmaN00b »

I feel this, with you. :tantrum: :heart:
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Re: Grumpy and Irritable

Post by karmanyingpo »

Johnny Dangerous wrote: Wed Dec 23, 2020 3:36 am
karmanyingpo wrote: Wed Dec 23, 2020 3:10 am
Johnny Dangerous wrote: Tue Dec 22, 2020 8:31 pm

In my experience a lot of this has been physiological, it's always been a deep part of my system, below the level of conscious thought patterns. The thing that helps me the most is hard physical exercise and somatic practices. I.e., meditation on physical sensation of the body. There are lots of ways to do this of course, but honestly just lying on my back and beginning a practice session with total relaxation and coordinated breathing isn't a bad start. There are practices like Tsa Lung, that has helped me a lot too, if you get the opportunity for such teachings, take it. I also practiced Qigong for years, that can help but I feel like it requires you to be bit calmer in the first place, which makes it less practical in some ways.

Basically, anything to release grasping onto the underlying feeling of irritation, which can be very subtle.

You can try working with your thoughts too, Lojong practices help for that. In my personal experiences cognitive approaches were limited though. For me this particular issue a very visceral thing, and trying to change thoughts just stirs the surface of things, never addressing the deeper situation that the thoughts thrive on. YMMV.
How about Ligmincha Tsa Lung. I have heard that recommended. Is that okay?

KN
As far as I know TWR wants anyone who is interested to do that practice. That said, I learned it from him at a seminar in a form that was pretty different from the book. We had a whole talk on "secrecy" and availability of practices in the modern age there as a group , actually. I think what I took from it is that we had his complete blessing to do any of the practices he teaches in books, etc., but that you really should take them seriously and put effort into internalizing and working with them, rather than just picking up and putting down. Hope that makes sense, I only mention it because it's relevant to the question. The book is very good of and within itself though, Awakening The Sacred Body, it also comes with a DvD. It's a good practice, and honestly it is one of the handful of things I go to during periods of serious turmoil.
He is a wonderful teacher. I have heard that Bon makes things more open nowadays because Yongdzin Rinpoche received messages from the guardians of Bon to open things up. Even a Bon protector practice has been opened due to coronavirus!

KN
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Ayu
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Re: Grumpy and Irritable

Post by Ayu »

Hazel wrote: Tue Dec 22, 2020 7:25 pm Hello,

I am grumpy and irritable the vast majority of the time. At the very least I'm whining about something. It drives me nuts and likely the people around me as well.

What sort of practices and/or areas of study are good to work on to address this?

It's a pretty wretched feeling.

:tantrum:
We always think, emotions affect the thoughts. But I heard from a Buddhist monk who was working and researching as psychologist as well, that it is different:
The thought is first, the emotion follows with delay.
He said, if you want to change your emotions, start with positive thinking.

In my experience, positive thinking has to be honest. Otherwise it results in mental overload. If things are crap one shouldn't claim everything was fine.
But there is a positive side in every phenomenon and it is possible to acknowledge that.
I once decided to focus on positive thinking just in order to stand my life at all. Surprisingly two weeks of training later, my life wasn't only bearable.
It has changed completely.
For the benefit and ease of all sentient beings. :heart:
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Re: Grumpy and Irritable

Post by Johnny Dangerous »

Ayu wrote: Wed Dec 23, 2020 2:54 pm
Hazel wrote: Tue Dec 22, 2020 7:25 pm Hello,

I am grumpy and irritable the vast majority of the time. At the very least I'm whining about something. It drives me nuts and likely the people around me as well.

What sort of practices and/or areas of study are good to work on to address this?

It's a pretty wretched feeling.

:tantrum:
We always think, emotions affect the thoughts. But I heard from a Buddhist monk who was working and researching as psychologist as well, that it is different:
The thought is first, the emotion follows with delay.
He said, if you want to change your emotions, start with positive thinking.
Hmm, interesting food for thought and subject. *Following are my own thoughts for the purpose of discussion, not meant as any kind of medical or treatment advice*

As far as I know there's no agreement in psychology whether thoughts or emotions come first, some say one, same say the other. I'm not sure there's a clear demarcation between the two, either. Cognitive Behavioral Therapy would say thoughts, but there is some real movement away from that kind of reductionist thinking these days, for good reason in my opinion.

My experience and view:

Meditation wise, I have gone as deep as I can for now and what I uncover subjectively is that there are subtle "thoughts", less rational and more related to emotion, kind of tonal things that are running in background most of the time, that I am mostly unaware of, I can gain some awareness of them with shamatha. They re subject-object thoughts, but very vague, sometimes I can see them right as sleep comes on. They are felt "in the body", and present as what most people would think of as emotions I believe. I thought of them as emotions at one time, but now I think that is not wuite accurate. There is a deeper level of clinging involved with these, again, this part is all purely subjective on my part, trying to describe something pretty subtle.

The issue with only-cognitive approaches (and this from a Western standpoint mostly, but I think likely backed up circumstantially by the Buddhist tradition) is that we are only really conscious of a small portion of the things we think, I have a hunch this is so even for very advanced meditators, but of course to less of a degree. This makes sense within a Buddhist framework, particularly with the notion of habit-energy; we have been thinking a certain way since beginningless time, our own cognition is mostly obscured to us, and that's the whole reason we are often so hard pressed to deal very well with it. It's a function of ignorance.

Emotional states like anger and anxiety operate on a level which actually effects our cognition, i.e. alter our thinking and our meta-cognition (thoughts about thinking, basically). So, when we are in the grip of these, we can do all the cognitive strategies (positive thought, metta, etc.) and they may do nothing, mainly due to the fact that when our thinking is heavily altered by anger and anxiety, we literally cannot do them right. We might kind of recite them in our head, but our altered thinking will not allow them to have the same effect as they would if our anger or anxiety was below a certain threshold.

I think his is likely why stuff like CBT and other cognitive interventions don't have an amazing track record with trauma and PTSD, and some people are turning towards body-based interventions for this sort of thing.

That is not to say that the advice from the monk is wrong at all, cognitive responses are really important, but it seems to me that the person dealing with the anger has to figure out whether their emotional state is at a tame enough level for cognitive strategies to work in the first place, and what their anger is coming from, to some degree. Cognitive strategies can't always work, there are states where alteration of the thought process is not immediately possible. When it is low enough, working with thoughts is quite sensible.

Anxiety for example (which can be related to anger and irritability) literally functions as an evolutionary of narrowing the possibilities of thought by forcing a focus on a perceived threat, and all the bodily changes that go along with that. In the case of a real threat, it's a vital function, outside of that, it's a harmful state and (as anyone with anxiety or panic disorder can tell you) it's often very difficult if not impossbile to "think" one's way out of.

In terms of the pyscho physiological system, anger and anxiety are related, and cause many of the same bodily changes:

https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog ... y-interact

Again, in some ways this accords with the Buddhist view, in others, perhaps not. Either way though, dealing with heightened emotional states requires different approaches because sometimes the ..habit-energy I'll call it is much stronger than the thoughts we can muster in response.

There is also a parallel argument to be had here within the Buddhist world of Buddhist practice between trying to use antidotes to the kleshas, and simply learning methods of letting them release themselves. The people who I have taken teachings on the this subject from (some traditional, some in both the worlds of psychology and Buddhism) advocated having a handful of different approaches at hand.
"...if you think about how many hours, months and years of your life you've spent looking at things, being fascinated by things that have now passed away, then how wonderful to spend even five minutes looking into the nature of your own mind."

-James Low
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Re: Grumpy and Irritable

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:good:
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Re: Grumpy and Irritable

Post by Hazel »

Thank you all for the thoughtful responses.

There were a few things that stuck out. I think the advice about addressing underlying circumstances are a good one and I think focusing on the body and not just trying to change my thought patterns is probably excellent advice. At the same time I think maybe a gratitude practice would help in the moments I'm in a more baseline state.

In other words everyone's response was helpful!

I suffer from chronic pain, live in a chaotic environment, and live with someone I'm afraid of (don't worry, I'm moving out and I'm physically safe). I can address these to varying extents and should.

On the other hand I also have underlying issues with anxiety and depression. Rational thoughts don't always help in the moment, as JD described. I think them, but feel no shift of emotion. I see psych professionals about this and they are super supportive of my practice.

I think all of this makes for me being in a consistently bad mood. Of course I'm going to be grumpy!

And then sometimes I'm just hangry ;-)
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Re: Grumpy and Irritable

Post by kirtu »

karmanyingpo wrote: Wed Dec 23, 2020 3:10 am How about Ligmincha Tsa Lung. I have heard that recommended. Is that okay?
I personally know practically nothing about Ligmincha Tsa Lung. But I had very severe problems as a result of being raised and traumatized by rageaholics. In my case a Taoist practice practically came knocking on my door (really- this was a real karmic event for me) which eliminated 80% or more of these negative patterns. This was a combination of meditation and a kind of pranayama light. I think for some people with some issues essentially "body energy" practices can be very helpful.

Kirt
Kirt's Tibetan Translation Notes

"Even if you practice only for an hour a day with faith and inspiration, good qualities will steadily increase. Regular practice makes it easy to transform your mind. From seeing only relative truth, you will eventually reach a profound certainty in the meaning of absolute truth."
Kyabje Dilgo Khyentse Rinpoche.

"Only you can make your mind beautiful."
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Re: Grumpy and Irritable

Post by karmanyingpo »

kirtu wrote: Fri Dec 25, 2020 1:44 am
karmanyingpo wrote: Wed Dec 23, 2020 3:10 am How about Ligmincha Tsa Lung. I have heard that recommended. Is that okay?
I personally know practically nothing about Ligmincha Tsa Lung. But I had very severe problems as a result of being raised and traumatized by rageaholics. In my case a Taoist practice practically came knocking on my door (really- this was a real karmic event for me) which eliminated 80% or more of these negative patterns. This was a combination of meditation and a kind of pranayama light. I think for some people with some issues essentially "body energy" practices can be very helpful.

Kirt
WOW sounds very powerful. Thanx for sharing Kirt. Are you comfortable sharing any more about how this knocking on your door event happened?

KN
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Re: Grumpy and Irritable

Post by 明安 Myoan »

Lojong is excellent, as JD said. Check out Daily Lojong and just chew on one saying a day for a while.
Chapter 6 in Shantideva's Guide to the Bodhisattva Way of Life concerns the Perfection of Patience. Shantideva wrote that nothing burns up the field of merit like anger. He said we should guard the wound of our mind, as though we had an injured limb in a crowd of people.
You can remember patience with small irritations first. They can be endless.

Following Honen Shonin's advice, I remember that my anger, irritability, and so on are understandable. I'm an ordinary sentient being who's been in samsara, in difficult situations, for a very long time.
There's no point in being "egotistically self-deprecating," as Honen puts it.
Fortunately, there is a compassionate parent in Amida Buddha who helps ordinary people too, both for the rest of this life, and after the breakup of the body.
So I resume practice, as soon as possible. I find a verbal practice like nembutsu very good for stopping negative self-talk. And like Ayu said, it helps to bring positive things to mind. The Three Jewels are such a source of peace.

The Wheel of Sharp Weapons is a good resource for finding the teaching in bad situations.

You can also consider the Ten Precepts, which include not speaking about other's errors and faults, and not inciting anger in others. The 10 Precepts are 10 portions of peace of mind.
This reduces irritability, by helping you have less worry and regret.
The rewards of virtue
[Ananda:] "What, O Venerable One, is the reward and blessing of wholesome morality?"

[The Buddha:] "Freedom from remorse, Ananda."
"And of freedom from remorse?"
"Joy, Ananda"
"And of joy?"
"Rapture, Ananda"
"And of rapture?"
"Tranquillity, Ananda."
"And of tranquillity?"
"Happiness, Ananda."
"And of happiness?"
"Concentration, Ananda."
"And of concentration?"
"Vision and knowledge according to reality."
"And of the vision and knowledge according to reality?"
"Turning away and detachment, Ananda."
"And of turning away and detachment?"
"The vision and knowledge with regard to Deliverance, Ananda."
— AN 10.1 (Nyanatiloka, trans.; from Path to Deliverance, pp. 65-66)
Good luck! It's certainly endless work for me :lol:
With a heart wandering in ignorance down this path and that, to guide me I simply say Namu-Amida-Butsu. -- Ippen

Reciting the Nembutsu and believing in birth in the Pure Land naturally give rise to the Three Minds and the Four Modes of Practice. -- Master Hōnen
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Re: Grumpy and Irritable

Post by Sunrise »

Hazel wrote: Tue Dec 22, 2020 7:25 pm Hello,

I am grumpy and irritable the vast majority of the time.

:tantrum:
How are you doing, Hazel? Any updates?
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Re: Grumpy and Irritable

Post by Hazel »

Sunrise wrote: Fri Jan 08, 2021 6:43 am
Hazel wrote: Tue Dec 22, 2020 7:25 pm Hello,

I am grumpy and irritable the vast majority of the time.

:tantrum:
How are you doing, Hazel? Any updates?
The advice about considering how my underlying body is feeling was really helpful. Not sure if I'm any less grumpy and irritable, but it has helped calm me down when I get anxious and I'm sure it's at the root of many of the issues I face. I'm about to do the 100% most rage inducing part of my work (reviewing other people's work and giving feedback), soooooooooo we'll see on the grumpitude!

Wish me luck ;-).
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