How to re­cover from an out­burst when you’re an­gry

San Antonio Express-News - - MYSA - Anony­mous

Dear Carolyn: I think it’s im­por­tant how I am treated and how I treat oth­ers, but I’m not per­fect, es­pe­cially when I’m an­gry or frus­trated. How do I bring my best self for­ward?

I think all of our best selves get el­bowed aside by our worst some­times, and so aim­ing for per­fec­tion is not re­al­is­tic. But con­tri­tion is re­al­is­tic, and it’s es­sen­tial. If you be­have poorly when an­gry or frus­trated, then you ad­mit to it the mo­ment you rec­og­nize it. This is for the oc­ca­sional lapse.

If you reg­u­larly snap dur­ing dif­fi­cult mo­ments, though, or if more mo­ments are dif­fi­cult than not, then it’s time to up­grade your re­sponse. Once it be­comes a pat­tern, then the apol­ogy you owe is not for the par­tic­u­lar in­stance but in­stead for the pat­tern it­self, for your not deal­ing ef­fec­tively with gen­eral anger or stress.

And the ac­tion you owe is both to find and ad­dress the source of the stress, and to iden­tify ha­bit­ual re­ac­tions that are un­kind and/or coun­ter­pro­duc­tive. For ex­am­ple: A prob­lem you’re afraid to face can be faced; an un­com­fort­able or un­sat­is­fy­ing life rut can be re­placed with a dif­fer­ent path; a ten­dency to act out re­flex­ively can, with aware­ness and ef­fort, be re­placed with pa­tience and mind­ful ac­tion.

How can you know when you’ve be­come this an­gry per­son and need to change? Two steps: (1) Be able and ready to ad­mit fault; a de­fen­sive self is not your best self. (2) Read the peo­ple around you. Are they avoid­ing you? Tip­toe­ing around you? En­gaged in repet­i­tive bat­tles with you? Grov­el­ing to avoid tick­ing you off? This sec­ond part might seem sub­tle, but the first one is the tallest hur­dle to clear.

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