Way too many people let their emotions run wild, especially when they get upset. Now, we all say things and do things in the heat of the moment that we may later regret, but some people really go off the deep end. I’m certainly not qualified to address the issues of those with major psychological disorders, but for the rest of us sane individuals that sometimes lose our temper, there is tremendous hope for learning to discipline your emotions. It takes practice for sure, but it can be done.
When you feel yourself getting upset, your heart probably starts to race, your mind starts to race and/or you should notice that your muscles are tightening up. Literally, it is as if you are preparing for battle. Well as soon as you feel these things occurring, picture a pause button, hit it and take a step back. Before launching into a tirade, ask yourself this: what is the outcome I really want from the exchange that is about to occur?
In law school, I was trained to strip all arguments of emotions– we stick to facts, and we gather as much evidence as possible to support our statements. Outside of court, I use the same tactics when I get upset with someone— I stick to the facts and try to calmly explain why I’m upset or disappointed. I’ll be honest sometimes I’m not so calm, but I still stick to the specific set of events that made me unhappy. Why? Because just telling someone that I’m upset isn’t enough. To say that I don’t feel loved isn’t going to help us find a solution together. If you want your partner to help you address an issue, then you have to clearly explain the basis for your feelings and invite that other person to then join you in developing a joint solution.
Plenty of people have disappointed me in life, and I’m sure I’ve disappointed many because it is inevitable that we will all have expectations of others that just cannot be met. We each can only love to the best of our capacity, and our partners can either accept that or they’ll find the need to move on. It really is that simple– we can’t change others, we can only change our expectations, and if someone’s best isn’t enough for you, there really should not be any hard feelings. When someone leaves, it is not a reflection on you– it is simply a statement that they need more, and at that point I’m begging you not to explode. Why? Because it won’t do anyone any good.
You need to be able to get past your hurt feelings in the immediate moment and look at the bigger picture. What is the point of causing a scene or creating drama? How is it helpful to call someone names or use foul language? Has berating someone, making threats, stalking, or bullying ever made anyone seem endearing or likable? No. So you see, if you lose it on someone, you are just giving them ammunition to use against you– and believe me I do use it as ammo in court, where we do not take kindly to outbursts and poor use of judgment.
We all get angry at times because someone has disappointed us, but rein in those emotions as best you can. Before you say anything, take 3 deep breaths, and as quickly as you can, identify the factors that are driving a particular emotion so you don’t just go ballistic on someone without a real explanation. Then, after you have said your peace, give the other person a chance to explain his/her side of the story. Listen with an open mind, and if after hearing each other one of you finds it is impossible to move forward, then find a way to exit gracefully, and if you find there are complicated emotional or legal issues that have to be addressed, then find a professional you trust to help you through it. That is after all what we are trained to do, and you too can train yourself to react differently when faced with adversity.
At the end of the day, the goal should always be to leave a situation with your dignity and integrity intact. It is wisdom and inner strength that get you to that goal, so the more you exercise building up those gifts, the easier it will become for you to exercise good judgment and avoid going psycho.
By Regina A. DeMeo, Esq.