I’m not in a good mood today.
There are reasons for that, and they are not worth going in to; they are no different than everyone else’s reasons for not being in good moods all over the place.
Things have irritated me. Things are out of my control. I don’t seem to be in charge at the moment. I’m not getting my way. I am feeling like a brat.
I am mad.
I am an Italian/Irish woman. I don’t mean to generalize, and I am sure it isn’t true of all Italian /Irish women, but it shouldn’t come as any surprise to anyone that once in awhile I get mad. I seem to have inherited all the typical stubborn, obstinate pig-headed genes available from both groups. Oh, and the temper ones too.
Over the course of my lifetime, I have had many “opportunities” to work on this life lesson. There is a saying that until you have mastered a life lesson it keeps returning to you.
Well…I guess I’m not done with this one yet. Put it in the “work in progress” category.
Yet, I will say that I have made significant improvement. (OK, that snickering you are hearing in the background is coming from my children, ignore them please,) The journey has been arduous and at times, I will admit to set-backs, but compared to the temper of my youth and the way I used to react to it, I swear, I am getting better.
For example, what would have set me off in my youth to become a door-slamming screaming monster with a rage-filled face, progressed to a yelling, slamming things down and walk out of the room person of my twenties and thirties.
I like to think that in my forties, I am becoming more mature. Sometimes. I don’t recall slamming anything for years and years. Yelling has been reduced to very short outbursts here and there more to make a point then in actual anger. It’s more what I like to think of as “animated speaking”. But real angry, mad outbursts are much, much better.
It helped that I chose to align myself with a very peaceful mate. His almost Zen-like ability to stay calm at all times and never raise his voice is a mystery to me, (and oh by the way, he is Irish too,)and one I am trying to emulate. It turns out, if you want to have a calm life, hang out with calm people.
Over the years, I have worked out some ways to curb my temper that have proven to be more successful than waving my arms wildly in the air and screeching like a lunatic. Most of them I have stumbled on by trial and error, having found some not so successful ones and then narrowing down the list to a workable handful.
For any of you out there who may be suffering the fate of temper with me, I thought I’d share my do’s and don’ts of getting mad. (Honest disclosure: having figured out the list doesn’t mean I am always in 100% compliance. Think of it more as a goal list.)
Wendi’s Do’s and Don’ts of Getting Mad
1. DO: Pour yourself a nice glass of wine, or tea, or water, go find a nice comfy couch and go sit quietly for a little while. Reflect on what is really making you mad. My experience is that it usually isn’t the first thing you thought it was. That might have been the trigger, but there is something underneath. Better go scratch it for awhile and see what comes up.
DON’T: Drink the whole bottle of wine and give yourself a hangover or a crying jag. Too much alcohol has rarely made a bad temper feel any better.
DO: Write your feelings in a journal to help you explore and get to the real deal. Explore your part in the experience and do some-soul-searching. What can you learn? How can you grow? What can you change and do differently? Where is your measure of personal responsibility?
DON’T:Fire off a nasty e-mail or write out your darkest secrets on the Internet unless you are willing to have a future employer tack that on to your resume some day. As my mother always said “Don’t put anything in writing that you aren’t willing to see in the newspaper.” If you have journaled out stuff that can get you in trouble, shred it or burn it as soon as you are done. It’s your therapy, not your confession.
Do: Call a trusted friend for an uplifting, happy conversation on any other topic. Plan something fun, listen to all the things going on in their life, see if there is anything you can do to be a help to them. Get inspired. Go for a walk. Get distracted.
DON’T: Call a friend and regurgitate a boatload of garbage on to them. Especially don’t do it over and over and over. All this does is keep you mad and cost you friends. Whatever gossip you feel compelled to drop on them will spread like fire and leave them doubting your integrity and trust when they have something important to share.
Do: Look for the win-win solution. In almost every circumstance, if you look hard enough, there is a win-win solution to the problem. Focusing on the solution defuses the anger by helping you to look at both sides of the issue objectively. It is hard to stay angry when you are actively helping someone win. Ever try to cheer for someone you are mad at? Once you are cheering for them, you can’t stay mad. They become your team-mate and you are on the same side.
DON’T: Look for revenge. Revenge is the lighter fluid of mad. Revenge turns everything nasty, bitter and ugly. Once revenge has entered the game, nobody wins. Especially you. It might seem sweet in the imagination, but it is vile what it does to the body, mind and spirit. The second it enters you mind, shut it out, not for their good, do it for your own good.
DO: Sit down calmly and quietly and share your enlightened thoughts and feelings at a later time. Express your concerns, offer ideas for solutions. Imagine that you are in a very professional business setting with the highest level executive. Use language that you would use with the most respected person you know. Be honest. Be authentic, don’t say what you think they want to hear, make sure the solutions are solutions you can actually abide by so that you don’t get mad all over again later.
DON’T: Sit and stew about it. Don’t give the cold shoulder and hope that someone notices that you are mad and comes to rescue you out of your madness. Don’t whine and don’t sigh. No one likes a martyr. No one wants to play fifty questions guessing why you might not be happy today.
DO: Forgive and forget. Move on. We are learning and living at our own pace and we all make mistakes. I’ve made my fair share…probably more…I have no right to sit in judgment about anyone else’s mistakes.
DON’T: Hold a grudge. Don’t Hate. Both of these emotions will hurt you more than they will ever hurt the target of those emotions. I personally hate snow (can’t help it) but the snow could care less. Until I find a way to change my attitude, the only one being harmed by my hatred is me. The snow certainly hasn’t changed its behavior! Human targets are no different!
I don’t think any of these Do’s and Don’t are naturally easy. Except maybe to my Zen-like husband. The rest of us have to work on various aspects of them. We are “works in progress” that can improve with focus and desire.
Oh…did I forget the most important one?
DO: Speak in a calm and peaceful tone.