Ain’t this just the mother of all negative goals? I thought I was good on focusing on the good stuff and not bringing this list down with negativity but by golly I need a little bit of work here.
There, I’m saying it: I need help managing my anger.
It’s not going great and it is having a negative impact on the people around me. I care about the people around me and I don’t want to treat them badly. This means I have a few options: run away and hide or learn to manage myself a bit better.
I have always had the world’s shortest tempter. I get it from my dad…and also my mum. Genetically speaking (if these things have genetic roots) I’m screwed. Of course, even if it did have no genetic basis, because I have grown up in a house filled to the brim with angry personalities I’m screwed so far as emotional regulation is concerned anyway. So I’ve been hauling myself up from square one for several years now…and it’s time I had a massive jump in skills!
The situation here is I’m working in a developing country and I think I am beginning to hit homesickness and cultural shock at the same time in a big way. I just can’t seem to communicate effectively. I don’t understand what is going on. I was trying to not have to do someone’s job…and in the process, ended up doing their job. It’s tough and I lost my tempter.
I lost my temper yesterday as well. It was because my staff had lied to me…for a week. I started off ok but he just didn’t understand that I was upset because he had lied to me, not because it was this massive job that was really critical. His lies were undermining the trust I place in him to do his job the best he can do and that is upsetting. It means I have to micromanage him, act demanding and stand over him while he is working – all things I don’t like to do. Where I come from you would be fired for lying like that!
Oh culture. It’s dandy.
So, I’ve done what all self-respeting gen y would do and googled it. Here are the tips:
- stick with I statements
- don’t hold a grudge
- use humour
- practice relaxation skills
- count to 10
- know when to seek help
- take time out
- once calm express anger
- get some exercise
- think before you speak
- identify possible solutions
To be honest, I actually did some of these things. For example:
I used humour: “Mr X, I think we are what could be called violent agreement. Because we really agree here, but we are still agruing about it.”
Stick with I statments: “I think I get angry because I am confused as to why we go around in circles when we talk to eachother. I think I get frustrated faster than you do as well so that is another reason why I get angry here.”
Don’t hold a grudge: “I would like to move forward here” (while not being drawn back into a conversation about what happened yesterday, three days ago…last week. Mr X does like to repeat stories over and over again.
Identify possible solutions: I suggested we look at the document again and work through a solution. I think it was probably too early for him to listen to this but I tried to keep it solution focused.
Take time out: “I am a bit angry right now, I just need to take a few breaths.” and “I need to stop this” (followed by stop repeatedly but he kept going)
So out of the 6 that I could do during a conversation (I’m not likely to jog on the spot…in the middle of an argument…although doing some star jumps may help. Actually looking back I did say “hang on, I just need to shake it out a bit” then shook my arms a bit which felt good. That’s not what it means though) I can see that I tried to do five of them.
Just cuturally…they don’t stick.
I’ve found another list:
- recognise stress
- develop empathy
- respond instead of react
- “change that conversation with yourself”
- communicate assertively
- adjust expectations
- forgive but don’t forget (same as don’t hold a grudge)
- retreat and think things over
On this scale I can see that I recognised the stress. I can feel the anger in my arms and legs. When I took some time out, I felt the anger flush out of me (bless meditation prac) and the way my body felt changed. I communicated assertively by saying that something was my job and other things were not my job.
I really really really need to adjust my expectations. Now that I hve had these arguments, perhaps I could sit down over the next few days and identify patters in the way he talks (like when I say this, this is the response I normally get and this is what it means and this is the impact of being told this and this is how I will try to act next time).
Develop empathy: I think about this every night as I am going to sleep. I have also told him and others I work with that I am trying to understand his view point and wish them well with the same kindness that I do myself (this is my loving kindness meditation).
Respond instead of react: I had this great little voice in my head that piped up after I was already angry and said “hang on, don’t think we are arguing about the right thing here. Don’t say it like that, say it like this” :-) Where ever that came from, I like it and I want it to get louder and stronger.
As you can read, I have well and truely retreated and I’m thinking it over. :-)
Ok. So here’s the plan:
- exercise (even if it is just pilates in my living room)
- adjust expectations
- respond instead of react (the little voice thingo)
I also have to remember, that I am who I am. I have my own cultural preferences and my own personality and my own skills and my own preferences for communicating and that it’s ok to get angry. I clearly need a little bit of practice getting angry in the right way, at the right time, to the right people. But hey, it’s a process and I think doing this is a good first step and I feel a lot better about being able to progress this goal over my time here, remain strong wiht my own personal boundaries and enjoy my time working with Mr X.
It’s not ok to have gotten angry like that, but it is ok for me to get angry. And by thinking about it, I can get better at getting angry.