Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Learning From My Mistakes

My post on May 6th concluded with the idea that I needed to stop and think for 3 seconds before having a cranky reaction. Yesterday, I had a chance to give that strategy a try. Skip had a medical test in the afternoon I was taking her to, so I was trying to cram a bunch of work stuff into the morning, get her showered, dressed etc and get myself ready to go out as well. As the time to go got closer, Skip kept calling out to me for help while I was trying to jam a lot of work stuff in ... conference call, emails, etc.

After I hung up from my last call of the morning, I had a 20 ft walk to the bathroom to give her a hand. During that few seconds of walking, I thought to myself, "okay, here's a chance to have a non-cranky reaction." But, then, I decided I wanted to get mad. I thought it would help me make my point, whatever that was.

So, I went into the bathroom already cranky, as I'd decided to be, and barked at Skip. Instead of helping me get over my bad feelings, I realized, the barking made me crankier! The end result of this was that I made Skip feel bad and myself more bad. So, what good was that for anyone? This realization also coincided exactly with what I'd read in some of the research I've been doing on anger management, about which I'll be doing some posts soon. Apparently, it's a fallacy that letting your anger out releases it. Letting it out increases it. If you can express your thoughts and feelings without getting cranky, you'll have a much better chance of releasing that crankiness and creating positive change.

Some of my best learning over the years has been from making a mistake, realizing the mistake, and then consciously taking steps not to repeat it. So, I think my getting cranky here and then being able to view the outcome in light of new knowledge will be very helpful in prompting some behavior changes.


Tricia said...

I am learning to just bite my tongue and say nothing when I know that my opinion, or crankiness will only make the situation worse. My husband likes to complain about everyone else - driving to town yesterday he made lots of comments about other drivers, and was just overly critical and it drives me insane - usually I will call him out on this and then he gets angry at me so I tried just keeping it to myself. He still complained about the drivers but it didn't escalate as it usually does.

It did help. Sometimes though I just can't hold my tongue - but I'm trying.

Cranky said...

Tricia - clearly, as my bog attests, I too can have problems holding my tongue. But, I agree that holding back can keep things from escalating.

In our case, Skip usually goes silent (or very quiet) when I get cranky. This makes me crankier! So, if I can just take another approach besides crankiness, I'm sure we'll have more productive encounters when I'm unhappy.

Andy said...

Letting it out definitely makes it worse sometimes, even if you are in the right you feel bad for snapping. Holding it all in is no good either, so I will be interested in what you figure out, hopefully before my next explosion!


Cranky said...

I agree that holding it in doesn't help, which is why I've always been on the side of letting it out. The trick now is to learn how to express myself so I can let it out without tripping over into crankiness. It worked okay this morning with both my boss and Skip. I know it won't always work, but it did today, which was lucky as it was quite a stressful day and the last thing I needed to add to it was a cranky outburst towards Skip.