I used to have a problem with anger. It would creep up on me and I would blast others with hurtful words. Rather than being part of a solution to a problem, I’d make things worse.
Many years ago, I made concerted efforts to get better. I read books on anger management and practiced techniques that helped me. I learned about cognitive restructuring. I learned to walk away and let time soothe my maelstrom of emotions. I practiced taking deep breaths. I learned not to open my mouth and, if I did, rather than starting with blaming, “you statements,” I’d share how I was feeling.
I also learned that my recollection of events was not always an accurate barometer of what actually took place. Other times, I used humor to lighten an escalating confrontation. Not to brag, but I felt pretty good about my ability to maintain an emotional balance during personally stressful situations.
Then, last week, boom! All my work toward wisdom and serenity came crashing down on me. Guess what? I still have an anger problem. When it really counted, I failed miserably and now I feel broken. What happened to all that creative problem-solving and the ability to calm down and take deep breaths? It was one thing to appear even-keeled when things were going okay, but when I was really challenged, the defensive, sensitive and selfish little boy came back out and made a burdensome situation even worse.
It’s over, kind of. I asked for and received forgiveness. I spent quiet hours exploring what triggered my verbally aggressive behavior. I accepted how fragile I can be and what I can do to be better next time. I gave myself credit for the many things I do right.