Similar to the scientist, Dr. Jekyll, who when triggered became the maniacal Mr. Hyde, so too are those generally perceived nice people who flip on a dime-sized issue and blow their stack. I’m not speaking of bipolar people who should be medicated to minimize switching polarities.* I’m speaking about the everyday Joe and Jane who intermittently lose their marbles.
Perhaps you are Mr. Hyde or you have encountered one. Where one minute the person is laughing it up with you, and the next minute they become an evil-eyed-trash-talkin-bully wishing you to be dammed for life.
No matter if you are Mr. Hyde or the recipient, the end result is not a good one. If you are Mr. Hyde, you may lose your job, a lover, family, friends, tarnish your reputation, increase self-doubt, and deflate self-confidence. If you are the recipient, you find yourself in shock or shaken and endeavor to pull yourself together to escape Mr. Hyde or help him.
In general, those who have Mr. Hyde moments actually do not like that part of their personality. Dealing with the aftermath is an awful feeling for them. Just as it is dreadful for the person experiencing the uncontrollable mad-hatter tirade.
Action Steps For Self Control
If you have a tendency to flip out, try taking the following steps to increase self-control.
1 ACKNOWLEDGE YOUR BEHAVIOR
Recognize and accept that your poor conduct is something you need to change for the better.
2 LEARN YOUR TRIGGER POINTS
First, consider what it was that triggered your blow up. What flipped you from a state of stability to instability? More often than not, the sudden change occurs when deep rooted negative preconceived notions are simultaneously unleashed with negative emotional reactions. The combination results in a cataclysmic eruption.
To gain control of unwanted outbursts, you must learn what triggered your tirade and devise solutions to avoid its recurrence. Create a three-column list and label each column as such:
Recall your latest outburst. Fill in the columns with all of the trigger points and relative thoughts and actions that occurred.
Then, establish healthy counter thoughts and actions for each negative thought and action in your list. If you are unable to create these thoughts and actions on your own, get help from someone in your support network or a professional.
The following chart is an example of one trigger point, the associated thoughts and actions, and healthy counter thoughts and actions.
3 PRACTICE, PRACTICE, PRACTICE
The more times you face a trigger point, the more apt you become at maintaing self-control. So when you are head to head with a trigger point, immediately apply the counter thoughts and actions you created for it. Once your maladaptive thoughts and behavior cease, that trigger point will vanish.
4 APOLOGIZE TO ALL INVOLVED
Don’t expect to immediately stop having outbursts.
When you falter, be sure to apologize to everyone you offended.
A verbal apology generally leaves less room for misinterpretation. Yet, in some environments a written apology is required.
When you apologize, it is best to:
a) Keep the apology brief and candid.
b) Provide a succinct recap of your inappropriate behavior––what you said and how you acted. Do not emotionally rehash the situation to explain your actions.
c) Express how you believe your behavior negatively effected them.
d) Reassure them that your poor conduct is something you will try to never let happen again.
Do not apologize hoping the person will accept your apology. Just genuinely apologize. Then let it go and get on with your day.
5 APPRECIATE THE GROWTH
Don’t beat yourself up for being human. We all make mistakes; and there is no need to chastise yourself and make life more difficult than it is. The fact that you are trying to overcome a personal challenge is significant. Be grateful for your efforts, regardless of whether you believe you were completely successful or not.
The joy you feel from having self-control and is worth every bit of effort.
Wishing you happiness.
* I am not referring to a person who is clinically diagnosed with a severe psychiatric disorder. I’m talking about everyday people who do not need medication or are on medication for stress, anger issues or depression, and understand that they will eventually get off of the meds. Such people who just need to learn methods to better manage emotional outbursts.