Have a quick think about the last time you lost your temper. Did it happen while you were driving and someone cut you up, or were you forced to wait in a queue while shop assistants appeared to ignore you? You may have even snapped at a friend or family member about something trivial.
Now have a good think about whether it was these people who upset you, or if you were already angry and frustrated about something else. Was an issue at work getting you down, was there a problem at home or had someone really 'pushed your buttons' that day. You need to ask yourself if you would have still reacted the same way if you weren’t already upset.
The point I’m trying to make is that it’s so easy to bottle up your frustrations with the world and take them out on someone else.
I thought it would be useful to write this piece to try and help people avoid these negative experiences. Although it may seem like a natural consequence of our busy lives, there are a few things you can do to address this.
This is a great example of how mindfulness isn’t just about sitting down and meditating. If you focus on exactly where you are and what’s happening around you, you should start responding to things rather than reacting to them. When you start to accept things that are out of your control as well, you should find that there’s a lot less to be frustrated about.
The main benefit of practicing mindfulness is that you should be able to stop negative thoughts spiralling out of control.
Just don’t expect enlightenment though, as there are plenty of idiots out there. Being mindful should help you reduce the impact of all these frustrations though and if it stops you overreacting just once, surely it’s something you need to consider.
If you haven’t already, take a look at the Clear Mind & Focus section for some ideas.
Be Aware of How You Feel
Although being aware of how you feel is an important part of mindfulness and meditation, I think you often need to go beyond it. For me, it’s all about spotting long-term trends and doing something when you start to feel stressed or unhappy.
I honestly believe that everyday stresses can easily spiral out of control and if you’re not careful, they can start to wreck relationships.
People often just think of close relationships when this happens, but who really wants to sit next to someone at work who’s always sighing and complaining. It’s also easy to lose a bit of your spark, or your enthusiasm for things, when you feel that life isn’t going your way.
You’ll probably find that you start to experience a lot more bad luck as well when you’ve let things get on top of you.
To address this, I really think it’s helpful to keep a journal as you may not realise how many bad days you're having. If things haven’t been good for a while, you need to do your best to plan a way out of it. Day One is great for this and the Moodnotes app will really help you keep track of how you feel.
This is going to sound very obvious, but a great way to reduce the chance of these sort of negative encounters is to make sure you have time to do things. If you don’t know what I mean, just spend some time in a busy shop, airport or station and observe people.
You’re likely to find that the people who are getting really frustrated are in a hurry.
If you think about it, time was probably a factor when you last lost your temper. This could have been while you were in a rush to get somewhere, or had to get something done as soon as possible.
A great example of this is when people have tight deadlines at work. It’s so easy to snap at someone who’s simply trying to make conversation, or to take offence at someone's attitude in this position.
Effective planning helps us here, but it’s not always possible to have everything under control. Being aware of your mood when you’re under pressure can help in these situations, and taking a breath before you blow up can really make a difference.
Just try it, and see what a difference it makes. If you need help with planning your time and taking control, just take a look at the Plan and Organise section.
Think of Other People
I think the main thing that comes through in all of this is that it’s important to think about the effects of your actions on other people if you can. It can also help if you can establish why other people may be behaving badly as well.
When you get to this point, and you’re used to stepping back from your thoughts and feelings, you should find life a little easier.
I hope this helps and you’ll be surprised at how little things can make a difference. It’s also great to lead by example and show people that there’s a better way.