Tuesday, July 16 2019

anger and patience

Dear Journal,

Earlier in the summer I decided to do something about my anger. I would never have described myself as an angry person, but for some reason, every now and then, I would just explode over small things, and it bothered me, and I wanted to find the source.

I read a tip online that said to keep an "anger journal". Every time you lose your temper, write down where you were, what the trigger was, what thoughts were going through your head, and the people affected. Here's one of the milder entries.

{.example} - Trigger :: Video games - Location :: Living Room - People :: Marissa, Ollie, Ziggy - Thoughts :: These people didn't even try their own game. - Events :: Was playing Skate 3, and I got frustrated at the repetitive laundry list of objectives I had to complete. Started ranting about how lazy the developers were and got too angry about it. Ollie got scared.

The idea is after a while, you can observe a pattern to the outbursts, and hopefully be able to anticipate them before heading into a situation that usually triggers you. From May to June of this summer, I logged ten outbursts, and they all in one way or another were triggered by something that didn't work as advertised: software, a new recipe, a video game, not being able to find something, etc. It only took a month to observe a pattern: something I was working with would fail my expectations, then I would blame something.

I learned from keeping an anger journal that I have problems with patience. I don't like to wait around for things. I don't like when things get in my way. And I definitely don't like when things don't work the way they should. Video games should be enjoyable. Recipes should be practical. Software should be reliable. The cycle of blame that would usually follow was very toxic. It took me a while to learn the tough lesson that losing your temper around people has consequences. In fact, if not for the who was affected by this field, my anger journal would be a light hearted comedy about a buffoon learning to cook and yelling at a computer. But what you say to people matters, and they remember when you blame them for things.

I've made it a few weeks without having to add anything to the anger log. I can now anticipate frustrating situations, and I deal with them by taking a step back and saying to myself "this may not work very well, and that's OK".

A lack of patience, weirdly, has been kind of a motivator for me most of my life. Because I don't like to wait around for things, I'm a fast learner, I like to automate things, and I'm never satisfied with multi-tasking. But it's clear to me that learning patience is important, not just for the people around me, but because I'm missing out on a lot of things in life because I'm not willing to wait for them.

Let's practice patience today.