I end up breaking things...

Postby yodawannabe » Sun Jul 12, 2020 2:53 pm

Should I find a post and state my problems there?
Will that be too busy for that thread?
Should I just start here?

Thanks.
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#1

Postby Candid » Sun Jul 12, 2020 2:54 pm

Anywhere you like, yoda, and whenever you're ready.
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#2

Postby yodawannabe » Sun Jul 12, 2020 3:02 pm

Ok. I have never done therapy. I have always thought that was "losing". My sister does therapy and swears by it. My soon to be wife does it, her brother does it, etc. They say it's not giving up, but just a tool to get better. My brain likes that definition. So this is a start for me. Just discussing it with someone other than family.

I am a 30 year old male. 6 ft 160lbs. I own my own construction business. I'm worried that my anger will harm my career. It seems my angry outbursts come on very fast, (i'm sure this is common after reading other threads) and they center around either my inability, something not going the way I want it to, or accidentally hurting myself.

Yesterday I got really down on myself because I fudged up some window trim. I consider myself a professional and I take great pride in my work. Screwing up like this is like a professional golfer flubbing the ball 6 times in a row. It's just not supposed to happen. So I was in a bad mood the rest of the day, slamming things, breaking things, swearing, calling myself a screw up and other bad words. I swear a lot. Is it ok to swear on this forum?
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#3

Postby Candid » Sun Jul 12, 2020 3:09 pm

What are you angry about? If your immediate response is "I don't know", shut your eyes and be honest with yourself.

Swear all you like here. It'll be 'fixed' by the good fairies.
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#4

Postby yodawannabe » Sun Jul 12, 2020 3:13 pm

I am angry at myself. At me making mistakes. At things not doing what I want them to do. When something hurts me, I lose it. At failure.
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#5

Postby Candid » Sun Jul 12, 2020 3:21 pm

Maybe someone punished or ridiculed you for making mistakes, at a time when making mistakes was the only way you could find things out. That wouldn't have been fair.
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#6

Postby yodawannabe » Sun Jul 12, 2020 3:30 pm

my mother expected the BEST from us growing up. now that i think of it, if i didn't get first in certain things or the best grades she would say she was super disappointed in me and other word/guilt games to make me feel bad. I think it was so i would be better. tough love can, in some cases, work better than soft love and encouragement. so that might have something to do with it. but i understand with my conscious brain that i am being illogical when it comes to these thoughts. I know I am capable and a good craftsman, I know that i am becoming more and more successful everyday, but i still get angry way too fast.
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#7

Postby Candid » Sun Jul 12, 2020 3:43 pm

It was probably the unfairness of what your mother expected from you that set you up to be hard on yourself. I'm guessing she was also hard on herself, because babies just wanna have fun and no one starts out that way.

Do you think you might be able to be kinder to yourself now? I like these two lines:
I know I am capable and a good craftsman, I know that i am becoming more and more successful everyday,


When you're on your deathbed you won't be thinking of the time you sent a squiffy nail in or split a bit of wood. You'll be thinking of the laughs you had, so it's a good idea to make sure you have plenty of them. You'll be a better husband and father if you can break the pattern now.
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#8

Postby yodawannabe » Sun Jul 12, 2020 4:00 pm

how to break the pattern. that is the question
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#9

Postby Candid » Sun Jul 12, 2020 4:12 pm

It's about being kinder to yourself, and if you've never done that before you'll have to learn it. You're in for a treat when you get started, though.

So next time you make a mistake, make a joke of it. I know it isn't a joke when the customer wants the work done and you're wasting materials for which presumably you'll have to pay, but see it as a practice thing.

Is this a disaster? (If it is, you've never been involved in one.)
Is this going to ruin your life? (Only if you beat yourself up for it.)
Are you the world's worst? (I already know you're not, so forget that.)

It probably won't come easy to start with, so you'll need to practise. And even if your first response is to get mad at yourself, you have to let yourself off the hook for that, too. The default is: "You did it again, you jerk. You're pathetic. Can't you ever get anything right?" And that needs to be nipped in the bud, but don't beat yourself up for it. Be gentle with yourself. Reassure yourself as you would reassure a toddler, because you don't want to pass this on to any children you may have.

Most important: reward yourself when you get a bit better at it. "I did that well. I got angry, but I immediately realised what was happening and I learned from it. I'm doing better already."

So yes, it's all about positive self-talk, and there's lots of books and articles and free stuff about that.
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#10

Postby Candid » Sun Jul 12, 2020 4:22 pm

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#11

Postby Leo Volont » Mon Jul 13, 2020 12:40 am

Hi Yodawannabee,

May I intrude. Anger is complex. You mentioned that you are triggered by frustrations. That is one thing. Acting angry about a mistake, that is different in the sense that it is about communication. I wonder how you treat your workers when they make a mistake. Yes, in families where when we were young we were customarily put through some kind of ritual humiliation or even punishment when we screwed something up, we tend to do that same thing to ourselves when we are older. As you can see it is not very professional. Now, of course, when there are others around, it is obligatory to say "Oops, that was a screw up. Sorry." And that should be the end to it. Even if you are an air traffic controller and 350 just died because of you. the thing is you need to keep your head clear for Damage Control and introducing emotion driven behaviors is not the way to go. Now, about HOW to do this (yeah, "be kinder to yourself"... Candid forgets that we're guys), well, you should read up on Cognitive Behavior Therapy, or its precursor Rational Emotive Behavior Therapy. Basically what those therapies entail is to evaluate our own thinking patterns on the basis of is this thinking helping or hurting. If you determine that a way you are thinking is counterproductive, then you think about how you should be thinking and try that. At first it keeps you mentally busy. And it take commitment and practice. You sort of have to rebuild yourself (redocorate your head), tossing out a lot of old conditioning (over and over again until it's gone) and replacing it with now thought patterns. After six months your head won't be so busy with it all the time, but at first it really takes the Will to Be a New You.

I was on a Maintenance Team for Factory Line Stoppers once. You can make plenty of mistakes but you need to just keep even and cool and focused. Really, you have to be able to say to a team of engineers "I just blow the op amp, so we need to fix that before we can return to the original problem". Really, in the real world everybody screws up and so everybody understands. If anybody gets upset, then they get tossed off of teams like that. Also, do you believe in Gremlins? Man, you have to NEVER SHOW that the Gremlins are getting to you. Stay cool. Also, if one project seems "full of gremlins" then take a break. Or ask a worker to do the next step of the job, 'because the Gremlin might be afraid of him when it's not afraid of you, and then take over again after an hour or so. Yeah, I'm not talking strictly rationally here, but remember we are dealing with our Emotional Selves and so we might need some Supporting Ritual Behaviors -- Human Being are Superstitious for reason.

Now, the rest of your Trigger Anger sources from your being under chronic stress. You see, if you are chronically under stress then your amygdala gland in the brain, whose job it is to release the stimulant hormone cortisol during life or death emergencies, well, it gets leaky. Or you can have too many Stress Episodes. The way that works is that if you have an Anger Episode intense enough where you cuss and yell or have an angry exchange with an employee or a customer, well,that releases a lot of cortisol and it take about a day for that to metabolize away. You can tell there is cortisol in your system if you keep thinking about the episode and what you should have said or done. You can lose sleep over it. Now the problem with some people is they never let up on these anger episodes and so the cortisol just builds and there is never enough Down Time for the cortisol to metabolize away. That is probably what is happening to you.

Now, there is a trick for dealing with the amygdala gland and cortisol. The amygdala is right above the roof of the mouth and so the first muscle group that 'feels' the cortisol is your jaw muscles. As soon as you feel your jaw muscles tighten (ever!) immediately relax your jaw muscles and open up your mouth and take a few deep mouth breaths. For whatever reason this turns off the Stress Reaction that just tried to turn the amygdala on. I read a book by Ronald Potter-Efron, a PHD who specializes in Anger Management and this particular book was "The Angry Brain". He says that while cortisol stimulates us for the Fight Flight Reaction, it also intentionally suppresses the Higher Cerebral Function, you know, our Thinking Brain which is supposed to keep us out of trouble. That is why we "lose control" and seem to be just witnessing our own crazy behavior. Also, Potter-Efron tells us that the Emotional Reactive Mind at the amygdala level of FASTER then the Thinking Mind and so it reacts to threats, insults, and frustrations faster. So we can GET Angry before we even KNOW we are Angry. THAT is why it is so important to keep a monitor on those Jaw Muscles. If they go tight then INSTANTLY relax and breath through your mouth. It really does turn off the amygdala.

Now, yes, in your case you really do need be on careful watch. If you amygdala really has gotten leaky from being chronically over stressed, then the only way to repair the damage is to be super careful to not let anything other you. Watch those jaw muscles.
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#12

Postby yodawannabe » Tue Jul 14, 2020 2:19 am

Thank you both. Luckily I have the ability, somehow, to stay very calm when it's someone else's fault. I have never lost my cool in front of a customer or at an employee. I have gotten angry in front of an employee once, but it was because of my doing. Although, they did feel threatened and after we talked I realized I am way scarier than I think I am when I'm "hulked out". Today I had no episodes, but I did have a couple of potential triggers. I stayed calm throughout. I'm currently working on "living in the moment". Basically, how I see it, if I slow myself down and pay attention to every moment, I can change my reaction before it happens. Today I was very even keel but not myself in a way. Usually I am either very happy, energetic, positive, funny, basically an energy ball, BUT I have the tendency to snap with frustration or anger. Today I was able to stay super calm but I was "monotone" in a sense. I think this is just a side effect of keeping my emotions in check and actually WORKING on it. actively.

What do you two think?
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#13

Postby Leo Volont » Tue Jul 14, 2020 7:14 am

Hi Yoda,
Great! You're watching yourself. As I said above, the heart and soul of Cognitive Behavioral Therapy is critical self observation. And, yeah, you've run into the problem that we all face while doing CBT, and that is we know what is bad, but what do we replace it with. You found yourself in an emotionless flat monotone. Well, that is a lot better than plunging into more anger episodes, when your priority now is to stay calm long enough for your poor overworked leaky amygdala to heal (I wish I could remember how long that takes). Oh, it was good that you were attentive to other people's reactions. If we had to choose between our own opinion on behaviors or that of the people we live and work with, it would probably be more productive to tailor our behavior towards others. Remember: "when in Rome do as the Romans do". Our own reaction to others still might be useful. the other day I found it quite annoying that this one young person in the neighborhood would laugh out loud to punctuate every statement, gesture or event. But it brought me up short the next time I myself laughed in public. Hmmmm. Laughter is socially reassuring, but so are smiles and smiles must be less abrasive to those who cherish peace and quiet.

Oh, Yoda, did you notice anything about your jaw muscles tensing up. There is a way to test your jaw muscles against a cortisol reaction: you take a pin and you resolve on stabbing yourself in the hand with it. Most the time you will find that your jaws tighten up just as you are making the motion to stab yourself, but if you actually get as far as stabbing yourself then you will almost certainly feel your jaw muscles tighten. But, remember, don't indulge the feeling. You need to consciously relax right away in order to shut down the amygdala's cortisol flow or otherwise you will get all wired up and stressed.

Oh! I just remembered. The principle of 'picking your battles'. In the same way we know what will trigger ourselves, we can sense what might trigger others, and those are very stressful interactions. Confrontations are stressful. Yes, we can do our best to keep ourselves calm and try to de-escalate any rising tension, but just going forward with "unpleasantness" is stressful in itself. Again you will find the signs of a Cortisol/Adrenaline "hangover" with your mind going over what was said and should have been said. SO, on the principle of "picking your battles" a lot of stuff we can have problems with are best to just let go. In regards to your own job quality and that of your workers, well, remember that Good Enough is Good Enough.

I learned that in a strange way. Everybody drives cars, right? Well, I learned that when some driver does something crazy, well, if you do not react or say anything.... you know, just let it go, then in a minute it is like it never happened. But if you flip the guy off, honk the horn, or even just engage in commentary, well, it turns on the Anger Circuit and there is some proportional amount of Cortisol that gets pumped into it. It starts to make your day suck. I was a sergeant in the Army and you always let the men drive, and they even like to drive. But if they started to cuss and swear and hit the horn and wave at other drivers, I'd relieve them on the spot and put in another driver. I would tell them that the driver should drive and let the rest of us relax and enjoy the ride. Then I noticed that the Duty Days would go better if the day was allowed to start peacefully for everyone. About the same time I noticed that soldiers at this one base would be giving the cooks and servers a hard time in the serving line. I looked around and I had enough relative rank and tell everybody that they they needed to chill, that the cooks were up since 3 o'clock and just want to have a nice day like everybody else, and complaining wouldn't make the food any better, and if everybody just acted nice and smiled this would be be a good start to the day instead messing it all up at the start. My job was on a Mobile Team, but when I cycled back to that base after about a month, I walked in and it was basically the same Servers and Cooks and the same soldiers eating breakfast, and they all said "Look, that's SARG" and they applauded me. It turns out that they all tried out being nice and it worked for them and they were waiting for me to show up so they could thank me.

But, yeah, it is a problem.... we know what is bad about ourselves, but REPLACING the behavior brings a choice. Who do we want to be now that we know we have a choice?
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#14

Postby Candid » Tue Jul 14, 2020 7:17 am

yodawannabe wrote:I have the ability, somehow, to stay very calm when it's someone else's fault.


That means you give other people a much wider margin for error than you give yourself. It's a self-esteem issue.

if I slow myself down and pay attention to every moment, I can change my reaction before it happens.


That's obviously a good thing, but you'd still be better off with the positive self-talk. It's not as hard as you think, once you get started.

I think this is just a side effect of keeping my emotions in check and actually WORKING on it. actively.

What do you two think?


I think it's a sad old world if you have to keep a rein on your feelings. Our feelings are our friends; they let us know when, for instance, someone else has invaded our space, ie. they keep us safe. Besides, you can only keep them "in check" for just so long, during which time you could be building up to an explosion.

How much sweeter to be in love with yourself and your life! When that's your foundation, you're automatically much more loving and forgiving with those around you.
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