There is a very popular Chinese cartoon called Airhead and Grouch. This is one of the favorite cartoons when I was a young kid. I totally forgot about those sarcastic stories, but I remembered well the names of the two leading roles. None of us want to be airhead or grouch, right? But unfortunately all of us more or less have both of them in our personalities. That’s why this cartoon is so popular and wide-spread.
Marriage life is interesting. Sometimes I found hubby and I played Airhead and Grouch game. Hubby is a high qualified software engineer with high IQ; but sometimes he’s got such a well-programmed mind which just functions to the opposite like an airhead. For example, I asked him to look for something in the kitchen, I said, “Honey, can you get the plastic bag in the kitchen, and if I remember correctly, it is probably in the cupboard.” Shortly after, he came back and said, “No, no plastic bag in the kitchen.” I went to the kitchen and found the plastic bag was right on the table, the most conspicuous place. So I asked him, “Hey, it’s here. how come you can’t find it?” My wonderful Hubby returned, “You said it’s in the cupboard, you didn’t mention the table.” Funny, right? He is just such a lovely guy.
Such kinda cases can be told as jokes. But I used to unwisely take them seriously and make a big deal out of it. I am usually the Grouch in the Chinese cartoon, making fuss over small issues. I have to confess that I got a short temper, and this weak point really annoyed me. Life has told me that uncontrolled temper can take a toll on relationships and health. So I have been making a lot of effort to keep my temper in check. And up to now, the progress goes on quite well.
Experts give out tons of advice about getting anger under control. They are all good. They are all easy to say, and very touch to be put into practice. I looked through some of the advices, combining my own experience, and here are what I’m currently endeavoring to do with pretty positive effect.
1. Time out. This is usually the no. 1 advice. A cliché. Time out is really easy, just count to 10. The purpose is to buy self sometime to cool down a little bit. In our Church, we are told to keep on calling Jesus’ name, “oh, Lord Jesus…” when our emotional volcano is about to burst out. This makes a lot of sense. When we turn back into our spirit towards Jesus, our hearts are softened, and we are no longer to be enraged easily. The difficult part is the “turning”, which needs plenty of mindfulness.
2. “I” statement. Use sentences such as “I felt upset that you didn’t …”, instead of offensive expressions like, “You never do this or that.” The latter is very unwise because never say never. “I” statement makes us focus on the issue to be solved, and it won’t implicate issues months and even years ago.
3. Find out the root source causing the anxiety. What makes me angry? In most of my cases, the desire for control is the potent source. Very similar to what this article said, I want my hubby and kid follow what I say and think. If they don’t do things as what I think, I used to become crabby and anxious. That’s totally an absurd way of thinking. The solution: do not to take self seriously. Cases like above should be taken with an understanding smile, or just be made as a good chance to make fun of hubby.
4. Communication, communication, and communication. First, pre-alert warning communication. I have several good experiences on this. For example, when hubby was engaged in his chess playing for a long time while I am super busy, I’ll talk in this way,”Hey, finish this round and come to help. Otherwise, I’ll be angry.” This is sage. Hubby usually listens to me and appreciates my way of communication. Second, hindsight communication in a peaceful, level-headed way. Once calm down, express the feeling and reasoning in a peaceful way. This is not easy for a person like me with high self-esteem. I am just not used to it. However, my sense tells me I have to learn to talk with level head. I am making effort practicing this part.
5. Put things in perspective. As this article says, next time when the anxiety is about to take over me, think about: will the offence matter ten years from now? Just remember these wise words from E. Joseph Cossman: “if you want to test your memory, try to recall what you are worrying [angry to apply this sentence here] about one year ago today.”