I’ve managed to get through my life without a temper. This is not saying I’m perfect. I’m by far that at all. It’s not saying I don’t experience strong negative emotions such as anger, disappointment and frustration. I’m solely stating that when these negative feelings arise, I’m able to see them clearly for what they are and avoid buying into them. I feel it’s necesarry to give a shout-out to Sharon, my therapist from my mid-twenties (What up, girl?) But it’s not just her, It’s me. I know being temperamental is something I avoided as a child. To have a fit and rage over something out of my control serves no one. I’ve been surrounded by people who have tempers and it isn’t cute.
Over the years, I’ve seen many people’s tempers emerge in some shameful, intense and brutal ways. Having a temper is such a dangerous trait to have, and yet – without the right tools or the awareness – one that remains and ruins relationships, of all kinds.
When I’m met with someone whose temper – for some reason for another emerges – I first feel a strong sense of fear. When one is blinded by their negative emotions, there’s no telling whether they’ll act on them physically, say something that will destroy your connection (that they can’t take back after the fact) and I also sometimes fear that they’ll harm themselves. Throwing things. Hitting walls. Driving too fast. Add your reaction of choice here.
Almost immediately after that, I feel a strong sense of sadness for them, more than anything. To watch a grown adult get so lost in their frustration that they utter put downs, swear, say destructive things, call another person they love names, etc., is widely embarrassing. Not only for me to observe, but those around them too.
The energy is immediately darkened and affects all whose path this temperamental person passes.
Because I’ve been able to see that an emotion took over them, and it’s not their “real self,” I’ve managed to take it, if you will. I know it will pass. I know an apology will come. And I know I’ll forgive them. But now, I’m past that. Because life is too short to let other people come in and intentionally fuck yours up, whether they regret it moments later or not. The damage is done and there’s only so much a person can take. And so, boundaries come in, as do tools to set the tone.
If I’m on a call with someone who is being short, rude or aggressive, I will politely excuse myself and cut the call short. If I feel like I’m getting worked up or am simply hangry, I’ll excuse myself because I don’t want to be clouded and in turn bring down another. If I notice someone is being passive aggressive, I’ll tell them that I sense something is up and suggest they reach out to me when they’re ready to talk.
Relationships of all kinds – familial, friendships, romantic, business and otherwise – all come down to one thing: communication. So if you’re one that has a temper, know this: People can’t read minds. Sure, you can cue them that you’re pissed off AF by sighing heavily. By pacing. By making that weird *tsk* sound by smacking your tongue on your teeth. But these, my friends, are theatrics. They are passive aggressive actions to try to let someone know you’re mad. When they fail to bite your all-so-obvious bait, you end up more angry then before. And worst, that shit builds up.
Lets do everyone a favour and be real. Be honest. Is your boyfriend saying matter-of-fact statements and acting like a know-it-all and you want to give him the heads up so you don’t blow him off every time he acts like that? Speak up. Do so in a non-aggressive, non-threatening way. Explain why you feel the way you do. Don’t blame someone for being themselves, but instead raise awareness and suggest a solution. Because whether you’re right or wrong, you’re entitled to have your own opinion about things, especially if they rile you up. If you speak up as things are happening in a calm, cool, collected way, you’ll avoid letting your frustration take over and in turn acting out on it. Is your husband always slow to leave the house when you’re already late to get out? Instead of freaking out at him, ask him how you can help him to quicken the process (does he have to carry stuff to the car? Help the kids get dressed? etc?) Instead of putting him down and making him feel worse – which will slow him down even more – see how you can assist.
And while we’re at it, if you’re someone who has a temper, and have maybe had one for the past 40-odd years. That’s ok. But acknowledge it. Work on it. Know how it makes you look. Know that it pushes people away. No one wants to spend time with or get close to someone who – at any second – can completely transform to another person who is harsh and borderline emotionally abusive. If you want to maintain your relationships with family, friends and your partner, treat them with respect. You have control. You know this because if you were out in public at a restaurant, or at an event with all your collegues and mentors, you wouldn’t leash this temperamental beast out, would you? So why do you do it in front of those who you love most, who love you the most, in front of the only people or person in the world who truly care about you unconditionally?
At the end of the day, ask yourself, dear readers, what type of life do you want to live? Your life is the legacy that you leave behind. Just as people remember their worst critiques, they remember those who make them feel less than. Lets love each other while we’re here. Meditate. Go to therapy. Read. Be aware. And then act accordingly.
A temper and acting on it may make you feel powerful in the moment, but you should know that it’s the one trait that makes you weak, and on display at that.