Your day started out awful and it’s been downhill ever since.
The car wouldn’t start, so you were late dropping off the kids. An accident snarled up traffic, so you were very late to work, which means late to the monthly team-building session, all eyes upon you as you attempted (unsuccessfully) to slip in un-noticed. Suck it up. Moving on.
Your boss did notice, dinged you for tardiness. Your computer crashed, the tech was out to lunch. By the time your computer got fixed, you were behind on all your work. You scrambled to catch up, kept messing up, finally, totally exasperated - gave up. Your boss noticed that, ding #2.
You ground your teeth through evening traffic, had to wait in line forever to fill your empty gas tank, only to find you were out of cash and they don’t take credit cards.
You’re in the kitchen, the kids clamoring for dinner, when your spouse arrives, all chirpy and cheery: “Hi, Hon, I’m home.” You snap “How nice for you.” You glance his way – no grocery bag: “Let me guess, you forgot to stop by the store and pick up milk. I can’t rely on you for anything!” You chop carrots furiously. “Hey, don’t bite my head off. It’s just milk,” he says, unperturbed, “I’ll make a run now.”
“Just milk!” you sarcastically mimic him. “What’s gotten into you?” he asks. “I had a crappy day!” you say. “So? It happens. Get over it.” You whirl on him: “Get over it?! I can’t believe what a jerk you are!” “Me, a jerk!” he retorts – and you’re off and running. A nasty evening will be had by all. Guaranteed.
Why? Because you didn’t deal with your crappy day before you walked in the door. Or shortly thereafter. That doesn’t make you the bad guy. It’s unfortunately what we all tend to do – take our frustration out on our loved ones because we can’t take it out on the source itself. You know – the car, the traffic, your boss, the computer, the tech, the gas station.
The problem is, that when you take your frustrations out on your near-and-dear, you punish him for something outside his control. There’s nothing he did that caused your problems with the car, the traffic, your boss, the computer, the tech, the gas station, and nothing he could do to make those situations better. Yes, he could hold your hand or give you a hug, and that might make you feel better, but who wants to hug a prickly pear? Which is what you’ve turned into.
Instead of taking out your frustrations on your sweetheart, release them. Bit by bit is usually easier than all at once. For example, during your lunch break at work, find a private spot (a stall in the restroom will work in a pinch), take a deep breath, inhaling peace, and exhale your tension and frustration. Do this a few times. Remind yourself that what is past is past, and what’s important is to do your best from this point forward.
Repeat this exercise as often as needed, especially as you sit there in your car at the end of the work day, and again before you walk into your home. Work on seeing the humor in situations as much as possible. Humor is a great mechanism for release.
Now when you tell your mate “You won’t believe the day I just had,” without launching verbal grenades, you may very well get that “Honey, I’m so sorry” hug that will indeed make it all feel better.