May 30, 2024

What pisses you off?

Seriously. What event, person, occurrence, treatment routinely puts you over the edge? Write it down… on paper.

Got it? For me, it’s pretty routinely my level of anger of stupid things that I do, personal failures, frequently forgetting details or things that cascade into bigger things—like leaving the phone on my nightstand when I’m expecting an important call.

My wife’s favorite thing to get all whacked out over is sitting in a restaurant and having her chair bumped by passing diners and wait staff.

So you’ve written yours down.

Now think about the last time it happened. How did you react? What were your feelings associated with this reaction? Anger? Frustration? Disgust?

I have one more question: If I asked you to choose a feeling—my personal belief is that we can choose our feelings—would these be at the top of your list?

So what’s going on when something pisses us off? Most of us don’t actually want to feel angry, frustrated, or disgusted. Yet, like Pavlov’s dog, it happens and we rant.

You know how Pavlov’s dog got to the point where he salivated every time a bell rang, right? He was trained to do that.

Bell… wait … dog treat.

Bell… wait… dog treat.

Bell… wait… dog treat.

Bell… wait… wait… wait… drool!

I maintain that that’s how we put that pissed off “rule” into our Knower/Judger. Until it becomes so programmed that it happens on autopilot. Stimulus -> Response.

The K/J reaction mode we operate in, for the most part, serves us well. It has a library of responses to occurrences that we have grown to trust to get us through the day so we don’t have to sit and think through every response. Someone extends a hand, we extend ours—without thinking—and the associated feeling is usually positive; we’ve made a new friend!

So why do we continue to autorespond to these stimuli with the same response we claim not to want, over and over again? My belief is that, at a basic “comfort-level” position, we really do “want” that feeling. It’s traditional, comfortable, expected, easy, and doesn’t take any rational consideration.

How weird is that?

If I don’t want the feelings of anger, frustration, and disgust, then why don’t I choose something different? Curiosity? Laughter? Sympathy?

I’ve heard it hundreds of times in my career as a coach: “You can’t just change your feelings!”

Who says? Where did we get that rule?

Try it! Next time it happens, catch yourself getting pissed off (your comfort zone, autoresponse) and try something different. Smile. Chuckle. Tell the person “thanks”… anything that differs from your Pavlovian response. (Drooling doesn’t become you!)

And watch what happens. You’ll finally ditch that feeling you probably don’t want anyway. And the world around you has no desire to be impacted by your rant. It’s probably not that attractive anyway.


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