The beginning of a new year is a traditional time for self-reflection, often resulting in a list of habits to initiate, change, or break. Many of them revolve around health behaviors: stop smoking; eat more salad and less junk food; workout every day. Seth Godin’s blog post Angry Is a Habit suggests that our emotional responses can also become habits.
I know that I personally have had a tendency to confuse hurt and anger. I don’t like feeling vulnerable, so rather than acknowledging that you’d hurt me, I’d transform it outward and be angry at you instead. This certainly wasn’t conscious, and it happened in the blink of an eye. I’ve learned to stop, take a deep breath and check in when I think I’m angry. If I discover that what I really feel is hurt, or sad, or disappointed, I can respond authentically in a manner that is much more useful. This has improved my relationships immensely!
Think about some of the people you know; can you name an emotion that seems to be their default? If you don’t think you have one, ask your spouse or best friend! Once you’ve identified yours, ask yourself if it is serving you. If not, how might you transform it?