Have you ever heard of historical/ hysterical? This is a concept that I have always found intriguing. Here's an example:
Mom:"can you help me iron these clothes?"Sleepy Tween Me: "I hate ironing."Mom: "Ok"....(silence...then..)"No one helps me! Forget it, I don't need anyone to help me, I can do it by myself!"Sleepy Tween Me::[diffusing her anger] ok, ok I'm sorry I'll do it.
During these times I never realized her over reaction had nothing to do with me. And for many years I would respond in the same irrational fashion at seemingly minor things (learned behavior?).
Two years of therapy later, I still have my moments, but I have learned to take the time to assess my feelings and determine if the level of anger, frustration, sadness is appropriate for the situation (and so has my patient boyfriend). If my feelings seem heightened, then I ask myself, "what does this situation remind you of," or "what/whom are you really angry, frustrated, sad about/at?" Once I was able to label my feelings, I was then able to express them better.
Aside from being more capable of dealing with my own feelings, knowing that I am a better communicator keeps me calm in situations where I'm dealing with a stranger's hysterical moment...
Like the woman on the train who keeps provoking me by hitting me with her bag and giving me dirty looks. Or when Mr. Road Rage starts honking at me like the world is going to end.
This can turn the subway and the roadway into volatile places. When dealing with irrational people, I take a breath and I don't allow myself to feed into that bad energy. Because those people have issues that have nothing to do with me. And let's face it, we've all been that ass on the train or that psycho in the car. Some things really piss us off for seemingly no reason and other times the reaction is justified. But not everyone can tell the difference.
I really wish that people were required to go to therapy to learn how to sort out their feelings and COMMUNICATE. Then when dealing with irrational people, we'd be comfortable responding like these two character in the insightful film Big Daddy:
Guy: You're a loser!Sonny: (in reply) You're not mad at me! You're mad at your father! I forgive you!!!Guy: (whimpering) I am! I am! I hate my father.
And with all that out there, this world would be a much more understanding place.