Today’s Daily Stoic writing prompt: How can I control my temper?
I have a very long fuse. It takes a lot to set me off–although when I do get angry, I tend to dispel everything in a rather nuclear-sized burst that tends to snuff itself out rather quickly. My problem is more one of passive aggressive moping. I’m prone to using “the silent treatment, ” and it’s gotten me in trouble before. I remember one time late in my time at Ohio State visiting my boyfriend’s family, and something set me off–and I moped about it, and in the process actually offended his mother and sister, who had always been so welcoming. Things were really never quite the same between us afterwards; even though we did not actually break up, we started drifting back towards a non-romantic relationship. To my credit, I have difficulty holding a grudge for more than about 24 hours at the most. And usually the reaction is more of a disappointment with myself. I’m absent-minded about details if I don’t monitor things carefully, and so I’m prone to making errors of negligence–usually minor, but they’ve been major before, which is why I tend to end up beating myself up over them. I can train myself out of most of them, but it takes conscious work and effort.
And as I’ve come to understand myself over the years, one thing I’ve learned is that I work in bursts, and this includes things like being messy. When I’m in the middle of a project, I’ll often have a mess going, but I’m usually so focused on the project that I get it done more quickly. I have friends with houses full of UFOs — UnFinished Objects. I have very few of these–if I start a project, there’s a good chance I will see it through to completion fairly quickly. Other things might come up to bump priority from time to time, but I normally have a priority list of projects in my head that I’m pretty serious about. But while that’s happening, there’s also good chance there’s an explosion of gack somewhere–stuff everywhere in the office, browser pages or downloaded images all over the computer desktop, and the like. Being asked to “clean things up” while I’m still in worky work mode is enormously distracting–but sometimes it’s necessary. Once leaving a bobbin of thread on the floor resulted in emergency surgery for one of our cats. And I was so, so angry at myself–angrier than my husband was, who saw my negligence as almost killing a beloved pet.
So how do I avoid these snits? It really does come down to being mindful and thoughtful. I know I’m absent-minded–usually because my focus is on something else that my brain tells me is “more important” at the moment. Just writing these daily things has helped me start to build some good habits. I think that doing a “mindfulness check” on a daily basis–maybe around lunchtime–might help me in keeping track of those “little things”–and maybe nip any nascent spaceouts in the bud.
Shipped off the gift exchange items today. One of the last things I did was a bookmark with a note to the recipient in calligraphy, and I added a quick little painting of one of my marginalia cats. I liked “Duke Derp” so much that this evening I sketched him out and started stitching. I decided to use my silk thread, too–I realize I had all the colours I needed, and I’ve definitely gotten spoiled with using silk.
And I’ve started the Sharon Kay Penman book. I’m already 55 pages into a 658 page book. This book covers the same period as the movie Kingdom of Heaven. And I’m already sad that there won’t be anything more from Penman after this book–it’s sucked me right in just like every single one of her books has done.