Acting angrily and impulsively can lead to bad consequences. Here are 10 things to think about before reacting.
1) Is what you are about to say or do really necessary?
If it’s not necessary or a life or death situation, then take a minute and step on the breaks. Weighing the value and importance of your decision is vital. Evaluate your pros and cons and don't let the temptation of "letting it out on someone" or "making an unwise move" take the better of you. Give yourself a few days or a few hours. Chances are your over reacting and your feelings will change which brings me to point # 2.
2) Are you reacting emotionally?
When you react out of emotion such as anger, rage, hurt, resentment, over-excitement, impatience, etc, you're most likely going to make a decision you will regret later on. Look at the issue. Reacting impulsively out of emotion never leads to a stable or wise decision, because emotions are fluid, in the moment, lacks reason and cannot always be trusted. More importantly, reacting from an emotional place does not provide a grounded foundation for your choices or decisions. If you're about to react in the moment, catch yourself and take a deep breath. Be aware of your attitude and heightened sensitivity. The only person that will pay for the consequences is you; negative reactions or actions does not exempt you from the consequences.
3) Is your reaction grounded and rational?
Most reactions that are impulsive are usually not grounded or rational. So keep in mind that temporary and impulsive urges lead to temporary results. If you’re fed up with your job and quit for the second time around assuming you can come back tomorrow, chances are you may have yourself looking for a new job sooner than later; reaction and responsibility work together.
4) What is the intention behind your reaction?
For example, if your intention is to hurt someone, take revenge, spend lots of money, or binge on junk food because you hate your personal trainer, or want to get even with your boss, make your spouse jealous and so on, stop yourself and question your intentions. If your reaction is not coming from a place of rationality, maturity, understanding or positivity, then you are most likely heading towards hot waters as you can lose many valuable relationships and opportunities along the way.
5) Have you tried counting down and looking in the mirror?
Sure, it may not be New Year's Eve every night, but counting down to 10 should help you slow down your adrenaline. Reacting impulsively is like a reflex, but if you can manage to take control over this beast by stepping in front of it, then you can avoid some pretty bad consequences. For example, if you're about to blow up on someone, find a mirror and stare at it - do you see someone you like? Would you want to be your own friend? Is the person with a throbbing temple and a red face really you? Or are you better than that? As the clever saying goes, "check yourself before you wreck yourself."
6) Have you tried walking away?
Remove yourself from the environment. If your environment is stimulating your impulsive reactions, then go somewhere where you won’t be forced to react in the moment. If you’re talking with someone that is upsetting you, hang up and call them when you are more calm. If you're face to face with someone that is upsetting you, excuse yourself. If you want to buy a pair of shoes that are $150.00 dollars and you can only afford to spend $80.00, then walk out of the shoe store and come back next time when you can afford it. Removing yourself eliminates your chances of making a huge mistake, whether that's hurting yourself or others.
7) Are you following a pattern?
Look for patterns. For example, if you find yourself reacting aggressively to the same person, in the same way and dealing with the same consequences and issues over and over again, then perhaps you need to dig deeper. Is this person healthy for you? Are you healthy for this person? Why not approach them differently? Why not replace reacting impulsively with understanding or simply taking some space from that person. This is where responsibility for your actions come into play. You can't control others, but you can control yourself.
8) Are you being proactive or reactive?
If you find that the only way you handle conflict in your life is by reacting impulsively just to temporary cure the problem, then you’re most likely wasting your time and falling into bad habits. Learn how to cope and deal with life’s pressures by creating a game plan so the next time you have the urge to react right away, you have something to fall back on rather then unstable emotions. For example, every time you get the urge to explode or make an impulsive decision, play a piece of music that will remind you to STOP. TAKE A DEEP BREATH AND SLOW DOWN. Or better yet, look at a picture that makes you happy - whether that's your children, pets, spouses or a beautiful scenery. Calm the intensity of your feelings - be proactive.
9) Can you do something completely different?
Pull yourself away from reacting. Listen to music, go for a drive, engage in a hobby for an hour, find a peaceful environment, have patience, take a walk or work out. Take some time on your own. By spending some time alone, you’ll have more time to reflect on your feelings, decisions and issues. If you have to cry then go for it and filter whatever your feeling out of your system. Sometimes, our emotions are just charged up energy that is not being used productively.
10) Can you express yourself with reason?
Once you’ve calmed down and feel more centered, talk to someone you trust. Another perspective can do you wonders by allowing you to see outside the box. Similarly, if you feel like you’re about to make a big mistake by reacting and getting out of control, talk to someone that can provide you with some insight on the spot. You don't have to feel stuck or let the bull butter hit the fan! If you find that you have a huge problem with managing your anger or impulsive reactions, then investing some energy and getting some anger management therapy is always an option.
I would love to read your thoughts and comments below!