Unhealthy Outbursts

Your “flip-outs” could be putting your well-being at risk.

Portrait of Tammy Strobel
Your “flip-outs” could be putting your well-being at risk.
TPG/Click Photos.
TPG/Click Photos.

Every time I step into a restaurant or hop into a taxi, I get fleeced. The cabbie always says he knows exactly where I want to go, and then gives me a very expensive scenic tour. At cafes, I always get double-charged. My friends call it “The Bec Service Curse” and I worry they’ll stop inviting me out because of it.

Case in point: The other day, I bought a sandwich in a mad rush. When I got back to my desk, I realised they had charged me for four overpriced slices of bread (instead of two) and a salad! My heart started to race with rage. I then wrote an extremely emotional e-mail to the cafe, and bashed the “send” button with alarming force. One of the girls in the office suggested I should hang out with Kayne West, as we both have outburst issues. Sandwich diva? Me?

That evening, I realised my workmate was absolutely right. So I looked up Dr Helen Cameron, an anger management expert from the University of South Australia, to see if she could settle me down without sedatives.

“A lot of young women have so many balls in the air – they’re juggling deadlines, financial pressure, relationship hassles – a whole range of stressful things. And it all just boils over occasionally,” says Helen. She also says that when you catch yourself starting to seethe, put down whatever you’re about to throw and follow these steps:

1.Breathe deeply and slowly for a few seconds (count them). Realise that other people’s behaviour is rarely designed just to annoy you – the most likely explanation is that they’re not paying attention (doubling the bill), or they’re having a bad day (speaking in a snappy tone).

2.Decide whether getting angry in this situation is a productive use of energy, or whether you should walk away. If you’re going to see the person often, it’s usually worth being kindly assertive and standing your ground.

3.If you’re driving, recognise you could put yourself and other people in danger by getting upset, as the chemicals your body releases when you’re angry impede decision-making.

4.Think about how you can avoid getting worked up in the future. This is especially important if you tend to say things you don’t mean when you’re angry.

Thanks to Helen’s wise words, I now give very specific directions to cab drivers right from the start.

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