I learned at great personal cost, with the loss of my former wife and twin daughters over 30 years ago, that loud tones, aggression, irritation, and anger had to go.
I have always been a leader, full of ideas and the energy, persistence, and dedication to carry them out. I used to not take fools lightly and felt quickly frustrated, irritated, and angry when things did not go my way. I could explode like a bomb! As a man, I was used to summing up a situation, weighing alternatives, implementing them, and looking for results, often all done in my head and without too much discussion, not realizing fully that my behaviors, including loud tones and quick words, impacted on Karen so adversely.
My wife, Karen, says, “Mike, it doesn’t matter what you say to me, just say it in a normal voice. When someone speaks to me in an irritable tone my perception is that you are cross at me for what I just said and that leaves me feeling unfairly judged”.
This is what I need to constantly be aware of, as a person who has a reactive emotional style, when considering the impact of my behavior on others.
I deal with events as they happen – the reactive emotional style. I still react to things quite quickly – the fight response – but I am learning to put a gap between my thoughts and emotions to allow me time to manage better negative emotion generated by my reactive emotional style.
Now I recognize negative emotion in my body on a scale from one to ten, one being low intensity and ten being rage. By the time I feel my negativity rising to level five or six I can usually put a gap in my response and deal with my dis-ease in an emotionally intelligent way, releasing adrenalin from my body.
As I respond to events I recognize that only I can make myself irritated, frustrated, and angry and so I manage my emotional style in a way that elevates my emotional well-being. As a result, I feel much healthier. And Karen is happier for it.