How can I go from ticked off to blissed out?

How can I stop myself from being ticked-off at somebody who’s stealing all my joy?

A client once shared with me words of wisdom straight from her grandmother’s mouth. She said, “My grandmother told me you should get married with both eyes wide open and you can stay married by keeping one eye closed.” Wow—now that’s keeping it real. (Secretly, I wondered what this client was doing paying me when her grandmother was imparting straight-up wisdom for free!)

Honestly, I really liked this story. And I agree with her grandmother—at least half-agree with her. I actually think it’s impossible to fall in love with your eyes wide open. We’re just not hardwired that way. When the “love juice,” oxytocin, starts flowing working its magic to bond two people together, we’re wired to acknowledge the emotional truth, which ain’t necessarily the real truth. Eyes wide open still can’t see that your beloved is a felon (white collar) or that your sweetheart has been married four times (no offense to you who have either background).

Now as to the advice to keep one eye shut to stay married,  I wholeheartedly agree with what grandma says. Actually, I’ll raise her one on this: I think you need to put a patch over your eye, and your dominant eye at that! You can minimize a helluva lot of negative sentiment in your relationship if you cut wayyyy back on scrutinizing, looking for the bad, looking for the lame, and playing “gotcha.” The patch over one eye might really help keep you from carrying out Gottman’s “four horsemen of the apocalypse”—criticism, defensiveness, contempt, and stonewalling—behaviors that sink the ship.

So what has this got to do with your question? A lot, actually. When someone is doing something, saying something, being something that keeps ticking you off, there’s a lot going on on your side.

I suspect you’re ticked off because you’re not getting what you want. I suspect you feel like you’re being treated unfairly. I suspect you think you’re right. I suspect you think things ought to or should be different than they are. I suspect you’re over giving. Anything here sound familiar?

So when you’re looking to get out of the negative loop, get out the eye patch so you can stop looking to find fault at every turn and to help you ease up on the criticism. Even when the evidence is plain and clear and staring both of you in the face, it’s always good to seek clarity about your own agenda and motives (and taking your eye off someone else is the best way to do that).

Most importantly, you might ask yourself: What’s up with my need to participate in something that leaves me so dang unhappy and dissatisfied?

So if you’ve decided you don’t want to be walking around feeling ticked off all the time, but yet it’s worth it to you to maintain the connection with the person who’s arousing this feeling in you (spouse, boss, mom, sister), here’s what I suggest:

1) Take some deep breaths and engage that parasympathetic system so you can calm down a bit. Remember: your brain presents a second-hand rendition of what really happens. In other words, your story is not gospel. Distance and breathing sets the stage for getting some perspective.

2) Undo your innocence. You know what you want you want, and you know you want it from someone or something that doesn’t offer it to you willingly. But because you want what you want, your brain’s gotten hijacked trying to get it and made it seem like you getting what you want is more important than what the other person wants. You’re innocent in all this, right? (Not!) Remember, we’re all guilty of such ruminations: If you or your friend files for bankruptcy it’s because of health care costs or a lay off; if somebody you don’t know or value files for bankruptcy, it’s because they are lame and poor money managers. Attribution errors are so easy to make.

3) Grieve the loss. Deal with the sadness that lingers behind being ticked-off. You want to cry—not whine and ask “why me, god?”—but straight up sob and lament that things didn’t turn out like you and your life coach expected. Mourn that the record deal wasn’t signed, that the fertility treatments didn’t take, that you got outbid by trust fund babies for the house you wanted, that somebody whose daddy plays golf with somebody making the hiring decision got the job.

Don’t let anything get in the way of this grieving. Not ribs and ice cream. Not porn or shopping. Not taking care of others (even though it is a good thing any other time). Grieving the loss of something you love is a good thing. It’s constructive. It’s smart. So cry a river. Tears mean you’re losing something you love –for real—and sadness often lurks behind being pissed off.

Reflect on your how lifeless your life has been because of this. Wallow in it and feel the dread of the impossible really not ever coming to pass. Soon all will turn to ashes, and before you know it, your emotional truth will match the real truth. You will experience both a surge of enlightment and a sense of calm. Your blood will flow differently. Shoot, I’m willing to bet you might even feel the urge to go make out because of the rush of awe you get.

Because you’re no longer locked in conflict, you can see the truth. The straight truth. And experience love. Real love.

And believe me, once you go through something like this, you’ll be in a place that makes all the struggle worthwhile. Tilling and plowing your soil—your soul—makes you perfectly primed for new growth.

Sound interesting? I invite you to call me or your other favorite coach and say: I wanna follow my broken heart to find my real purpose in life. Because that life is there waiting on you to find it. Don’t wait!

Big peace, big love,

Jerome!

{ 3 comments… read them below or add one }

Chelsea December 18, 2012 at 4:48 am

Preach on brother!! xx

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Sonya December 23, 2012 at 9:33 pm

Convicted…Thanks for this. It’s amazing how Jerome reels you in and have you thinking you’re going to get great ammo to deal with whomever you’re ticked off with just to discover you’re the one who needs to be dealt with. OUCH! Hard stuff but definitely worth the effort. Thanks for being real and seeking the truth Jerome.

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Bryan D. Smith March 20, 2015 at 2:56 pm

Dr. Jerome,

Thanks for sharing this article. It was perfect timing for me in dealing with hurt from my past and current relationships. I find that undoing my innocence is a huge task that I need to do more and actually take the time to grieve my losses. I must share this article with my peers, I am sure it will be a light to them as it has been for me today!!

Bryan

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