November 9, 2021

Episode 12: I snapped at someone

You’re stressed. You’re overworked. And you just snapped at someone you actually like. How to put an end to this unwanted behavior that creates a lot of shame?

What you will discover

  • The mechanism that makes a nice person like you become an irritable terror
  • Why anger feels like a sudden explosion that’s impossible to control
  • How to address the root cause and keep your cool in the worst of storms


Mixed and produced by Adrien Grenier

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Episode Transcript

I felt focused, I felt productive, I felt efficient. And then suddenly somebody would say something or do something and I would have like a thermonuclear reaction inside of me and I would just explode and I didn't feel I had any control over that.

Hi, welcome to the Excellent Rider podcast. I'm Mélanie, I'm a certified life coach and I specialize in helping people like you get things done, find ease & motivation again and get unstuck when it feels like you've lost your mojo. I don't know if you realize this but recording a podcast is one of the hardest things that I've ever done. I mean, technically it's not very complicated.

That's not what I'm talking about. It’s just that finding the right feeling in order for me to speak to a microphone by myself in this, I've talked about it before, but I think you understand I'm recording this podcast in this little, this little hut I've built for myself, this little soundproof hut in one of the closet, in the apartment. It's really difficult.

It takes a lot of, a lot of motivation because I feel ridiculous all the time. I feel like I'm not going to be saying the right thing. I'm not going to talk in the right way. I'm going to waste your time. It's not going to be easy enough for you to do something about it.

So it's really difficult for me to do this. And I just want you to know that I love doing it anyway, because I know that the tools that I am sharing with you, they have changed my life and they have changed other people's lives; they are changing my clients’ life all the time. So even if difficult for me to speak on a podcast and to share the way I would love to share.

I think it's worthwhile doing it because if only it can bring you a millionth of the well-being improvement that I have created in my life thanks to those tools, it's definitely worth it. So live, from my little closet. Here we go again. Today's episode, we are going to speak about snapping at people. So this is something that most of us typically do when we are very very stressed and somebody interrupts us, for example.

Like I don't know if your kid comes and ask for something when you're in the middle of trying to finish up frenetically that last-minute report you're trying to do. And we immediately regret it. And I'm going to tell you how you can change that because it's absolutely possible to change it and it doesn't take a very long time either. And this is something that I know very well and it's…

I've recorded and re-recorded this episode I don't know how many times now, because I am so ashamed of the many times I have snapped at people that I find it really difficult to put the solution out there, which I mean, it's ridiculous. I should definitely put the solution out there. It's a really difficult episode for me to play. Please bear with me as I do that. So, I used to be stressed all the time and overwhelmed all the time and I don't show it.

So the people who know me didn't really necessarily notice that I was feeling like this; until the moment when they came and interrupted me or asked me something or did something that was not what I hoped for, and I just snapped at them. And of course, I knew this was not a socially acceptable behavior and it was not at all the kind of behavior that I was holding myself accountable to so I immediately felt ashamed every time I did it.

And I read so many books on anger, and anger management and how to calm down and stress management; and they all told me basically the same two things, which I didn't find applicable. So that the first thing that they told me was that I needed to find what were the hooks. What were the triggers? What were the things that were making me feel so angry all of a sudden?

Because that was the thing really. That I felt, for example, I felt focused, I felt productive, I felt efficient. And then suddenly, somebody would say something or do something and I would have like a thermonuclear reaction inside of me and I would just explode and I didn't feel I had any control over that.

So I did analyze what was going on and I did find the triggers but knowing the triggers just made me more afraid that they would be triggers. It didn't really help me in any way because triggers for me, it was a certain type of people’s behavior and it didn't feel like there was anything I could do to control that or prevent people from behaving that way or saying those things or interrupt me when I didn't want to be interrupted.

It was, it was very impractical. So it didn't feel like a very useful solution. And then the other thing that those books recommended is that I should, I should manage my mind, I should control my temper. They never really explained how I supposed to do that. And that was the whole problem, wasn't it? I mean, the whole problem was that, when I was sitting you know working on something and somebody would come and interrupt me. I didn't see it coming that I would react that way.

I thought I would react in my normal, you know, cheerful and friendly way. And I didn't, I couldn't understand until it was too late. Like, I noticed… You know, it's a little bit like, when you put your hand on a hot plate and you move your hand away from the hot plate before you have even consciously realized that the plate was too hot. It was exactly the same thing with anger.

I would burst into flame before I had even realized that I was angry. So that was the whole problem. And then I started engaging with all the coaching tools that I'm now teaching and using to help my clients with their own goals and their own attitude and their own life. And I started to understand what actually was going on and what actually I needed to change very specifically.

So to explain to you what I realized, I'm going to use a little image. You have to imagine that when you burst into flame like this it's exactly as if you were… You're sitting in your living room in your house, you know minding your own business, being happy. Everything is fine. And somebody comes into your house and they're smoking a cigarette and they throw their cigarette butt on the floor.

And as soon as the cigarette is on the floor, the house explodes. So that's exactly what it feels like. You're just minding your own business in your living room and then suddenly somebody comes in, throws the cigarette butt and the house explodes. But what you don't realize is that you have been pouring gasoline in your house for weeks and weeks and months and months before that person even came into your house.

Because what would happen if somebody would come in and smoke a cigarette and throw their butt on the floor of a house with a dry floor, like where nobody has been pouring gasoline, most cases nothing would happen. And in some cases, maybe the cigarette butt would make a small, you know, burn mark on the floor, but that's it. The cigarette butt in itself would not cause the house to explode.

What causes the house to explode is the litters and gallons of gasoline that you have been pouring. And you pour gasoline in your house by the way you're speaking to yourself all the time. And very specifically you’re telling yourself stories all the time, about how worthy you are, how lovable you are, how worthy of respect you are, how much other people want to help you and all of these things.

And this is what is pouring the gasoline. So what you need to do in order to stop exploding in anger like this when you do is you need to stop pouring gasoline. So it doesn't matter what you do in the moment, that's not where the lever is, that's not where the action should be. It's what you're telling yourself…

It’s the way you're speaking to yourself the rest of the time, basically all of the time. And the first thing that you need to do is you need to start to be aware of what you're telling yourself. And to do that, you can go to episode 5 and episode 6. I've explained to you the method for understanding what you're telling yourself. And the first thing you can do is you can start by working on past situations. So you take the last two or three times you exploded in anger, and you describe to yourself what you told yourself about this incident.

It doesn't matter that you're doing it after the incident about the incident itself because that will reveal how you're thinking about yourself and what you're telling yourself all the time anyway. So just describe what were you telling yourself? You know, for example, I don’t know “somebody was assigned a simple task and they didn't even do it”. “I can't get help”, you know “you can only count on yourself”.

So write down all the things that you're telling yourself, and then use the model that I've explained in episode 6, to understand what kind of emotions the thoughts that you're thinking create for you and what kind of behavior you take from those actions and that will explain to you how you're pouring gasoline into your house.

And then the next step is that you need to find something better to tell yourself about this situation. And you can use episode 7 and episode 8 to do that. So what I've explained right now is very still very high level and a bit vague. So I'm going to give you a very specific example so that you understand what is going on and how you can do that.

So one of the things that I used to feel angry about in those explosive manner regularly was when I was not getting what I considered as good service in shops or in restaurants. So I didn't explode in anger at the people; I didn't necessarily speak in an angry tone to the people, but I exploded internally and I had learned how to control my behavior.

So what I managed to do was to become an “ice queen”, you know, so I started speaking in a very icy tone… I started to speak in a very condescending way to people, but basically, that was the best behavior I managed to create out of the sudden explosion of anger, that uncontrollable explosion of anger, that I felt inside of me.

And so, typically, I would go to a restaurant and the waiter would not pay attention or they would be very dismissive or they would not care if we were asking for something, they would just not care about their job or whatever, and that would really piss me off. And so I worked on my thoughts, I wrote down what I was thinking after a few of those incidents.

And I noticed that basically I was telling myself that they didn't really care about me. They didn't really care about my experience. They didn't really want me to have a good time. I didn't matter to them. And so I started to realize that I had this thought very often in my life and not just in shops and not just in those interactions that “I don't count”.

“I don't matter for other people” and that thought was very painful and so of course, whenever I came in contact with a behavior that could be interpreted as a way to confirm that thought I would just burst in flame because that was just very very painful. And what the brain does very often is that when we are facing something that is very painful for us, we react in an angry way because at least anger feels powerful. It's not really, but it feels powerful.

Which is much better than feeling very powerless or very defeated or very sad because you're telling yourself that you don't count. So I noticed that I was telling myself this thought “I don't count” and you can use again episode 5 and 6 to do the same work for yourself. And then I decided that I needed a better thought to believe.

So I needed to stop pouring that gasoline into my house and I needed to start having a much better dialogue with myself. So, I used episode 7 and episode 8 in order to create a better thought for myself. And after some work, what I came up for myself, is that I started to decide to think “I choose myself”. It doesn't matter if they think that I don't count.

I don't really know if they think that or not, it doesn't matter; as long as I believe it it's a problem for me; but I decided every time I'm going to notice that I tell myself some version of “I don't count”, or “I don't count for them”; I'm going to instead tell myself “I choose myself”; “I count for myself.” And there was this day when I was running errands, so I had short time.

And I had lots of errands to run and so I was on my bike and it was a day when it was raining. One of the errands I wanted to run was I wanted to go into this fancy store and buy a very nice candle for one of my friends. So, I run into the store. I'm still wearing my bike helmet. My coat is drenched with rain and I just run into the store and my expectation was that I would just go into the store, pick something, pay for it, go out, you know, like very quick because I didn't have much time.

And when I get into the store, there's already a client and she's in silence, looking at some candles in one side of the store and on the other side of the store, there's the clerk. And she's also in silence. And she's not looking at the client. So I go to the clerk and I said, “excuse me could I please…” And I didn't have time to finish my sentence. She told me, “I'm taking care of this other customer.

Can you please wait a minute?” And internally, I just exploded. All right, so outwardly what I did is that I managed to say in a very icy and condescending tone something like, “okay. I see” something that like that, a really bitchy tone I think. And I moved away. And I started to look at some candles and then I noticed that the clerk was actually looking for something and then she came back to the first client and she was helping her.

So it took a few more minutes before they were done and before it was my turn. And what I did is that I used that time to completely change my internal dialogue. So first of all, I noticed because I had been working so much on my mind and on my thoughts, I noticed what I was telling myself. And so, I noticed that I was saying, “oh, she thinks that because I have a bike helmet on and my jacket is full of rain that I'm not a worthy customer.

She doesn't really want to help me. She doesn't think I'm important enough...” So basically, I was running this version of “I don't count” again. And so I caught myself and just this awareness, just catching myself in the moment, I felt proud immediately. I was like, “oh, wow, I can change my thought. There is something I can do about this!” And so what I did is, I decided, okay.

I'm going to think my better thought and my better thought is “I choose myself. I count. I'm important for myself.” And so I started to ask myself “how would I interpret this situation if I really believed that I do count, and that I do choose myself, and that I am important?” And I decided to think that, well, the way I would interpret the situation would probably be that this clerk wants to do the best possible job for each client.

So, right now, she's trying to do the best possible job to help the previous client; and in a moment, she's going to try to do the best possible job to help me. And that put me immediately in a much better mood because it was just a matter of few minutes until I would be getting the best service, right? I mean that's this is how I believed.

And so that made me relax a lot and I was in a much better mood. And so when finally, it was my turn, when the clerk came to me, I noticed in her behavior that she was a little bit tense already because she assumed that I was going to be a horrible customer because the very short interaction we'd had a few minutes ago, I had been very condescending and very cold.

But by that time I had completely mellowed out and I was friendly and I was chatty. And so, so we had a good discussion and I mean, about the candles, right? She helped me figure out the candle I wanted and then I went to pay. And as I was paying she said, oh, just please wait a second, I would like to give you something.

And then she went and grabbed another candle, not a small miniature example that you would give as a bonus, but one of the smaller models of the paying candles and she gave it to me, and she said “oh, you were so nice waiting patiently until I was done with the previous customer. So I just want to give you this gift”.

And so her behavior, she did confirm my thought that she was actually trying to give the best possible service to each customer and I came out of that store and I was super happy about this unexpected present, that was really nice. But I was even more delighted about the fact that I had managed to change my thoughts in the middle of a situation, and this had completely completely changed my experience of the moment.

So, this is what you can do for yourself, and this work, it doesn't happen in the moment for the first time. So it's work that you do by analyzing what has happened in those past situations. So you do that a few times until you figure out what is the pattern. What are telling yourself repeatedly in those situations. And what could you tell yourself different that would be more helpful for you?

And then once you are in the situation, and you notice what's happening, and you will only notice if you have done this work repeatedly of analyzing after the fact what has happened. After a while your brain gets used to that and it starts to notice during the fact what's going on. And when you do that, you're able to completely change the way you're thinking and you're able to create a much better reality for you.

So go back to episodes 5 6, 7 and 8 to figure out how to do that and send me your questions. Let me know how it's going for you. This is so important because it feels like this, horrible, horrible powerless moment. When you don't have control over yourself and you just explode in anger and you turn into a person that you don't want to be.

And then you are ashamed and ashamed and ashamed that you have behaved like this, but it doesn't have to be that way. You can completely change the internal dialogue. And you can completely stop pouring gasoline over the floor of your house. If you liked what you heard today, get the episode notes on my website – Excellent Rider in one word dot com.

The episode notes are very structured and I add a lot of additional information and tips and exercises and illustrations to help you implement what I have just explained and to make it work for you. So go and get the notes it's really important for you to get all of this extra information. You will find it very valuable. And if you really liked what you heard, go to Apple podcast and leave me a review.

This makes the podcast easier to find for other people who need to hear exactly this message and it's also great encouragement for me. If you feel that this information was valuable, it's the absolute best way to let me know. Thanks a lot for listening today. I hope to talk to you again very soon because you my friend even when you cannot get yourself to do what you want, even when you're stuck in negative emotions and unpleasant thought loops, and even when you don't believe it, especially when you don't believe it. You're outstanding and you rock. There's no bad horses, only untrained riders. And I'm going to help you be an excellent rider.

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