What to do
If you are a person who blows up or if you are living with someone who does, there are three parts to dealing with the problem:
1. First aid.
If you quickly blow up, the emotional first-aid is never about resolving the problem that you’re ruminating about, but settling your emotional state. You need to calm yourself down, leave the situation to sidestep your instincts to get this off your chest, or solve the problem now. This is about self-regulation and responsibility.
If you are on the receiving end of someone’s blow-up, you do not want to feed the fire by getting angry yourself, but instead remaining calm. But if that doesn’t work, if the other person is threatening to become violent, getaway.
People who go from 0-to-60 quickly often don’t realize when stress and resentment are building up. If you are like this, you want to track your emotions — checking in with yourself periodically throughout the day and asking yourself how you are feeling, so you can do something to calm yourself down before your emotions get to too high, like going for a walk, writing down how you are feeling, taking a deep breath, going for a run, or doing meditation.
You also want to build in prevention by stepping back and owning that you have a problem with anger. Angry people tend to blame the situation or others for making them angry. This is irresponsible. You are in charge of controlling your emotions. Get therapy, take medication, or develop the skills you need to lower your overall emotional state.
3. Solve the underlying problems.
Here Jake talks to Carol about her micromanaging or his doing the heavy lifting to rebalance the relationship. Or he takes steps to deal with his underlying depression or anxiety so he is not irritable or controlling.
And if Jake does tend to ramp up, calm down, and then sweep things under the rug, it’s time for Carol to step up and talk about these underlying issues. Jake’s apology is important but it’s not enough. Carol needs to be assertive in saying to Jake that he needs to work on his anger, or she needs to ask about what she can do to help when he gets rattled by transitions or to counter his built-up resentments.
Like most problems, emotional explosions are not the problem but the symptom of other underlying issues. Fix the underlying issues.
The next time you see a person emotionally explode and lose their temper, instead of retaliating instantly, stop for a moment and try to understand where they are coming from. Emotional explosions are very easy to judge, but trying to detect the actual reasons behind them is tough. The moment you start working to fix these secret issues, you will start noticing positive changes.