Stress blog

Anger: Taking the heat out of the moment

By Edward T. Creagan, M.D. May 22, 2010

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When we're young, we think we know everything and that our parents know nothing. We ignore most of their advice, including the suggestion to count to 10 when we're angry to avoid acting in haste. It's only later, when we've gotten older, that we realize just how smart our parents were. Let me explain.

Over the weekend, a colleague and I had a misunderstanding about reviewing some scientific data. I had mistakenly missed a deadline and was quick to blame my colleague. I was frustrated and ready to fire off a stinging email. However, my phone had run out of power and I was unable to send email.

By the next day I was able to see the incident as the minor inconvenience it was, and I was so grateful that I hadn't done anything as stupid as sending an angry email.

It was a powerful reminder to me: When I'm angry or upset — especially if I'm also tired — no response is often the best response. Within 24 hours and a good night's sleep, everything seems different. What appeared to be a catastrophe the day before is revealed to be no big deal.

So there's my confession. I suspect others can relate to this misadventure.

With

Edward T. Creagan, M.D.

Follow on Twitter: @EdwardCreagan

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47 Comments Posted

May. 22, 2010