The ‘human condition’ carries with it volatility. Environmental triggers can sometimes be ignored, other times, they pull our strings without concern for any free will we pride ourselves of having. We’re vicious animals at times, and saints on special occasions. Our neighbor’s gaze shifts from loving to demonic once we put up a fence which they don’t like, or a plant a tree which casts shade on their vegetable garden. Just like them, you’re sensitive to others’ actions.
The actions that you take will often be birthed from a volatile / unstable place in life. Attempting to muffle, control, and tightly chain your reactionary frame of mind will build a solid wall of a human being. If possible at all, removing the volatility with which you act will strip your body from the ability to sense beauty as well as pain.
This article is about limiting how much damage your volatile states bring forth, not an education on how to completely block your volatile states. Being emotional, volatile, sensitive, and unpredictable is healthy in the right doses. You’ll sometimes act in ways which are, “out of character,” for you to act like. These out of character acts can be improvements, or pitfalls in relation to your normal state. Your out of character acts can hurt others, can embarrass you, and may need some cleanup done on your part.
Below are a few things to remind yourself of when you catch yourself acting out in ways which hurt the ones around you.
Label and Apologize As Soon As You Recognize a Negative, Out of Character, Act
We often recognize times we act in ways which are out of the ordinary by our own standards. The perfect blend of hunger, annoyance, and drowsiness may have prompted you to snap at a coworker despite you being easygoing by nature. Your state of being late for an important meeting may have prompted you to act rudely toward a fellow rider on the subway. You may have banged your fist on the dinner table as your dog ignored your command to not jump on your lap for the fourth time.
Our own recognition of times we act outside of our norm is often quick. Once we complete an inordinary act – out of anger, for instance – we label it to be just that quickly after completion.
A common mistake to make, is one of being lost in the emotional state you act out in enough to not voice your recognition of your out of character act. This entails recognizing yourself to be acting strangely, but not communicating your knowledge of yourself acting strangely to those who are perceiving your acts around you.
It is important to label your out of character acts quickly and apologize for any pain you cause with them at once. A quick recognition of such actions will leave no space for others’ perception to wander. You’ll quickly revert back to a perceived normal state of mind when those around your realize that you’re lucid enough to catch yourself acting strangely.
Your acknowledgement will encourage onlookers to label your actions as oddities rather than new norms. They’ll be granted with a sense of closure regarding what you’ve done or said in the heat of the moment, and will be likelier to put any such event past them.
Your pride will be the biggest barrier in voicing your own recognition of your out of character acts. The air may be dense with the judgments of those around you, and you may find it more appealing to let the air clear a bit prior to acknowledging and apologizing for what you’ve said or done.
Try not to wait as best you could. Time is an important variable in how others perceive your seemingly malicious acts. A quick turnaround by you will propagate an accidental / unmeditated understanding of your actions in others.
Voice Your Analysis of Your Own Missteps As Time Goes By
The people who see the darker sides of you are likely to see you again in the future. Whether you meet up with your friends a week following your out of character acts, or you sit at another dinner table with your family; you’ll often need to face the people who see your darker sides again.
These same people would have contemplated your words and actions for a period of time prior to seeing you again. They may have ,come up with their own conclusions surrounding your acts, and may have made uneducated assumptions on the matter.
What seems to help, depending on the severity of your out of character acts, is to show those who’ve witnessed them that you’ve reasonably analyzed your own actions. Your analysis can come in the form of a self deprecating joke or a simple self reflection about your actions during the time these individuals saw you last.
Acknowledgment of your prior actions that you regret in some form, can serve illuminate your attempts at improving yourself as an individual. It sends the message that you share the perception about your actions with those around you, and that you aren’t naive to how your actions may have been perceived / hurt someone.
Bringing up your prior regretful acts is not an easy thing to do. You’d want to avoid explicitly starting a monologue about the things you did last week or last month. A most optimal approach seems to throw in self deprecating jokes in casual conversation. When you do allude to your embarrassing actions from before, ensure there is some reason for your act of bringing that topic up.
For example, if you see a person road-raging while driving to a restaurant with your friend, you’d have the chance of making a reference to that time you embarrassingly lost your cool. Saying something along the lines of, “Oh he’ll regret that, I would know,” will subtly hint to those listening that you’ve thought about, and regretted your similar actions from before.
The two things to remember from this article are to first voice your apology and regret as soon as you internalize that you’ve acted out of character. Next, it would be to reference your, perhaps embarrassing, acts down the line in the presence of those who witnessed you acting out.
The overall goal that these two method achieve, is the alignment of your audience’s perception with your own. They’ll feel that you understand your actions the way that they understood them. This alignment of perception seems to encourage those who interact with you to forgive, and understand you, quicker into the near future.