Sometimes our emotions can be so powerful that we feel compelled to make impulsive decisions that we later regret -- like sending an email (or emails) that may not have come from the kindest place and/or should never have been sent at all.
There are consequences for our actions, and a lot of the time, they show up as the residual emotions that we feel after we've engaged in a behavior that brings up shame or guilt. The more we practice pausing between the impulse and the action, the easier it becomes. With things like email, it is still a challenge for me.
What are some strategies you use to avoid sabotaging on social media, email or with texting?
Although it can be very difficult, indeed, to slow down before sending that message, doing so can be the game changer for us. If you can stop yourself long enough to think about or even WRITE DOWN what the possible consequences will be if you send that message (i.e., I'll feel even more anxious, especially if I don't get a reply...I'll have to cope with shame or disappointment that I didn't hold back....I may annoy or push the other person away...I may feel rejected or abandoned, especially if the person never responds), it can help us to realize the suffering we (and others) stand to endure if we follow through with this behavior and dissuade us from doing it.
Next, you'll want to get skillful. In DBT (Dialectical Behavior Therapy), there is a set of skills called Distraction Skills. These are ideas of things to do to cope with the distress or when in an emotional crisis.
Here are some Distraction Skill ideas:
- go wash the dishes or vacuum the house
- go for a walk
- go help a neighbor or loved one with a task
- watch a good tv show or movie
- start a Pinterest board of ideas that you can distract with when you need ideas
The idea is that taking time to PAUSE between that impulse and taking any action -- your difficult choice to step away from that electronic device and do something else to take your mind off of it for a little bit -- can be the difference between engaging in a behavior you'll regret and making a new decision. The more you practice the skillful choice, the easier it will become with time.
3.) If you gave in and engaged in this behavior, take responsibility and work harder to be skillful the next time the urge or impulse arises, but do not beat yourself up over it. This does you no good. You are human. On top of that, you're emotionally sensitive, and there is CAUSE for your choice to follow through. It's usually a complicated chain of all of the events that led up to this moment, including any positive results that you expected or hoped for by following through on this behavior. If you made a mistake, try to show yourself some compassion. It's important to acknowledge the behavior you want to change and make efforts to do so while at the same time not condemning yourself for a slip up.
Do you find it difficult to resist sending emails or texts when feeling impulsive? What has helped during these times? What have some of the consequences been when you've followed through on the impulse? What might you try to do differently the next time it strikes?
As always, your comments are welcome and encouraged!
Thanks for reading.