My parents have given me a ton of great advice that they collected through their many life experiences, most of which I disregarded while being a know-it-all teenager. Finally, years later, I can admit how right they were. Especially when it comes to managing emotions.
Son, there are going to be many, many times in your life when you’re going to experience a variety of strong emotions and not be sure how to express them. There are going to be people that will backstab you, put you down, and frankly, make you want to punch them in the face. 99 percent of the time, you won’t be able to. You’ll have to take constructive criticism, unconstructive criticism, and occasionally flat-out insults in both your personal and professional life, and you’re going to have to be extremely selective when picking your battles.
Yes, I have people in my life who I would love to give a knuckle sandwich (apparently my dad is 80 years old), but that would only make me look as bad as them and give them what they want. If you keep your head up and let your actions do the talking, people will notice, both in the workplace and in life. It will suck, and it will feel like you’re losing, but you’ll come out on top. If you do find yourself in a situation that you need to stand up to someone, just make sure it’s for a cause that is worth it. Know where your line in the sand is, and if someone crosses that, stand your ground. It’s better to lose a fight than it is to lose respect for yourself.
Also, when something good happens to the people you care about, swallow your jealousy and celebrate with them. There is enough good fortune to go around, and just because they got some doesn’t mean there’s any less for you. Finally, tell the people in your life what they mean to you. You never know what will happen in this world, and if you keep thinking you can tell them later, you may not get the chance. If someone helped you, tell them you appreciate them, and hopefully they will do the same with you. Life kicks everyone in the balls sometimes and loved ones are the biggest commodity we have.
Ways I Should Have Listened
I’ve been a hothead my whole life. When I feel slighted, or that something is unfair, my first reaction is to attack the person or the system responsible. I should have taken this advice in high school instead of telling my teacher to go fuck herself when she told me that I must have cheated on the test since I wasn’t smart enough to get an A. I had just actually studied for it once. Tacking on another suspension to my record was not a good look, and I could have avoided it by staying calm for one minute.
I also should have listened to my parents when they told me to control my temper on the ice. I chose to get five suspensions during my high school hockey career instead. The fights may have been justified, but I was the one who had to sit out for weeks while the other kids got to keep playing. I’ve yelled at teachers, coaches, my parents, and my girlfriends for things that could have been much more easily resolved with a respectful conversation. Even in my first job after college, I should have heeded this advice. Instead, I was told to “go cool off” by my boss after getting heated because the company absolutely stiffed me on a raise that I was promised (I’m still a little mad about that.) Instead of arguing my point with calm logic, all my outburst did was show them that I couldn’t even manage my own temper.
I’ve found it hard to swallow my pride and apologize when I was in the wrong or show appreciation for those who had helped me and it was a driving factor in the end of some relationships and friendships.
How I’ve Started Listening
More recently, I’ve started giving myself room to breathe and think logically before letting my emotions get the better of me. When I was unexpectedly laid off recently, my first reaction was to burn all bridges with my boss. Instead, I sucked it up, took a few minutes, and sincerely thanked her for the opportunity to work there.
Of course, my parents still get under my skin (my mom is currently laying on the biggest guilt trip of her life on me because I’m only seeing her for 60 percent of my visit home this weekend), but instead of immediately starting to yell, I’ve tried to have a calm conversation with her. She’s still mad at me and nothing has been resolved, but I’m happy with myself for not losing my cool.
I’ve even gotten better about taking criticism without immediately getting defensive and combative, which will be a huge help as most of my professional life is working my ass off on an ad campaign only to get it shot down. It’s definitely not a perfect system. I have still been known to snap at my rec league teammates if they fuck up, and just this weekend I yelled at the bartender I was working with to get off her ass and help me clean. Every time I count to ten instead of blowing my lid, people are much more willing to talk with me and actually help resolve my issue, and that just proves it – my parents were right. .