For the most part, I am a pretty happy, upbeat person.
I tend to look on the brighter side of situations and problem-solve when things don’t go well. I’m a person who genuinely believes in practicing acts of kindness and living with an attitude of love.
But I have found that, lately, when I’m under stress, I have been flipping the b*tch switch a little too often for my comfort. I’m sure you know what I mean, even if you call it something else. For me, “flipping the b*tch switch” is what happens when I allow myself to have a nasty or condescending attitude toward another human being because I’m unhappy. I truly try to avoid doing this at all costs. Typically, I’ll confront things calmly, but I’ve been noticing a tendency lately to swing toward that hateful impulse.
I could say that there are a lot of reasons, but I will also say that there is no excuse.
In fact, earlier this week, upon flipping that particular switch and having a bad attitude, I found myself experiencing instant shame and remorse. As embarrassing as it was, I called up the person I had treated this way and apologized. It was an excruciating conversation, but I don’t want to become the kind of person who allows my personal struggles to be the reason I treat someone else poorly. Other people have struggles, too, that are no less important than my own, and if I have made someone else’s day more difficult, then I am 100 percent in the wrong, no matter what may be going on behind the scenes.
In the last year, I’ve watched so many people veer toward hateful communication, and we’ve watched as our leaders have done the same. So how do we stop flipping the b*tch switch? How do we break away from being unkind to others simply because we’re unhappy?
- First, we have to acknowledge that we’re doing it. It took me a couple of times of switching into that truly unkind mode to realize that I was doing it. I don’t want to be the kind of person who thinks of myself one way but lives in a way that doesn’t embody the values I espouse. The first step to stopping any behavior is to truly admit it.
- We have to look for our triggers. I can be the least patient person on this planet, and my impatience often allows me to become, frankly, a cranky b*tch. We need to know which situations may require us to take extra caution with how we react.
- We have to be able to apologize when we’re wrong. Sure, we’ll all have times where we mess up and take our anger or sadness out on an innocent bystander. Customer service representatives everywhere can attest to this. But when we do make this mistake, if at all possible, we need to own it and apologize. Oh, and don’t do that apology that blames the other person for how we reacted. Or make excuses. We need to just apologize because it’s the right thing to do, even if our apology isn’t accepted.
- We have to develop better coping skills to use when we’re triggered. I have a meditation app on my phone, and I plan to start using it when my patience is being tested. Or to breathe deeply and focus on my gratitude practice. We need to make sure that we are taking care of ourselves when we’re struggling so that we don’t allow that struggle to spill out to others. This may mean avoiding other people if we can’t trust what we are going to say or do. It may mean simply asking for help, understanding and support from those closest to us when we feel like we may be leaning toward a negative response.
- We have to realize that our responses are conditioned, and we’re going to have to learn new ways of reacting. Lines are long sometimes. Bad things happen. Plans get derailed. Life isn’t fair, and sometimes people are just mean. We can’t control the world around us, but we can certainly manage our responses to it. We’re going to have to learn these new responses by practicing them as many times as it takes to make them our default responses to these types of situations.
- We need to be aware of our thoughts. We often become more upset because of our perception of situations. If we’re conscious of the way we’re thinking when we’re frustrated or angry, we can begin a rational dialogue. We can even remind ourselves that the other person is in fact a person, too, and is worthy of a basic level of courtesy and respect. It’s not easy to change our thoughts, but it’s definitely possible if we’re willing to try.
- We need to keep trying. Along the same lines as number three, mistakes happen. We’re not perfect. So we need to forgive ourselves, say we’re sorry and then move forward. We don’t have to get discouraged that we make mistakes. We can choose instead to learn from those experiences and allow it to make us better.
I keep seeing the same post, “In a world where you can be anything, be kind.” Perhaps the Universe keeps putting it in front of me so that I will pay attention.
And it’s more than a kindness bumper sticker or an attitude we say we support. We have to put our values into practice so that we can be a force of good in this world. I know that I don’t want to be the person who flips the b*tch switch on the regular because I’ve just allowed myself permission to do so. I want to be the person who makes other people happier. If I can’t be a positive influence, I would like to avoid doing harm, at the very least.
And I’m hoping one day my conditioned response to stress is finding peace and balance in the moment rather than reacting to a situation that is fleeting.
Author: Crystal Jackson
Editor: Emily Bartran