Don't Take Your Anger Home!

If you have had a terrible day at work and you are angry or grouchy, what does your family see and feel when you get home?  Do you walk in with a scowl on your face and a hot temper?  Or are you able to make the emotional transition from anger to calm?

The reality is, there are days that push your buttons and test your patience.  I hope these days are few and far between for you, but in my work with both coaching and counseling clients, it seems that some people are frustrated almost all the time by their job or people in the workplace.  In other blogs and articles we have talked about some of the ways you can make your situation better at work, but even before the problems are resolved, it is important for you to take a cue from Las Vegas and say, “What happens at work, stays at work.”

It is critically important that you get your emotions under control before you walk in the door.  Don’t bring the negative emotions home with you.  Here are some ways to prepare for the transition from work to home.

Sit in your car for a few minute before you hit the road.  Close your eyes, take some deep, cleansing breaths, pray or meditate, and just enjoy a brief silence.  This will not only start your process of preparing for home, but it will likely keep you and the other drivers safer on the road.

Listen to music that makes you feel good.  For some, it’s energetic and loud and for others it will be soft and soothing.  Avoid music with angry lyrics or styles that amp up feelings of aggression.  Another good option can be audio books that capture your imagination and take your mind off work.

Try to find something positive about your job to offset whatever upset you. For every negative thought (“My boss is so unfair!”) find one positive truth (“This job is a good step toward my long-term career goals.”)  Repeat as necessary.

Picture your family, and think about how you can treat them to demonstrate how much you love them.  Imagine giving each one a hug and telling them how happy you are to see them.  Think about what delights you about your children or what you really appreciate about your spouse.  Of course, once you get home, the reality may be that your spouse is also tired and cranky or your kids are acting up, but even that is easier to handle when you have just been reminding yourself about their good qualities.

Create a habit or ritual of putting the day behind you before stepping into your house.  One of my favorite stories is about a worker who stopped to touch a tree branch in his front yard before entering his house.  A friend asked him what he was doing and he explained, “This is my worry tree.  I hang all my worries on this tree before I go in to see my family, and then when I leave for work in the morning, I pick them up again.  Only, it’s funny… most mornings there are fewer worries on the tree than I had hung there the night before.”

The key to successful transition is being intentional about how you want to feel and behave when you walk in your door.  Once you are home, it may be completely appropriate to discuss your day with your spouse, but you will want to be sure that your anger is not misdirected toward your loved ones.  You and your family will benefit if you make sure that what happens at work, stays at work!

Live, Work and Relate Well!

Dr. Todd


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