I used to blow up a lot.
I still do, but I used to, too.
This week has been corrosive; admittedly, I’ve been more hair-trigger, foul, grating, and abrasive. To my disappointment and shame, I let it creep in when getting feedback conveyed to me from my boss — after I felt my tone downshift into a snarl and put acid on the clicking consonants of biting words, I realized:
There are things that make me angry, and this is a problem.
There are universal angry triggers — I mean, I’m probably not going to react placidly after being cussed at, slapped in the face, or otherwise insulted.
But I had to step back and get a better angle on my Life Autistic and face why the things that drive our anger do so.
1) Intrusions to routine
For the record – I’ve gotten way more accustomed to my routine being wrecked! That’s OK in the grand scheme — life happens.
What drives me mad is when people disrupt the norm without warning. If you’re in a place in which you don’t belong in my routine, it’s going to fizzle me out and draw some ire — even if you mean well!
The surprise intrusion just lights fuses that often smolder into generalized anger — it sucks, but it’s a fuse.
2) Being reminded of our “otherness”
I’m in a high-visibility role and judged on my ability to present and relate to business leaders. So I’m often working on two fronts: trying to be relatable as a human, then to my audience — there’s a lot of thought that goes into what I present to where they get a polished version of my professional, masked self.
So in the cases where I’m advised that my points didn’t land, or that my audience didn’t follow, I can struggle with taking that feedback!
As a serial overthinker, I default to my innate, autistic self: “But I thought I accounted for my quirks…I barely used monosyllabic words…I tried to be human, funny…this seemed like it went well?”
It isn’t the fault of the audience, so I sometimes blame the thing I know the best: myself.
It is an angry reckoning.
3) Re-arranging the pens in my bedroom
Not anymore, heh.
3) Being emotionally outnumbered
“You’re a jerk, Hunter.”
“Yeah, a real jerk.”
“That was an awful thing to say, which means you’re an awful person.”
I’ve never quite blown my lid at a person, but I’ve had moments where I’ve ERUPTED Pompeii style at people.
My problem-solving (er, well, undoing my own idiotic actions) works better on the cold, logical, rational, individual level.
Facing a crowd isolates me back to a corner I’ve worked hard to come from.
I’m not perfect, and I’m very flawed — and even at my best, I already feel isolated in my own being.
So combining high-stress incidents, my own fault in likely causing it, with people-plural pressure that sticks me back into further defenseless isolation — that’s a trigger.