Mod S2S Mentor

Speaking Before Thinking

I tend to snap at people a lot even when I'm not feeling angry and I don't know why and I want some advice on how to stop snapping so often. -Anonymous

     I’m sorry that you’re struggling with this; it’s really difficult when emotions start bubbling over and a line is accidentally crossed, especially when it’s toward a loved one. I can certainly relate to this; when I get overwhelmed, stressed, and anxious, I do have a tendency to be a little cold and, sometimes, rude to the people I love. It’s super important to remember, however, that this doesn’t make you a “mean person”! Everyone has a tipping point, and it’s just about learning what your tipping point is, and how to handle it in a more productive way!

     Too much of any unpleasant emotion can lead to snapping, so I would first say to think about how you feel right before you snap at someone. If you don't feel angry, are you tired, sad, nervous, or stressed? Those are all perfectly natural emotions that all humans experience at one point another, so try not to feel ashamed of them, and be honest with yourself.

     After you’ve identified that emotion, you’ve identified one of the roots of the problem. If you find that for the most part, you snap when you feel really stressed, see if there’s anything you can do to lessen the stress in your life. This is a big task, especially at the beginning of a new semester when stress levels tend to be higher, but it’s sometimes necessary. Ask yourself: is there anything I can take off of my plate? Is there anything relaxing that I can introduce into my life (ex. Journaling, reading, exercising)? Is there anyone I can talk to about my stress? If you can find a way to lessen the emotions that leads you to snap, you’ll probably snap a lot less often.

     Now, let’s say that there isn’t much more you can do to lessen your stress, anxieties, or sadness. You have those emotions as in control as possible, yet you still find yourself snapping. In that case, it’s probably time to try to learn some tactics to help you avoid snapping right when you feel it coming on. What is something quick and not too visible that you can picture yourself doing right when you start to feel like you’re going to snap at someone? I’d suggest taking three deep breaths, playing with a bracelet, or gently squeezing your hand into a fist. The idea is to find something that will physically bring you back to your senses a bit, which would give you a second to remember how much you want to avoid saying something hurtful.

     If you can, also consider removing yourself from the situation all together. Maybe go to the restroom for a minute, just to calm down, gather yourself, and remind yourself to think carefully about your words before you say them. When you put yourself back into the situation, it’ll be a lot easier to keep calm and think about what you say before you say it.

     I hope some of these tips were helpful, and if anyone has advice I didn’t mention, please feel free to leave a comment with your tips and any other thoughts! As always, anyone is welcome to PM me if you'd like to talk about this or any other topic further.

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  • I've gone through phases of doing that before, but what helped me a lot was a journal I wrote my thoughts in every night, and in it writing two lists: one I wrote what I was doing wrong, (snapping at people, not thinking etc.) and on the other list I wrote how I could fix the things that I was doing wrong! (taking a breath before I speak, thinking of kind words, etc.) Then, when you are done making the list, read it over a couple times, then you could put a mark or something on your hand, so then whenever you look down at your hand, you will be reminded to do those things!
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