One take-away from Dan Ariely’s book, The (Honest) Truth about Dishonesty, is that we make worse decisions when we’re stressed. You knew that already but there’s a scientifically proven reason, which is called ego-depletion.
What you need to know is that if you have to show serious willpower for a task, cut yourself some slack beforehand.
The examples used are around food: to avoid junk food at the end of a hard day, have a smaller treat earlier on; to stick to a diet, follow the ones that build in days off. But I wonder if it also works when dealing with difficult people.
If you’ve had to bite your tongue with a difficult boss or customers all day, are you less likely to find the constructive words needed to deal with your mother-in-law? Maybe allowing yourself a rant, to a friend or just a piece of paper, in between those situations would help. Worth a try.
First published in Issue 11 Widows and Widowers magazine