Question: When I get upset, I tend to let things fester instead of talking about them. Recently, after stewing over something trivial at work, I completely lost it and began yelling at everyone around me. After I calmed down, I felt deeply ashamed and humiliated. I immediately apologized to my co-workers and have begun looking for a counselor to help me deal with these anger issues. However, my fear is that I will never be able to redeem myself at work. I am nearing retirement age and have considered resigning, but I would hate for this to be the last memory that people have of me. What should I do?
Answer: Although your feelings of embarrassment are certainly understandable, resigning would be a serious overreaction. After all, you didn't embezzle funds or set the break room on fire. You simply had an unexpected temper tantrum. Assuming that you've been with this company for a while, one regrettable incident should not seriously damage your reputation.
Your thoughts of quitting are probably triggered by a desire to escape the constant reminders of this unpleasant experience. But while you may still be obsessing about your meltdown, odds are that your colleagues have put it out of their minds. You have already apologized to them, so your challenge now is to forgive yourself.
Despite this childish outburst, you appear to be a mature individual who is highly motivated to change. With the help of a qualified counselor, you should be able to determine why you exploded over "something trivial" in the first place. Typically, an angry overreaction indicates that the person is really upset about something else.
For better relationships, both at work and at home, people who harbor resentments must learn to manage their emotions, let go of the small stuff and address important issues with calm, productive problem-solving discussions. If this unfortunate episode drives you to acquire those skills, you may eventually view it as a significant turning point.
Marie G. McIntyre is a workplace coach. Get free tips at www.yourofficecoach.com