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Growth and Development

Ego Depletion and Fighting Fair in Your Relationship

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We all have days that end like this.

Have you ever had a terrible day at work or school, and vowed to yourself if someone else does ‘x’ you’re going to pull your hair out—or someone else’s? It’s like you were at the end of your self-control. That’s exactly where you were, and don’t feel bad. We’re all guilty of this. That feeling of loss of self-control has a name: ego depletion. Scientists have discovered that even self-control is exhaustible. While everyone is affected by the phenomena occasionally, there are certain events in which this depleted self-control can become an issue– especially in a relationship. A high-stress job or infuriating co-worker can push a person to their breaking point. I have experienced this problem first hand. When I first started school, I was mommy to a 5-year-old and a 1-year-old. Additionally, I worked a terrible customer service job in which our patrons were rude and impatient. After dealing with the kids and school and our sadist customers, I would come home to my fiancé as, pretty much, a loose cannon. After a few months, and a couple of less-than-fun disputes, I saw the error of my ways. I wasn’t going to leave scorch marks on my relationship by leaving it in the line of fire. You don’t have to either! Here are some techniques to avoid unfair confrontation.

Don’t Be Afraid to Vent

If you’re really feeling like you might snap, call your significant other and tell them how horrible everyone and everything has been all day. Talk about your nosy co-worker who is always looking over your shoulder, or about how unfair and mean your boss is. This may sound kind of bitchy, but talking about it will actually make you feel like you have put control back over the situation. Also, it gives them a heads up that you’ve had a rough day. They’ll be more aware of what they say to you. Trust me, they’d rather listen to you yammer about the injustices of your workplace than have they’re head bitten off for asking if you’ve seen their running shorts.

Do Some Yoga

Feeling like you need to center yourself and reign in your emotions? Hit a Yoga studio before returning home for the day. Yoga is great for your mind, body and soul—perhaps it may also be good for your relationship. Yoga allows you to distance yourself from the world and look inside of yourself. Also, the controlled breathing aspect will help you regain some self-control—it’s like when you’re angry and someone tells you to breathe. After your yoga session, you should feel calm and less likely to breathe fire on your partner.

Indulge in Something You Love

Yoga isn’t for everyone. If you’re not feeling very flexible, simply find an activity you enjoy to get your mind off of life for a bit. Even if it’s coming home after your vent, locking yourself in a room, and reading the latest literary glory of the year, you’re still separating yourself from the day’s events. Alternatively, if your lack of self-control makes you feel a little aggressive—which is natural for some people—take up kickboxing, running, or a sport that you enjoy.

It’s one thing to disagree or argue with your partner over a substantial matter. Everyone has opinions, many of which are different from their spouse’s, and occasional disagreements are healthy for a relationship—it can’t be rainbows and sunshine all the time. However, blowing up at your partner because you’ve had a bad day is unfair, and can cause a real problem in your relationship. Don’t let it. Keep ego depletion in mind and remember to fight fair.

Resources: Ego Depletion: Is the Active Self A Limited Resource?

 

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