simon, how do i not be abusive? I’m mentally ill and don’t know how to not fall into a vicious cycle of lashing out and causing emotional harm to the people i love and then me crying and feeling awful because i didn’t mean to and it garners pity and a vague idea i won’t do it again, and i don’t know what to do. i’m not a good person, simon. i’m a hypocrite. i’m inconsiderate. i’m rash and stubborn and close minded. i don’t know how to be any other way, i’m at a loss to improve myself
That you proclaim these things about yourself tells me two things: Either you have low self-esteem, which is a common symptom of mental illness, or you actually do behave this way, but are smart enough and therefore able to both notice and counteract them.
I am no expert in human psychology, but I know from my own experiences that the act of silencing the urge to be angry is an arduous task. It has been my constant undertaking for almost four centuries, and only now do I have a grasp of what habits it takes for me to succeed. If my experience can be any pattern to yours, you will have to do several things
First, you must make your friends aware that you are trying to work on improving this. It may be a humbling conversation, but it will help.
Secondly, you will have to find some way to help yourself break the anger or frustration cycle. It may be something as simple as a visual cue, or it may be some sort of mantra you repeat to stop yourself from reacting. I prefer long division.
Thirdly, once you’ve broken your response cycle, you have to walk away or tell the person you’re speaking to that you need to leave the conversation for a moment, for their benefit.
I think, however, that the one thing that leads to abusive behavior is self-centeredness. And I mean this in many ways. There is the simple selfishness of being so caught in your own thinking that you cannot even conceive of how others are thinking. Then there is the more complicated narcissism that views those around you as being merely facets of your experience. There’s basic conceit and arrogance and there is pervasive megalomania. But, I think you are not on the extensive side of the spectrum or you wouldn’t recognize the behavior. So it is up to you to remind yourself that your experience is not universal.
I say this often and for me it is true: Kindness is a practice. It is a discipline. It is something I work very hard at and it seems you may need to learn how to as well. Much of my capacity for it is built upon centuries of patience-gaining exercise, forced humility, and suffering. I have seen too much.
I don’t know the particulars of your mental health issue, and as I’ve said, I am no expert, but if you wish to speak on this privately, I am hear to listen.