We all know someone who is quick to anger and who may lash out at the nearest unlucky soul—in other words, people who inspired the expression “Don't shoot the messenger!”
The latest local example is a Jersey City woman who assaulted two police officers, landing all three of them in the hospital in June of 2023. The officers were serving Danaisja Johnson, 29, with a restraining order when the woman became irate, began berating the officers, and then lashed out physically by punching, kicking, and biting them.
While Johnson's reaction stepped over the lines of civility and good sense, there's no denying that being served with a restraining order or a warrant is a stressful experience. Here's a better approach to managing your emotions should you find yourself in this situation.
Why Emotional Regulation Is So Important
Johnson was charged with aggravated assault and simple assault on a law enforcement officer, resisting arrest, and making terroristic threats. Avoiding additional charges is perhaps the biggest reason why it's important to manage your emotions. But unchecked temper and violent actions can lead to serious harm or fatalities—for the irate individual as well as for anyone in their immediate vicinity.
Even in situations that don't involve restraining orders or legal trouble of any kind, learning to deal with difficult emotions has a tremendous effect on one's life. Emotional regulation is crucial for professional success, healthy romantic relationships, strong friendships, and even physical health.
Steps to Practice Before Anger Gets the Best of You
Emotional regulation is about more than just keeping your mouth shut and your hands to yourself in a sticky situation. To work on handling difficult emotions, try journaling, meditating, or seeing a therapist who specializes in cognitive behavioral therapy. It's a good idea to find healthy ways of letting off steam, such as exercise. You may benefit from exploring the cause of your anger or other quick-draw emotions to learn about their impact on your life up till now.
There are plenty of ways to practice regulating your emotions in the moment, too: mindfulness activities, breathwork, and even giving yourself a few moments to collect yourself and reconsider your actions. If you can remember to count to 10, say, before reacting, chances are you'll use those seconds wisely and save yourself a lot of unnecessary trouble.
If You've Landed in Hot Water From Unchecked Emotions
Once you've lashed out and sabotaged your own best interests, it's important to forgive yourself and make the commitment to do better in the future. Consult an attorney, too. A compassionate and experienced lawyer can look at your behavior and its consequences and determine the best way to proceed.