Picking Fights

by Tristan
(San Francisco)

First of all thanks for your advice on revenge, it has definitely helped me come to terms with my "inner protector." Right now I am having a revenge issue with someone who tried to pick a fight with me.

I accidentally bumped into his cigarette as I was walking by the bus stop and before I had a even a millisecond to apologize, the man started cussing at me. I went into my normal reaction at this point, and said, "You were standing in the middle of the sidewalk!" and then I walked off.



I was meeting a friend at a bookstore just a few feet past the bus stop. This man followed me into the store I was in and kept telling me to "step outside." The first time he asked I simply said "What?" as if to say "really? are you serious? over a cigarette or even what I said?" The next couple times he told me to "step outside" I ignored him as best I could, nodding with annoyance every now and then.

I was entirely holding back every part of me that wanted to shove him off to leave me alone. Eventually his bus came and he left.

I am having one problem related to this. When I was younger I had to deal with bullying on a fairly regular basis and, not really knowing how to deal with it, stored a fair amount of that anger, frustration and guilt. This recent experience has reinstated several of those horrible stressful and guilty feelings of revenge that I thought I was over. I usually feel that I must have done something to provoke that kind of reaction.

I'm always entirely apologetic with things like this, but it's like I wasn't even given a chance to say something or be nice about it before being attacked with cussing. I like to make amends with everyone, even people I don't entirely care for because people can have off days, be irrational (myself included of course) and actually be fine people otherwise. I'm wishing I could talk to this guy and see what the issue was and make it alright, but I will most likely not get that chance. So there is a bit of regret involved as well. I feel like a bad person for speaking up. Any form of advice or words you can give would be greatly appreciated. Thank you again. This writing thing really does help!




Response from Dr. DeFoore

Hello Tristan, and thanks for telling your story here. I can tell you are a good person, who wants to do the right thing.

From what you have written, I think the best thing I can recommend is that you deal with your memories around the bullying from your past. It's not clear to me that you have an anger problem, but it does appear that you are having trouble letting go of your emotions when an incident like this one occurs.

Here is what I recommend:

1) You mention that "this writing thing really does help." You're right about that! So, write a full, detailed account of your past difficulty with bullying (and any other trauma), as described on this page. This will do you a lot of good.

2) Then, go back in your mind to each of those memories, and "correct them" using these imagery processes for emotional healing. These are powerful techniques that will really help if you use them repeatedly and get comfortable with them.

3) I also suggest you try the positive journaling exercise on that same page, to shift your focus to what is good, right and working in yourself and the world around you.

I appreciate your positive and appreciative style, Tristan. Keep it up!!

My very best to you,

Dr. DeFoore

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