Conquer the Crankies

May 30, 2007, 4:38 pmnewidea

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Here's a guide on learning how to be nicer when you're seeing red.

QUEUE CRANKY
It's 6pm and you've stopped at the supermarket to get a few things for dinner, but every checkout has five to 10 people in a queue - and someone has a packed trolley in the '10 or less' line. Or maybe you walk 2km to a convenience store, only to find a 'closed' or 'back in five minutes' sign. 'We often have unrealistic expectations,' clinical psychologist Dr Tim Sharp explains. 'We all believe that things should look good and work properly, that events in our lives should be fair, but they're not. More than anything we demand that things should happen fast.'

What to do: Try to fight the triggers. Shop at a different time, pack the pantry so you don't have to shop as often, leave 15 minutes earlier to allow for queues and know your store's hours. Take five breaths before you open your mouth to complain - is your gripe legitimate?

SPORTSPARENT CRANKY
Are you an ugly parent at your kid's football game? Maybe you're living your own sporting aspirations through your kids.

What to do: Don't shout or swear. Never criticise or ridicule anyone. Don't pressure your child - it's their game, not yours. Thank the ref afterwards. Highlight fun, not winning.

ROAD CRANKY
Nine out of 10 motorists say they've been victims of road rage, as a result of aggressive behaviour from other drivers. 'When that rage is intense, I call it an explosive personality disorder,' says the Black Dog Institute's Professor Parker. 'It's part of the rapid way of life where any emotional roadblock acts as a hairtrigger to the anger response. 'What makes it hard to treat is that it's not anxiety. It's more a personality style - people who can't let anything get in their way. Deep breaths won't help these types.'

What to do: If it's serious, admit you have a problem and try anger management counselling. When an angry thought emerges, replace it with a positive one before the effect snowballs. Slow down - driving 65km in a 60km zone doubles your crash risk.

BANK CRANKY
You finally get an interview with your elusive bank manager. While you're being kept waiting, signs on the wall tell you how much the bank values your business, which only makes you more angry.

What to do: Prepare some questions for the bank manager. Focus on the positive -if you're getting a home loan refinanced, remember you're getting a better deal on your interest rates.

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