I have never had someone come to me and want to start therapy because of mischief. When someone mentions mischief, we often think of children, not our own actions, and definitely not therapy. Though no one has ever identified this as their issue at the beginning of therapy, most people who come to me engage in mischief. It’s not just for kids!
Mischief is doing something that doesn’t need to be done. To explain, I can use the two previous posts on anger and anxiety. Anger, as a behavior, is acting out in order to get what you want. Think of a child throwing a temper tantrum. Anxiety, as a behavior, is doing things with the intention of solving some perceived problem. Think about all the “what if’s” you prepare for. The issue is, you don’t need to engage in either most of the time! In my anger management classes we talk a lot about these mischievous moments to provide you with some insight. When you toss your phone across the room because you can’t get a signal, when you give a sarcastic response to your spouse in hopes of stopping the conversation, and when you’re stressed and brash with other people, you are engaging in mischief. You didn’t need to do any of these things. At the time you were in a tough situation and thought these were the best way to solve a problem. But, they’re not and you can choose to act differently.
Instead you could have reminded yourself that you didn’t have to use your phone right then or wandered over to a spot where you did get a signal. You could have told your spouse you were irritated with whatever was going on before the conversation and let him or her know you needed a minute to yourself. You could have identified what you are stressed about and taken the time to create a plan to address the issue. Instead, you chose one of these nonsense things. I’m not saying they’re bad necessarily, rather they are not needed and you’re taking your stress out on other people.
It is more healthy to identify your frustration, because that gives you the power to make a choice about how to address the frustration rather than acting out in mischief. This can be tough though because you have been practicing being mischievous since you were that kid throwing tantrums! So, it’s going to take a while, but you can learn a new way of consciously addressing whatever is going on and with practice you will replace the old mischievous habits with new healthy ones.
You can always give me a call if you would like support in changing your mischievous ways!