#Askingforafriend: Steamrollers and pressure cookers

By Mike Wallace
GCU Office of Student Care

“Man, I hate it when my roommates don’t listen to me. They always do that.”

“How can anyone live in Arizona? It is so hot here in the summer, and in the winter there are too many snowbirds.”

“I cannot believe he cut me off in traffic. I’ll show him.”

“I wish my father would stop drinking. I do not know how I’m going to get through things until he stops.”

These people are known as steamrollers. According to Rational Emotive Therapy (REBT), they are always complaining or feeling discontent about things they cannot control (Cofield, 2008).

This negative, skeptical mindset only causes more frustration, conflict and emotional upset than is necessary. They do it because they think that if they complain and moan enough, maybe things will change.

Another self-defeating strategy can be seen in the pressure cookers:

“Oh, my boyfriend did not really mean it when he hit me.”

“That’s OK.” (After someone hurt them emotionally by something they said or did, or smiling when they are fuming inside.)

Pressure cookers tend to sit on intense emotions and stuff their feelings of hurt, pain and sadness.

This negative style of suppressing only causes physical and mental health issues – although they may suppress emotions, the body does not. While one style needs to rein things in and work on acceptance, the other must find ways to communicate and express emotions.

According to REBT, an activating event is followed by what appears to be an instant emotion caused by that event.

Cut off in traffic … anger.

Roommate not spending time with me … hurt.

But for those who are unaware, it is not the events themselves that cause these emotions. Their beliefs and self-talk are the culprits. 

Steamroller’s faulty beliefs:  

  • He’s an idiot.
  • I cannot let her get away with that.
  • Arizona is so stupid.

Pressure cooker’s faulty beliefs:

  • I cannot say that. It will hurt their feelings.
  • He will not like me if I'm honest.
  • I can’t pass that test, even if I try.

Symptoms of steamrollers:         Symptoms of pressure cookers:

Frequent complaining                     Avoids conflict

Angry outbursts                              Smiles when upset

Whining                                           Lack of assertion

Nagging                                          Suppressing feelings                         

Demanding                                     Distracting                         

Criticizing                                        Minimizing

Yelling                                             Comfort eating 

The best way to combat these ineffective coping strategies is to slow down, catch our thinking and think about our self-talk/beliefs. Then we will have better chance to take a timeout (accept/let it go) or lean into something that needs to be said (express).

I hope we can all discover our dysfunctional style of relating and then act accordingly by refuting faulty beliefs.


Reference: Cofield, M. (2008), “The Road Map to Peace of Mind,” Ultra Learning Systems.


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Bible Verse

(Moses addressed Israel, reminding them of God's deliverance of them from Egypt, and His commands given to them:) "You saw with your own eyes the great trials, the miraculous signs and wonders, the mighty hand and outstretched arm, with which the Lord your God brought you out (from bondage and delivered you.). The Lord your God will do the same to all the peoples you now fear." (Deuteronomy 7:19)

To Read More: www.verseoftheday.com/