It’s all about not getting caught up in the moment. Whether that moment be of anger, sadness, or frustration, we can’t let ourselves get carried away by our body’s natural defenses. Hormones can do wonderful things, but we have to keep them, and therefor ourselves under control.
Here’s how. It may be hard to remember in the moment, but it’s certainly not hard to do.
1. Take a breath. This not only is good for your body, it creates a pause in the commotion. Sometimes when we are frustrated or angry at someone or a bad circumstance, we forget what the most vital part of our continued health is: our breathing! Whether alone and frustrated or angry at someone with you, physically stop where you are, put everything down, and take a breath. Don’t just take one, take several, breathing in deeply and filling your lungs completely. This alone may be enough in some cases to ease the situation, such as when crying deeply, but the really important part comes next.
2. Take a step back. Remove yourself from the situation. Ask yourself firstly, “Is this really worth my anger or heavy emotion?” Wonder if this will really matter in a day, week, or much later on in life. If it is a matter of decision you have to make, such as choosing what to do immediately following your anger, it will become much easier to think logically about it once you are calm and removed. Say you are arguing with your teenage child about taking the car out for the night and s/he will not stop pestering you about it. You have already said no, but after becoming very frustrated and involved in a heated argument, you decide to tell them, “no car for two weeks!” Your teen then is then even more angry at you and now has to figure out a way to get around for the next two weeks or you might be forced to repeal your decision when you calmly realize later that they need the car for certain necessary responsibilities. I am not saying this is a wrong decision, only that it could have been avoided quite easily if you were not so angry and emotional.
Removing myself from my emotions in situations like these where I AM the teenager has helped me avoid perpetuating an argument into unfriendly territory where someone might get grounded. I have also noticed that I DO think better when I take a few deep breaths and logically think about the situation at hand. It has definitely improved my quality of life and interactions with others.
I should make one note here though. I kind of miss crying. I can’t just become less emotional without another way to release. I have found many different ways to replace emotional release, like exercising and singing, but none of them truly replace the emotions I have stored within. My point is this: sometimes it is good for you to cry. This is different than emotions clouding your judgement in a time of heat. Crying is a natural process and as I have become less emotional, it has become harder for me to get the tears out. Sometimes, I feel tired and even a little heavy-headed when all I need is to let it all out, either with someone or alone. People should cry; crying is good for us.