By Joan Marlow —
You’ve had enough and what comes out of your mouth is: SHUT UP!!! YOU’RE STUPID!! I DON’T WANT YOU AS A FRIEND!! I HATE YOU!! I’M JUST AN IDIOT!!!
Your body goes into action: slamming doors, cutting class, driving too fast, not following through on a promise, beating up on your brother or sister, breaking things or wanting to hurt yourself.
When the dust settles or you end up losing privileges and you somehow come to your senses, you might ask: What just happened? Did you say or act in that nasty manner to simply make the person ‘go away’ or ‘stop bothering you’ or to ‘make a point?’ Are you really that nasty and non-caring to ‘deliberately’ hurt someone or hurt yourself? When you think about or own up to your actions or what you said that was hurtful to someone you might well care for, you wish you could have a do-over??!! Apologies might well be in order, but over time saying ‘I’m sorry’ loses its impact because the hurt is too deep and no one believes you because your behavior hasn’t changed.
What can be done to avoid that reaction happening again?
First step: STOP everything to take a moment and reflect upon what took place before the ‘firey’ response moment…
Were you feeling pressure from all the things you have on our plate?
School, sports, social life, family dynamics, grades, homework, hormones, dating, friends, worry, feeling like you don’t have a voice, pressure to make decisions, physical or emotional pain, feeling like the world is falling down around you, not knowing where to turn for help…
…you fill in the blank….bottom line, the pressure just kept growing!!! You yell or act by instinct and survival without considering a calmer alternative. In that moment all you want to do is to make the ‘noises’ stop before your head blows off your shoulders. If only you had a ‘pressure-release valve’ like an Insta-Pot? Simply set the valve on ‘auto-release’ so that when the pressure inside the pot reaches a certain level, the ‘auto-valve’ safely opens and releases the steam…That might sound silly, but you get the picture.
Well, help is on the way!!
When we explore those ‘noises,’ this is what we find. There is the ‘internal noise’ as described above, which are the ‘stories’ we tell ourselves in our head about a situation, the role we play in the situation and how we would like the story to end…which, by the way, sets expectations that many times result in disappointment because of the extenuating factors outside of ourselves that are totally out of our control so beware. Those ‘stories’ are based upon our interpretation of the world around us influenced by what we hear and observe in our world of friends, the media, our parents, music we listen to, shows we watch, etc, which is ‘external noise.’ Add to that the fact that we humans are our own worst critics so typically those ‘stories’ are negative. Ultimately, the time comes when your frustration and pressure brings you to the ‘moment of truth’ when you take matters into your own hands (aka acting or speaking inappropriately) to make it stop.
Before you give away your personal power by ‘blowing’ up, consider taking a ‘time out’ to ‘pause’ for a minute or two to bring yourself back to calm, back to your senses where you regain your personal power!
Yes, when you sense that the pressure is going into the ‘red’ danger zone, STOP, take a deep breath, and practice this personal power pause:
- Sit with your feet flat on the floor and your hands on your thighs
- Bring your attention down to your feet; notice your feet on the ground and your seat in the chair; notice your hands on your legs. Consciously slow your breath.
- Scan your body to find your heart beat and your pulse rhythmically thumping. Bring your mind and your attention into your body.
- Now gently bring attention on the natural rhythm of your breath. With your mind resting on your breath, you may start to notice a sense of ease. You may start to notice as you exhale fully, that there’s a little less tension; a little less internal noise.
- During this pause, all you need to do is notice your feet, notice your hands, notice your heartbeat and notice your breath. If you choose to, you can place your focus on any one of those areas of your body. Landing on one spot is a perfect way to take a pause and find the ‘noise’ silenced.
- When you’re ready, open your eyes and notice how you feel. Has the pressure subsided a bit, are you feeling more in control, are you ready to respond to the pressure in a calmer manner.
- Thank yourself for taking this personal pause.**
The situation at hand might not have changed, but you have. Your moment of personal pause provided you the opportunity to quiet the noises that were contributing to the pressure buildup. This exercise calmed your nervous system to enable you to think more clearly. This will ultimately support your ability to preserve relationships, address feelings of overwhelm, get support and be open to have others gain an understanding of what you’re feeling/sensing towards an improved resolution.
** Cara Bradley podcast, On the Verge, as shared in Mindful Magazine, Aug 15, 2018