“Listen, or your tongue will make you deaf.”
-Native American Proverb
When I feel heightened emotion and start to nose dive into fight mode, I try to pull up on the brakes. I aim to push myself off my spit-fire island and remember …
High emotion signals red. Red light, not green.
As Don’t Sweat the Small Stuff’s Richard Carlson said, “there are always going to be people who disagree with you, people who do things differently, and things that don’t work out. If you fight against this principle of life, you’ll spend most of your life fighting battles.”
He’s talking about keeping an eye on the good ‘ol grand scheme of things. Life is packed with opportunities to argue, confront, make a big deal out of everything … or simply let the small stuff go and leave a gap between the stimulus and the response. Rolling with the punches – which for me means a cool off period – is usually the answer.
Tough for me.
Wish I may, wish I might, I am not wired Zen, but am fiery instead. I’ve mellowed with age and have learned to tame my quick reaction, but still … I often stand at the entrance of a tunnel of fury. Gloves on. Scrappy.
I’m pretty good at managing, and getting better with practice.
But I don’t always succeed.
I work to tame my constitution. If I feel angry, my instincts are to fight. It takes intentional effort for me to stop before firing back. My goal is to break the chain with a petite pause between the stimulus and my response.
When emotions swell up, I try to stop.
I take a deep breathe. Or 3. Literally. I close my eyes – if I can, and sometimes it’s with an escape to the bathroom – and take three natural breaths. I focus my attention on the experience of breathing to interrupt the cascade of speedy thinking.
I don’t enter the tunnel.
Instead I check my head. Stop. I try to get to the heart of the issue – mine or theirs.
I run through the primal questions: Are you tired? Are you hungry? Do you need a minute to transition? Are you feeling overwhelmed?
And then …
I try to imagine how I will feel/would react in 1 hour … 1 day … 1 week … 1 month … 1 year … and if I feel like leaping, 5 years.
A tweak in perspective can do wonders.
And so can a kickboxing class.
Ciao for now.