Can I tell you a secret?

I have to admit that I don’t always handle disharmony very well.

I push for solutions too quickly because I don’t like the tension that I feel when others get angry.

I try to fix the problem as fast as possible just to get out of the discomfort.

But what I realized is this…the reason I’m not comfortable with other people’s anger is that I’m actually not comfortable with my own.

Sometimes I move through my anger too quickly—I ignore it, or downplay it, or reason it away.

But when I become more confident and consistent in noticing (and managing) my own anger, I’m much more comfortable when others show theirs.

Emotions are natural, and anger is just another emotion that is a sign that something is out of balance.

It’s so important to acknowledge your emotions, and the other person’s, before trying to problem-solve a situation.

One way that I manage my anger when I feel attacked or confronted is to ask myself in the moment:

  1. “What emotion do I feel right now?” I feel overwhelmed.
  2. “Where do I feel it in my body?” I feel tension in my heart.
  3. “What number on a scale of 1 to 10 is the intensity of that emotion?” The overwhelm is at an 8.

These questions will help you become aware of how you’re feeling so you have control over what you do or say next.

You can do this exercise with any strong emotion, but especially with anger—so that you’ll become more comfortable with it and know how to work through it. 

If your anger is only at a 4 or 5 on the scale, you’re in a good place to be able to think and respond with clarity and calm to the situation.

But…and this is important…if you freeze or shut down when someone treats you unfairly the first time, and then another, and another, you’ll start to pass that 4 or 5 level, and one day, that same situation that started at a 5 might be a 10. And that’s the moment when you explode and wonder what happened.

Even “nice girls” can fly off the handle. Why? Because you’re tying to contain, and even ignore, your emotions rather than observing them and getting to know them.

Once you hit a 10, it takes a lot more effort to respond with clarity and kindness to a situation.

But if you’re aware of your feelings when you’re at a 4 or 5, you can respond in ways that clarify (and even resolve) the issue before it gets to a 10.

So when you’re in a difficult situation, and you’re getting bombarded, check yourself.

Emotions are natural. Make friends with them so that you can choose how you respond to them rather than letting them control you.

You can do this. You are in control.

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© 2015 AMY RYMER