by LESLIE SPEAS
Can you think of a time when you lost your cool and didn’t manage yourself very well? Most of us can. When we are angry or stressed, we don’t always react in the best possible way. So, how can we do better when things get dicey with other people? Below are some strategies to consider.
Name It to Tame It
First of all, it’s helpful to work on identifying the signs and symptoms when you start to get worked up (i.e., heart rate increases, chest tightens). Once you notice these signs, you can “name it to tame it” by labeling emotions as they’re happening. Naming the intense emotion has the effect of taming the stress and anxiety in the brain and the body that that emotion is triggering.
Practice the Pause
Practicing the pause is always a good strategy in these types of situations. The Book of Proverbs provides some great advice that supports this notion.
- “Before the quarrel breaks out, take your leave.” Proverbs 17:14
- “Fools vent their anger, but the wise quietly hold it back.” Proverbs 29:11
If you are able, take some deep breaths, step away and avoid reacting until you are in a better mindset, and you can choose your response.
Use the Four Es
The Four Es is a model that can be utilized to manage yourself in situations where you are tempted to lose your cool. This model is based on a four-quadrant model that Levi Lusko shares in the book, Take Back Your Life: A 40-Day Interactive Journey to Thinking Right So You Can Live Right. To do this exercise, you may want to draw four quadrants on a piece of paper and label them with each of the four Es. Record your responses as you work through each phase.
Think about what you want to do or say because you are angry or stressed. Maybe you feel like saying something mean or snarky. Or maybe you want to send a scathing email. Think about the underlying reason why you want to do or say this.
Estimate what will happen if you do what you want. Ask yourself what the result will likely be. Will this path take you in a good direction? For example, if I go off on my coworker, what will happen? Dale Carnegie once said, “If you want to gather honey, don’t kick over the beehive.” Think about this as you estimate the impact of implementing what you want to do or say.
Determine what you really want to happen from the situation. Maybe you want respect or an apology. Maybe you want a quick response. You will typically find that once you examine and estimate your initial response, you’ll realize that you need to evolve and do something different to get a better outcome.
Determine what you need to get to your desired outcome. And guess what? This will likely be contrary to your first inclination. Think about how someone you admire would respond to the situation. For example, having a conversation with a coworker who hurt your feelings works better than stuffing your anger and being passive-aggressive. Once you have worked through this exercise, enact the strategy which will likely get you to a better outcome.
Practice Healthy Lifestyle Habits
Finally, practicing healthy lifestyle habits will help you to be able to better manage yourself. Some tips are below:
- Get enough sleep: It’s easier to “fly off the handle” when you’re exhausted.
- Eat well: You may have heard the expression “hangry.” Eat regularly and choose foods that fuel your body well!
- Exercise: Physical activity can help reduce anxiety and help you cope.
- Mindfulness: Practicing mindfulness can help increase coping skills and have other positive effects on your health.
In conclusion, using these strategies to better manage yourself when things get dicey will result in more positive relationships, reduced stress and better outcomes.