How many times have you reacted to a situation in a split second, became angry, shouted, said how dare you, it’s all your fault and not stopped until you’ve run out of rage? What if you could acknowledge a situation, recognise how uncomfortable you feel due to increased levels of anger, frustration, sadness or whatever we feel, own how you feel, then calmly find out the full story and work on a resolution? Sounds impossible, right?
We are human, we are programmed on a primal level to react to situations that our subconscious perceives as dangerous. Modern day stress feels no different from the dangers we used to face with wild animals chasing us while out hunting for food. The same hormones are released to “assist” us to deal with these situations. But as we have evolved in today’s society, we have learned we can communicate with words and not just actions. If we take just a few seconds to assess what outcome we would like from a situation, before we start dealing with it, it can change the whole experience.
When we have a relationship with a friend, partner or child, and they do something that disappoints us, we can be quicker to react than if a stranger did the same thing. Because we have a level of expectation on how it’s acceptable to behave or what our boundaries are.
A situation the other day caused a client of mine to react with anger and frustration. She went from her normal level of acceptable stress, to 10 in a split second.
The details of the story aren’t important, though it could help you to relate to something you’ve experienced.
She had left her son at home while she nipped out to the shop. She’d just had some work done outside her house. When she returned, the work had been knocked down and ruined. She knew her son had been riding his bike around and she told him off, being angry at what a stupid thing he’d done, how could he think that was a good idea, it’s ruined now, it cost a lot of money and so on. He took the ear bashing and accepted he consequence to his actions.
But the next morning, a mother of her son’s friend called to apologise as she’d just found out her son had admitted to have ridden around and broken something and was calling to offer to pay for it to be fixed. My client then approached her son with the new information and he admitted that it wasn’t him, but would rather she told him off than get his friend’s in trouble. Because he watched him do it, but felt he couldn’t stop him until it was too late, so therefore felt responsible.
Now why didn’t her son just say straight away, it wasn’t me, I didn’t do it. There’s a few reasons. First of all, he felt to blame for some of it, so thought to save others I’ll take the full blame. He was being loyal to his friend. But also, I don’t know whether you’ve seen the film Monster Inc. The placid monster accidently scares a little girl he’s looking after in the scare factory, all she can see is his rage, not the love and trust they’ve built, so she runs from him before he can explain what he’s doing. Anger shuts people down, it triggers their stress response, they can’t think as straight as they’d like. How can you reason with an angry force? If when you’re in a stressful situation you go to the fight response, the other person can meet rage with rage, but if that doesn’t reach resolve, it generally only fuels a bigger divide.
But we have to remember, we are experiencing situations for the first time, especially with children going through different ages, each one presents a new challenge. Both of you have never been at that age before, with these unique experiences. We can’t stop our split second reaction, but we can choose whether we react or respond to it. We can take a cleansing breath and to calm ourselves, and open up to learning more about it, before bringing the judges hammer down and serve the sentence.
Quick guide to stressful situations
1. Notice how you feel about the situation and the response your body is having, look around you, ground yourself
2. Breathe in and out slowly, this will instruct your mind you’re not in danger
3. Think what you want at the end, if you still want a relationship with this person, it’s important to acknowledge this before words tumble out of your mouth that you can’t take back.
4. Gain greater understanding, so you can assess the whole picture
5. Ask for time out to process the issues, if you’re struggling because the new information is overloading you.
6. Discuss a healthy outcome for both of you, or agree to compromise.
7. It’s ok to revisit the discussion at a later date, because our views can change and further clarification maybe needed to reach resolution.
“I don’t always have to be right, but I do always want to be happy”
These techniques I use with clients all the time. Switching their perspective on “problems” and changing how they feel about it in a few minutes, after sometimes a lifetime of pain and upset. They can then view them as “lessons”.
Relationships are about communication and compromise. Each person in the union needs to build a bridge to each other. Sometimes one side of the bridge will reach towards the other more, because they have better skills in communication, which can feel like they’re doing all the running. But remember we are all aware and have knowledge of different areas in our lives.
When we communicate to the other person, those changes could be made to strengthen the relationship and it’s met with resistant and negative feelings, saying you’re the one at fault for even suggesting it, this is when you’ve hit someone’s buttons and they’re not ready to take ownership yet.
Some people show affection by doing practical things, others want cuddles and intimacy to feel connected. These are called “your love language”. As long as both people feel good and a satisfactory compromise is reached, that’s successful relationship. When one needs more than the other can give, or is willing to give, an in balance occurs. Which can lead to unresolved issues and separation if not resolved.
Try not to compare yourself with other families or couples. What works for them, won’t necessary work for you. The perfect Facebook life isn’t always what it seems. People sometimes need to project a fabulous life for others to envy for them to feel good, but in reality at home it’s very different,
Kasona – Be happy, Stress less
“You either get bitter, or you get better.
It’s that simple.
You either take what has been dealt to you and allow it to make you a better person, or you allow it to tear you down. The choice does not belong to fate, it belongs to you”… Josh Ship