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SAYING “CALM DOWN”
This is when we think that calmness can be commanded. Someone is worked up, and we say, “Calm down.” Not only are we doing something ineffective, we are being rude.
Because, when we tell someone to calm down, we are basically telling her that she doesn’t have legitimate reasons for being worked up, which usually only makes her more frustrated.
This is our least effective (and most commonly used) technique.
This is when we think that time equates to calmness. The problem is that time doesn’t make us calmer. In fact, it often only makes us more upset, because we don’t spend that time allowing the calming process to occur. We spend it dwelling on our fears and frustrations. If we’re not careful, time will only fan the flame of our bad emotions — giving them power to keep us worked up.
This is when we think that being alone will make us calmer. It doesn’t really ensure that we’ve stopped raging. It only ensures that we aren’t sharing our space with anyone while we do it. If we want solitude to help us, we can’t just distance ourselves from other people; we must also distance ourselves from those destructive thoughts and feelings that keep us excited.
This is when we try to act like nothing’s bothering us. It usually provides an instant sense of relief, albeit a frail one. Because, it really just makes us more fragile. More afraid of our bubble being popped, which is threatened by all the real things we find bothersome.
This is when we try to shelter ourselves from what is bothering us. The issue with this is that we allow ourselves not to deal with the real problem. And, we often end up eliminating challenges that could strengthen us, as well as people who we would be better off having by our sides.
This is when we attempt to relieve our stress by becoming hostile — usually, towards whatever we view is the source of our stress. While there are some healthy ways to take out aggression, such as beating on a drum set or a boxing bag, it is very easy to misplace our aggression unhealthily, adding more damage to what has already been done.
RECIPROCATING BAD BEHAVIOR
This is when we attempt to fight chaos with chaos. Your kid throws a tantrum, and you throw a tantrum back. Your husband gets loud and crazy, and you get even louder and crazier. In the movies, it works. In real life, emotional problems don’t go away by bringing more emotional problems into the equation. The only real cure for chaos is order. We can only improve a bad situation by bringing to it what it is lacking.
MAKING UP FOR IT LATER
This is when we think we can reset the balance in our lives by making up for our bad moments with good moments. After we flip out at our spouse or scream at our kids, we decide to go above and beyond. Maybe we make a nice dinner. Maybe we take our kids to the fair and buy them toys and ice cream. The problem with this is that it fixes what isn’t broken and fails to fix what is. Because, the problem in our lives isn’t that our good moments aren’t good enough; it’s that our bad moments are really bad. So bad, that they spill toxicity into all of the other moments in our lives. They create 99% of the regret and remorse that we walk around with the rest of the time. The other major problem with this thinking is that it is self-enabling. It allows us to continue our bad behavior — falsely assured that there is no need for us to practice restraint in the present moment.
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