Disagreements are inevitable, especially with the people you care about. Perhaps they're inevitable precisely because you care about them. But hurtful words hurled in anger, no matter how much you may regret them, can never be unsaid. So check out these ten tips for holding on to your temper, when you’re provoked and already hot under the collar.
REALLY LISTEN TO WHAT THE OTHER PERSON IS SAYING.
Is the criticism you’re getting from a loved one really ticking you off? Try to stave off the hurt enough for you to really listen to what they’re telling you—it might be for your own good. After all, they may be trying to tell you something they feel is important. And let’s face it: sometimes people can hurt you by simply not knowing a good way to broach a sensitive topic.
Go beyond the words to the meat of the message. Is that person really telling you that something in your behavior is causing hurt or concern? Don’t go on the defensive right away. Consider how your own words and actions could be misconstrued, even when you’re only telling the truth as you know it, and even if you have everyone’s best interests in mind. Then decide whether this is a valid point or not. Respond to what the other person is saying—not how he is saying it.
GO AWAY AND THINK ABOUT IT.
Sometimes it’s difficult to really understand what another person is saying when you’re busy reacting to the words used, or when you’re seeing red from hurt or anger. Know yourself enough to know when this happens so you can step back and take the time you need to think about it calmly, without temper snapping at your heels. Tell your honey you appreciate his honesty, and you would like some time to think about what he had to say. Always assure him that you will come back and talk about it—just not now. Then calm yourself down and try to look at the situation as objectively as you can. Take yourself out of the picture, if you can; think about what advice you’d give another person who came to you with the same problem as yours, then take it.
If you’re in a situation in which you simply can’t walk away for the time being, count to ten—and if that doesn’t work, count to twenty. The important thing is to get into a frame of mind where you can be as calm and rational as possible, where you’ll be less likely to say things you’ll regret later on.
BRING ON THE ZEN.
Go to your happy place. Yes, it’s a cliché, but the reason why it’s so overused is that it works! If you’re expecting bad news or if you’re struggling to deal with an explosive situation, remind yourself of something that gives you peace or happiness. Your mind will make things worse than they are if you let it—so don’t. Breathe deeply. Think of yourself releasing the bad vibes and taking in good vibes as you do so.
FIND MIDDLE GROUND.
Rather than going for your guy’s throat in anger, try compromising instead. It’s not really a thought to relish, giving up on some of the points that you really wanted to push for. But remember that sometimes you have to lose a few battles to win the war, especially in a long-term relationship. Give in to the little things that aren’t quite as important to you and stand up for the things that mean the most.
More often than not, people tend to fight against the totality of something rather than the core of it; they quibble about trimmings but find they are agreed on the general idea. Find that which you and your sparring partner are of the same mind about, then give and take from there. For example, if you are parents arguing over where to send your child to school, you both obviously want the best education you can afford for your child, but how you define “best” or “affordable” may be in question. So you may want to try to define what exactly both of you want in order to come to a decision you both can live with. Or, if you’re arguing over where to go on a date, it might be a good idea to start with where you don’t want to go. You may also want to compromise by doing what one person wants this time, and doing what the other person wants the next. All relationships are about give and take; it’s important that you, as they say, don’t sweat the small stuff.
GET PHYSICAL: TAKE UP A SPORT.
You may be suffering from bottled-up-emotion-itis. Having a physical outlet for your anger may help you deal better with other people. Active and competitive sports like running, tennis, swimming, basketball, and so forth may help carve the edge off irritability. Besides, as Elle Woods chirpily informed us in Legally Blonde, exercise gives us endorphins, endorphins make us happy, and happy people just don’t kill—or feel like killing—other people.
VENT, BUT WITH THE RIGHT PEOPLE.
In relation to the previous tip, you may want to find a safe haven where you can spew and let out all the rage you may be trying to hold in. This may take the form of a trusted friend or family member. Or it may take the form of a diary or journal. Sometimes just talking it through or writing it down goes a long way to thinking and responding more rationally to an inflammatory person, discussion, or situation. Just do it with someone who is stalwartly on your side. Journals are especially handy with this since you are, essentially, talking to the cool, blank part of yourself when you scribble word upon angry word upon a fresh page.
KEEP YOUR COOL BY KEEPING COOL.
Don’t let the summer heat impact your mood. Heat and humidity, apart from bringing problems like sunburn and bungang araw, can bring an itchy sort of irritability you may not be able to throw off. The solution? Keep it cool. Take a shower both in the morning and when you come in from work in the evening. Quench your thirst and cool off with food and beverages designed to beat the heat. If you commute, you should also try to keep it cool with the handy tips from this Female Network article. While you may not mean to snap at a loved one when he bugs you at just the wrong moment, you may not be entirely unable to undo the hurt your outburst may cause. So can the irritability by making yourself less susceptible to the heat.
DON’T "PUT THE LIME IN THE COCONUT."
If you’re nursing a temper, don’t, under any circumstances, go out and drink it down. Alcohol is a downer, but it can also fuel anger into rage. At the very least, it impairs your control, and temper is something you very much should be in control of—so you can vent and stew on your own time, and so innocent bystanders don’t get caught in the explosion. Alcohol takes away your power to mitigate the damages, and let’s face it, you don’t want to risk going off and doing or saying something you may regret—or worse, you may not even remember—later on, do you? Certainly not when it involves possibly damaging a relationship with someone you care about permanently.
LET IT GO.
Sulking is childish, yes, and a very common human reaction to being hurt or afraid—and, really, isn’t hurt and fear the root of all anger? But it isn’t a productive outlet for your emotions, and it can further alienate the other party. While you may be tempted to hold on to your feelings of anger and injury, you should try very hard to let it go. To forgive, yes, but contrary to the cliché, not to forget. Forgive the pain the other person has caused you, but don’t forget that you’ve been hurt by it or forget what the other person has said. It’s important to remember these things so you can give voice to your emotions and furthermore work on the problems that have emerged between you and someone you love.
SAY YOU’RE SORRY.
“Sorry” is such an underrated word, mostly because it doesn’t undo a wrong, and it doesn’t make things right. But it does count a lot when it comes to building a relationship, because even if you’re not sorry for having and sticking to your opinion about something, you can be sorry that you’ve hurt another person or for the way you've expressed yourself. “Sorry” is the opening dialogue to “let’s work on things to make them better,” and it’s the first step to allowing yourselves to disagree with another person without bringing anger into the situation.
Always say you’re sorry when you’ve hurt someone—but only if you mean it. You don’t want to start building or rebuilding your relationship on something empty; therefore your apology should never be empty. Don’t say you’re sorry because it’s easier or it’ll get someone off you’re back—that’s how the word got such a bad rep in the first place. Apologize when your regret is genuine and you’re willing to work with someone to build a stronger, better relationship with someone—it may not be perfect, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t try.
(Photo courtesy of Walt Disney Pictures)
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