October 05, 2009

Keeping Your Cool

Keeping Your Cool   Why We Lose it, How to get  it  Back.  
 
The other day, a client told me of how she “lost it” while on the phone with her insurance company. She was embarrassed that, in the midst of a frustrating conversation, she had lost her temper, raised her voice and made comments that weren’t kind .  Losing it is something we have all done at one time or another but it seems that, lately, we as a culture, are dealing with exasperating circumstances even more poorly. People seem to be losing it more and more. Indeed, anger management is a hot topic in the mental health world.  
 
Today we will look at the psychology of losing it and what can be done to reduce its occurrence.
 
Why We do Lose it

 
Losing it is an Impulse control / Panic Response.  We lose our temper and our civil behavior as a response to feeling : powerless, out of control  and/or threatened.
 
In stead of acting politely, like our parents taught us, our perception of reality become distorted and we are overwhelmed with a sense of crisis.  Our rational brain is hi-jacked by the amygdale and all hell breaks loose. The person who is losing it feels small and unable to compete by normal means and thus has to RAISE his/her Voice  so that his/her words can be heard by the oversized opponent and make CUTTING remarks to “cut them down to  size”.
 
In addition to being rude, losing it diminishes our effectiveness for arguing our position in a controversy. Rather than staying focused on the issue, the angry behavior becomes the focus of attention.
 
How to stop
 
There are times when a real threat is present and extraordinary responses are required, but mostly that is not the case. If you have a problem controlling your temper, here are some tips to keep from losing it:
 
1.    Stop Blaming others and Accept that you have a problem.
Problems in life are not one-sided. It takes two to tango. No one is all wrong, and you are not all right.
 
2.    Respect the other person’s point of view. Human interaction is complex and difficult to negotiate.
 
3.    Reality test the severity of frustration you’re feeling and your immediate expectations for the moment. (Ask yourself, “ Is this really a crisis ?” )      
 
4.    Learn to identify, in your body,  the early warning signs that you are getting upset, Such as your face flushing or your heart pounding. Becoming aware of a brooding upset gives you time to do something to avoid an explosion.
 
5.    Assert your Influence. Stressed folks usually feel either powerless or that they need to take total control. Both of these thoughts are erroneous. Everyone has some influence on a situation and you need to know what your area of power is.   
 
6.    Be Persistent.  Remember the parable of the Widow and the Judge. (Luke 18:1-8)  Ask yourself, “Is it realistic to expect that I will get everything I want instantaneously ?”
 
7.    If you can’t think clearly, don’t continue the conversation.
    End the conversation and walk away.  Rejoin the conversation   
    later, when you are more composed.)
 
These remarks were prepared by the Rev. Michael Heath, LMHC, . for Bridge Street  10/05/2009.
 
 








 

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