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How to Stay Calm in Frustrating Situations (Even if You Have Zero Patience)

No Stress

“Holding on to anger is like grasping a hot coal with the intent of throwing it at someone else; you are the one who gets burned.” ~Buddha

Uh-oh, you did it again.

You fell into the same trap as last week.

Perhaps someone was driving in front of you going 20 in a 55 mph zone, or maybe you received terrible customer service and couldn’t get your refund.

So you snapped and lost your temper.

Whatever the reason for your explosive reaction, you haven’t yet found a way to keep control and remain calm.

Becoming impatient and losing your temper is sort of like smoking cigarettes. Sure, one or a few hundred won’t kill you.

But compounded over time it’ll secretly damage you from within by alienating yourself, negatively influencing your kids, and indirectly pushing your spouse or close ones away.

Despite your situation being a big deal, you may not know where to begin to fix it.

You feel powerless to control it, so you continue sweeping it under the rug.

How I Unknowingly Inherited and Cultivated an Unwanted Trait

For most of my life and practically all stressful encounters, I’d become frustrated and lose my temper. I didn’t realize I was subconsciously “practicing” negativity each time I did that.

I was acting out an unwanted behavior repeatedly, over and over to the point of mastering pessimism.

I displayed an objectionable outburst for every resented encounter.

Practice makes perfect, after all. And ultimately, I perfected being negative.

Sigh … an unwanted skill so simple to obtain.

My dad learned it from my grandpa, I learned it from my dad, and I’ve unintentionally passed it on to my two little daughters.

My impatience infected my family. This endless cycle needed to end.

For years, my family stuck with me no matter what, and my guilt coaxed me into trying to finally put a stop to it all.

I tried many things over the years to conquer my impatience—everything from meditation to conscious laughter—and while these methods might help others, they didn’t really work for me.

So I struggled trying new tactics—until I found what worked.

Through a lot of trial and error, I’ve finally conquered it with the following techniques:

1. Curse if you have to.

We all know cursing is a bad habit to begin with, but we need to start somewhere, especially when reacting to situations that set us off.

The moment you instinctively curse, take that as your audible cue to immediately inhale deeply. Visualize negative energy purging from your body as you exhale.

Repeat a few more times to generate a feeling of calm and control.

It can be hard to quit cursing cold turkey, so allow yourself to curse, notice when you do, and then use breathing exercises to calm yourself down.

You’re ultimately aiming to replace your expletives with calming breaths the instant a stressful situation arises.

It’s advisable to curse when alone—not at others or around those who might be offended (such as parents with children).

2. Do not walk away to cool off.

Instead of walking away to cool off, do the opposite and face the stress head-on by training your brain to “visualize calm” at the moment the stress occurs.

I found that walking away is like a pause button. It only delays the inevitable but doesn’t fix the root of the problem. I wasn’t reprogramming my brain to react positively when the stimuli occurred.

So for me, visualizing calm was my baby daughter sleeping; for others, a waterfall may do.

When losing our cool, we snap without thinking.

By forcing yourself to visualize calm the moment the stress takes place, you are essentially diffusing it as a potential trigger.

You’re nipping it in the bud before it escalates.

3. Fight stress with more stress.

Creatively think of another stressful situation that’s ten times bigger than the one you have now, then juxtapose them to realize that your initial stress isn’t such a big deal anymore.

These two stressors should be related to each other for this to work.

So what’s worse: being late for a job interview, or getting into a mangled car wreck because you were tailgating?

4. Learn to love your enemy in less than sixty seconds.

Instead of becoming irate toward the person you feel has wronged you, visualize a loving family member, a caring friend, or anyone close to you in their place instead.

Imagine for a moment that you’re driving to work going the speed limit when all of a sudden someone going half your speed abruptly cuts in front of you, prompting you to slam on your brakes.

If that were a stranger, you would lose your mind in a heartbeat.

But you can change the whole dynamic. If it were your mother, you would relax in a second and be thankful you didn’t accidentally hurt her.

You’ll feel an overwhelming sense of peace and accomplishment when you can throw your ego out the window and care about a total stranger.

And what if the person you’re frustrated by is a family member? For me, this one’s easy. I think of one caring act they have done for me in the past.

5. Apply the asteroid scenario test.

Simply put, if an asteroid hit Earth and life as we know it was about to end, you’d have a choice:

Would you really spend your final days stressing and worrying about something you have absolutely no control over?

Or would you be happy with your loved ones with whatever time you have left?

Extreme situation, I know, but you need to decide and move forward.

Learn to ascertain what you cannot control, and acknowledge this with unwavering acceptance. Then focus on positive steps you can control instead.

6. Accept criticism gracefully.

By accepting criticism without malice, you are neutralizing any tension and strengthening your poise under pressure. You can think of it as psychological judo by redirecting someone else’s verbal attacks away from you.

Yes, you will feel hurt and angry, and you’ll feel the sting afterward. That’s completely normal.

But instead of retaliating impulsively and getting into a heated argument, remember that you can either leave this unstable mess as it is or you can add more fuel to the fire and make it bigger than it already is.

Choose wisely and pick the lesser of the two evils.

No matter what situation you face, know this fact:

You have the power to make a choice. Never, ever give that power away.

Don’t waste your precious energy on things that accomplish absolutely nothing.

I’ve Finally Arrived

It’s quite an achievement: I feel closer to my family than ever.

I gradually see my daughters “unlearning” how to be impatient. They followed suit without being aware of it.

It’s a work in progress, but pleasing nonetheless.

It’s simply amazing how others absorb your warm energy.

I communicate so much easier with my loving wife too. Of course, we do have minor quibbles here and there, but we don’t have any sarcastic sharp-tongue arguments now!

Everything feels healthy and balanced.

Start Small in the Right Direction

Engaging in stress is a daily ritual all of us fall victim to with absolute ease.

Make a conscious effort to catch yourself if you falter.

Wait too long and you risk boiling it over. It’s too late if you’re already worked up.

And if you’re dead-set on knowing you’ll fail, you will. It’s a self-fulfilling prophecy.

So take a stand.

Make an effort to change for the better each instance you feel something simmering from within you.

Use perseverance as a vehicle to your destination.

Your family, everyone close to you, and your own happy life are waiting for you.

No stress image via Shutterstock

Profile photo of Perry Manzano

About Perry Manzano

Perry Manzano is on a mission to inspire, motivate, and improve people's lives with practical advice, helpful tips, and clever life hacks. Download his free guide "5 Surprising Ways to Reduce Stress and Promote Positivity."

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  • Supriya Rao

    Helpful!

  • Annie

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  • ccrgirl

    You’re great, thanks!

  • Jimmy Roos

    Hmmm… interesting way to deal with stress. I’m glad you could find something that worked for you. As you said, different things work for different people… then again, you won’t know what will work for you until you try it. And not try it with a negative attitude, but with an open mind… thanks for sharing.

  • shea oneil

    I personally turn into the incredible hulk and wreak havoc on people who annoy me until they learn not to mess with me anymore, and to stop doing stupid things…. like we have all cut people off… for sure.. but do it to me, I’m going to honk at you and flick you off… and when enough people do that to you, you will learn to drive better… I don’t get outta my car with a shovel… that is dumb… and if I see someone do that… I flick them off and honk at them… and drive quickly away. Oh and if I cut someone off… I feel bad when I see someone honk and flick me off and I shrug my shoulders up and say.. oooops sooorrrrry! and I drive more carefully… and I try to get away form their car.. sometimes I mouth I am sorry to them I my mirror…

  • Perry Manzano

    You’re most welcome! Very well said. You hit the nail on the head when you said “open mind”. We all search for what works by trying things here and there even when we are uncertain. Finding a possible solution and custom tailoring it to our own individuality.

  • Jerry

    I wholeheartedly disagree with #2! Anyone who has teenagers knows you MUST walk away to cool down in an argument. You commented you have a baby girl — let me know when she’s a teen and we will see how well the not walking away during a heated argument works for you!

  • Perry Manzano

    I can relate to this. We all have past experiences that are less than pleasant. And you bring up a very good point. By experiencing both sides of the situation, we may be irate toward people for being rude to us but on the other side of the coin, we may unintentionally do things that become misconstrued as disrespectful to others. Knowing this gives us a better understanding in others that have wronged us so to speak by giving them the benefit of the doubt.

  • Some points could be really hard!

    With regards to #3, or perhaps to the whole article anyway, I say it’s normal to get frustrated. Just realize that stress, anger, etc. are definitely not a good thing we’d put our energy to. There always are better things, more important things to deal with that need our energy. You don’t have an unlimited amount of it, you know?

    If the stress keeps coming on a regular basis (every day, every morning, even once a week), it may be time to set limits. People may agree to disagree if needed. But you’d have to stick with the particular issue–no more and no less. Don’t mix it up with others; all will only become messy at the expense of your wellbeing and your relationships with others.

    Raising kids may be a special case, but absolutely not an exception. We have a toddler at home; it’s all great. But I know he’s going to grow up. It’s a journey.

    Interesting tips, indeed. But yes, I’ll always choose calm, peace of mind, and lotsa love!

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  • Perry Manzano

    Thank you for sharing this. Yes, it can be hard. I agree that there are far more important things to deal with that need our energy. You’re correct that we don’t have an unlimited amount of it. Which makes it so precious.

    We can sometimes struggle to unlearn bad habits we spent years developing.

    It is indeed a journey. It was a challenge for me in my life and necessary in order for me to grow and become more mature in life.

  • Di

    Phsycological Judo. I like that, and believe I can put it to practice. Thanks for the post.

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  • Harold

    I notice a lot of people rage about being “cut off”.

    Yet at the same time keep talking about how they cut other people off.

    I have almost never been cut off while driving in my life, and I drive on major highways near a large city.

    The actual situation of someone changing lanes to be in front of me and then driving more slowly than me, for no reason, rarely happens.

    People sometimes need to change lanes.

    Perhaps 99% of the obsession with being “cut off” is an unreasonable expectation. The roads are not your private property. People are not required to drive unknown numbers of miles out of their way to avoid lane changes to make their exit, just to avoid changing lanes when you are driving. Even if they had to change lanes more quickly than they wanted because of two exits close to each other or traffic preventing them from getting over sooner, it is usually just an effort to get where they are going. You have to go where you are going and I have to go where I am going and we all have to share the road.

    Unreasonable anger is indeed almost exactly like cigarettes. It feels bad in many ways yet generates an addictive buzz and a sense of self-righteousness. It is addictive yet bad for us. Losing your temper is usually the opposite of being a strong person. Being consumed with rage at total strangers you will never see again over actions that weren’t directed at you, and in a situation where you are probably not even justified in being angry, does not make sense.

  • Harold

    Certain statements here are empirically wrong. I assume this is satire but I will point this out anyway.

    “Until they learn not to mess with me anymore” – Making people dislike and fear you by verbally or physically abusing them is the least effective way to modify their behavior. It is useless unless you have some kind of more powerful position in some way. When it does work, it often creates grudging submission as long as your power lasts, with underlying resentment. Behaviors that people resentfully keep in check out of fear of punishment will simply be indulged in whenever the fear of punishment subsides. A friendly, persuasive approach can cause people to fully accept your position as legitimate, and respect it even when you are not able to instill fear.

    Not everyone can be persuaded by a reasonable approach. A surprising number can, but a few damaged individuals see anything other than rage as a sign of weakness. However, getting into a rage contest with such people merely gives them the advantage. You are allowing them to challenge you to a duel and choose the weapons. If something happens the situation will be ambivalent.

    “I feel bad when I see someone honk and flick me off and I shrug my shoulders up and say.. oooops sooorrrrry”

    Honking can alert someone that they made an error, but “flipping them off” is merely going to provoke defensiveness and anger. The way this is written, if it were serious, it would seem to imply that the writer gets honked at and flipped off on a regular basis. This alone would negate the argument that people who get flipped off in traffic learn a valuable lesson from it.

  • Perry Manzano

    You’re last sentence is something I totally believe in. Being angry at total strangers we’ll never see again over actions not directed toward us.

    In those situations, I always ask myself, “Will this insignificant incident really matter to me in a few minutes? or a few hours?”.

    This question gives me a chance to just let it go. Sometimes we do replay the bad experience over in our heads, but we ultimately just forget about it and move on.

  • Shea O’Neil

    I don’t know what that means “empirically wrong”? I just meant that if I accidentally cut somebody off and they flick me off and honk at me, I understand why they’re upset, as I to get upset when somebody put my life in danger by not practicing proper driving techniques, and so, if somebody honked at me and flipped me off, I kind of cower my head in shoulders (maybe that’s better than saying shrugged my shoulders, I was trying to imply kind of sinking down into my seat in embarrassment for doing something wrong) and I lip I am sorry and it is because I care cuz I realize I made a mistake to them so that they know that I know that I was in the wrong and I won’t do it again. so being angry is ok as long as you express it in appropriate manner I mean I guess its not a nice thing to flip somebody off but it’s a relatively harmless way of expressing anger if you’re really upset about something somebody did and I think it’s normal to be angry about somebody almost hitting your car especially if you like have an infant in the back seat or something and you really want to get the message across that what they did was pretty wrong. it just depends on how badly somebody else erred but that goes along with my philosophy that I do think it’s ok to express anger as a form of teaching other people and also as a way of protecting onesself. and that’s just how I feel about the situation. but I also pointed out that it needs to be an appropriate measure like it is not okay to grab a shovel out and try to start a fight with somebody because you’re not stopping people from endangering you and them by doing that whereas and honking and flipping someone off is really kind of like stopping them from injuring you and letting them know that they were wrong but not bringing more harm to the situation. when I hear about road rage stories I think what is the sense in that? there is a way to say I’m not happy about this is really upset me and then there is a way to say I’m not happy about this is really upsetting me and you deserve to get hit with a shovel for it that’s just completely out of line. the bird was invented for anger when people cut you off .. at least that’s what I feel I’m not sure I haven’t wikipedia’d it but in my eyes that’s why the bird is in existence, it is a relatively harmless way to express a great anger inside. and I rarely cut people off and I rarely get flipped off at, so as far as the comment that I ge honked at all the time goes I don’t know why what I said made it seem like I do because I really don’t. I’m a very considerate driver and maybe that’s why I get upset if I see people driving recklessly around me.

  • Harold

    Hi –

    I’ll explain again.

    I don’t mean to seem critical.

    You basically say you want to teach people to drive more safely, or behave better.

    You say you do it by expressing anger and criticism – flipping the bird when you see them do something wrong. You also said that in some other contexts you “turn into the Hulk”.

    What I’m saying is that, empirically, that kind of angry criticism is not very effective at making people change their behavior.

    I realize you can’t say much to people in fast moving traffic, but it isn’t the case that flipping the bird at them will make them into better drivers, or at least, I don’t think it is. It’s cool if it works on you, but usually that kind of stuff just makes people ticked off and defensive.

    I would say in traffic, one, ask yourself whether you really are being “cut off” or whether people just need to change lanes and you might be a little less aware of others than you could be, and two, even if someone does change lanes in a way that really is bad, consider letting it go or doing something less confrontational.

  • Harold

    I also come from a family where there was a lot of anger, mainly directed at family members. As I have learned to try to keep myself cool I have noticed that even other, less angry people tend to get too angry over things that are out of our control or misinterpreted. Especially when we’re driving.

  • Shea O’Neil

    I know when I am being cut off and when I’m not being cut off. I don’t even see why you would have to make that comment like I’m not competent enough to know if somebody is cutting me off or not because I don’t agree with you on how I handle being cut off?

    And I’m still not quite sure how you handle being cut off but I do like to let people know hey you cut me off that’s how I communicate with people when I Drive. you don’t like the bird part I understand that it stands for something derogatory that might be offensive to a lot of people… I grew up and a lot of people used flicking off as a form of expressing anger and that’s just you know how we did it where I’m from. if it will make you feel like a happier person knowing that I’ll stop flicking people off in traffic then… I will only save it for the most intense violations and safety…. but I’m only doing it for you.

  • Shea O’Neil

    oh and I just want to add that I don’t barely ever get cut off and I rarely ever honk my horn and I even more p rarely flick people off.. this is not like an everyday occurrence so I guess I could see where you would think if I was flipping people off everyday that I must be doing something wrong but this is not calm and I’m just saying it’s a form of anger expression and I was using it as an example

  • Perry Manzano

    I have had many heated arguments. I’m sure many of us have…We have all been raised differently which is why we handle our own situations in different ways or the ways we see fit based on our own individuality.

    So I do respect everyone’s take on how they handle theirs. I only wish to share what worked for me. By no means is it easy, nothing is. Nor is anything set in stone.

    But there in lies the challenge for me. I didn’t want to push my family away. So I had to find what worked for me. So I plowed through it one day at a time no matter how difficult to get them closer to me.

  • Harold

    I wish I could end this without offending you, but there is no way, because you are a person who is looking for a chance to be offended and express anger.

    I don’t claim to be an expert on Buddhism, buy why you are expressing pride in being someone who is rude and abusive on a Buddhist forum, when that violates almost any interpretation of Buddhism, is confusing to me.

    I have no control over you, and you have no control over me. It makes no difference in my life if you drive around acting rude to people. If you wish to live your life that way, you should, and random comments on the internet should not stop you.

    Of course I do not think that you ‘know whether you have been cut off’. Of course you are just looking for an excuse to be rude and try to make others feel bad, and are using the common event of lane changing on a highway as a flimsy excuse to blame others for feelings that have nothing to do with them.

    I don’t know the source of your anger. That is for you and people who know you personally to figure out.

  • Shea O’Neil

    I actually was trying not to offend you that’s why I said ok if that is something that seriously offensive to you that I would personally stop doing it because I was trying to be nice to you as a human being. I in actuality do not think that anger is an emotion that should be ostracized from the community of Buddhism or anybody else neither is sadness or grief or joy or sorrow or elation they’re all different feelings we have, and finding forms of expression whether they be flipping somebody off or saying a curse word, its fine. but I don’t just look at you as a random person posting anything random I let every experience change who I am and if it’s something that I feel I need to change about myself I do it or if its something that I feel I need to say for another person to be happier I do it too if it wouldn’t bother me too much. I apologize if I was offensive to you. honestly you’re the one who started off your comments as it’s impossible not to offend me and was very attacking toward me so I think you need to recheck yourself actually. Namadte.

  • Harold

    I completely accept your apology, and offer the same if I came across as rude.

    I also completely agree that anger should not be ostracized. I do believe in trying to deal with it in ways that are compassionate to other people. Which is not the same thing as saying that I always achieve that.

    Peace.

  • Shea O’Neil

    🙂 Thank you, that was kind of you. I feel better now.

  • Perry Manzano

    You’re most welcome!

  • Perry Manzano

    Thank you for reading, Glad you liked it!

  • Susan Mary Malone

    Great tips, Perry! I especially love, “face the stress head-on by training your brain to “visualize calm” at the moment the stress occurs.” I am going to implement this today!

  • Perry Manzano

    Thank you for your kind compliment. I’m glad I could help!

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  • LaTrice Dowe

    Here’s the thing. I have to disagree with #2, because there’s nothing wrong with walking away from an argument. How else can you get your point across when no one is willing to listen? I understand that everyone has their moments, but resolving issues in a negative manner shouldn’t be one of them.

    I had to walk away from those that wouldn’t hear me out, and would be disrespectful at the same time. Not only am I removing myself from the situation, I want to give myself the chance to calm down, and think logically with a clear head. Once I’m ready to talk, I would do that on MY terms!! Nobody enjoys being disrespected.

  • Pradeep Ghuge

    I just want to ask u question
    What happens if we listen to others opinion..That may b excessive opinion abt u.. In d end its just an opinion not d reality..I like to hear out people abusing or praising.. Doesn’t make any difference.. On d contrary people r opening to u..they r telling abt their perspective of life or situation.. Hear them out..With simple bottom line.. Good to hear your point of view on this

  • Bill Wilson

    Recommendation #2 (Do not walk away from a stressful situation): I heartily agree, however if I must walk away my tactic in doing so is inspired from the film “The Terminator” scene when the T1000 is initially at the police station. I maintain a blank expression, lean forward and observe my environment, and say “I’ll be back.” Then walk away. Most of the time when I return, a couple minutes later, the irritating folks are gone.

  • gadfly

    Some good points. Especially that the more we practice these responses, the better we become at responding this way. And that there are other ways to respond to the same triggers that can be learned, practiced and better choices in many circumstances. Anger, frustration and impatience are useful to alert us to things that could be improved and the energy to motivate us to change them. However, the triggers become hair triggers when practiced and go off more and more in situations where they are inappropriate, side effects and consequences outweigh any benefit.

    I recently saw a video clip of a young man training his young pet alligator self control while eating. He had already taught it to open its mouth on cue and wait for the food to come to its mouth, not to rush forward and snatch the food. And there is one adult trained alligator that performs regularly in public, giving rides to children, being touched and at times has been assaulted by idiots who have kicked it, grabbed it and jumped on it. And restrained itself from retaliating. No, it is not drugged. No, it has not been chilled to slow its metabolism. It is a combination of a calmer temperament-a good gator, and TRAINING in coping skills and PRACTICE in self control.

    So how do we teach humans to gain more self control and practice it?

  • gadfly

    I agree. At times walking away in order to get back self control is the most appropriate. Or it may be to give someone else who is losing it time to regain self control.

    And yes, there is no point in talking when no one is listening. And disrespect is also a behavior pattern that becomes practiced and habitual if permitted to continue. Interrupting such behaviors while they are occurring can help to disrupt and derail the pattern from becoming entrenched. If having to choose between being considered nice and being respected, choose respect every time. You can start from being respected and go to nice but there are people and animals that confuse kindness with weakness and will walk all over you if you do not insist on respect first. If you start ‘nice’ and then insist on respect, they will scream with outrage because you tolerated their crap earlier and ‘nice’ people are supposed to put up with their abuse.

  • Perry Manzano

    Thank you for giving such a wonderful example.

    Years ago, I had a co-worker who remained calm in times of stress. No matter how stressful things escalated, he always kept a level head and maintained his cool even though people intentionally tried to set him off.

    This always amazed and intrigued me since I was totally opposite at the time. I would of flipped out if I was in his shoes.

    I thought to myself If he could do it, then if it’s possible for me. Years later, I’d eventually follow suit.

    Which brings me to your insightful question, of how do we teach humans more self control and practice it?

    I think this is a great question that each of us should ask ourselves. Deep down we need to find our own answers. Whatever we find there are no wrong ones.

    When we drive our cars and we hear something funny with the engine, we always want to find out what causing it, identify the problem and fix it. I’m sure the average person would not ignore it.

    Same thing for humans. The main thing is being aware and identifying the problem and doing something…anything, no matter if you succeed or fail. If your striving to better yourself no matter the outcome, then you’re on the right track.

    I thinks that’s a perfect way for practice and self control.

  • LaTrice Dowe

    You’ve made a very good point, Gadfly. I don’t enjoy being disrespected with somebody else, as far as conflict would go. Although I am a nice person, I won’t be so nice when boundaries are being crossed. Walking away is the best solution for me, and allowing my actions to speak for itself, allows that person to understand that disrespected will NOT be tolerated!!

  • LaTrice Dowe

    I will hear them out, but if I’m being disrespected, there’s no use!! I can face reality of my actions, which will give me the opportunity to fix it. Again, disrespect, insults and name calling won’t solve squat.

  • gadfly

    Walking away or ignoring someone can mean different things depending on how it is done. It can be from a higher status position of power and you so powerless I turn my back on you. It can also be scuttling off unnoticed and rewarding to the person who was offensive, making it more likely for the offense to be repeated. I trained protection dogs for over 2 decades and found that interrupting rudeness at the first sign of it was far the better choice than permitting an upstart to get away with it. And the very best examples I had to follow of how to raise polite dogs came from watching the adult dogs train the pups. One ‘grandma’ was watching a whirlwind of 9 pups about 4 months old escalate their play into a frenzy that would soon deteriorate into hey you bit me too hard! no fair! I’m gonna bite you back so there! K9 equivalent of kindergarten playground fun turning into a fight. She quietly moved ahead of the whirlwind and as the edge of the storm neared, with appropriate theatrics and perfect control, snarled, lunged, and air snapped a hairs-breadth from the offending mouths. The pups shrieked, hit the dirt and she stood over them with a low growl and stern face. When quiet, she sniffed them over, decided they had cooled down enough, gave them a nudge to back to play. And as the whirlwind came around the second time, below critical threshold she walked forward once again and the storm smoothly parted around her. They had kept the play below threshold. And taught them a lesson very valuable to human and non-humans, that being so distracted you don’t notice what lurks out of sight is dangerous.

    So to you, walking away may mean I won’t tolerate this but to the other person, may mean YAY! I WON! HE LEFT! chuckle chuckle. Leading to more disrespect in the future.

  • LaTrice Dowe

    You’re right about that, Gadfly. I feel that it’s a lose-lose situation for both parties, since nothing can be solved in a more calm and mature manner. Yes, they’re going to think that they have won, when I walk away from them and their nonsense. But, here’s the thing. I won, because I’m being the sensible adult, and avoid stooping to a lower level. Also, I can cut off all communication with that person, so yes, my actions are doing all of the talking for me. If they’re that concerned about no communication coming from me, they can talk to me about that in person. I’ll let them know exactly what’s going on, and will call them out on their actions. If the disrespect continues, it’s GAME OVER!!!

    I

  • gadfly

    There are ways to learn self control but it takes time and practice for the brain to reorganize, let old neural paths weaken and strengthen the new ones as well as similar readjustment in the HPA–hypothalamus, pituitary, adrenal axis and the neurochemistry of arousal. The production of various neurotransmitters such as norepinephrine, dopamine and serotonin and the number and sensitivity of their receptors will alter with ‘new normals’ and the HPA arousal system also tries to adjust to what is usual stimulation.

    When ‘normal’ means frequent and regular arousal with daily squabbling as soon as someone comes home or any other trigger, the body tries to prepare for this battle and upregulates the systems used in conflict. Adrenaline and arousal can be highly addictive even if the circumstances triggering it are UNPLEASANT. I think a lot of people fight because of an unmet need for adrenaline and other arousal transmitters and hormones. We need stimulation. If such needs are not met with exercise, novel experiences like roller coasters, action or horror movies, some business or recreational endeavor that provides stimulating and novel mental/physical sensory input, people will go into adrenaline withdrawal. And the surefire, easy way to get a ‘rush’ is to trigger the survival response systems with a fight, fear or anger. Even bad attention is better than no attention. IE. people need a better hobby than picking fights or staying in abusive situations where the fear is better than emptiness.
    You broke your pattern of reactive response and learned pause, choose and then act. I suspect that for at least 3 weeks you had some real jitters and surges of both arousal and fatigue before a ‘new normal’ started to set in and stabilize. Your brain and body had to build and strengthen new pathways, and weaken and recycle unused cells in old pathways.
    Right now I’m feeling overly reactive and grouchy as I’ve been overstimulated from 2 weeks of a music festival. It was great, but overtaxed my brain/body with far more auditory and social stimulation than normal leading to ‘museum fatigue’ and I’ve not had enough down time to rest and recharge before another onslaught of stimulation and social contact, most good but the remaining undesirable portion is making me far more irritated than it would have a month ago when I had more reserves. Although I know what is going on and why, I will still have to watch myself later today when the 2 irritants arrive. Having both be inexcusably rude to me in the past I will be civil but if either tries the sort of crap as in the past will be delivering a sharp order that such will NOT be tolerated HERE in my HOME even if visiting their father here. I am not a doormat.

    So I know I’m hot wired for battle but prepared for a truce. Both mistook kindness for weakness and when they did and I snarled back, they acted like preschool children instead of adults. Amazing that my sweetheart and his ex, whom I admire and consider a friend, ended up with 2 adult children who are rude, spoiled and both neurotic. However both parents had one parent who had all that, sadly the genetics ended up combining poorly in both kids.

  • But he never said to engage the negative situation. He suggested finding a way of calming oneself IN those explosive or potentially explosive situations. Thats not engaging or feeding the negativity. To me, thats more constructive than just walking away. In fact, ive seen walking away cause many a fight.

  • Precisly my point at the end of my previous post.

  • Lmbao. Hilarious lol

  • LaTrice Dowe

    I’m fully aware that the author didn’t mention about engaging in a negative situation, FeeFee Braids!! How else can anyone handle conflict that’s going to be explosive and disrespectful?!

    Although fights can happen, there will be consequences.

  • Bill Wilson

    Tactic #2: Consider your frustrating audience’s level of hostility. If it is more than you can handle trully consider exiting the situation. Back away slowly, maintain eye contact, and chant “good human, nice human”. Once a sufficient distance from your audience run away, but with dignity!

  • Walking away isn’t always the solution. Furthermore, all he is doing is sharing what works for him. so clearly, NOT walking away in some situations isn’t as crazy as it may seem, as long as you’re not engaging the negativity or fuelling the situation.

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  • InaR

    Thank you for sharing, I re-read this article once in a while, it really helps me react positively in stressful situations

  • hiddyho

    Brilliant article! I especially love the second bullet. That is my weakness and is considered “stonewalling” and does cause fights/disagreements to be much worse than they need to be. I am learning to agree on a time out due to “flooding” but only for as long as needed. Check out Gottman’s work. No bueno to walk out!! I love all of the bullets here and #2 will be my final battleground. Great article!!!

  • Mace

    Finally someone who realizes that walking away only makes it worse, because the problem isn’t solved which means you have later to realize you just made it worse. Sure people may hate engaging the issue but that is life. Everyone has to engage in what they don’t like, for instance: face your own fears. It doesn’t just mean facing your fear of the dark, it’s doing what you don’t like in order to make things less a hassle later on. If no one is listening then calm down and find different ways through the situation. It’s like when people drink alcohol, you never actually git rid of the issue you just make it worse because you didn’t make a choice. DON”T BE LAZY! Perry i’m glad there are still people like you on this planet.