Your spouse says something that rubs you the wrong way. Or forgets to do the dishes… again.
Your mind starts a downward spiral. Your whole body tenses up. And before you know it… you’ve lashed out at them.
Anger can be a hard thing to control. But it is never helpful. All it does is damage communication between the people involved.
If you want your spouse to recognize a mistake or improve a bad behavior, you need to stop lashing out. It doesn’t help. You’re far better off approaching the situation with a clear, calm head.
And I have good news – there’s a simple way to do that.
When you’re confronted by an upsetting or stressful situation, I want you to pay attention to what your body does.
Your breathing will change. You may unintentionally hold it in. Or you may begin to take very shallow breaths.
This impacts your entire body. It will make you feel tense and on edge.
When trying to regain control of your emotions, your mind has to work against the messages being sent by the rest of your body.
So instead, you can “trick” your body into relaxing.
It’s a technique often used in yoga or mindfulness training – but don’t write it off as “new age-y.” It is simply about calming the physical processes that happen after your initial negative reaction. You’re making it easier for your mind and body to work together.
It is a general concept taught to young children who struggle to control their anger and in anger management courses. But you don’t need to have anger “problems” to benefit from it. We all struggle with this very natural human emotion.
Here is how you do it:
Take five long, deep “belly breaths.” Feel your stomach and chest fill all the way up. Hold the air for four to five seconds. Then slowly, very slowly, release it.
Repeat this several times until you feel your body relax.
It may be helpful to tell your partner that you are trying this deep breathing technique. That way, they can give you the time and space you need to collect yourself.
If they are resistant, remind them why you are using it: to be able to approach the problem rationally – and not with anger. Your goal is to allow the conversation to bring you together instead of pulling you apart.
It is also important to be respectful of your partner’s need for time and space. Only once you have both collected yourselves emotionally should you discuss the issue.
If you do, you’re more likely to find success together!
Rooting for you!