Q: Dear Todd, in the midst of strong emotions like real raw anger, I literally forget everything and not able to control my temper. What can I do to fight that?
Todd Answers: It takes time to develop any new habit, but every single time you can bring just a second of presence and awareness to that emotion, you are slowly developing that new habitual reaction of calm.
One thing you can try to do when you are sitting alone and have some time is to close your eyes and think of a situation in the past or a potential situation in the future that you know will trigger those heavy emotions and visualize how you wish to respond.
Really think about that trigger to the point where you can’t help but visualize yourself overreacting, and then sit with it until you find a way to react calmly. Think, “how can I react in the most effective and beneficial way possible?” Let me know how that works for you and go easy on yourself.
Q: Dear Todd, what could we do when somebody makes us angry? And makes us wanna react the way they react?
Todd Answers: When someone engages in hurtful behavior, we do our best to witness the painful emotions within us arising, witness our thoughts and not resist them or be angry with them. Just observe and accept them.
Then, as the present witness, we can remain calm and present, and through clarity rather than anger, we can see the best path forward. Hurtful situations don’t need to cause us hurt when we can see the big picture in these small moments. We can respond with strength and compassion. Over time, every act of kindness we take will help lead to a kinder world.
Q: Dear Todd, I think my biggest hurdle is finding words when I am being ‘attacked’. I am now at the place where I can see the issue lies with the attacker and center myself but the words don’t come….not until hours later. My body’s reaction is always immediate and visceral when I am needlessly being attacked because it is so unexpected. Any thoughts?
Todd Answers: This is totally understandable and normal. Sometimes stepping away to gather your thoughts and composure is essential. That is exactly what being mindful of ourselves and our needs is all about.
When that feeling is too visceral in the moment, one thing we can do is shift our reaction from unconscious rage to conscious curiosity. Explore. Ask yourself, “What is being hurt within me?” The more you look, the more you realize there is nothing there that is being hurt, it is only the mind-made ego. With this introspection, you realize the attacker has nothing to attack.
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