The key to successful relationships lies in our ability to see the other’s perspective. But we can’t do this when we become emotionally reactive.
We first need to calm our emotions to think clearly and rationally and see where the other person is coming from. Here are 3 powerful ways to calm your emotions during a heated conversation or argument:
- Pause and notice.
What are you feeling right now? Do you feel pressure in your chest or is your heart beating faster as your anger rises? Focusing on these sensations will help the anger dissipate. According to Harvard brain scientist Dr. Jill Bolte Taylor, emotions last only 90 seconds. They are really just like waves in the ocean.
What makes emotions last longer than that are the thoughts and stories we tell ourselves about why we’re feeling a certain way. For instance, feeling frustrated that someone or something should be different than what is.
Instead, try suspending all thoughts about why you feel angry or frustrated or hurt, which will only make that emotion stronger, and simply notice “I’m feeling angry and I feel my heart beating faster and feel tense in my chest.”
- Slow your breathing.
Breathe in and count 1-2-3-4. Breathe out as you count 1-2-3-4-5-6. Repeat until the emotion subsides and you can think clearly.
- Take a break.
If things get too heated, you can always call a time-out. Suggest when might be a good time to continue the conversation.
Mastering our emotions during conflict is an invaluable life skill. Just like with exercise, the more consistently these skills are practiced, the easier they become to use.
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