Tools to Help you Keep your Cool

Are you the one out of control in difficult situations when it matters most?

Do you often regret your actions because you lost it and then reacted inappropriately?

Welcome to the club!

Keeping cool is a key life skill I’ve spent a great deal of time and effort trying to refine. Whether it’s to avoid arguing, reduce battles with the kids or to get through the inevitable crisis situations that everyday life throws at us all.

Like me, you can’t avoid these situation – they sneak up and bite everyone’s butt at some point. What you CANDo however, is make the effort to polish up your self-control and learn to keep your cool.

I’m SO not perfect and the occasional outbursts still come way more often than I’d like, but I have improved enormously – just ask my Main Man. Here’s how:

Douse Fires Don’t Add More Fuel to Them

When you’re faced with someone that is upset, angry or somewhat anxious, staying calm has the battle half won. If you can keep your head, rather than pumping more negativity onto the fire and fanning its flames, you’ll be starving it of what it needs to explode – negative energy! The difficulty with this, is that knowing we should be calm doesn’t make it any easier to do. What does make it easier is know why we often lose our cool?

We all  know that calm is king, but when faced with a difficult situation or crisis, our Inner Imps and emotions start to get stirred up. Fear becomes afraid, Doubt gets all wobbly-kneed and starts rocking back and forth muttering insecurely to himself, while Courage either immediately deserts “Team You” or takes offence and calls on Self-Defence to yell obscenities and get you to do insane things – I’m sure you’re more than familiar with the foibles of your own Inner Imps in these situations.

When our Inner Imps have us totally disarmed and overloaded by their responses, we start “reacting” and begin to let Self-Defence take over. I often ended up shouting, crying, energetically justifying, ignoring or even physically letting out my frustrations in a burst of rage by slamming doors, et al – so NOT a good place to be. None of this behaviour helps in good situations, so it’s little wonder that it’s not a solution when the going gets tough either.

Arguments, difficult situations or a crisis, are very emotional experiences and when something’s afoot, as individuals, we all have different “touch-papers”. For example, I know my Inner Imps get really agitated if I feel I’m being ignored and Doubt generally receives way too much airtime in my head. Just these two “triggers” alone play a huge part in how I behave and I’ve had to “consciously” get control of the pair of them to reduce my mainly knee-jerk reactions.

Get to Know your Touch-Papers

If you can consciously work out what lights your fire and whips your Inner Imps into a tizz, you can start to regain control.

Kick-Ass Call to Action: Take a moment now and consider if you have any recurring reactions or out of control feelings in difficult situations. Things that tend to always wind you up or materialise. Does Doubt bang on and have you unsure about your decisions? Is Self-Defence a little too sensitive and have you feeling ill-treated if you’re ignored or someone is disrespectful?

Jot down the answers and then have a chat with Honesty about whether there are grounds for this behaviour.

Here’s a good example if Doubt is the problem – one of my nemeses!  If you start to become unsure about a decision or something you’ve done, consciously remember that everyone has different opinions. You did something or thought about something in a certain way based on your experiences. Just because someone is airing a different opinion or would have done it differently does not make your way or opinion the wrong one. Calmly listen to them and then be prepared to revise (OR NOT) your opinion! They are not attacking you, they are tabling better, worse or simply different ways of thinking or doing things.

Another of my key issues is being ignored or interrupted. For this I consciously tell myself that Self-Defence is about to stick his bristles up and try to deflect him. For me a simple touch is really effective. If I feel I’m being ignored because someone had gone off on a rant or is being crappy, I put my hand gently on their arm, smile and try to look into their eyes to get their attention. Much of the time this really works and my Inner Imp Self-Defence backs down.

Wake Up and Think Differently

It’s all about changing your perspective and “waking up”. So many of our reactions are “auto-pilot”, automatic reactions that occur without thought, are often irrational and come about as a result of our experiences. Wake yourself up out of this “stupor” and start reacting consciously and rationally and you’ll see immediate improvements.

Our annoyance and behaviour is just that, ours.

No man is free who is not master of himself.
Epictetus

You may have grounds to be angry or upset, particularly with children, but that doesn’t mean you have to be. With your kids, it helps to remind yourself, they are adults-in-training. They are just starting out on the road to learning how to control their Inner Imps and they’ll be using you and the way you behave and control your Inner Imps as a role-model. One of the homework tasks that adults-in-training have, is that of pushing the boundaries and experimenting. They need to break a few rules and test the boundaries to learn the natural laws of reaping what they sow.

If the problem is a partner, boss or colleague, I’d recommend checking out the Care Label Guide. Everyone has different care instructions and it maybe that you and they are just not meeting each others instructions – and nobody can possibly satisfy everyone. If that’s the case you need to consider accepting differences, putting up with things or make a real change!

Self-Preservation Tactics

If you feel your Inner Imps have lost it and are all prepared to set light to an effigy of the person that’s upsetting your day, employ some kind of diversion or delaying tactic. Grab Courage and Honesty by the balls and be honest. Tell whoever it is, “I’m feeling confused/frustrated/angry/upset/etc. right now, can we talk later?”

Delaying things is really effective because it gives both sides the chance to reduce their adrenaline surges and wind down. You’ll then be able to think of solutions logically and you’re less likely to do or say thing you’ll really regret later.

Use Positive Thinking

Here at CANDo we love everyone’s Positive Thinking Inner Imp. We like to nurture them, given them hugs and kisses and spoil them rotten because Positive Thinking Imps are a huge help in so many areas.

When it comes to keeping your cool, Positive Thinking is your man. Worrying about what might be does not help. Let Positive Thinking conjure up positive ideas and focus on positive potential outcomes and feelings rather than the negative stuff. You’ll unthinkingly feel less stressed which will help you keep your perspective and think rationally.

Above all, remember that being cool and collected is contagious. If you’re calm and in control, you’ll have a calming effect on those around you in trying situations and your positive behaviour will rub off on them. Be the one in control.

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One Response to Tools to Help you Keep your Cool

  1. Det Nilam October 10, 2012 at 7:46 am #

    The older I get, the more I see that Epictetus was right.

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