5 Matchsticks

Have you ever gotten angry at home? Me too! Rage Builds from time to time – even in conflict resolution specialists. Although I rarely experience external conflict, I am human and I have my moments!

Here’s a recent example from my world:

I’ve been ready to get rid of the circa 2000, bigger than two cinder blocks, monster speakers in our family room for a long time. We finally agreed it was time, and my husband, John, set-out to find us the perfect new set-up.  “Yay!” Right?

Yes, “Yay!” Until a few days later when he informed me he bought a system from a guy at work – who sold it because his wife wanted new speakers!  Internally, rage builds as I imagine what our “new” speakers will be like.  If she doesn’t want them, why would I? 

Days pass and no speakers.  I’m thinking maybe he caught the “this can’t be a good thing” look on my face and changed his mind. Then he walks in the door carrying this thing – bigger than the monsters I want so badly to replace!  My eyes get big, I feel my chest tightening, and I hear the voice in my head screaming “WHAT THE %*&@!?”.  Oh boy, rage is building now…

John smiles proudly, and puts the new monster right next to the old one.

Breathe Karen, breathe. One two three four five IN, one two three four five OUT.  Again. Again. Now I speak:

ARE YOU OUT OF YOUR FREAKING MIND!?! I KNEW THIS WAS GOING TO HAPPEN!” stays in my   head. 

Um, that doesn’t look like what I had in mind” comes out of my mouth.

He looks at me (defiantly, I’m pretty sure), and says “It is about three inches shorter, and almost twice as wide as the old one.”

The next 2-3 seconds in my head go like this:

This is unbelievable!…He’s still smiling!…OH HECK NO!…Breathe… Again…Don’t look at him, breathe… There is going to be a fix for this… Don’t freak out…I’m so ticked off!… Why would he do this!?… Breathe…How do I fix this?”

Then I hear John laughing. He’s telling our son “Your mom is one calm woman! Hahahaha!”  I look up, and he happily explains the new monster is a sub-woofer (that will be hidden), and shows me the little 4″ X 6″ speakers that will replace ours.  Sigh, smile, crisis averted.

The next time you feel rage begin to build, try these  5 simple steps:

  1. Notice what you are feeling (mine is tightening in the chest)
  2. Take 2-3 deep breaths
  3. As you breathe, notice what is going on in your head, and ask yourself what options you have
  4. Take 1-2 more deep breaths
  5. Respond (rather than instinctively reacting)

When I felt rage building, those steps saved me from being embarrassed by an unnecessarily angry outburst.  What might they do for you?

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