"They are so wrong, why can’t they just listen to me?” “I am so angry I might explode.” "Why do they always just do this? I’m so frustrated.” "I hate everything and everyone. If I just had 15 minutes, I would tell them off.” "I really just don’t even want to spend time with them anymore. They make everything miserable!”
Do any of these sound like you? We’ve all had these moments when we just want to explode. When our emotions get the best of us and we can’t even process the world around us.
It’s not your fault. It’s basic science. When something triggers us, we jump from our logical, thinking part of our brain to our emotional, reactive part. It happens in a millisecond.
Here is where it becomes our responsibility. While we want to yell or fight or maybe even just shut down and stonewall the enemy, this is not the best way to handle the situation. Believe it or not, while “this is just the way I am” is the easiest way to handle your emotions, it's not the most advantageous for you.
First, TAKE A BREAK! Seriously, excuse yourself for at least 20 minutes. That’s how long researchers suggest it will take your brain to move from that emotionally triggered place back to that logical thinking place. That doesn’t mean, sit somewhere brooding about what just happened. It means, take a break. Go do something that will take your mind off what just happened, like washing dishes or going for a walk or maybe read a book, even watching a funny tv show.
When you start to calm down, try writing about what happened. When you write about what happened try to stay in the “I feel…” perspective. Try to really grasp what it was that triggered you so much. Then explore what that means to you. Does it remind you of something else? How would you like to handle the situation in the future?
“I felt really hurt when Trish didn’t invite me to go get coffee. I feel like I always invite Trish with me. It makes me feel foolish for thinking we were closer friends than we were. I also feel forgotten about. I wonder if there was a reason Trish forgot to invite me. The story I tell myself is that Trish doesn’t like me as much as I thought. Maybe there is another story. Is there a way to ask Trish about this?”
“I’m feeling so frustrated by my partner because they didn’t put their dishes away. I cannot even count the number of times I have asked for this. I feel like it is so disrespectful because it does not take into consideration my time and my life. I feel less valued. I feel like my partner is saying that - he or she- is better than washing dishes, but I have to wash the dishes because my partner doesn’t. Therefore, I feel like my partner is saying that -he or she- is better than me.”
Great, we’ve written about how the situation makes us feel…Here’s the hard part -
LET’S TALK ABOUT IT.
Once the calm has returned to your mind, sometimes it just feels easier to try and forget the moment. Sure, maybe you’ve come to the realization that it really wasn’t that big of a deal. That’s great. But sometimes, we just want to avoid conflict and pretend something didn’t happen. Generally, this leads to resentment and more hurt and an even greater explosion later on.
Here are some pointers in talking about it.
Hopefully, this will be helpful during this stressful time. Always reach out for help or questions!
A blog about art therapy, EMDR, mindfulness, couples relationship, and anything else that might be an interesting thing to share.
Sara Hulan, MA, Marriage and Family Therapist Registered Associate IMF #97806,