It takes a combination of preventative measures and smart reactions.
Who among us hasn’t been involved at some point in a family argument or in a conflict at work? Whose blood pressure doesn’t rise on occasion when seeing injustice reported on the news?
It’s also possible that there are people close to us who, because of their difficult temperament or prickly personality, generate tension with their gossiping, selfishness, manipulative behaviors, etc.
In recent years, the situation has become worse when it comes to talking about politics. Verbal violence has become commonplace, especially on social media. It shouldn’t be normal, but it’s become an accepted strategy, even in countries with a well-established democratic tradition.
As a result, it’s common for a text message or something we read on Facebook or Twitter to send us over the edge, leaving us with the desire to block whomever has upset us.
How can we keep our calm when we realize we’re losing our temper? Should we slam our fist down on the table, or shout out our frustration? How can we bring peace back to our hearts and into our environment?
Peace and calm are not something we can improvise. Serenity is something we have to cultivate ahead of time if we hope to preserve it in times of stress. That is to say, if I want to be sure I will keep my nerves or anger under control in the midst of conflict, I have to practice beforehand so that I’m able to do it. It’s like a sport: nobody breaks a record or makes a significant achievement without training.
There are plenty of opportunities in our daily life to prepare for and practice equanimity. Here are some tips:
How to keep calm
1Fill your internal reservoirs with peace ahead of time.
For example, try visualizing foreseeable situations of difficulty and decide how you’re going to act when the moment comes. This way, when the time actually arrives to face a critical situation, you’ll be prepared to react properly, not being carried along by your impulses and spontaneous reactions.
2Don't forget that your actions have consequences.
Before losing your cool, consider whether what you are going to do will make the situation better or worse.
3Step away and recompose yourself.
If you see that your emotions are going to get the upper hand, get away from the situation for a few minutes. Go to another room, or step out of the house, or take a walk. It’s not about running away, but of giving yourself a chance to regain self control. By taking a step back, you can start over again in the right direction.
4Choose carefully who you spend time with.
Consider if there’s someone who regularly is the occasion for you to lose your calm and to explode. If there is, it’s not good for you to be around that person.
5Diffuse situations that could lead to stress and nervousness.
Organize your work in such a way that nothing is left for the last minute.Give yourself a safety cushion to hand in your work before the deadline. Prepare for family outings ahead of time, as much as possible.
6In dealing with your family, get ahead of the curve on difficult situations.
Change the conversation when you see that you’re talking about something that could lead to a confrontation.
7Don't allow a toxic person to ruin the environment.
Neither in your family nor at work should you allow someone who poisons the atmosphere to dominate the situation. Sometimes, silence is the best tool: don’t fall into the trap of being provoked. Try to ensure that people who create a calm environment are at the helm.
8Remember, meditation and prayer help us to temper our soul.
Separating ourselves from difficult situations for a few moments and backing off to pray can help us to reflect and to put things in perspective. If a particular person is getting on our nerves, it can help to stop focusing on the thing about them that’s bothering us and think instead about the good things they bring to our relationship, whether they be family, friends, or a work colleague. Putting the situation in God’s hands will also help us be strengthened by His grace and by the knowledge that we’re not alone.
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