Pick Your Battles and Breathe

Too often we allow anger, overreaction and plain old frustration to get the better of us. More often than not, the emotion expended upon a certain event, far outweighs the event itself. Hours, days, months of our lives can be used up in a state of self-justified temper tantrums. This is not a soulful way to be; it is soul destructive and it rots us away from the inside.

Anger, of course, has a place. However, I am not the Dalai Lama, so I will not be advising you to abstain completely. This may be something you can work up to, but for now, picking your battles and learning to breathe may suffice. If you partner runs off with your best friend, you have my permission to shout, yell and call into question humanity, life, whatever… but until then, let’s take some steps to avoid the inner Vesuvius.

First up… before the anger strikes, right now, take some time to identify the things that get you mad. What circumstances are prone to push your buttons? Is it a prolonged traffic jam, rudeness or something more obscure? What in your life gives you a tendency to explode? Write yourself a list and then be sure to watch out for those triggers and plan to react differently.

Secondly, when you start to feel the red mist and frustration rise, do a few internal checks. 1) Does this thing that is making you mad really, really matter? Will it be monumental in a week, or in a few hours? Or is it a passing situation that, you could just sit out and choose not to react. 2) In the big scheme of things how serious is this? Is this life or death or is it simply strawberry jam on a white t-shirt? 3) How would you ideally like to react? What feeling would like to embrace most of all at this moment? You may not realise this, but you have a choice.

Perhaps, for once, you could react differently, or even better, you might not react at all. You could allow the situation to pass you by and life to go on as normal without any dramatic flourishes fouling up your day.

Thirdly, pick your battles and breathe. Think back to all the horrible nuclear fall-outs you have created through your reactions and anger. You may be tempted to say that your anger is not your fault, but the fault of whatever or whoever angers you. Wrong. Your anger is your doing; it is your reaction. It is, I’m afraid to say it, your choice. You could instead choose to be mildly miffed, raise your eyes and then change the subject. You could choose to see a traffic jam as a chance to think, a chance to relax and listen to music. Anger can be wholly avoided at your own choosing. You have the option and the power to allow things to wind you up or to simply let them go. You can allow nasty feelings to slip away into the ether before they cause a whole heap of trouble that often far outweighs what the situation calls for. You are a clever person; you can decide to think about a situation differently. Seriously, try it. It works.

Fourth, give up control. We often feel angry when things are outside of our control and we have some strange belief that getting mad about it will put things back in our control. This inevitably fails. Either that or you scare people into doing what you want. However if we don’t expect to be in control of all our circumstances, we naturally don’t become angry when things go wrong. So if your car breaks down and you are running late, accept it. All things happen for a reason. If a shop assistant is horribly rude to you, accept it, it’s their thing not yours. Control is a myth, we have very little of it. If losing control of things pushes your button, then throw away the control and the angry button will go with it!

Finally, learn to relax. Both in and outside of angry situations you can improve your understanding of your inner world and you can learn to be more relaxed, more chilled out, more ‘cool dude’. Get yourself into meditation and take time out to consciously breathe. Be yourself, with no control, with no reaction and breathe! Suck up some oxygen, decide to alter your thoughts, pick your battles and breathe.

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