Some people thrive in the middle of conflict and are able to keep a rational mind in spite of heightened negative senses. Others totally lose it.
As for me, I avoid conflict as much as I can. I am unconfrontational, which can be bad in the sense that, when I find myself in the middle of an argument, I can surprise myself with the seemingly uncontrollable fury I feel.
I’m sure I am not alone in this and that it is something that we should address. Otherwise, in our anger, we might do and/or say things we will regret.
Fortunately, all is not lost. In spite of how intense anger can be, we still regain control. In this post, we will take a look at how to calm your mind in the middle of a confrontation. It sounds difficult – impossible even – but it can be done.
How to calm your mind
Conflict is part of life, no matter how we try to avoid it. Trust me. I know.
We can’t control what others do, so even as unconfrontational as you may be, you’ll find yourself in an argument or heated discussion at some point. What to do then? What if your emotions suddenly run out of control, unleashing a bevy of angry thoughts, which are translated into spoken word?
It is first important to understand how anger works…yes, here comes the science. Cutting to the chase: anger is an emotional and physiological response.
When you feel that you are being threatened (a conflict starts, or you’re in the middle of one), your brain raises red flags all over the place, sending hormones that lead to physical reactions (heart beating furiously like a kettle drum) AND mental disorientation (illogical responses).
This is why we need to divert all our efforts into calming down our minds. Unless we want to unleash our anger without any restraint.
So, how to calm your mind when you’re already all worked up?
- Breathe. Breathing is not only for meditation but also immediately slows down the production of “angry hormones”. Also read “The Importance of Proper Breathing“.
- Pay close attention to your body. Be fully mindful of how you’re feeling – down to the very last muscle. Try to relax your body. Adjust your body language.
- Listen. Don’t just hear what the other person is saying. Listen. By doing so, you will understand his point of view better, and you will also show him that you are open to discussing his perspective.
- Ask questions. Don’t interrupt rudely, but also don’t just stand there and not say a thing. Listen, but participate in the conversation. Asking questions is a good way to do this because you make the other person feel he is being acknowledged.
- Lower your voice and watch your tone. There’s nothing I hate more than people raising their voice at me and sounding patronizing. I’ll go out on a limb here and say that everyone else feels that way. When you’re in the midst of conflict, consciously do these things to diffuse the situation and calm yourself down as well.
- Agree to disagree. At the end of it all, if you’re already in a better state of mind and the other person is still upset, let it go. Agree to disagree, and if he doesn’t, then just politely end the conversation and walk away.
Here’s an infographic delving into the mechanics of conflict and presenting tips above on how to calm your mind when faced with it.