There are those moments when enough is enough. Either your stress has been accumulating and one incident tips you over the edge or you have no more patience for a particular person or situation. Your eyes bulge, your muscles tighten, and your words are fueled by fire.
Whether you are sorry afterwards or you believe you needed to be scary to resolve the situation, when you wake up your inner Godzilla, you lose control of reason. Even though the monster Godzilla is sometimes the hero, he is always destructive. Unless you want to be known as an intimidating force or some other words that are not so pleasant, you might want to know how to tame your inner Godzilla when the irritations arouse the monster in you.
Visualize a garbage can. You can only put so much trash into it. No matter how many times you push down the trash, at some point it will overflow. The same is true of your negative feelings. If you keep suppressing them, they will eventually overflow. You will scream at the ones you love most. You will break down at the oddest moments. Or the effects of the negative emotions will seep into your body, making you feel sick and tired.
First, you should not avoid difficult conversations or suppress your desires to spare other people’s feelings. Like Godzilla, your anger is an act of self-preservation. Work on having conversations where you ask for what you need the first time your feel angry, slighted, or disrespected.
Second, practice these tips to help you have more constructive conversations or at least, to minimize the damage.
1. As soon as you notice you are snarling, snapping, or backing people down with your glaring eyes, stop, take a breath and release the air slowly to slow down your reactions. Try to shift instead of suppress your emotions. Think of something to be grateful about, something to appreciate, or something to laugh at so you are able to shift your emotions before you open your mouth again. If you can’t find some patience, compassion or a human fallibility to laugh at (including your own), go outside for a breath of fresh air. While walking, jump up and down a few times and shake your arms and head to work off your anger.
When you return to have the conversation, look the person in the eyes and see the human inside. Remember, the person you are angry with is doing the best he or she can to survive too. Slowing down to make a full human connection can soften your tone.
2. Clearly and calmly ask for what you need. Even if you are just protecting your sanity, there is something you need that you aren’t getting.1
If someone is infringing on your time, pushing you to do something you don’t want to, or waffling on a decision when you need his or her answer now, state what you need and why.
Be clear why you are making your request; spell out your need for time, space, to make your own decisions, or to do something important to you. Don’t make them wrong. Acknowledge their good intent if you feel they are trying to help. Then clearly state what you need and why. Explain that you understand their needs but be strong in requesting your needs be recognized and honored to maintain a positive relationship.
Make your requests known as soon as you recognize your discomfort. You will have less regrets if you speak up for yourself when you feel an infringement than if you wait in an effort to spare feelings.
Don’t make excuses for your opinions. Don’t back down from or make weak requests. Deliver your words calmly with confidence so people know what your bottom line is. Then thank them again for their desire to help before moving on to another topic or ending the conversation.
3. If you are angry because other people want you to do things that don’t align with your wishes, listen to your self talk. Tell yourself what decision or action you want to make. Then if you say the words “I should” or “but” after you express your wish, see who is talking instead of you. Who says you should do something? Whose feelings are you worried about hurting? Will you be damaging the relationship forever if you choose to do what you want instead? On the other hand, will you be happy with your decision if you don’t do what you want?
Try to sort out what you want from what other people want so you are clear about the real reasons for your decisions. You will never move forward if you are trying to meet everyone else’s wishes and expectations.
Don’t be afraid of your inner Godzilla. The monster is just trying to protect you. Thank your Godzilla and say goodnight. You might be adding to world peace as well as to your own.
1 You can find a list of emotional triggers and the needs behind them with more tips for being present in this post at www.outsmartyourbrain.com.