Mindfulness Exercise: Manage Anger and Stop Yelling

mindfulness exercise to manage anger and stop yelling ZenWahm.comIf I’m honest, it’s rarely Hanna that makes me snap or yell. It is easy to believe it’s her. Incessant talking, talking, talking until I can’t take it anymore. Being sassy, talking back, refusing to do what is asked of her. Yes, it’s easy to say she’s the problem.

However, there are days when she talks (and sings) all.day.long. and it doesn’t phase me. There are times when she’s sassy and talks back and won’t do anything I want/need her to do and I handle it like a complete adult.

So… if her behavior is the same across the board, but my reactions are different… it must not be her. It might be… {gasp} me. Yes, it’s definitely me, as hard as that is to admit.

Not long ago I started challenging myself to just notice. When I’m starting to feel edgy and like I’m about to yell I stop and notice. Take a deep breath and really notice. On the surface I feel annoyed, angry, frustrated, but what was under the surface?

I started noticing what shows up as annoyance, anger and frustration can often be fear, or disappointment, sadness, or disrespect. It’s those feelings that create that welling up feeling that bubbles up and at some point boils over and ends in yelling.

I started doing a little experiment, once I realized this. I call it a little mindfulness exercise, you could also call it a “how to not be a bitchy mom” exercise.  😉

When I feel I’m about to lose my temper, with the kiddo, or anyone else for that matter (the husband is not immune either lol) I stop, take a deep breath, identify the underlying emotion and say hello.

Oh. I feel like yelling right now, I’m grouchy and snappy. What’s underneath this grouchy feeling? Oh… hurt. Hello. I see you.

By recognizing and acknowledging the real feeling I am better able to manage my behavior.

Instead of lashing out I can stay with it and dig into what made me feel what I am feeling. I can talk my way through it. Oh, someone said something that hurt my feelings. I see. So maybe the person in front of me isn’t really making me mad, maybe, my feelings are hurt and now I’m lashing out. (By throwing maybe in there, I am able to circumvent the “yeah buts”, and it gives me a space to think about things without it HAVING to be so)

This creates space to take a different action. I can talk to the person in front of me. Let them know what’s going on. Hey, I’m feeling crabby, my patience are short, and my nerves are easily frayed right now. From that point a conversation can happen, I can excuse myself from the situation, or if the person involved in my underlying feelings is the person in front of me we can talk it out. Remember, only YOU can create hurt feelings, so don’t blame the person for hurting your feelings… but talk with them about the incident, how you experienced it, and how you might heal it.

Maybe the person the underlying feeling is about isn’t around. That’s ok too. You can talk yourself through it. Give the person the benefit of the doubt, they are doing the best they can in the moment. (That’s one of the 7 most helpful beliefs I’ve picked up in my life). When you give people the benefit of the doubt you can create an entirely different story than the one creating the hurt feelings/anger/frustration or whatever it is you’re experiencing in the moment.

If you don’t realize at this point you’ve created a story to create that emotion, go ahead and think about the situation… really stop and listen to what you’re saying to yourself.

Oh… so and so did this because….

Listen really carefully after the because, that’s where you start making stuff up. The only fact is so and so did this. The rest… you made up. If you made up the story that’s creating negative emotions in your life, you can most certainly give someone the benefit of the doubt and create a new story where things work out differently, or the person did it for a different reason. This new story will help alleviate your discomfort.

It might look something like this…

Oh… so and so said something and my feelings were hurt. I bet they didn’t mean to do that. Maybe they were having a really bad day, or something’s going on in their lives making them sad? In the whole scheme of things is it worth having my feelings hurt? Is this something I could just let go of?

Then take a big deep breath. And blow out the bad feelings. Just let them go.

Now, this may not work perfectly the very first time you do it. Over time though, it will work. Even if the very first time you can’t let go of the feelings, you’ll at least be aware of what’s going on inside of YOU. You’ll be mindful of where you are in the world, and why things are rubbing you the wrong way. It’s really not the kiddo’s fault… it’s because you’ve got stuff going on inside of you.

So, remind yourself, when you’re about to yell at your kids (or your husband), recognize and acknowledge… hello disappointment, anger, fear, hurt feelings (whatever it is underneath the surface). I see you. You’re why I’m about to yell at my kiddo, not because she’s singing Dark Horse on the Karaoke machine for the 759th time today. 😉

Take a deep breath, walk away if you have to. Give yourself a minute to calm down. You can do it. It’s a practice. Practice makes progress. Give yourself credit for practicing, even if you don’t feel the results were exactly what you’d hoped. I’m sure there will be a chance to practice again soon. 🙂


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