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Be calm in the face of chaos

Oct 31, 2010

It serves us to be calm in the face of chaos around us. If we react emotionally to the chaos, we stop thinking and the chaos around us will tend to escalate, often leading to a negative conclusion. How do we stay calm when others around us are upset and acting irrationally?

1. Use your adrenalin to motivate you to action, but keep thinking. Think of what you need to do to maximize the positive outcome and minimize the negative consequence. You know these answers when you are calm.

2. Ignore your hot buttons. You can't let your emotions control you in this situation. So don't focus on what you are mad about. Keep thinking "how can I help to deescalate the situation or myself?"

3. Think about a time out. If you can stay calm enough to be helpful, stay. If you are escalating and are too mad, you need to deescalate first. Taking a short time out may be the first choice. Remove yourself from the situation or use another deescalation technique while still there, like counting to ten or deep breathing.

4. Practice calming self talk. Don't say things to yourself like, "How dare they yell at me", "They don't respect me", or "I have to make them stop that". Instead think non controlling, non blaming thoughts such as, "I can feel hurt, disrespected or afraid and I don't have to react to it", or "I don't have to make them do what I want them to", or "They are hurting or afraid and that is why they are acting that way".

5. If you can do it, an excellent way to deescalate others is just to listen to them. Don't try to control or impose your will on them in any way. Don't argue. Just listen and put your feelings on hold.

The choice to deescalate is always the intelligent choice. The results will be better and your relationships will be better if you can stay calm in the face of chaos.

Author: Lorraine Watson

Lorraine Watson is a licensed therapist in California with extensive experience in the areas of anger management, nonabusive relationship skills and trauma. She is the author of "Expressing Anger Nonviolently". The contents of that book can be viewed on our website at

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