Calming Yourself Down

Bad things happen, mistakes get made, and people can be irrational. Have I lost you yet? Your professional world is just as drama-laden as your personal world – maybe even more so. We all need strategies to calm ourselves down when emotions run high. Try these:

Plan. The best way to handle your difficult emotions is to plan. Remind yourself every morning and mid-way through the day that things will not go according to plan today. That’s not pessimistic, that’s normal. Plan for surprises and you will be able to handle them with a calm approach.

Watch it like it’s a movie. When someone starts getting emotional with you, it’s easy to get emotional right back. Instead, watch it like a movie. Narrate the movie to yourself: “Wow, that character is yelling at that other character.” “Gosh, that person is getting really emotional.” That tool gives you a little bit of distance, and that distance helps you choose a response rather than just react.

Label. Labeling helps you get a handle on the stories you tell yourself. Stories are judgments, conclusions, assumptions we make based on what we see around us. Stories create emotions. We create our stories.

For example, when you find out you weren’t invited to a meeting you might tell a story about someone wanting to exclude you. Instead, label what happened: A meeting was held. I wasn’t invited. I don’t know why. Assume that there could be any number of reasons why. Then you can go find out.

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