Habits Answers

How can I keep my calm when under pressure?

How to keep calm under pressure? Keeping calm under pressure is challenging. Managing your emotions and regulating how you feel when something happens takes time. Emotional regulation is essential to help you to become more "responsive" than "reactive." You can learn emotional distress tolerance skills by learning what your triggers are and recognizing your emotions. Distress tolerance is your ability to manage emotional distress using strategies to help you cope with emotional discomfort without making the situation worse. You can recognize when your ability to manage distress is low when you are overwhelmed, anxious, and stressed. Emotional dysregulation can lead to emotional outbursts and trigger negative emotions impacting your moods and interactions with others. It can be challenging to feel like you have no control over your emotions and continuously find yourself stuck in patterns and behaviors you don't like. Emotional regulation is a distress tolerance skill that involves taking the time to acknowledge how you feel, noticing the triggers that impact you the most, and choosing how you will respond to how these triggers impact you.It can be challenging to communicate and express how you feel if you are not mindful of how you feel, self-aware of what you need, or even able to address your needs. Your emotions are alarming you with what your needs are and how to cope with the emotions that you need. For example, if you feel insecure, your emotions tell you that you need to feel valued and fulfilled in a specific area to feel more secure and confident. To better understand why you are more emotionally reactive, try to explore and understand the contributing factors impacting you the most. Notice your triggers. Ask yourself are your triggers internal triggers (thoughts, feelings, assumptions, expectations; or external triggers (people, places, situations, experiences), which are all experiences that impact your emotions. Focus on your body cues, behaviors that let you know when your emotions are escalating. For example, are you staring at a spot on the wall? Is your leg shaking? Do you feel hot? Is your heart beating faster? Do you feel queasy or dizzy?Do the opposite of how you feel. In situations where you find yourself being more reactive than responsive, what do you do when you feel emotionally triggered? How do you react? Journaling, discussing your triggers, and reflecting on your experiences can help you better understand your feelings.Deep breathing is another way to pause and regulate your feelings before responding. Try “Boxed Breathing,” in which you’ll breathe in for 4 seconds, hold for 4 seconds, breathe out for 4 seconds, hold for 4 seconds, and so on until you feel grounded. You can also tighten your muscles and release them while breathing, focusing on the breath, and practicing mindfulness all the way through.You will learn that your emotions are essential and that validating them and choosing how to respond to them takes practice. Going to therapy to learn how to manage your anger and how to regulate your emotions is also helpful. There are also many self-help resources that you can explore on emotional regulation, anger management, and distress tolerance skills. You have already made a positive step toward improving your emotional well-being. Good luck, and I wish you the best.
(MA, LMHC)
Answered on 11/17/2022

Why do I get easily irritated and rudely snap at people? How can I stop myself from doing so?

Hello Andy, Thank you for reaching out. As I'm sure you can appreciate, this would likely be better answered upon further exploration in session. However if i may i'll try to offer insight for what you have already highlighted and you can see if it feels right for you. Lets start with the question itself.........I would ask what happens for you when you respond to people in a short manner and snap at them? do you get any physical sensations? any thoughts? feelings? emotions? If yes to any of these, then this would be a good indicator as to what might be happening for you and the possible reasons behind why you might respond in this way towards interactions with other. If you're not sure what happens for you a good way in which you can identify this is by journaling. Journaling does not have to be a complicated thing or even an everyday thing. Simply whenever you feel you have something to write. It equally does not have to be a novel it can be a few words. If you're focusing purely on what happens for you around interactions with others maybe restrict yourself to only journalling around such interactions. However journalling in a wider context could offer insight to what might be happening for you during the day. For example if something has happened in the day that has annoyed you and then you respond to others by projecting this annoyance on them, it's possible that might offer insight as to the why. But you can journal in either way. How journalling helps............its two fold, in that one it helps us get thoughts feelings emotions out of our head and down on paper so that we can respond not in the moment with a flash of anger etc but with a mindful view. Second, it teaches us to really look at and engage with our process (how we function in thoughts feelings emotions), to look at what is happening for us, which offers insight that we may otherwise not realize or be aware of. Now for the wider context of your question..............it could be and only you will know here, that your anger response to other could be a learned behavior on account of your Dad. What do I mean by this? Well simply that when we see our parents act in certain ways or do certain things and we are growing and developing, we take these things on board and we mimic them and respond in the same way in similar situations. However while we are growing and developing we lack the wider context as to why our parents might have anger issues, i.e. is it in certain situations with certain people or is it with everyone. Also the reasons behind those anger issues, unless they tell us why they are angry, we cannot know for sure, so we might see this as a behavior that they do, take it on board as a typical way in which we should respond too but then because we are not aware of why they were angry we simply apply it to every one of our interactions with others. The latter half of your question speaks to parents not being around, this could be a case for you as an attachment issue in development. Which may explain how you might interact with others now, but this would require further exploration to see if it is applicable. As to how to stop this undesired behavior, the importance of therapy here cannot be underestimated in order to explore exactly what is behind the anger response for you. It should be noted that anger might be the displayed emotion but under anger there are many more feelings and emotions that it be discovered which of these might be at play, can again identify why you might be responding with anger. Think of it like an iceberg with anger on top and the other emotions beneath the sea level. In terms of practical things you could try to try to respond differently in the mean time, mindfulness practice may offer some respite from anger responses. Hope this helps, Thanks, Kai
(BA, (Hons), Integrative, Counsellor)
Answered on 06/24/2022

Why do I have so much aggressiveness and jealousy? How can I work on that and overcome it?

Usually when reactions such as aggression occurs, either emotionally or physically, it is due to factors that therapists like to call triggers. That just means that there is something going on in a situation that makes you feel angry, afraid, sad, worried, stressed, overwhelmed, or other types of emotion.  Aggression is most often associated with anger, but anger is not always the root cause. You mentioned that he has a history of lying to you. If that's the case, then you're likely to question the things he says. You also mentioned jealousy, which implies that maybe the lying has been about what he has done with other people without being honest with you about it. Most people in their relationships need their partners to be honest so that they can forge a bond of trust. If you have been lied to in the past, then you may question things that are said now, even if they are sometimes true. There is no sure-fire way of building trust except him being honest and you feeling like he's being honest, and that happening for enough of a length of time that you have decided he's not lying anymore. But with a history of lying, it's natural that you would wonder whether he was lying now too. Because of the natural lack of trust, if he goes out with people and you're not sure what his intentions are, it's also natural to have negative feelings such as jealousy, and for that to make you act intensely.  That doesn't mean that it's okay to keep it that way, but it does mean that his actions are contributing to your negative feelings.     There are a several things you can do to minimize the negative impact of all of these circumstances, including becoming more aware of your feelings in the moment, taking specific steps to handle your feelings in the moment, taking extra time by yourself to prepare how you think about your feelings and your relationships, and setting boundaries that help you feel better about your relationships. In order to become more aware of your feelings in the moment, you can do something like keeping a journal of your feelings that you write in at least once a day or more. You can take a specific time to do so each day, and if you're feeling particularly intense at some point in the day, do it then as well. Doing so will remind you on a more regular basis the kinds of thoughts and emotions that you are having.    Another step you can take, especially as you become aware of intense feelings, is to tell yourself that you're feeling intensely. If you want to substitute the words "angry," "upset," "jealous," or whatever, the same thing applies. A practice related to this one is to excuse yourself as soon as you can and get some space to begin dissecting those thoughts or emotions. The sooner you do so after you begin feeling them, the better.  Excusing yourself is called a "time-out" by therapists. Dissecting just means asking yourself to come up with detailed answers about who, what, when, where, why and how the feelings are happening, almost as if you are a reporter interviewing yourself about the incident. If you find out answers to these types of questions, you are closer to identifying your triggers. Finally, if you feel trapped in a conversation and cannot easily excuse yourself, just remember that you dont have to speak. You have control over your bodily functions, and so you can operate them how you decide. Best practices for conversations that are intense would involve minimizing criticism, defensiveness, acting contemptuously or stonewalling. Sometimes, it is so difficult to avoid these that people take time-outs until they can handle them. One way to minimize them is to participate in behaviors that are the unlike the negative ones, so that you don't go down a negative trail. Criticism can be avoided by talking about how you feel when something happens instead of pointing out what they are doing wrong.  For example, "I feel jealous when I notice you having fun with other people.  I know it sounds a little smothering, but I can't help it right now."  Defensiveness can be countered by accepting responsibility for things that you may be responsible for, or at least acknowledging whatever is being said by your partner as being a valid feeling.  Stonewalling and contemptuous talk can also be avoided by managing your energy and feelings during the conversation. Really, taking any of these steps should help a little. The more you make deliberate actions part of your process in thinking and communicating, the better you will likely feel.  
Answered on 04/30/2022

How to let go of anger and grudge?

Hello Mina, and thank you for taking the time to reach out for help regarding the distress you are experiencing with the effects of the boundary issues you have struggled with and are/have experienced. This is a very common, and very complex issue that involves many different factors in regards to the development of unhealthy and/or poor boundaries, for lack of a better word, as well as how to move past them, recovery from them, and prevent them from occurring again in the future. Your anger is completely valid, and certainly, in hindsight one can usually see what one "should have done" or "could have done" differently in various situations, once they are out of the emotional hypnosis of the actual event. I would encourage you to see that anger as another emotion and be able to identify that underlying emotion that is being covered up by the anger as a form of protection and prevention of vulnerability, as anger is a secondary emotion. In saying this I mean that when people say they are "angry," they are most likely, truly, another emotion, such as sad, disappointed, lonely, overwhelmed, embarrassed, hurt, helpless, in pain, frustrated, insecure, grieving, anxious, stressed, threatened, tired, guilty, jealous, scared, and/or ashamed. By identifying the underlying emotion that is being "protected" or "hidden" by the anger, one can reduce the negative impact that the energy it requires to experience "anger" can have on a person and thus have the energy to focus on the solution, rather than the problem, as well as experience a reduction in the intensity of one's emotional experience. That being said, another facet of this issue is learning how to forgive one's self, as well as to forgive others. This is another very difficult concept for many to fully comprehend, let alone implement, in their lives, mostly due to it's not being a singular, single-action but something that needs to be continuously practiced, as well as a misunderstanding of what forgiveness truly is versus what it is not. The term “forgiveness” refers to a person’s conscious decision to give up resentment and any claims for redress from someone who has hurt him or her. What Forgiveness DOES Mean • Canceling the debt When someone does us wrong, we feel as though they have taken something that belongs to us – our peace, our joy, our happiness – and that they now “owe us.” When we forgive them, we simply release the debt. It’s no longer “you’ve hurt me and you’ve got to pay”. We don’t pretend the debt never existed, we just forgive it. “You no longer owe me anything.” Forgiveness is about OUR healing. It is a way of getting the poison out of our system. • Unilateral process Forgiveness is something we do on our own. The other person does not need to cooperate or even be aware of it. Forgiveness does not depend on what the other person does or doesn’t do. • Involves “letting go” Forgiveness involves working through the feelings of what occurred and giving validity to “the loss.” It is a process that involves freeing ourselves from the emotional effects of what was done to us, getting free of the hurt, bitterness, and resentment. The number of times someone hurt us or whether they deserve forgiveness is not the issue. To forgive literally means “to give up”—to give up hatred, revenge, punishment. Our motive is to move our lives past bitter obsession. When we have truly completed the process of forgiveness, what happened between us and the other person is no longer a “live” issue in the way we think of or relate to the person, or in the way we live our lives. Signs of genuine forgiveness include: • The ability to use anger constructively. We can use anger to initiate and sustain constructive activity (stop injustice, protect self, engage in conflict resolution). We are no longer controlled by anger or fearful of its expression. • An increase in more neutral or genuine positive attitudes, especially toward the person forgiven. Greater life capacity to give and receive love, and experience gratitude. • An ability to ask for forgiveness from others and to give forgiveness, even when the other refuses to forgive. What Forgiveness Does Not Mean: • NOT forgetting We all know the old adage, “Forgive and forget”. However, forgiving someone does not mean we forget the wrong that the person did. Forgiveness has nothing to do with forgetting. For example, what would happen if you burned your fingers on the stove, and you forgot that hurt? Remembering the pain helps us to not let the event be repeated. An important part of forgiveness is remembering and dealing with what has happened. The pain inflicted will probably never be forgotten. Forgiveness allows us to put the pain in a place where it doesn’t continue to hurt us. • NOT condoning the person’s behavior By forgiving, we are not saying that what they did was acceptable or unimportant, or “not so bad”. It was bad, it did hurt, and it was wrong. We are not declaring the offender “not guilty” or absolving the person of the wrong. We do not need to justify or explain the other person’s behavior. Forgiving does not mean removing responsibility for what the person has done. There is nothing about genuine forgiveness that precludes holding people accountable for their actions. • NOT reconciliation Forgiveness does not mean we have to meet face-to-face with the person who wronged us. Forgiveness and reconciliation are two different processes. The forgiveness we do by ourselves. Reconciliation requires the other person’s participation. • NOT self-sacrifice Forgiveness is not swallowing our true feelings and playing the martyr or saying it’s all right in spite of the pain. It is not gritting our teeth and tolerating those who hurt us, or using the “grin and bear it” approach. Self-sacrifice makes life less joyful and more difficult. • NOT a clear-cut, one-time decision Forgiveness cannot be forced, and it is a process. Researchers now look at forgiveness and unforgiveness as two ends of a continuum, with a person moving, often not in a linear fashion, between unforgiveness and forgiveness over time. There is also a new concept of “not forgiving”, which is a conscious decision to withhold forgiveness. Sometimes what people really need is permission not to forgive, to feel what they feel. It is important to be at peace with a decision to not forgive, and not let the hurt continue to disrupt our lives. STEPS TO FORGIVENESS 1. Recognize the injury. Whom do you need to forgive? Writing a list is helpful. How have they hurt or injured you? Describe what happened. Writing out all the details helps bring the hurt to the surface, and helps you see that, no matter how horrible or extensive the offense, it does have a boundary and is not limitless. 2. Identify the emotions and feelings involved. List the feelings you have about what happened. For example: “I am afraid to look at this because...” or “It made me furious when...” or “I felt resentful/damaged/bitter.” This can be difficult if feelings have been buried or stuffed down for a long time. Try writing and just letting your thoughts flow onto paper. 3. Express your hurt and anger. Reaching genuine forgiveness almost always includes working through anger. Frequently, underneath anger are feelings of hurt. Anger that is left unresolved takes root and produces bitterness and resentment. Anger is not inherently good or bad, right or wrong. Anger is merely a fact of life. Healthy anger drives us to do something to change what makes us angry. Anger can energize us to make things better. Hate wants to make things worse. It may be important to find a trusted friend, counselor, or religious community leader who can help work through the feelings. Be sure to choose someone who is nonjudgmental and is willing to just listen. 4. Set boundaries to protect yourself. This is a way to possibly avoid additional hurts. Boundaries are limits. For example: “I will listen to what my mother tells me to do, but I won’t allow myself to feel that I have to do what she says.” Or, physically stay away from a particular family member for a time or for good. 5. Decide to forgive. This is deciding that what you have been doing has not worked and been willing to begin the forgiveness process. Choosing to forgive is about healing your own feelings. It has nothing to do with what the other person does or does not do. 6. Work on forgiveness – cancel the debt. Work toward empathy, understanding, and compassion for the offender. See the person who, like you, is part of humanity on this earth. Acknowledge your pain and let it be. Let go of the emotional IOUs. 7. Commit to forgive. Take your list of injuries and burn or bury them. Write a letter to the offender, detailing the issue and your feelings, write “Cancelled” across it, and destroy it without sending it. Make up a forgiveness certificate (for your personal use, not to be given to the offender!) and post it where you will see it every day. Such actions leave us with the memory of a definite time when we tangibly and concretely canceled the debt. 8. Hold on to forgiveness and discover your release from emotional prison. If grudge or resentment thoughts about the issue and person in question surface, remind yourself that you have forgiven him or her. Discover your own need for forgiveness. These steps work for forgiving yourself, too. Discover the freedom of forgiveness. Decide whether or not reconciliation is wanted or possible. When seeking reconciliation, the goal cannot be to restore the relationship to where it was before----- the offense has changed it permanently. A new way of relating will need to be developed. The most important step in this "forgiveness process," in my opinion, is the setting of boundaries. For yourself, and for others. Here are a few tips to help you get started establishing boundaries with the people in your life: 1) Communicate your thoughts with one another. Be honest, but respectful when sharing your thoughts and feelings with others. It’s totally normal and okay to need time to gather your thoughts and feelings, but don’t use that approach to avoid the conversation. 2) Never assume or guess others’ feelings. Making assumptions can create a lot of misunderstandings in a relationship. You may feel like you know the other person very well that you feel you’re entitled to assume what they want or need without asking them, but it is always your best bet to ask rather than assume. 3) Follow through on what you say. Setting boundaries and not executing them lets the other person think they have an excuse to continue to overstep your boundaries. You shouldn’t make any exceptions to your own boundaries without careful consideration because you may soon find yourself on compromising things that aren't acceptable to you. 4) Take responsibility for your actions. Instead of immediately blaming the other person for the situation or how you’re feeling, take a step back and think about the choices you’ve made in the relationship and see if they may have contributed to the situation. Both individuals should be doing this! and 5) Know when it’s time to move on. You can only share how you desire to be treated in the relationship, and you can’t be responsible for the other person’s feelings or communication. Everyone has the right to be treated with respect and fairness. If the other person can’t respect your boundaries, then it may be time to end the relationship. Setting and establishing healthy boundaries is a skill, and it takes time! Remember, healthy boundaries don’t come easy, but if you trust your instincts, be open, and practice with the people in your life, the relationships will only get stronger over time. I hope you found this information to be helpful and please don't hesitate to reach out with any further questions. Have a safe and happy and healthy new year!
(LMHC, MCAP, TIRF)
Answered on 12/30/2020