If you find yourself overreacting, snapping, or yelling, it can seem impossible to get to calm. If you’re like most of the moms in this community, you’re balancing many roles that you have in your home, with your partner, your kids, your work, and anything else you have going on (friends, hobbies, extended family, etc.). It can seem like a lot. What makes it worse is the expectation of women that we need to do “everything for everyone always.” We’re expected to always say “yes” and yet, when we do, we find ourselves spread too thin, which leads to feeling overwhelmed. It’s no wonder it’s hard to find (and stay) calm.
And yet, there is a way to get to calm—dare I say it can happen quickly.
The way to get to calm is to go inward, focusing on what you can control.
Here’s a list of exactly what you can do to find calm quickly.
1. Notice the feeling you’re experiencing right before you act.
Behind every action is a feeling. That feeling is the cause of your reactions, yelling, and snapping.
What are you feeling? Answer this question in one word.
Instead of saying “I am frustrated” add in feeling so it’s “I am feeling frustrated.”
“I’m feeling frustration” feel very different than “I’m a frustrated mom.” When you detach from your feelings, you stop making the feeling part of your identity. You then get leverage over it.
2. Widen the gap between your feeling and the reaction.
Between every feeling and action, there’s a space, a gap. The key to getting to calm is to widen the gap between the feeling and the action. This takes practice, but if you start now, you’ll be surprised how quickly you can lengthen the space between your feeling and your reaction.
To widen the gap notice it and watch it. It sounds like, “I’m feeling irritated and I’m not reacting.” This is you allowing the feeling and lengthening the gap. It won’t be perfect, so give yourself a break!
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3. Process the feeling in your body.
Naming the feeling is very logical, from your brain. This step is about describing it by going into your body (and staying out of your head). Where is it specifically? What does it feel like? Is it hard, tight, or tense? What else? This is the process of “allowing a feeling” that will free you from overreacting, yelling, or snapping.
The way to allow your feeling is to befriend it. Welcome it in your body as if you’d chosen it.
For example, if you’re feeling irritated, the goal is not to “stop feeling irritated” the goal is to get really good at feeling irritated without reacting.
Why is this the goal? Because there’s no place in time in the future where you no longer feel negative emotions. Because of this, you want to build the skill of feeling your feelings without acting in a way that you don’t like. This takes practice but is 100% doable.
4. Find the thought causing the feeling.
All thoughts are caused by feelings.
After you’ve allowed the feeling (and not a moment before!), find the thought causing the feeling. You’ll have lots of thoughts, but try to identify the one that most obviously is creating the feeling.
For example, if you’re feeling angry, your thought might be, “she shouldn’t have acted that!” This thought is what’s creating the anger in your body.
Because thoughts cause feelings, the only way to “get to calm” is to 1) learn to process your feelings, and 2) change your thoughts.
Once you find the thought causing your feeling, instead of trying to replace it right away, notice it. Allow it to be there. Tell yourself, “this is just a thought.” This way of watching your thoughts will help you get some distance from your thoughts.
You are not your thoughts, nor your feelings. So when you separate yourself from both and “watch” them, you get leverage over them. They’re all of a sudden, not so bad.
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5. Practice 10 Minutes Of Silence Every Day
Because your body is in the habit of feeling certain feelings (like frustration, irritation, etc.), it’s useful to have a practice out of the moment that you can do to help get your body into a better feeling state. I suggest 10 minutes of silence.
Every day, practice sitting in silence so your nervous system gets comfortable in a calm state. This may be very uncomfortable for you at first. That’s normal. Your body isn’t used to being calm regularly yet. That’s okay. Allow the discomfort and do it anyway.
A Final Note
To find calm quickly, the key is to separate your 1) thoughts, 2) feelings, and 3) actions. Once separated, focus on widening the gap between all three. Practice feeling your feelings without reacting. And know too that this is a skill that you can get good at. At the same time, it’s okay and normal for it not to come naturally at first. Like any skill, keep practicing. You can do this!