Keeping Your Cool when Life Happens

Life has so many changes and times when you really can’t control what happens. When life happens you can do one of two things.

  1. You can totally loose your cool, call people colorful names, and steam for the rest of the day.
  2. You can take a minute to process and decide on a course of action that is both positive and productive.

I am a strong believer in continuums and reactions like this often happen on some sort of scale. The most frequent outcome of things gone haywire is some combination of angry outbursts and then problem solving.

Where do you fall on that continuum? How much of a freak out do you need to go through before you can problem solve and come to a productive rational conclusion?

Sometimes your ability to keep your cool is related to the kind of situation. When the situation is related to something that is very important to you, something that you are really invested, in it is easier to go off the handle than it is to calmly recalculate and adjust for what needs to happen next. What are you invested in or passionate about? Maybe it is related to work, family, or a significant other. You melt down when you aren’t able to meet productivity requirements or when a staff meeting doesn’t go the way you had hoped. When your family changes their plans (for the 15th time) and you are stuck to make dinner for 4 extra guests with little time to prepare. When your partner decides to go hang out with friends instead of checking out a new class you were both going to attend.

fly-off-the-handleSometimes small things really rub our raw spots and to others they seem trivial. The things that cause us to loose our cool have such an effect on us because they are important to us. So what is the difference between the times where you can just adjust your plans or your approach and get things done vs. the situations where we feel like we are left high and dry? The difference is how important they are to you and the more important a situation is to you the more you need to plan for how to manage any shifts in advance.

  • Identify areas of your life where you tend to loose your cool, feel very anxious or angry.
  • Once you know where you struggle make a plan B for those moments. A little cheat sheet for yourself as to what you can do next or what you can say to yourself that will be comforting.
  • Find the situations that you are able to adjust to with little difficulty.
  • Explore how you are able to be successful in those situations vs. others. Why are you able to adjust and how to you do your adjusting? Why don’t you go off the handle and how can you translate those feelings into situations that are more difficult to remain calm?

To recap: Plan B for when you might loose it and find out where you are successful in working through life’s curve balls. You are already successfully keeping it together in some areas of your life, now we just need to move that success to the areas where it is harder to adjust.1

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