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Five Key Reminders to Keep Calm and Carry On

Updated on July 14, 2014

Think Before You Speak

We've all had that dreadful experience of being in a heated conversation which escalates into a full blown argument. Sometimes a healthy ribbing or lovers quarrel is seen as a way to relieve tension and stress. We may think we are communicating clearly and effectively until the insults fly. Often a partner, friend, parent or co-worker will bring up a past grievance that has absolutely nothing to do with the present moment. Obviously, when our emotions and feelings get the best of us its easy to blurt out, "You're an idiot!" , "You never listen to me!", " It's always your fault!". It's crucial to stay calm and really think before we speak during a spat. Unless we allow ourselves to become conscious of what we're going to say we might create World War III out of a once playful battle of wits. Did you remember to empty the dishwasher last evening or pay the car insurance? So those duties may have temporarily slipped your mind. Does that make you a forever lazy couch potato? Certainly not. But if someone you love and trust calls you "lazy" despite the fact that you work just as hard as they do, an intentional hurtful comment is a form of manipulation. You may have bigger underlying issues than getting dishes put away or bills mailed. Think before you speak. Keep the peace. Keep calm and carry on.

"You are the sky. Everything else- is just the weather."

-Pema Chodron

Accept Without Judgment

Stop judging others and keep your cool. If someone makes a remark about you and it’s something you also judge in yourself, it will most likely hurt. However if they make the same remark and you don’t have that judgment about yourself, it probably won’t bother you at all. Why do we let little things that people say annoy us so much? How well do they know you? Is your ego so fragile that ignorant comments from perfect strangers upset you?

Have you accepted that you're not a perfect person? You have imperfections, flaws and annoying habits just like the rest of humanity. At one time you didn't understand how to download a file or change the oil in your own car. Why are you impatient, making fun or criticizing people who haven't learned yet? Does making other people feel small or stupid somehow make you feel big or better about yourself? Most people who constantly nag, judge and belittle others suffer from low self-esteem. They don't feel or understand their own value. Many times people project their own hatred of themselves and their own shortcomings onto others. Children who were physically or verbally abused, cruelly punished or neglected may carry all of that pain and anger into adulthood. Unsympathetic, selfish or mean adults may have been spoiled rotten and always had their own way as children. Past hurts need to be validated and old wounds need to heal.

Before you lose your sense of calm, examine where frustration, maliciousness or meanness is coming from. Accept without judgment that others must be hurting inside. Unless there is a total lack of empathy why would we treat others so terribly? Ask the person to clearly and directly explain why they are being so mean or judgmental. You don't need to tolerate disrespectful comments or actions but you may want to understand them. Understanding leads to compassion. Manipulators and bullies find great gratification in upsetting people. Don't give them permission to treat you badly. Keep calm and carry on.

Shift Your Focus

When we get really stressed out it's usually because we've focused too much of our energy on one specific task or endeavor. Even people who love and become absorbed in their career or those who find fulfillment raising children need to stop and take a break. When you lose your calm, make mistakes and become frustrated it's time to step away from a person or project and shift your focus. Close your door. Go for a drive. Get a snack. Take a walk. Look at a funny website. Hire a maid or a baby sitter. Give yourself a mental break especially if you think you're becoming overwhelmed. When you feel stressed out or stretched to the limit your own mind starts to play tricks on you.

Have you ever thought that someone was deliberately ignoring you or deceiving you? Do you suspect people are talking to others behind your back? This occurs all the time in offices and businesses around the world. Instead of being paranoid about your co-workers and loved ones, keep calm and ask yourself how did you feel in that moment? Were you frustrated, hurt, angry or upset? How about when you found out that they had not done it to begin with? How did you feel then? Did you feel embarrassed or upset with yourself? When we allow stress to build up our minds invent untruths and we create a thousand enemies. Observe how your thoughts play cat and mouse the next time you feel stressed out or upset. It's pretty amazing what you'll discover if you just stop for a moment and examine your own patterns of thought. You must keep calm and carry on.

Listen to calming music.....

Let it Out

What's the first thing most of us do when we're upset? We phone a loved one, tell a friend, confide in Fido or immediately start typing an awful email strewn with the most unsavory expletives. WAIT! Before you hit send, keep calm. It's okay to let out your frustrations but we do need to be mindful of how and when we release the "Cracken". Telling a trusted colleague is fine but keep your voice down in case the boss is within earshot. Be aware of who you're venting to and why. Will you make matters worse?

A better way to let go of stress is to hit the ground running. Exercise is a great way to release pent up energy and negative thoughts. Go for a walk. Listen to music. Take a bubble bath. Some people find it helpful to nosh on healthy snacks such as pretzels or veggies rather than gobble up an entire pepperoni pizza or hot fudge sundae (which you may regret later). Skip indulging in shopping, alcohol, smoking or drugs. Avoid driving angry if you can.

Initially, whichever method we choose to release our frustration, remember there's still the issue of finding forgiveness and resolution. Unless you can automatically come to terms with what happened you may become resentful and possibly prone to future anger flare ups. Talk calmly with the person who upset you. If the occurrence isn't something you can resolve with another human being such as when a random driver cuts you off in traffic or gives you the finger, then you will have to let it out and let it go. Keep calm and carry on.

Breathe Deeply

The best way to stay calm and keep your cool is to breathe. Take a few deep breaths, count to ten and relax. When we become tense our breathing becomes shallow and ragged. When our breathing is unsteady it causes loss of oxygen to our brain and all other body organs. Becoming aware of our breathing allows us to keep our balance. Deep breathing has a direct calming effect on our nervous system, relaxing muscles and lowering our blood pressure. Most importantly, its one hundred percent free, no doctors prescription required. Deep breathing exercises can be performed whenever or wherever you need them.

One very easy way of deep-breathing is putting your tongue on the roof of your mouth just behind your two front teeth. Breathe in slowly through your nose to the count of five. Hold your breath to the count of seven. Then exhale slowly and audibly through pursed lips to the count of eight. Place your hands on your abdomen and you can actually feel it rise as you inhale. By the fourth exhale, you should feel noticeably relaxed. By the tenth breath you should feel renewed. Now, keep calm and carry on.


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“Some people live as though they are already dead. There are people moving around us who are consumed by their past, terrified of their future, and stuck in their anger and jealousy. They are not alive; they are just walking corpses.”
― Thích Nhất Hạnh, You Are Here: Discovering the Magic of the Present Moment

Keep Calm and Carry On.......

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