When all you want to do is scream and shout, it’s so very hard to calm down.
Because when you get to that point of losing it, your amygdala is triggered and already in “fight or flight” mode in response to fear, feeling threatened and stressed. This means you are in the “react first and think later” mode.
This is when that old “count to ten” trick comes in.
Counting to ten buys you some time for the blood to rush to the frontal lobe, the area that controls reasoning and what’s likely to stop you throwing that mug against the wall… or worse.
And here’s what happens to the rest of your body: your adrenal glands get flooded with stress hormones, your strength and energy levels get jacked up, and your blood is redirected from your stomach and other organs, out to your muscles. Your blood pressure, pain threshold and temperature rise, your breathing and heart rate increases, and your pupils begin to dilate.
In effect, your whole body is affected by this state of high threat.
Unless it is a rare occurrence, your body is being poisoned by your emotions.
Yet it isn’t such a rare thing for people, is it? It is far too common. In fact, it happens on a daily basis. People aren’t even aware of how many times a day they are triggered. Whether it’s flashes of anger and frustration at work, daily road rage, being queue jumped, noisy neighbors, you name it — it’s all there and happening far too often.
You must ask yourself, “Where’s the bear or the T-Rex here chasing me?” because if no impending threat is actually chasing you, then something is seriously not right with your life.
Rather than raise the topic of anger issues or anger management, I wonder whether we could look at this as a gift instead.
Instead of waiting for our physical or mental health to fall apart with a serious, debilitating illness, we can use this as the red traffic lights to our position in the flow of life.
So where are you at right now? How many situations this past week made you be on edge? How many times did you reach the highest level of “losing it”?
Society tends to be dismissive of strong emotion. It does not see behind the rage, anger, or pain where fear is the driver. Instead, it asks you to “handle” yourself, get it “under control,” man-up or even worse, tells you that you are damaged or broken.
But even your fear is telling you the same thing that your voice wants to scream: “Stop this roller-coaster! I want to get off!” And if you want to live a happier life, you must get off that damn ride.
So how do you see your state of mind as a gift?
In large part, you need to give some attention and respect to what your mind is telling you. Here are a few tips I’ve found extremely useful:
1. Detach yourself from your emotions.
First of all, your emotions are like the weather. Use them as the barometer of your mental health, but do not get attached to them. Express them with a distance — “I feel” not “I am.”
2. Journal moments of strong emotions.
Like any exclusion diet, for at least two weeks, record each time a strong emotion threatens to take over. Journalling these moments allows you to be more mindful of the frequency and/or patterns of your strong emotions, why these strong emotions happened, what it was triggered by, by whom, and how you were able to handle it.
3. Hit the “pause” button and take a mini Soul-Cation.
Hit the “pause” button on people, relationships, and potentially stressful situations by taking yourself off for a mini soul-cation. This can be 2 hours with a coffee in the park or a whole getaway weekend. The point is, you need to go somewhere to just be with yourself and start asking some really hard questions. You can’t do this if you are too busy reacting to life all the time.
4. Make a commitment to be wholly and totally responsible for your life.
It is harder than you may think because you have to make decisions based on what you need, you are responsible for the consequences and you gotta be honest about the fact that the right ones aren’t always easy. Do not allow the concept of blame, no choice or if only’s to become self-limiting reasons why you are letting someone or something else, choose your life for you.
5. Understand what your boundaries are, mentally and energetic-wise.
Construct healthier, stronger ones. Even though you may get them challenged and experience push-back, boundaries keep you grounded, rooted into a sacred space where you do no harm and no harm can be done to you.
6. If you feel like you are going to “lose it,” let it wash through you.
A scream, after all, is one of the most primal ways to release the tsunami of emotions that have created a vortex within. Sit with it, cry, shout into a pillow or under water, find a way to release it safely. As long as you can see it for what it is —your body’s way of letting go of a huge negative charge — you are clearing trauma as and when it arrives. Not storing it in your body to continually affect you.
7. Be mindful (not judgemental) about what your emotional state is showing you.
Discord and Disharmony are simply the sound of an untuned instrument. With the right attention in the right place, you can create the sweetest music.
Everything can change, if you just pay attention to what is really happening and why. Your scream is your gift saying loud and clear, “It’s time to be Free, it’s time to be Me”.
— Asha Gill
Asha Gill is an international television presenter and the host of Soulvana. Having worked in the industry for 20 years, Asha has interviewed the likes of The Rolling Stones, Lenny Kravitz and Beyonce. Now she is bringing her personal wisdom to her tribe in Soulvana, and her bi-weekly column on the MVA Blog.