Seeing red? Before responding, try these 4 steps

Anger management: Before responding, try these four steps.

According to the Merriam-Webster dictionary, seeing red means being enthusiastic or emotionally fired up with fury.

Some synonyms for seeing red are: seething, boiling, sizzling, burning, fuming, raging, rankling.

Count to ten. Take a stroll. These techniques have long been recommended to help you pause and reconsider your reaction when you're seeing red and an inch from exploding. Under normal conditions—perhaps a little stress at home or at work—those tactics can be beneficial. However, you may discover that they are less effective in the pressure cooker in which we have been living since the pandemic began. What can you do to keep from hitting your breaking point?

I sought advice from psychologist Stuart Ablon, founder and director of Think: Kids in the psychiatric department of Harvard-affiliated Massachusetts General Hospital. Ablon specializes in defusing explosive behavior in children and adolescents who have substantial developmental deficits in problem-solving, adaptability, and frustration tolerance, the abilities that keep us from melting down.


Pandemic stress impairs our ability to cope.

According to Ablon, many adults are currently grappling with a lack of these skills—not because we haven't developed them, but because pandemic stress is impeding their development. When we are continuously stressed, we lose access to the area of our brain that performs skills like flexibility and tolerance, "explains Ablon.

Blocked skills can lower our coping abilities to those of infants who shout when they don't get their way.

Empathy should be practiced.

When you're angry or agitated, Ablon thinks it's critical to stay calm and "regulated" so you can access the abilities needed to maintain control. And, according to Ablon, the best way to stay calm is to practice empathy—trying to sense another person's perspective or point of view.

Empathy is our most potent human regulator. It has been shown to de-escalate people in the most difficult prison environments, and it can also work on an airline or in line at Starbucks.

How does empathy benefit you?

It's fantastic to be able to calm others, but how can being sympathetic keep you from exploding? It has a cascading impact.

Attempting to understand someone else's point of view may cause you to reconsider how you wish to respond. It will also provide you with something important to do, which will keep you focused and relaxed.

Being calm allows you to access coping abilities such as problem-solving, flexibility, and frustration tolerance.

Using your coping skills improves your capacity to remain calm.

Because you're peaceful, you'll prevent someone else from erupting, which will help you stay calm.

There are four measures you can take to help you stop seeing red.

Ablon suggests the following steps for practising empathy:

Adopt the perspective that everyone is doing their best.

We're all doing our best to deal with whatever the world throws at us with the skills we have at the time. We don't want to be on the verge of losing it. " According to Ablon "'This person I'm talking with isn't giving me what I want, but they're doing the best they can right now,'" think to yourself. If you can exude that, you'll be able to assist them in governing themselves. It's contagious in the same way that a calm parent can soothe a wailing infant or a calm kindergarten teacher can keep a full class under control. "

Be intrigued rather than enraged. 

Ablon advises asking inquiries rather than leaping to conclusions to learn more about people's perspectives. What is the situation with them? What has brought them to this point? What exactly do they need?

Active listening should be done.

One of the most effective ways to control someone is to repeat back to them, in their own words, what you're hearing from them. It allows them to feel heard. " According to Ablon Solicit information and, once you've received it, reflect on what you've learned. It's referred to as "active listening."

In these trying circumstances, remaining empathic may be difficult. However, the more you practice this skill, the more compassionate you will become. This has the potential to yield big outcomes. "It will head things off at the pass for both of you if you can maintain calm and approach someone nicely and with understanding," Ablon advises.

Woman bursting out of anger

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