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Tuesday, April 21, 2015

I'm So Angry I Could Just Spit! How to Regain Your Personal Power After Losing It

'Calmness is the cradle of power.' Josiah Gilbert Holland 1819-1881

What Sets You Off? 
We all have that person or situation that can set us off--and in a flash--our emotional state shifts into high alert mode and we're left with a throbbing headache and stomach tied in knots. Before you know it, you're so angry you could just spit...and all you can do is watch as a perfectly good day nosedives in a downward spiral. 

What is it for you? 

  • What or who is it that sets you off? 
  • How do you feel--and what do you want to do when you get set off? 
  • Who or what set you off in the last 3 days? How did you respond? Were you so mad you could spit?

Spitting Mad

I'm so Mad I could Spit Nails 

I love the visual of being so mad I could spit nails. Although I am basically a gentle person by nature, the instant I'm set off I imagine doing things like spitting nails at the target of my ire Popeye-style.  And as I prefer to be viewed as a nice, reasonable person, when someone sets me off and forces my evil-twin to emerge I am doubly angry.   

'I'm so angry I could just spit' is an old expression used to express the extreme anger you feel when someone sets you off. There are several explanations about where the phrase originated. 'I'm so mad I could spit nails' supposedly originated in times past from carpenters who carried nails in their mouth as they worked.

As the carpenter story goes, if you were 'so mad you could spit nails', you'd have to deal with the problem, but you couldn't talk with a mouth full of nails, so you had to spit them out to yell at someone... then climb down the ladder and get more nails...further irritating you and wasting your time. 

When I'm so angry I could spit nails, I have a difficult time spitting out a proper response--as if my mouth was full of nails. And it takes a while for me to climb down the ladder of my hyped-up emotions before I can get back to the work at hand and being productive. 

We all get set off by something that makes us spitting mad, and we all have strong emotional reactions to it. The question isn't if something is going to set us off, it's how do we move through it with the least angst and best outcome. 

How do you regain your personal power after getting set off and losing it?

Why It Doesn't Pay to React 

The instant you lose your calm, your emotions get the better of you--and you lose the ability to act from a place of personal power. The emotional fog created by the anger quickly robs you of your ability to see and think clearly and drains you of your strength to act reasonably. 

And here's the thing: situations that set us off reduce us--even momentarily--to feeling like a child without power in an adult world.  This is the basis of our getting set off-- people that put us in a position of feeling powerless and out of control.

When we angrily react to the situation we come out swinging with a crude childlike anger that merely demonstrates our feeling out-of-control to others rather than making us appear powerful and strong.

Why It Pays to 'Let Time Work for You'

Whatever it is that sets you off and makes you feel reactive and hot-headed, calm is the salve to regain a cool head and confident manner. 

To regain a sense of calm, you must give yourself time and distance from whatever set you off. 

My mother used to say, you have to 'let time work for you'. You will save a lot of angst by letting time do the calming work for you. It's okay if you're unable to spit out a response when you get set off. Give yourself time to say and do nothing. 

To act out of calmness, not react out of hyped up emotions:

  • Step away from the situation
  • Postpone your response--say nothing in the moment or in writing
  • Do nothing
  • Give yourself time to settle

When you are calm and clear thinking, consider your actions. When you are calm you can come from the place of a resilient and strong adult able to see 'all things seemingly good or bad work in your favor'--and take charge of your response.

As Eleanor Roosevelt said, 'No one can take your power away unless you give it to them'. Don't let people rob you of your personal power. Learn to choose your responses calmly after you lose it. 

'Whatever the present moment contains, embrace it as if you had chosen it yourself.' Eckhart Tolle

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For more than 30 years, Susan Meyerott has been helping people lighten up and step over invisible barriers to change one step at a time. She speaks to your heart, puts you at ease, and makes changing easier than ever before.

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1 comment:

Jean | said...

Sue, this is sound advice. I grew up in a family with a few "hot heads" and I decided early on I wasn't going to be one of them. Usually what angers me is some situation out in public with total strangers. I resist the urge to "educate" the person and just move on.