Andrea Loewen Nair: Connect-Four Parenting


Finding Your Bliss When Others Are Freaking Out Around You

Tips to staying calm when others are not

Have you heard this phrase, “You can’t control how another person reacts, but you can control how you react?” Easier said than done—but it IS possible!

I know how hard it is to stay cool when others around you are melting down or freaking out. Really, I do—I have the hole in my laundry room wall to prove it. As a psychotherapist with anger management tools, I was shocked how hard it was to stay calm when my young children were blowing their tops. I think they missed that section in the anger management books.

I am presenting at a conference in Mississauga, ON in the first week of October called BlissDom Canada. This is a weekend to connect/learn with others to find your own bliss in the work and home worlds. Leading up to this conference, I was thinking about what “finding my bliss” really means to me, and realized it means guarding my self-care and following my anger plan to make sure I keep an even keel when people around me are not. Toddlers aren’t the only ones who tantrum when they are exhausted and mad!

These are the steps I, and my clients and workshop attendees, have found helpful in keeping calm.

Be your own exhaustion police.

If you continually have a furrowed brow and feel drained, ask yourself what you need to actually stop being exhausted. I needed to stop trying to squeeze things into every minute of every day. I was amazed how much I could get done in four minutes—except that meant I had no minutes to just take a breath, and more importantly, to RELAX. Good scheduling is the key here: make a schedule that you can stick to which has space for work, fun, exercise, rest, partner, friends, kids, and chores.

So this leads me to the next point…

Make sure you have rest time built into each day.

Get off the treadmill! Pay attention to when you are “racing somewhere” or “in a hurry.” Put some breaks into your day so you can recharge. It only takes five minutes of putting your to-do list, work, or mobile device down to do one sun salutation or ten deep breaths to feel better. If you do have a mobile device, don’t pull it out every time you have a moment. For example, if you are waiting at a red light, standing in line at a grocery store, or listening to someone on the phone, resist the temptation to use your mobile device. If you continually move from one thing to the next with no pause in the middle to take a breath, you can wear yourself out.

Be aware of your own anger.

Do you notice when you are mad? What do you do with that anger? Many of us do things that do not help the anger process. For example, instead of noticing when I was mad, I would shut down and huff around, ready to snap on anyone that came in my way.

The first step to processing anger is to be aware of it and actually say out loud (or in your head, depending on where you are), “I am angry right now.” The next step is to identify what you are angry about. Take a moment to tell yourself what is pissing you off.

The third step is to ask these questions:

“What do I need?”

“Who do I need to talk to — and what do I need to say?”

“Do I need some help — and from whom?”

The last step is to take action to answer those questions. I find writing in a journal or talking out loud to myself in the bathtub helps me answer those questions and come up with an action plan. I am not afraid to seek the help of colleagues if I feel my anger is huge, has roots in old stuff, and needs some help to move. Thoughtful awareness of anger helps process it rather than allowing it to linger and cause havoc.

Create an “anger plan” for yourself and your family members.

This is a plan outlining the steps you will follow each time someone loses their cool around you or when you are about to lose yours (parents of toddlers, I know your pain). A CALM response is always the BEST response.

Here’s a little bit of brain information for you: reacting to something or someone with shouting, hitting, shaming, etc comes from the back part of your brain (I call it the “freak-out zone”), whereas thoughtfully responding with rational comments comes from the prefrontal cortex area which is behind the forehead (I call this the “check-in zone”). Taking a moment to breathe will make the shift from reacting to responding. The reason I mentioned self-care and fixing exhaustion first is that it is easier to make the shift to the check-in zone when we are rested.

Most of the time, unless your child or partner is on fire or bleeding profusely, things that make us mad are not a true emergency. Hit the pause button to give you time to remember that you have an anger plan, and to follow the steps.

An anger plan is best if age-appropriate, strengths-based and person-directed. Use your strengths to create steps to calm yourself down. I’ll share my steps, which are simply: Stop, Drop, and Roll. I use these key words to remind myself to:         

1. Stop talking

2. Drop into a chair or drop my hands down to my side if there aren’t chairs around, and

3. Roll in some big breaths.

I also talk to myself a lot like this, “Come on sister, breathe. Think.” I can actually feel myself shift out of my “freak-out zone” and the rational thought kick in. I find this so amazing!

When I am calm, I enable myself to use all the communication tools I have learned and make sure I don’t let my mad turn into mean. This allows me to deal with the situation effectively without hurting my kids or husband (I coach my kids to do the same).


If you would like to know more about the session I am presenting at BlissDom, please click here to visit the BlissDom webpage. I also will post more about this and my free parenting help on my facebook page.

Photo: flick creative commons romano carrattieri

For more articles, tips, and tricks to help you get organized and make the most of your blog and business visit our BlissDom Canada 2014: How Do You Find Your Bliss? page.

Membership Has Its Perks!

We’re offering a special discount for BlissDom Canada to our YMC members. Use our special code for 15% off your BlissDom Canada Conference pass. Find out the details here.

Bonus! BlissDom and YMC want to send you to the conference for FREE this year in the #ThisIsBliss Contest. Have you entered yet?