As much as I’d like to say I’m a patient, gracious, angelic person most of the time, I’m not. In fact, I think I have an ideal idea of how a Christian “should act” in tough situations but it’s not always humanly possible. Because not all human emotions are pleasant.
We’ve all been in situations that get under our skin to the point where we are literally about to lose our…cool. Here are some helpful tactics to use when you get to that point that will help you calm down and approach the situation with grace. (At least as much grace as possible).
1. Count to 10
This is something my Dad would make us do when we were little and got upset. I guess it’s just stuck with me along the way. Obviously when I do this I don’t count to 10 as fast as possible. I take 10 breaths and let my heart rate decrease.
Other times I don’t literally count to 10. Instead I just pause and think about how I want to handle the situation. I think about how I want to react versus how I should react.
2. Try to put the situation into perspective.
I started doing this a few years ago. The thing is, some things seem like a HUGE deal in the moment. As it turns out, we later don’t even remember they happened. But sometimes the moments we don’t remember end up in someone else’s memory because of what we said or did. (Uh oh!) We can also tend to turn a small snowball into a huge avalanche by overreacting. So this is what I think to myself:
“Is this something I’m going to remember in 6 months?”
It’s a question of whether or not the situation is worth an eruption. The time frame of the question can change to end in “tomorrow,” “next week,” or even “in a few years.” Early in my marriage I snapped at my husband because he forgot to pay the rent and it was the second day of the month. I completely lost it. Something that was not a big deal turned into a mountain of an issue. The ONLY reason I remember it now is because of my poor reaction.
Putting the situation into perspective and asking ourselves if it’s really a big deal can help prevent us from reacting in a way that isn’t glorifying.
3. Count your blessings.
I use this tactic when it seems like everything in life is going wrong. When you’re in the head space of negativity, it’s easy to let all of the bad things add up. I’ll even go as far as to predict future negativity: “If I don’t do X now then EVERYTHING IS RUINED!”
When this happens I count my blessings. I’ll admit that sometimes I start doing it sarcastically, but as I keep going I really am able to give thanks to God. My first blessing may start at, “thank you for ice cream,” but by the end I am thanking God for his unfailing love and ability to love me at my worst.
This goes along with counting to 10 and putting things into perspective. I find myself praying the following things the most:
“God, please lead me in a way that glorifies you. Please help me act in a way that you would want me to.”
This one is a song I first heard from Bethel Music. It goes:
“God I look to you/ I won’t be overwhelmed/ give me vision/ to see things like you do/ God I look to you/ You’re where my help comes from/ Give me wisdom/ You know just what to do.”
Praying leads me to a literal “What would Jesus do?” moment. If Jesus would approach the situation with love and respect, I should too.
No one is perfect.
Worried about the fact that you snapped the other day? Don’t be. We all have our moments, and no one is perfect. That’s what forgiveness is for.
If you think you may have said hurtful things to someone, apologize to them and ask for their forgiveness. Be ready to hear their hurt and their side of the story and recognize that their forgiveness may not come immediately.
After everything is said and done, allow yourself to move forward. Then reflect and learn which tactics help to best calm you down when you’re about to lose your … cool.