Calm Down?!!!

Are you KIDDING me? Have you ever been in mid-rant and have some well-meaning person tell you to calm down? What are the indications? Red Face, hard breathing, elevated vocal volume, higher pitch, eyes wide, brows scrunched, hands balled up into fists. Check, check and check. What is the actual cause of the rant? Is it something over which the subject doesn’t seem to have any control? Is this person indicating frustration or anger? If this screaming banshee is demonstrating anything like rage, get out of the way!

My friend, Heather, is like me. If she has her mad on, the mere words, “Calm down,” make her go ballistic. We both have the same reaction: get madder. I think it’s that people think we cannot control our emotions. The situation evokes an emotional response, and we’re told it’s not a valid reaction. I think that unless the underlying problem is addressed, the emotion cannot be just shut off.

When you see the police procedurals, the bad guy has a gun, and everyone–everyone!–is yelling in their command voices to drop the gun. 8 guys yelling at you tends to scare the crap out of you, fight or flight…no place to go, that leaves fight. I saw a cop walk up behind a guy and whisper in his ear to drop the weapon, and he did! Oh, and he wet his pants. True power is confidant enough and cool enough not to have to raise the voice. But in this case, the voice is raised, the blood pressure up, things get thrown. Then someone yells Calm Down. I have really good aim with a spatula. I may have enough self control to throw something that might break bones or cause a serious bruise instead of removing pieces of anatomy. But I couldn’t absolutely guarantee this reaction.

It’s funny. My son can be calmed down by pure logic or a nice hug, and he reacts to the words “Calm Down” by calming down. What is wrong with this boy?

I think the best reaction to me losing my temper is to ask the question: Is there anything we can do about this? It changes the direction of the rage from the way things ARE to what we can do to deal with this. It goes from an emotional response to a mental exercise. It’s a distraction technique. Another distraction technique is to agree with me. Don’t add anything to the conversation though as that might launch me into another rant. If I’m panicked, remind me to breathe. But I tell you the truth, if you discount my emotion, I will be most displeased and will do exactly the opposite and punctuate my points with sharp objects.

2 thoughts on “Calm Down?!!!

  1. Agreed. I think the reason “calm down” can be so dangerous is because it’s as if our emotions are considered invalid by the person who speaks them. There are times when we feel like they’re not aware of the full situation, or they’re not as impacted as we are by the turn of events. We believe that they would be as angry as we are if whatever happened, happened to them. We’re just looking for validation in those instances. Well, at least I am. “Yes, this person was an absolute whacko!” is something I want to hear. Once that is accomplished, I actually calm down and move on. But if the sympathy/acknowledgment step is missed… reconciliation cannot be obtained.


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