Mindfulness x Relationships: How Do I Calm My Temper And Fight Fair During Conflict?

golden leaves, golden hour, chicago, fall, foliage - The Calm Collective

Good morning, good morning. How’s everyone feeling? Happy? Healthy? Grounded?

Maybe you’re feeling a little off today and that’s okay, too. I’ve discovered a super easy, mindful practice for when I’m stuck in a funk of bland emotions or when I’m feeling irritable. I take a deep breath, and I say the feeling out loud. Here’s an example:

“I have zero patience today.”

I breathe again, and then I say:

“and so it is”

That’s it. When you claim the emotion,  you release the power it has on you. I promise you, it’s that easy to flow through a negative feeling or hold up. Will it go away at the drop of a hat? Probably not, but I can assure you that if you keep doing this practice every 5 minutes or so, if you keep naming your emotions and releasing them from your heart space, you’ll feel lighter. 

(and if that doesn’t work: know that dancing with reckless abandon cures all)

Today’s post kind of relates to the above subject, actually. I had a reader send me a DM for the Mindfulness Series (this is a series that allows all of you to send in questions whether it’s via Instagram or email, relating to the self, relationships, money, work, etc when it comes to mindfulness). I also answer a lot of these questions over on the podcast as well. (Season 2 is launching soon!)

On to today’s question:

“How do I stay mindful and keep my bad temper in check when I’m fighting with my boyfriend? I want to fight fair, but it’s so easy for me to explode whenever we have an argument. I hate reacting this way, so I’d love any feedback.”

Well, sister, the good news here is I can say with full certainty that you are not alone in this arena. While personally I don’t have a bad temper, this is such a common human behavior, so I’m really, really grateful to you for writing in because I know it’s going to resonate with so many others. 

First thing’s first: You’re already self aware, and that’s HUGE. Many people, especially those with a hotter head ;) tend to have struggles with accepting where they fall short – in this case, having a short fuse when things frustrate them or don’t go the way they’d ideally like. So the fact that you’re able to a) accept this about yourself and b) feel eager to change it is a really beautiful thing. 

Second, there’s an array of ways that we can tackle this, and I feel confident that if you use these techniques during your times of heat, you’ll find it so much easier and dare I say, uneventful, the next time you find yourself knee deep in conflict. 

How to stay mindful when you have a bad temper

• Breathe 

Yep, I know. Sounds SO cliche, but bare with me. Breath work is no joke, and when we use it in times of heat, worry, frustration, pain, anxiety, etc… you can literally FEEL your insides start to slow down. Your body temperature lowers,  your heartbeat slows, your throat chakra opens, and you’re invited to welcome in calming thoughts and energy.  So before you say a word, breathe.

If you need something more than breathing, simple count to ten super slow.  You can also recite the alphabet in your head (it forces you to concentrate), or identify each finger on your hands. Example: “this is my thumb, this is my index finger, this is my middle finger, this is my ring finger, this is my pinky…” Sounds crazy, but it’s a sure fire way to bring you from 60 to 0.

• Accept that nothing is personal

This notion (fact) will literally save your life. It’s truly the ONE thing I can pin-point that’s changed my life the most when it comes to my relationships – both with those closest to me and with perfect strangers. Nothing is personal – so the next time you’re in an argument and someone says something to you that makes your blood boil, see them as someone who’s battling with themselves. 

Another tip is to put yourself in an imaginary bubble (literally visualize this). Make it so that the words, accusations, etc that are coming at you can’t land. Don’t take that on. Understand that you can very well listen without absorbing. Being able to detach yourself from negative emotions and other people’s frustrations during conflict will eventually bring you to a place where you can remain calm and level during arguments, and hear the person instead of coming from a place of strictly reacting. 

PS: Read this book.

• Know your triggers

To continue on to the last point a bit – by knowing and identifying your triggers, you’re able to understand (and then accept!) why you’re reacting the way that you are. I don’t believe anyone, (ever) when they say they were just born with a bad temper, that it’s genetic. I love you, but no.  Bad tempers stem from not fully understanding how to self soothe, to work through your hot spots, and to unblock what it is that’s buried so deep that it explodes when someone/thing confronts you.  The next time you’re set off, take note.

What happened? What was said? What was done?

Literally write it down when you get a moment, track it in your phone. Then go somewhere quiet where you can journal all that came up for you. 

• Have an honest conversation with your partner

Whomever it is that you’re feeling like your temper shows up for, it goes without saying that if you let others in on how you’re feeling, you free a bit of the power that your triggers have over you. In some ways, you’re asking for help, you’re voicing your truth.. and what that comes down to is living as your authentic self.  When you tell your partner that you’re really working on your temper, that you want to be able to fight fair, that you don’t want to fall back on using volume or actions to get your point across – you give them the opportunity to hold loving space for you, and to really see that you’re struggling internally. Be open and vulnerable. Share your struggles. 

• Bite your tongue

That sounds bad, and I don’t mean that you shouldn’t speak your mind or your truth. On the contrary. But when you’re suffering from fiery compulsions, it’s usually best in these moments to listen. This is actually a super powerful tool, and when you can get to the point where listening is actually your go-to strategy during an argument, you’ll find so much internal peace, I promise you. This is something that most of us humans lack – empathy and a listening ear. We’re all so quick to speak our piece, to get to what WE want to say, to disregard someone else’s words if they don’t serve our own. This is how disconnects happen. I encourage you to practice empathy (read this post), and to listen more than you speak. 

PS: if you’re being verbally attacked,  you have every right to dismiss yourself from the situation.  This doesn’t mean that you pack a bag and run (unless it’s verbal abuse – in that case, SEE YA) – but just calmly state that you’re hearing them, but in order to process and to ensure you don’t say something you don’t mean, you’d like to cool off and take a walk, that you’ll be back.  OR if you’re like me (I’m not a fan of separating during tension), vote that you take a silent walk together.  Hold hands, get outside in nature, rain or shine, cold or hot, breathe in fresh air and have some sort of bodily contact. Stay connected in whatever way you can. I’ve always found that this is the most healing way to get back to ground zero, where you can begin the conversation again. No one said an argument had to be solved in “x” amount of time. I would MUCH rather solve it gracefully and completely then half-hearted and rushed. 

Through it all, stay connected both to yourself and at the one(s) you love through conflict. We’re all imperfect humans trying our best to be loved and understood. I hope this helps. You’re an amazing human who’s already so ahead of the curve by addressing things in yourself that aren’t landing well for you. Whoever your partner is, they’re lucky to have you. 

I’m going to leave you with one of my all time favorite quotes:

If the ocean can calm itself, so can you. We are all salt water mixed with air.

You’re just salt water and air, baby. 

Breathe.  x 


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