Should you slap people when they make you mad? No. You should avoid hitting people. Granted, it happens sometimes. Sometimes it even happens on a stage on live television with millions of people watching.
But it’s definitely not an appropriate or acceptable (or legal) way to handle your emotions. And yelling and cursing just dial up the anxiety in the room, so that’s not an option either.
So how do you avoid hitting people? The impulse to react instantly and dramatically to that which assaults your ego or offends you on some deep level?
Before I answer, let me say that I’m a work in progress in this area. I’ve learned a lot — mostly the hard way — about mindfulness and emotional regulation. And I still haven’t arrived at a place of mastery.
I’m a stuffer. I tend to collect my feelings and just stuff them down until they leak or explode out later. And after talking to a lot of people about this, I don’t think I’m alone.
Now, having read a dozen good books about anger, having talked about this in-depth with my therapist, and having discussed it a lot with my wife (who happens to be a highly skilled therapist), I want to share a big piece of advice with my fellow strugglers.
The secret to not hitting people or exploding when you’re angry is this…
How to avoid hitting people
1. Slow your body down.
Your brain has a certain physical form and it’s a complicated mix of neurons, synapses, and various chemicals moving around all the time. It’s dynamic and never stops changing. That’s the physical, biological makeup of the brain.
I like to use the word mind in distinction to the brain to refer to the unique personality that is you. Your mind is the seat of your emotions, intellect, and will. It’s the product or output of your brain, but because you have a will, you get to make choices that affect the development of your brain.