Unfortunately, as humans, we all know that panic stricken feeling that creeps up from deep within when we begin to become overwhelmed by our internal emotions. Your chest starts to tighten, your palms bead with sweat, your heart pounds. You might even feel that you’re on the verge of losing control, and the worst part is–you simply don’t know how to reverse the process.
Whether you’re in a tense confrontation with a coworker or feeling waves of remorse and sadness over an unwise decision in your personal life, it’s important to know how to maintain your composure even when you feel like you’re being tormented by strong emotions.
So, how do you maintain your composure in the face of internal conflict? While you might not be able to avoid a potentially painful situation, you can change the way you perceive stressful situations or individuals. Here are four ways that you can keep your composure in any situation:
1. Just breathe
It’s the age-old solution because it works! Close your eyes, and count to ten as you breathe. In and out, in and out. Try to relax and focus on your breath while letting the anger or stress or fear that has been building up inside you cool off and dissipate.
Think about the possibilities of the situation at hand…do you want to fix things, or do you want to add another problem to the mix? An explosion will only make things worse, so take a step back to allow yourself the space to regain your composure. Available to you in any moment, this is the easiest way to assess a problem and recollect your thoughts in a peaceful way.
2. Take accountability
Assuming responsibility when a problem occurs isn’t usually most people’s first line of action. But, when you can feel the anxiety building up inside you, realize that owning up to your part of the problem can far outweigh the benefits of remaining free from blame in your own mind.
Whether it’s a fight with your spouse, a bad deal at work, or a problem with your child at school, sometimes the best thing you can do to resolve the issue is to be accountable and admit the part you played in creating the problem. While this may be easier said than done, letting pride and ego get in the way can stand in the way of a peaceful home and work life.
3. Don’t assume the worst
Many people tend to overanalyze their problems and jump straight to the worst possible conclusion they can think of…even if the problem at hand is, in reality, quite solvable. While we don’t consciously jump to catastrophic conclusions to heighten our stress and worry, mindlessly following our emotions down the rabbit hole can take us to the place of no return.
Assuming the worst can add unnecessary stress to the situation while making the initial conflict more difficult to solve. And while there may be a slight chance that the awful scenario you’ve envisioned will play out, in most situations the conclusion you’ve jumped to is unrealistic with little chance of it ever actually happening. So, take a step back, put things in perspective by detaching from your strong emotions, and remember that your problems are probably not quite as overwhelming as they first appear to be.
4. Don’t take it personally
In your personal life, things are, well, personal. When it comes to the workplace, it’s a different story altogether. In an article for Forbes, author Glenn Llopis articulates how leaders can maintain their composure in difficult times. If you hold a position of power in the workplace, keeping your goals and tasks separate from your emotions is absolutely essential.
According to his article, when you allow a project to get too close to your heart, it often clouds your ability to make objective decisions and can even cause your coworkers to question your leadership capabilities.
In the workplace, there are many other outside factors that contribute to the making and breaking of deals and your ultimate success in any project. Yet, the same goes for a non-traditional career. Even if you don’t work in an office or hold a corporate position, the stress of a job still exists, and involving emotions can only make your path more challenging. Managing your own business or working from home while you balance raising your kids doesn’t leave much room for error.
Remember–whether in your personal or professional life–sometimes, things just don’t go the way you planned. All you can do is try to keep it in perspective, keep your emotions in check, and remind yourself not to take everything personally.