remaining calm, with a clear mind, when engaged in stressful confrontation/activity

music321

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When dealing with someone in a confrontational capacity, be it verbal or physical, I know that it is extremely important to remain calm. I also need to be more calm when engaged in stressful activities, such as finishing before deadlines.

There are times when people act agressivly toward me, and I become agitated. I do not think as clearly or as strongly as I would if I were in a calm state. I have dealt with this in the past by repressing the agitation/anxiety/anger. This, obviously, is neither ideal nor healthy.

Currently, I try to be aware that I am upset, but try no ignore the negative effects of being upset. This seems sort of like repression, though.

For me, being aware of being upset causes me to become distracted and careless. I would like to reach a state where I actually don't become angry/anxious when someone tries to "push my buttons." Barring this, rapid dissipation of negative emotions would be the next best thing, I think.

Do I have the right attitude toward this problem? Do any of you have any insight regarding this? Is elimination of anger/anxiety (for the most part) even possible?

Thanks.
 

Dirty Dog

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In a lot of ways, the only real fix is desensitization. Exposure. I deal with confrontational people allll the time. It no longer stresses me, particularly.
I figure that if they're confrontational, at least they have a pulse...

Beyond that, you can suppress the stress. But only for a short time. If you don't deal with it shortly, it's very u healthy.


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Supra Vijai

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There are times when people act agressivly toward me, and I become agitated. I do not think as clearly or as strongly as I would if I were in a calm state. I have dealt with this in the past by repressing the agitation/anxiety/anger. This, obviously, is neither ideal nor healthy.

Currently, I try to be aware that I am upset, but try no ignore the negative effects of being upset. This seems sort of like repression, though.

For me, being aware of being upset causes me to become distracted and careless. I would like to reach a state where I actually don't become angry/anxious when someone tries to "push my buttons." Barring this, rapid dissipation of negative emotions would be the next best thing, I think.

Do I have the right attitude toward this problem? Do any of you have any insight regarding this? Is elimination of anger/anxiety (for the most part) even possible?

Thanks.

As Dirty Dog mentioned, practice practice practice. I've been training MA for about 5 years now and going through meditations and working on the calmness but when adrenaline really hits, I still tend to get a bit shaky afterwards or my emotion really reflects in my voice. I don't see it as a huge weakness that is impossible to overcome, I just take note of it and try figure out exactly what set me off and work from there. One day I would love to get to the stage where nothing phases me (at least outwardly) but I believe a lot of that is due to me lacking confidence in my own abilities still. If I do have a ton of stress lingering after something though, I generally go home and run through some sword drills or practice power generation striking drills against a bag and find the focus required for either of those serves to calm me down and redirect my negative emotions to something productive pretty effectively.
 

wingchun100

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It's a tricky topic. I think you have to start by understanding that when someone acts aggressively toward you, your natural reaction will be to get upset. I try not to fight it; I don't say to myself, "Calm down!" Because by "yelling" at myself, I just add to the stress. This will come (as one other poster said) through more exposure to it. Just like your martial arts skills/techniques, it is something you have to train to be any good at it.
 

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It's also good to remember that anger in and of itself is not evil. It's a human response and is natural and normal. The key is to learn ways to keep that anger from overwhelming your judgment. Repression is wrong, I used to do that. Sooner or later it catches up with you. I find now if something bugs me I just say very clearly and calmly that this (fill in the blank) makes me feel angry for this (fill in the blank) reason. I don't lash out or cause any harm but just the act of getting it out there is often very cathartic. In many ways its the first step in gaining the upper hand.

As far as true clarity in a confrontation goes, that's harder. You will always see the world through the lens of your own experience. I sometimes find it useful to ask somebody I trust what they think about the situation to see an objective viewpoint. Of course if you are in the heat of the confrontation you have to make the best choices you can on the fly. Don't forget to breathe....
 

DennisBreene

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In a lot of ways, the only real fix is desensitization. Exposure. I deal with confrontational people allll the time. It no longer stresses me, particularly.
I figure that if they're confrontational, at least they have a pulse...

Beyond that, you can suppress the stress. But only for a short time. If you don't deal with it shortly, it's very u healthy.


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We all have our individual thresholds to respond something that causes stress. We also have varying levels of empathic response; the tendency to feel and internalize the emotions of someone we are interacting with. It is helpful if you can learn to recognize when you are reacting to someone else's emotional state and as DD notes, exposure and desensitization are useful in learning to deal with that empathic response. While suppressing a response to stress may take a toll, it is often preferable to acting out aggressively. I have found it useful to ask myself if the anger, aggression, depression, or whatever emotional state I am feeling is actually mine or simply a resonance (empathy) with the emotional state of the person I'm interacting with. When I can tell the difference, it is much easier to separate my response from the emotional build up, and react with reason. It takes practice, but it helps prevent me from escalating my emotional response simply because I happen to be interacting with an angry individual.
 

drop bear

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Being aware that it is a normal response helps me deal with it.
 

Dirty Dog

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We all have our individual thresholds to respond something that causes stress. We also have varying levels of empathic response; the tendency to feel and internalize the emotions of someone we are interacting with. It is helpful if you can learn to recognize when you are reacting to someone else's emotional state and as DD notes, exposure and desensitization are useful in learning to deal with that empathic response. While suppressing a response to stress may take a toll, it is often preferable to acting out aggressively. I have found it useful to ask myself if the anger, aggression, depression, or whatever emotional state I am feeling is actually mine or simply a resonance (empathy) with the emotional state of the person I'm interacting with. When I can tell the difference, it is much easier to separate my response from the emotional build up, and react with reason. It takes practice, but it helps prevent me from escalating my emotional response simply because I happen to be interacting with an angry individual.

Well said. I will modify my earlier post to this extent:
While confrontations generally no longer cause me particular stress at that time, some (such as the guy who pulled a knife on me about a year or so ago) certainly lead to stress that I'll have to deal with later. Once it's over, I may well have to go sit in a dark closet for a few minutes. I have the same response following other difficult situations, such as losing a child. During the event, I'm fine. After, I may well become something of a basket case for a short time.
 

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You said it Dog... The instant replay takes forever to get rid of, if ever. Sometimes I'll remember an old event and it all replays in my head again.
 

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As a full time firefighter getting used to high stress situations is kinda part of the job. The first few are a blur, as you get better, you can see the flow and fall back on your training. Sounds just like martial arts too doesn't it?

I teach anger is ok to have, it's a part of you and you need to acknowledge and understand it. But you can't let it run or control you. You do that you have already lost the fight.
I worked loss prevention for three years. We where allowed, even encouraged to go "hands on" to make an arrest. But I perfected to just calm the person, talk to them, and then get them to walk back with me. You can't fight the world, so talking was a better altertentive.
Bill


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wingchun100

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As a full time firefighter getting used to high stress situations is kinda part of the job. The first few are a blur, as you get better, you can see the flow and fall back on your training. Sounds just like martial arts too doesn't it?

I teach anger is ok to have, it's a part of you and you need to acknowledge and understand it. But you can't let it run or control you. You do that you have already lost the fight.
I worked loss prevention for three years. We where allowed, even encouraged to go "hands on" to make an arrest. But I perfected to just calm the person, talk to them, and then get them to walk back with me. You can't fight the world, so talking was a better altertentive.
Bill


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Or sometimes your anger may get you in a fight when you didn't need to. Like you said, talking was the better option. I mean, can you imagine getting in a fight every time someone called you an a-hole or yelled at you or was disrespectful to you? Shoot, if I did that, I'd be knocking my brother-in-law out on a daily basis! LOL
 

drop bear

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You can desensitise but it is difficult. I just accept that emotion can impair me and act so that impairment is controlled. Same as if I am tired or exhausted.

Being aware of the feelings and understanding the effects is most of the battle.
 

Buka

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There's an old adage "You can't control how other people behave, you can only control your reaction to it."

Easy to say, a whole lot tougher to do. And we all know what a ***** it is. Reacting to stress, especially a threat, is more about the physiology of the body rather than human psychology. Physiology dictates all bodily functions, including the dump of adrenaline. When we see trouble coming our bodies naturally prepare for the sake of survival. It's like squinting the eyes in sudden bright sunlight. Even in mild confrontation with people you're close to, the body starts the old blood pumping, raises the temperature, tunnels the vision and on and on. Then the psychology takes over - the mind tells you "I'm sick of his crap, he does this all the time" and you sometimes do things you later regret.

But it's the physiology that starts it all. As the guys above said, you kind of get used to it. Also, as was said above, you can deal with it using recognition. When you get angry, feel fear etc if you recognize your physiology and say, "Okay, I'm hot now, or mildly shaking or whatever, and realize it's your body's response, you can compartmentalize it a whole lot easier.

If we played a game and said, "this person is going to try to piss you off and you have to not let it happen in order to win a thousand bucks cash money" you could do it easily. You would recognize how you were getting hot under the collar, how your blood was pumping and how the insults that would normally affect you, if it wasn't for that thousand bucks, are no longer quite as important. In every day life, without a G-note as a reward, it's a little harder. Especially when we let our ego start to raise it's head. We sometimes start on that verbal response path and we know damn well the next thing we say is going to get us crazy. More often than not, it's not what HE says, it's what WE say, that releases the beast.

Controlling is a lot more difficult when you're tired or already stressed. Those are the time we really got to be careful.
 

wingchun100

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There's an old adage "You can't control how other people behave, you can only control your reaction to it."

Easy to say, a whole lot tougher to do. And we all know what a ***** it is. Reacting to stress, especially a threat, is more about the physiology of the body rather than human psychology. Physiology dictates all bodily functions, including the dump of adrenaline. When we see trouble coming our bodies naturally prepare for the sake of survival. It's like squinting the eyes in sudden bright sunlight. Even in mild confrontation with people you're close to, the body starts the old blood pumping, raises the temperature, tunnels the vision and on and on. Then the psychology takes over - the mind tells you "I'm sick of his crap, he does this all the time" and you sometimes do things you later regret.

But it's the physiology that starts it all. As the guys above said, you kind of get used to it. Also, as was said above, you can deal with it using recognition. When you get angry, feel fear etc if you recognize your physiology and say, "Okay, I'm hot now, or mildly shaking or whatever, and realize it's your body's response, you can compartmentalize it a whole lot easier.

If we played a game and said, "this person is going to try to piss you off and you have to not let it happen in order to win a thousand bucks cash money" you could do it easily. You would recognize how you were getting hot under the collar, how your blood was pumping and how the insults that would normally affect you, if it wasn't for that thousand bucks, are no longer quite as important. In every day life, without a G-note as a reward, it's a little harder. Especially when we let our ego start to raise it's head. We sometimes start on that verbal response path and we know damn well the next thing we say is going to get us crazy. More often than not, it's not what HE says, it's what WE say, that releases the beast.

Controlling is a lot more difficult when you're tired or already stressed. Those are the time we really got to be careful.

Maybe I could start pretending I will get $1000 if I don't react to his BS LOL.

I'll tell you what else doesn't help: when you are dealing with someone like that, people always say things like, "Take the high road. Be the better person, etc." But in my experience, being the better person usually means "be the one looking like the wuss who got verbally b*tch-slapped." Then again, maybe I feel that way because I am surrounded by people who admire the one who was being the LESSER person. Who's to say?

Anyway, all that I just said there in that last paragraph really doesn't matter. LOL What matters is simply this: there are a lot of d*ckheads in this world, and you can't go around punching every single one. Let them go on their little alpha male wannabe tirade, and just walk away from it. They get to maintain their alpha male superiority feeling, and you get to not go to jail.
 

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I will say, there is nothing more priceless then the look on a jerks face when you refuse to "play the game". I prefer to play my own game inspired by Sun Tzu. It's also how I teach my students.
Who cares what a person says to you, I simply let it wash off me. I let my calm be both my and their defense. They just don't know you can take them apart many different ways. Lol lol

Bill


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