Meet Hobo. Hobo is annoying. He’ll find a way to get under your skin – wound you – rub Himalayan pink salt on the wound – and say, “I didn’t mean to hurt you.” But, you are hurt. You now want to drench Hobo in a mix of unfiltered sewage, rotten eggs, and apple cider vinegar.
So, you lose it. And then hobo loses it. Sewage wins.
Hobo happens to us all. A couple of times a week. Sometimes, eight times a day. You would like to ignore him, but there’s that day called ‘one of those days’ and that day happens to you. You lose your marbles and give Hobo a piece of your limbic system (brain->angermy attempt at smartassery). You could indulge yourself in the popular dictum of the numerical countdown before this, but it’s akin to holding a giant red cloth in front of a deep-breathing bull for 10 extra seconds. Also, if the first thing you tell yourself is “all I need to do now is count till ten” when someone’s poking you with a pin, maybe you deserve to be poked.
However oxymoronic this may sound, there’s a graceful way to lose your temper. It worked for me a few times and maybe the idea of mixing rose-water into the aforementioned sewage mix may appeal to you as well.
In our heads, losing temper is the image of a very angry guy shouting. And most times, that’s how we lose temper too. We scream, say inane things and stiffen up. There’s this theory in the world of Public Speaking that divides your speech into 60% Body language, 30% tonality, and 10% words. According to the experts, they are what you should focus on for a speech. In the world of flaring tempers and shouting heads that equation flips. Words become 50%, tone: 45% and body language: 5%. Basically, if you can control one of the two big portions here, you are on your way to becoming becalming.
The predominant time someone will lose it about your body language is if you point a finger at them. There’s something about finger-pointing that makes us go ballistic, but you would be better off if you don’t make a point with your finger. That’s all you need to know about 5%. Now, the other two.
Words: heard of tongue hurts more than a sword? I am not sure. I cut my finger chopping onions and that hurt more than mom calling me an onion-head. But, words can become a sword sometimes. And you can use that sword to hurt or point with it. You will come to see the difference through this rare virtue called maturity. The last time I tried maturity, I felt pretty good. Trying to be careful about the words you use while you lose it is as hard as trying to count till 7000 before you lose your temper. As a rule of the pointing index-finger, if you take a sadistic relish in the words coming out of your mouth, and you have no idea what you are saying, you are hurting with your sword. Disclosure: Words fail me. I swear when I lose my temper because, let’s face it, nothing like the right cuss at the right place at the right time at the right hobo. Sweetly sadistic. You don’t have to be like that, but chances are that you are and hence the next idea may work better.
Tone: Imagine saying that swear word that in a normal tone and volume. It’s like showing off your sword skills. But, when you increase your volume, your tone automatically changes. And the potent sword now leaves a bloodying gash in the relationship. And in case it interests you, Dr. John Gottman, a relationship expert who can predict if a couple will stay together with 90% accuracy says tone is the #1 factor in his prediction, and a tone of contempt (looking down on the other person) is the sword that severs the relationship. Maybe there is some science to it after all my sword talk. Lowering my voice has a magical effect on my temper. Usually, after I lose it, hobo loses it too and then we both roll around in sewage. Lowering my voice is like spraying Axe dark temptation on Hobo as I throw some sewage and rose-water on him. Now, even if he decided to roll with me, we would both stink less.
I wish I could back this up with more science and give you ‘ninja hacks’ or something. But, chances are that you won’t remember them when Hobo strikes. Occasionally and unfortunately, Hobo himself will remind you that you are shouting and hurting and that is your Ninja reminder.
I also wish I could tell you life’s too short to lose your temper. Psychologically, practically, and hypocritically: I can’t. What life is really short for is the kind of temper that can actually make your life short. The abusive, voice-raising, face-reddening, body-clashing type of temper. This kind of temper can sometimes make us feel cool and powerful, but that’s the ego compensating for all lack of coolness and power.
Ever had a balloon blow up on your face as you were bringing it to life? Temper is like that balloon. You could deflate the balloon by gradually letting the air out or you can keep pumping more air into it until it bursts. Some of us like to blow that balloon a little every day. Fill ourselves with the air of temper knowing that one day, it is going to burst. That’s why I think the whole idea of ‘enough is enough’ is pretty lame. What’s the point of controlling nerves all along and then wreak havoc to make up for all of it, ten times over? Why not just spread the havoc around a little. Why break the entire cutlery in one day when you can break a plate one day and the bowl next week and so on. It’s less of a mess, and you may just decide to put the plate together because cutlery is pretty expensive.
Let’s leave Hobo stranded with some rose-water.