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Angela L. Braden: Five things to consider before you set his car on fire

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By Angela L. Braden

“I bust the windows out your car. And no, it didn’t mend my broken heart. I’ll probably always have these ugly scars. But right now, I don’t care about that part.” Lyrics from Jazmine Sullivan’s 2009 Grammy nominated single, Bust Your Windows

Although Jasmine Sullivan’s hit song is now a few years old, we all know it and know it well. Many of us actually sang it as we daydreamed about inflicting physical harm to the person or the person’s property that hurt us. Heck, many of us sang it as we actually bust the windows out of someone’s car. So, while we may try to act like we don’t understand why the people in Ferguson, MO are looting and damaging public and private property in response to their outrage about the death of Michael Brown, the truth is that many of us not only get it, we have been guilty of committing some of the same types of displaced retaliation against friends, family members, or romantic partners that have allegedly done us wrong. The only difference is that we don’t have CNN present to record us flying off the handle, cursing someone out, keying an ex’s car, slashing your latest frenemy’s tires, breaking dishes, or wielding your pen to give someone an awful, over the top, unfair write-up on the job.

The truth is that many of us can do better at managing our emotions. We don’t have to be led off the cliff by feelings of anger, disappointment, betrayal, and rage. Here are five tips to help us become better managers of our emotions.

1. Slow down and take a minute to breathe. When the incident that is causing us to become emotional is occurring, we often jump to respond at that very moment. It is better if we push the pause button, step back from the situation, and take a few deep breaths before responding. Counting to ten and taking a few breaths can help you refocus and calm down.

2. Sleep on it! Often times, situations don’t look as dire the next morning. It’s amazing how a night’s rest can help a person develop resolve, gain insight, and make adjustments to their perspective on an issue.

3. Formulate a plan. Responding with blind rage only produces regretful results. Find the balance between emotions and logic before responding to the offense. Acting logically to resolve an emotional issue requires one to think, strategize, and plan the best way to respond.

4. Talk it out. Find an unbiased, level headed individual to share what it is that’s bothering you. Be open to good, solid advice. Often, a different perspective can guide us to better choices in how we manage situations.

5. Consider the consequences to your actions. Whether you choose to respond positively, negatively, or not at all, we must know that our actions or lack thereof will produce a particular outcome. We must imagine the possible outcomes associated with our actions BEFORE doing anything. Not thinking before you act can result in awful consequences. And these consequences may be more damaging than whatever it was that offended you in the first place. Ask yourself.. Is retaliation sweet enough to overcome the sting of criminal fines, jail time, civil law suits, a damaged reputation, and/or unbridled embarrassment?

Angela L. Braden is an award winning writer, speaker, college educator, and life coach. To learn more about how this blind woman is helping others see their way to their personal best, visit www.bradenspeaks.com.