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Bite that Tongue!

Words Can Quickly Damage

Do you often say things out of frustration or anger you later regret leading to more conflict in need of unraveling? Basically, this is a good time for a “coping skill”! As cliche’ as that term sounds, the concept is vital. None of us are immune to our emotions getting the best of us. We’ve all heard of “biting our tongue”, but what do we do afterwards? We certainly don’t want to render ourselves voiceless. But, staying silent can give us the time we need to get out of a situation without scathing another and indirectly ourselves. Some folks might call this a “timeout” as well. With this time and space, it’s important we take care of ourselves and get to the bottom of what’s going on.

Get to the Bottom of What’s Going On

Usually our anger is misdirected emotion. It’s often too scary or vulnerable feeling to let someone know what we’re feeling, so we attack them with anger, criticism or blame. It keeps us feeling “safe” but tears down the relationship, erodes trust and just creates more work for us around the corner. So, after biting your tongue and stepping away, ask yourself what you’re feeling and needing. NOT what the other person did wrong, but what you need from them and the real feeling behind the anger. Do something physical during this period if you can. Taking a walk is often the simplest. It’s shown that emotions are more quickly processed when we involve our body and move our body. When you have calmed down and have a better idea what you want, return to the person you were upset with and communicate to them your need and feeling. They may say no to the need, but it’s hard to argue with a feeling. If you are involved with someone who will not acknowledge your experience (feeling), that is a red flag… whether it’s a friend or a partner.

Sylvia Flanagan, MFT is a San Diego therapist with a private practice in Mission Valley.  For more information about San Diego Therapy, feel free to call or email her.
Office hours are Monday through Thursday 9:00 to 6:00.