Chew On It: Cool, Calm and Collected

I’ve experienced various confrontations and challenging situations over the past few decades, but I rarely find myself in confrontations now. I actively avoid them – or if I can’t, I get myself out of them as quickly as possible.

When I was younger, I was heavily involved in Australian Karate and unwisely became the secretary of the organisation. The martial arts world consists of interesting people with self-serving interests, which is at odds with what martial arts is supposed to represent. Conflicts were the norm and still are!

Unfortunately with the politics in the karate world, I was banned from competing for a year and was also later elected as head coach and then disposed, among many other confrontations. Like a young bull, I didn’t shy away from butting heads with others.

Closer to home, I was happy for about two of the sixteen years of my second marriage. It was tumultuous and I spent most of it trying to keep peace in the household. Hmm… maybe the problem was me!

As a result of these experiences, I’ve been happily single for many years now and I’ll never take up a position on any committee ever again. It’s part of my confrontation prevention strategy. Speaking of which… When I teach self-defence, the most important part of the lesson is prevention. You should always avoid putting yourself into difficult positions. In my adult life, I’ve only ever been in one physical altercation, and that was with a taxi driver in Rome. But that’s a story for another time.

If you do find yourself in a challenging situation, the most important thing is to have control over yourself. Of course, it’s difficult to have control if you let your emotions take over. I like to use the example of opening a door with a key: Normally, you would casually insert the key without a problem, but when you’re rushing, this simple act becomes not so simple.

The key to gaining control is to calm your mind by focusing on slow, steady and deep breaths. As you breathe out, relax your shoulders and repeat to yourself, “stay calm.” Calm your mind and your body will follow.

A calm mind will allow you to think far more clearly. If you let anger determine your actions, you’re almost guaranteed to make the situation worse. As the philosopher Seneca wisely states, “The greatest remedy for anger is delay” and “Anger, if not restrained, is frequently more hurtful to us than the injury that provokes it.”

At Elixr, I encourage discussion to find solutions to problems, while also understanding that no one is ever always right. One of the most common mistakes people make is to make assumptions with very few facts. We humans are skilled at making assumptions that get us into trouble. Instead, be open to, and respectful of, other opinions; you may find that you reach different conclusions when you have multiple perspectives to consider.

Ultimately, living life in harmony is far more appealing and enjoyable then being in a state of conflict. You can choose the kind of life you want to lead by taking responsibility for your actions and words. When you can’t control a situation, you can still control your response.

As a result of controlling my negative emotions and making wise decisions, I enjoy far more harmony in my life.

Here are three Cs to remember:

Cool your anger
Calm your mind when you face adversities
Collect your thoughts then respond wisely