When I was homeless and living in a van I was at a petrol station.
There were about 7 people in front of me as we lined up to be served. The clerk was not the quickest and the man behind me was getting quite agitated.
He tried to vent by pretending to joke about how slow everyone was getting served.
But his frustration was approaching anger.
For whatever reason, I had fully accepted the situation which is not always the case! He stepped from side-to-side to try to let off some excess energy and “joked” with me:
“How slow is this? Look at this guy – he’s moving like a snail!”
I turned around calmly and said directly but without emotion:
“Focus on your breathing.”
It stopped him in his tracks.
He just went quiet.
He had no fuel left to vent.
He didn’t take offense.
He just seemed to be contemplating what I had said.
I genuinely feel like he took on board what he heard. For the rest of the time we were stuck in the line, he didn’t say anything.
He was either focusing on his breath or contemplating hitting me!
I choose to believe the former. 🙂
Either way, in an extreme situation where you feel like you need to let off some steam, there is a secret.
If trying to “regulate” your breathing (which can work) doesn’t seem to be helping, you need to deflate.
There is something physically specific you can do:
Hold an un-breath.
This is an example of focusing on what you can control and letting go of what you can’t; also of reminding yourself of the most important and precious thing we have.