A Life-Changing Idea

cashmere & plaid

I have a tendency to overreact and hold grudges. Whether it’s a reaction to a comment made by a stranger, a dig made by my sister, or a fight I have with pretty much anyone, you can almost guarantee I will make it a bigger deal than it should be and hold onto it for longer than I should. Well, not anymore.

I grew up in a house that encouraged us to express our emotions. All of them, every single one. This meant that when I was angry I got to really be angry and when I was excited I was allowed to scream and jump around. For the most part, I think it was great. I know how to express my emotions and I feel comfortable when other people express theirs. The downside to growing up this way, however, is that I can be overly emotional. This, coupled with my tendency to hold grudges, has made for some pretty epic confrontations throughout my life.

This past summer, a particularly large blowout led to a nice little reality check courtesy of my best friend’s mom, who, unfortunately, bore witness as I released the beast...

After watching the way I had acted in the days leading up to the blowout and how I handled the actual blowout itself, she had a chat with me. During this conversation she imparted on me two pieces of invaluable wisdom.

The first was the "zero snit policy." When her kids were growing up, the family had a policy that basically said you were not allowed to be snarky or snitty unless the situation called for it.  And most of the time, the situation didn't call for it.  At first I thought this was nuts and meant that the kids couldn’t show emotions when they were pissed off about something. But as she continued to explain it to me, I started to understand. It wasn’t that they weren’t allowed to show emotions, it was just that their emotions had to be in line with the extent of what was going on. In their family, emotions were along a continuum, and that was something I hadn’t really thought of before. After letting me ponder this idea for a few moments, she then shared with me a life altering tip. Take it to a two

This idea has literally changed my life. 

Basically, “taking it to a two” means that when you start to feel yourself getting worked up about something, you bring your emotions back down to a two. The biggest part of doing this is figuring out what a two is for you and stepping outside of the situation to see whether the situation is really something to get worked up over or if it’s just a two. While “taking it to a two” is a reminder to keep your emotional reactions in check, it does not mean that you aren’t allowed to flip out about things. For example, a few days after having this conversation, someone I’m close to got a bullshit diagnosis from a doctor after a stressful and hectic 24 hours. I was in the situation with a couple of friends and between the three of us, we were all very upset. The way the diagnosis had been presented wasn’t very polite and the justification of it sucked. The situation was not a two. It was more like a 6 or 7 .So, we acted accordingly. We yelled and got angry and talked about how dumb and uneducated the doctor was [obviously, because the three of us went to med school…] and sat in out frustration for a good part of the drive home. But, the other part of taking it to a two, is that once you’ve spent awhile sitting in the anger or frustration or hurt or sadness and acknowledged it, you accept it, move on, and bring it back down to a two. In this situation, after we spent some energy being angry and upset, we acknowledged that we still weren’t happy with the outcome, couldn’t do anything about it, accepted it, and moved on. And that was the end. 

It was fabulous. 

While these two things (living snit-less and taking it to a two) may seem small, they have truly made a huge difference in my life. In the last month alone, I have happened upon at least two situations that normally would have turned into an ordeal or gotten me all worked up. But instead, they were nothing. They were twos. And they stayed that way!

I really want people to get the most out of this post so I've tried to make the main points extremely clear:

How I Take it to a Two:

  1. identify how big the issue is, taking all variables into account (note: the way each person ranks a situation is going to be subjective.  one person's two might be another person's five and another person's zero.  this step just gets you to pause and evaluate the issue without being clouded by your initial reaction)
  2. decide how to handle the situation (ie confront someone about what they did or move on without holding a grudge)
  3. react to the issue in a manner and duration consistent with the size of the problem (ie if it's a two and you decided not to have a confrontation, spend five minutes being frustrated; if it's a 7, yell, scream, vent, address the issue if you can)
  4. LET. IT. GO.  In other words, take it all back down to a two.  You have now given the issue all the attention it deserves, have expended all the energy you will give it, and are now ready to move on with your life.  I cannot stress how important this step is.  It's the hardest one for me, but I think it's the most important.  For so many reasons.

How do you feel about this idea?? One person I told thinks it's ridiculous and that we should just act the way we want, regardless of what the situation might actually call for, but a couple of other people think it's a really great idea.  I'm very curious to hear what your opinions are so PLEASE share down below or on Facebook or send me a message telling me what you think!