Keep your mouth shut

It's on.
My sympathetic nervous system switches gears and revs.  Chest goes tight, constricts like a squeezed fist.  My neck flushes with heat, and blood.  My nerves tingle and prickle.

My hands go numb. My face goes numb. Like feet falling asleep, but in reverse: normal, through pins and needles, to lead balloons, rather than the other way around.

My jaw: it grinds and contorts and pulses.  Perhaps my inner Jeckyl and Hyde are discussing the merits of an outburst:  one part fighting back the rush to speak.  Don't say a word.  Keep your mouth shut.  The other part doesn't want to negotiate.

I'm angry.

Criticism frequently comes from a place of anger.  Often, when we do get some feedback, it is because the person on the other end has become frustrated.  They've been able to deal with our idiosyncrasies, but only for so long.  Then, things reach a point when that person just can't take it any more, and their opinion bubbles up and out as anger.

Our inner monkey starts to throw poo.  It meets anger head-on, anger for anger.  Yelling for yelling.  But, of course, a vicious feedback loop ensues, because if anger begets anger, then getting angry is the opposite of the right reaction.  The situation elevates.  Boom.

It's perfectly normal.
So, in the spirit of seeking feedback from every one around us, I propose the following thought experiment. The goal for this Mind Game is to practice receiving criticism gracefully by first observing the sensations of anger that accompany being criticized.  When we find ourselves reacting to angry criticism with anger, the goal is to keep our mouth shut.

Keep your mouth shut

Task: Watch for feelings of an angry reaction following criticism.  Do not speak until the initial physical sensations subside.

Info: What does it feel like to be angry?  This thought experiment encourages us to become more self-aware with regard to the mental and physical process of becoming angry in the face of aggressive criticism.  After we become more in tune with the sensations of anger, we will be more likely to control an impulsive outburst.  In the few moments it takes to pause and consider the situation, we are very likely to develop a more thoughtful and effective response.

Goal: Don't react until you've processed the opinion of the other person.  Determine if their criticisms have merit.  Thank the person who criticized you.

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