Have you ever been told to “relax,” “chill out,” “take a breath”? If this bothered you, made you more “unchill,” did you express that to whoever commanded it? For most people, these words are a trigger. In most situations, these commands are expressed with judgement and not guidance. This is a prime example to explain how I navigate when to speak my mind, and when to let things go.
If someone I trust has only good intentions for my well being, isn’t trying to further upset me but rather wants to help me find a more peaceful state of mind, biting my tongue and “taking that breath” might be the best response. However, if this is someone close to me, and I want to eliminate this trigger from our conversations all together, I think it is completely appropriate to ask for that.
When interacting with strangers, or people who don’t play a significant role in my life, my approach is different. I can control the way I react when someone gives me a hard time, comes across rude, or treats me in a way that I wouldn’t stand from my own circle. These situations are way easier to brush off and step away from. Maintain my own morals, unburdened by those who think differently. Hopefully someone within that person’s own circle can offer some guidance in respect, maybe they’ll even stumble upon this blog post someday, but it is not my job. It will not come back to bite me if I let this one slide. I can walk away with zero threat to my state of being. It isn’t serious enough to take on the responsibility of teaching them a lesson.
Personally, I never use these phrases on anyone. Knowing firsthand how ironic the guidance of this advice usually lands, I choose to never risk making someone feel the added frustration of hearing these words. If I truly want to help someone take a step back and become more relaxed, I do a couple of other things to help. If I understand where their anxiety is stemming from, I try to offer advice or comfort in easing their present worries. Instead of telling them to “relax,” reaching out with useful information or company can ultimately inspire relaxation. If I sense this person could just use some time to vent or air out on their own, I listen and allow them the room to do so freely. If this person just seems hangry, I suggest a place we might stop and grab some food! Maybe validation that what they may seem “uncalm” about is understandable will give them room to pass through that emotion safely.
It’s possible if I decide to speak up for myself I will get called “sensitive” or “easily offended.” Being called out for being offended never feels good. It takes vulnerability and setting aside one’s ego to speak boldly about what triggers tough emotions. Sensitivity might stir up more feelings, but it can also teach a lot of valuable lessons. In the end, I think it’s always appropriate to express personal feelings if done respectfully. My feelings are facts. While I’m always working on myself and my response to the actions around me, I’m also looking for ways to offer insight to others. If I can teach someone who matters to me more about myself, I will. Try to limit this triggered moment for another potential innocent. The truth is, if someone has bad intentions, calling them out for it doesn’t seem uncalled for. And if someone has a lack of understanding in the way their words effect others, they deserve a chance to hear that.