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My three-year old was having a moment today. I said no to his request for a sucker at 8 a.m., and he was downright distraught. He hasn’t learned to process his emotions through words quite yet, so he expressed himself the way toddlers do.

I put my hands on his face and got on his level and told him to breathe. Just breathe. Watch daddy, deep breath in, deep breath out.

It’s strange that we’re able to help others in times like this (but you know, in more serious situations than suckers), but we forget to help ourselves when we start to feel overwhelmed and upset.

Instead we might bottle it up, become irritable, or choose a victim mindset and look for ways to avoid confronting what’s really making us upset, like blaming others or provoking an argument.

But really, we have the power of choice. We choose to react in those ways. We can choose to not react, too. Instead, we can acknowledge that emotion then ask ourselves, “what about this situation brought up this emotion?”

Perhaps it’s because we feel threatened. Or we’re insecure. Or we feel shame or guilt. By simply asking ourselves the question, the raw emotion loses its power, and we become freer to respond in a more enlightened way.

There’s a reason we were taught as children to count to 10 when we felt angry!

But, if you ignore all of that, I recommend to just breathe.

Derek Ketelsen

Hi, I’m Derek, but most call me DK. I am a life and leadership coach to High Achievers and Difference Makers. I help professional men and women like you who are striving for a life of success, happiness, fulfillment, and balance – and I help you create it!