rage reducers

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The “Safe Word” Reducer
You always love her but sometimes you can’t stand her—and one of those moments is now. Munchkin is doing every bad thing a toddler can think of, all while making eye contact with you and shaking her head, saying, “Uh oh! Oh no! Uh oh! Oh no!” She stumbles over to your white walls, clutching a thick crayon, and starts scribbling up a storm. All you see is red.

Reducer: Do you remember how, in the movie Anger Management, the psychologist tells his patients to say the word “goosfraba” whenever they feel rage bubbling up? Eskimos (allegedly) use the word to calm their children, but any “safe word” will do. Hobgoblins. Tatertots. The whole point of a safe word or phrase is to use it to interrupt—and re-center—yourself when you’re getting mad. In his book Anger, the Buddhist monk Thich Nhat Hanh suggests a mantra: "Breathing in, I know that anger is in me. Breathing out, I smile towards my anger.” Same idea. All you’re trying to achieve is one merciful moment of reflection so your better self can take over before the anger does.