I get so angry that I can’t think clearly when I’m fighting with my dad. Why is that?

Conflict with a loved one (or anyone, for that matter) creates a physical stress response along with a flood of negative emotions. This happens when you become emotionally overwhelmed, commonly from a fight or being upset. The signs are sweaty palms, increased heart rate, and shallow breathing. (To learn more about your body’s stress response, read HPRC’s “Influence your stress and relaxation responses.”) Then you can’t think clearly or take in new information.

Your best bet is to take a break for at least 20 minutes (but don’t “storm out”). During the break, don’t plan your next frontal attack; instead, make an effort to calm down by thinking of things other than the argument: Go for a walk, listen to music, or whatever else works for you to de-stress.

The next time you start to fight with your dad (or anyone), monitor your body’s response. When you feel yourself start to amp up, take a break and use a relaxation strategy such as deep breathing. Then use your best communication skills to convey your thoughts and feelings.


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