How strategic breathing can help you keep your cool when you feel like telling someone to shove it

strategic breathing is the key
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Ever just had enough of someone else and want to tell them off? Sure. We’ve all been there. Which is why it’s important to know you can keep your cool no matter what using strategic breathing to diffuse your ‘inner bomb’.

Strategic breathing

Breathing is key for a lot of big stuff like, you know, life and all. 😉 But when it comes to keeping cool in combustible situations, your normal, run-of-the-mill breathing won’t work.

Everyday in-and-out kind of breathing can’t even start to tackle a job as tough as NOT telling the object of your animosity where to shov … er, put it. That takes a technique I call strategic breathing.

And it’s easier than you might think.

step one

  • Inhale through your nose for no fewer than four seconds. Five usually feels ideal, but you can take as large and long of an in-breath as you need. The logic here is pretty basic:
    Breathing makes you more aware of your body and your thinking.
    Plus, you can’t talk while you’re taking an in-breath, so breathing in provides a cushion of a few vital seconds to help you on the way to delay any kind of oral onslaught you’ll likely regret as soon as it leaves your lips.
  • step two

    • Hold that breath for no fewer than three seconds. Same logic here, basically.
      • You can’t talk while you’re holding a breath, so you get to focus your awareness on yourself, not your aggravation.
      • Plus, padding that protective cushion puts a few more precious 
just breathe

moments between an initial impulse to verbally eviscerate the enemy and a (hopefully) more carefully considered response.

step three

  • Exhale through your mouth for no fewer than five seconds. I try to add two or three additional seconds of exhale over the number I inhaled to put even more of a damper on my desire for the kind of short-lived satisfaction that comes from telling someone to completely f__k off.

When all is (not 😉 ) said and done, you’ve given yourself at least 12 solid seconds to refocus your fury into a (hopefully) more constructive (and calmly composed) comment.

You can even take it a step further and make it a micro-meditation simply by closing your eyes during the exercise.

Respond, don’t react

Reacting inflames situations. Responding controls them.

Reaction comes from a defensive, negative, fight-or-flight perspective. Response comes from a positive, logical, thoughtful place.

The strategic breathing technique allows you to choose your response because it prevents you from reacting ‘in the moment’.

Giving in to our basest impulses and reacting in the moment is easy. But giving ourselves permission to take a literal breath offers a payoff that’s nothing short of phenomenal.

So, the next time you find yourself about to give in to the impulse to tell a particular person to suck it, try this strategic breathing technique and give yourself time to try a different approach.

You’ll be happy you did. Trust me. 😉


If you’d like to try it – I cannot recommend Thich Nhat Hanh’s books highly enough. I have my own small collection of about 17 of his books, including this one – which is a terrific way to get started using your breath as a powerful tool to help you master the moment.

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👋I’m Gretchen 😎

👉I teach struggling professionals to turn adversity into advantage.

🎯I use sane strategy that gets serious results.

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