Counting to Ten

If you are patient in one moment of anger, you will escape a hundred days of sorrow.”  (Chinese Proverb)

I used to think the anger management strategy of counting to ten was a complete waste of time; it never worked. It never worked to get rid of my anger, that is. I was ignorantly unaware that dissipating anger was never the intended purpose of counting to ten.

The purpose of counting to ten (or 20, or 100…) is to give you a moment to calm down; to help you avoid the first reaction to your anger – which is almost never a good one.

To save you the lengthy medical explanation, here’s the quick version: When we get angry our body registers the stress and gets ready to “fight or flight” – thanks to our autonomic nervous system. It’s a two pronged system…one part of the nervous system prepares us to respond, the other part works to re-balance us, bringing us back to a place of calm. That’s where the ten seconds comes in.

For some of us, counting to ten will be all we need to move forward with a healthy, effective response to our anger. If you find counting annoying or tedious, think of a fun little song you can sing or a short scripture or poem to recite.

Whatever pause-inducing method you choose, the key is to employ a little patience; give yourself time to calm down, get some mental clarity and make a choice that helps you escape a hundred days of sorrow.

One Response to “Counting to Ten”

  1. Naomi says:

    Sooo true! Loved hearing you speak at our MOPS meeting this morning…so much resonated with me. Thanks!