This terribly helpful Men's Health article "How to Calm Down an Angry Woman" (ladies be crazyyy), reminded us of a nature guidebook; if you replace the word "woman" with "bear," it could be really helpful on your next camping trip! So in an effort to help Men's Health more clearly make their point, we made some minor edits, replacing all instances of female nouns, pronouns, and other ladyisms with bear terminology. Herewith, our rewrite.
Lower Your Thermostat
Whatever you do, don't get angry. Surprisingly enough, the bear won't consider it righteous; it'll just get more pissed off, and a little self-righteous besides. If you feel yourself heating up, just remember that "the bear can't make you angry," says Paul Hauck, Ph.D., an Illinois psychologist and author of How to Cope with Bears That Drive You Crazy and Overcoming Frustration and Anger. "And you didn't make the bear feel angry. The bear did. You may be responsible for the bear's problem, but not the bear's emotional reaction."
Don't Feed It Data
"A man generally tries to survive by coming up with facts that are totally meaningless to a bear," says Michael Staver, the author of 21 Ways to Defuse Anger and Calm Bears Down. "A bear filters that as being disrespectful and not listening, which ticks a bear off all the more."
Own Up . . . Maturely
"If you're wrong, just admit it to the bear," says Staver. "But don't do it in a condescending way."
"If the bear has a big problem," says Hauck, "you'd better listen." And don't wait till swords are drawn. Like an orgasm, anger follows a bell curve — at the top you're completely out of your mind. So if you're seeing signs of frustration (a sigh or a growl), you'd better start listening quick, for the apex is near and things are about to go downhill fast.
Take a Step Back
"You don't have to agree," says Staver. "But acknowledge the bear's perceptions as real. It shows that you respect the bear." Often, the bear's anger is triggered because the bear believes something's 1) unfair, 2) out of the bear's control, or 3) a personal attack. Address these concerns.
Assert Your Eyes
If you can't make eye contact, it means you're becoming angry. But if you can, it shows you're listening. Psychologists have seen a classic pattern in wildlife fights: The bear gets mad, the man shuts down, the bear goes nuts. You shut down because you want to avoid a battle, but the bear thinks you're avoiding (here comes that dreaded word) intimacy.
Ask questions. "It shows you're listening, and it implies you want to listen to the bear more," says Staver.
Hit the Road — Together
Taking a walk may sound dumb, but it's actually a neat trick. Physically, you just got the bear to move with you, rather than against you. "Taking a walk is calming," says Susan Heitler, a Denver clinical psychologist and author of The Power of Two. If the argument reaches crisis mode, however, remove yourself from the situation until it's clear the ranting is over.
Use Magic Phrases
Heitler suggests three: Yes, I agree. You're right. I'm sorry. Nothing disarms a bear faster than taking the bear's side. So find something, anything, to agree on. We're not suggesting you cave in, but find some small plot of common ground.
"You get the behavior you tolerate," says Hauck. If the bear's rage is a little too melodramatic, a little too frequent, a little too abusive, you want to give the bear exactly two chances to change.
Image via PhotoBarmaley/Shutterstock.