How to (quickly) talk yourself down when you’re upset

Have you ever been so upset with someone that you literally can’t stop thinking about it? I bet you have, and I bet you hate the feeling as much as I do. That’s why I think you’re going to love this post. In it, I share a two-step process that helps you quickly break the spell and get back to your normal self.

In the comments, tell me a story of when you were upset like this, and how long it took you to snap out of it.


[ Transcript ]
Hey, it’s David Levin. Do you ever get so upset by something (or some one) that it just takes over, and you can’t stop thinking about it? Twice now, in the last few weeks, it’s happened to me, and it’s reminded me how much I hate it, for one – and how hard it is to talk yourself back down, and especially to do it quickly. So that’s what I want to talk about today. How can you quickly talk yourself down when you’re upset. Cause you know, it really is the worst feeling in the world.

It’s like you’re losing your mind. You go over it and over it. What they said. What you said. What you wish you’d said. What you might say next. How they might react to that. Just goes on and on and on. and your heart pounds, you’re stressed-out, tense, distracted, edgy. Maybe it goes away for a minute, but then it’s back, and it starts all over again. It’s terrible.

Meanwhile, you’re completely checked out. You’re not hearing what people are saying, your kids, not present with them, you’re not paying attention to what you’re doing. Just totally consumed by this endless loop of negative thoughts and emotions. Maybe you can relate? It really is one of my absolute least favorite experiences.

So what can you do? How can you get out of there? What’s the quickest way to break that pattern and get back to your normal self? Here’s what you do, and I think you’re going to like this, cause it works. And it’s such a relief. There are two pieces to it.

The first sounds a little funny, but it’s basically pointing your attention at the Man Behind the Curtain rather than the big green head. Here’s what I mean by that.

When you’re in that state, the thoughts are coming, they keep coming, the thoughts are like the big green head. Okay? It’s what you’re noticing, it’s what has your attention. The thing we tend NOT to notice is that the thoughts are coming from somewhere. Something is bringing them up. We’re trying not to think about it but they keep coming up. Yes? So the thing that keeps bringing them up is the man behind the curtain. It’s like there’s someone there, talking to you, or calling you on the phone, filling your head with all that negativity. Now, if that actually happened and someone called you and talked to you like that, you’d say knock it off right? and you’d hang up. But when it happens in our head we don’t do that. We go along with it. We forget that someone is making the call. So that’s the first piece. You need to point your attention away from what’s being said and on to the person making the call. You turn to the man behind the curtain and you say, no, stop. we’re not having that conversation. That’s the first piece.

Now, it doesn’t always instantly work. But I can tell you this, it never works for me without it, or at least it takes way too long. I never break out of one of these states until I first make that switch. I stop focusing on what we’re talking about, and I start focusing on the caller. Okay? That’s the first piece.

But the second piece is the one that really makes it all work. So you’ve focused on the man behind the curtain, you’ve got him to stop. When he brings it up again, cause he will, here’s what you can say that really helps shut it down for good. “No, we’re not talking about that now. We’re going to talk about it later. I’ve set aside some time. We’re going to do it then.” Okay?

So the big trick is, when you get into that state, that upset loop, go to your calendar, make an appointment with yourself, 5 minutes, 15 minutes, whatever you need, the appointment says “think about x” whatever the problem is. And then when your big brain keeps bringing it up, you simply say no. You insist. We’re not going to talk about it until then. That’s the trick. It doesn’t sound like much, but it really makes the difference. First you get your attention on the caller, then you schedule a time to deal with it, and then when it comes up again, you say, No. Not till then. Okay? That’s it.

So, try that out next time and see if that doesn’t make a big difference for you. It surely does for me. And by the way, this isn’t only helpful when you’re upset. These same two pieces help in a lot of situations.

Anyway, there it is. How to talk yourself down when you’re upset. Enjoy. Enjoy the relief it brings. If you’re not seeing this on my site, come over to and get on my list so I can let you know when other things come out. Otherwise, have a great day. Keep up the good work. I’ll see you next time.


  • Jay Rosenberg

    January 8, 2016

    Superb! I’ve tried saying, “Cancel, cancel” and sometimes it help, but your 2-step solution is dynamite.
    I can’t wait to get mad again and try it.
    All the best.

  • David Levin

    January 8, 2016

    That’s funny. But thanks, Jay! I can’t wait for you to get mad again, too. :-) Let me know how it goes. It works very well for me.

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