The 10 Second Rule

Hold your nose ‘cause here goes the cold water.

I’m not even going to tell you who said that (don’t sue me Eminem).

Most of us lose an argument in the first ten seconds.

If you grew up in an unhealthy home conflict was always bad. It left broken pieces behind and things we did and said that we can only look back now and regret…. Unless all you feel when you look back is anger, which I personally think is the ultimate cop out.

Everybody who’s mad thinks they’re speaking truth. This is terrifying. Your anger actually makes you wrong before you open your mouth.

Since angry people love saying that anger is a secondary emotion (which is true), the only thing they can say next is “YOU hurt me, which is why I’m acting like a crazy person!!!” (They won’t say it quite like that:)

I think everyone is tired of you playing the “I’m hurt, I win the argument!” Card. Everybody is hurt in a conflict, you can only think of yourself when you’re angry though. (Oops, am I allowed to say that?)

This is how we say it now: “You MADE ME FEEL ____, ____ and ____” and then we really let them know what we think about them.

The Bible says “out of the abundance of the heart we speak”. “A person without self control is like a city with broken down walls” Proverbs 25:28

…and I think that might be where the primary emotion comes from. Don’t miss this:

We get angry because we know deep down that we couldn’t stop ourselves if we wanted to.

The 10 Second Rule will help.

— Something is said, something is felt, you find out something you wish you hadn’t—

  1. Wait!
  2. Where’s the threat?
  3. What’s the issue?
  4. Why do I have to be right?

2.5 seconds each and the outcome changes, at least for you.

Step 1: Wait!

Do NOT snort, stamp, champ, roll your eyes, or open your dang mouth! Just WAIT. Ever watch someone who has control over themselves? It’s a crazy powerful thing for someone who has every “right” (whatever that means) to explode DECIDE to do nothing for 2.5 seconds. If you can’t tell yourself to shut up for 2.5 seconds you’ve already lost.

The next level after being able to do this is also possible for every human over the age of four: Don’t allow your emotions to feel anything for 2.5 seconds. Anybody with an emotional anger problem will tell you that’s impossible. People who have trained their emotions to obey their brain for 2.5 seconds win arguments (IF winning arguments is to resolve the conflict and restore the relationship. If you have a different finish line nothing will work).

Step 2: Where’s the threat?

Actually ask yourself where the physical threat is? Is someone attacking you with an axe? Is your car going to hit someone at a crosswalk? You get the idea… Do NOT lie to yourself with things like “I was threatened emotionally and it’s the same thing”. It’s not. No one can say one sentence to you and kill you in 2.5 seconds unless you live in the Matrix or something.

No physical threat? Relax a little. You’re not an unthinking, unreasoning animal fighting for your very life so don’t act like it.

Step 3.

What’s the issue?

This is when you spend 2.5 seconds asking yourself what the only issue was that started all this? You can use the time the other person is freaking out to do it. There’s not much point in listening to them because they’re too angry to see straight anyways, you might as well do something productive.

There will only be one issue. You can’t pile fourteen offences on top of the one thing that started it. That’s where people get it wrong.

One issue first. Deal with it and get a win. And no, you don’t get to say “I know you caught me ____, but the reason I do that is because you’re a big jerk”. That’s called cheating. It’s not one gigantic jumbled math equation where 14B is connected to 1A, it only feels like it.

Deal with 1A, each person apologizes, pats themselves on the back for their maturity, and gets on with their lives. But have the courage to bring up the next thing when both of you are in your right minds. Can’t go about ignoring problems can we?

Step 4.

Ask yourself “Why do I have to be right?”

The real reason you’re angry is that you feel out of control. The only way for you to win when you feel out of control is to control the other person completely. They don’t love that.

In my considered opinion you both have to subscribe to an outside rulebook for conflict. This means you both subscribe to rules before you go insane. It becomes each person’s responsibility to give themselves a time out when they cross the line in the heat of battle.

I may have left the part out that your ten seconds might take ten hours the first time you try it if you’re emotionally out of shape,

But I’m confident you’ll be able to get your time down to ten seconds with a little emotional exercise…

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