You know what sets you off.

Maybe it’s people who abdicate responsibility, say “I don’t know,” or shrug their shoulders. Or grate with their voices: yell, whine, or use a superior sarcastic tone. Or insinuate (or come right out and say) you did something wrong.

Now you’re remembering one of those situations aren’t you — and it’s like you’re back in that moment. What’s going on with your blood pressure? Your thoughts? What does this make you want to do?

Chances are it’s retaliate: give as good as you get.

What’s Going On in Your Brain?

You have mirror neurons in your subconscious mind. These are inviting you mimic the voice tone and body language of the people around you. Originally, this was a survival strategy: you didn’t want to look, sound and act too differently than your tribe, otherwise people might kick you out.

If you don’t interrupt this automatic reaction, you’ll end up mirroring what you’re hearing and seeing — and escalating the situation.

This video shows two hacks you can use to prevent that.

Breathe and use the brown thought cloud. Both have gotten me out of sticky situations (like this one with my brother). Let them help you, too (and — in the case of the brown thought cloud — make you laugh).