Are You At a Five or a Ten?

28 Apr

I’ve always liked numbers. They seem certain and definite, and we all have “associated” feelings with them. For example, if a waiter asked you which spicy rating you would like your vindaloo, you might say a “3” if you don’t want it that spicy or tell him “9” if you’re ready to have your mouth on fire.

So, I’ve learned how to use numbers to my advantage when it comes to feelings, reactions, and conflict. More specifically, I’ve found that asking my clients to “scale” different things in session helps both of us understand how strong emotions, feelings, and reactions might be. I’ve also found scaling to be extra helpful when I’m dealing with conflict in my home and life.



Since many of you know my children have a knack for the dramatic, I’ve found that scaling reactions from 1-10 can diffuse conflict before it gets out of hand. For example, if one of my children is having an enormous reaction to a small problem, we talk about it. I’ll ask, “On a scale of one to ten, what is the problem?” If they’re feeling mature, they’ll admit the problem is a three. Then, I’ll ask “On a scale of one to ten, what was your reaction?” More often than not, the reaction was a ten.

It certainly puts things in perspective. And, even grown-ups might find it helpful. Next time you find yourself feeling overwhelmed with an emotion, scale it. Then, scale the incident that caused you to feel that way. You may just find your feelings are out-of-proportion with the incident.

So next time you’re unable to manage your conflict, emotion, or reaction, take the time to scale it. You may just find you’re reacting as a “10” when you should be reacting as a “3.”


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