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  • Writer's pictureJennifer Bullock

Don’t calm down, kind up

Recently, a teenager that I have been working with shared a motto that she created for herself: Don’t calm down, kind down. Intriguing, I thought, and asked her to share more.

The teen explained that whenever she starts to get angry and loses her cool, or when she feels an anxiety attack coming on, she typically lashes out at the people in her life. She would not be able to calm herself down. Ironically, the more she tried to “regulate” her out of control emotions with all the traditional tools (breathing or taking a time out) the worse she got. So instead of calming down, she would lash out then feel badly afterwards.

This young woman then came up with a technique that has worked really well. When anger or anxiety are coming on, instead of even trying to calm down, she will start to treat others with kindness. She calls it kinding down, as a play on the ineffective calming down strategy. The kindness reorganizes her impulse to react.

I shared how impressed I was with her strategy. I told her I was going to use the motto myself, as a fellow angry-anxiety reactor. I asked my client if I could share her motto with other clients, both adults and teens comma who struggle with regrettable outbursts. She proudly gave me permission.

I decided to give the motto my twist, and instead of kind-down, I use kind-up, which captures how increasing kindness and love dissolves anger and anxiety. Powerful stuff, and a great reminder of what we can learn from our youth.

Kind it up, folks! It will help us, our relationships and the world.


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