A method to be calm or be quiet

Be Calm or Be Quiet

Some of my friends at coach.me have asked about my “BCBQ” habit.
Here’s what it’s about…


Are you a parent? This might sound familiar.

This morning my daughters were dawdling in the bathroom again. Nothing Res (35) or I (37) said convinced them to get cracking. Their fun and games soon turned into hitting and kicking.

At breakfast Amp (7) threw a milk carton at Midi (4) because she claimed the cereals first. A bit later Amp accidentally knocked over her cup and spilled milk on her chair and the kitchen floor. Moments later Midi did the same.

We were finally out the door and on our bicycles when Amp realised I was right about the clumsy bag she had wanted to take to school. It was impossible for her to carry it while riding her bike.

We could hear the first school bell ring in the distance. But Amp still had to go back inside and transfer her things to her regular bag.

Stress anyone?

Be calm or be quiet

Could you spot the 7 triggers that drove me insane in the past? Today I didn’t even raise my voice. Read on and I’ll tell you how this change happened.

Eventually the girls stopped fighting (twice), made it downstairs in time and cleaned up their mess. Amp apologized to me (without being asked) and solved her schoolbag problem herself. Finally they were in school on time, smiling. And I rode my bike home, smiling.

All the time I didn’t raise my voice, nor did I threaten with punishment. I did not clean up for them or nag (well, only once or twice).

I’m not saying I never loose my cool anymore. Yes, I often get into a trance and add fuel to the fire by starting a big rant, but the difference with some months ago is significant.

Here’s how I’m making progress.

The 4 Ms

Whenever I notice unrest in myself or people around me, I use the same heuristic:

  1. Mouth: My mouth is shut with the tongue curled inside.
  2. Mudra: Some fingertips touch lightly, as if I’m holding a pen.
  3. Mantra: Synchronised with the breath, I think: “This is temporary. I remain quiet.”
  4. Meditation: I observe how all sensations change constantly (mind, body, environment …)

When I feel peaceful myself, I only apply this loosely.
I try and help the other to calm down, while I keep words to a minimum.

The instant I feel the slightest unrest growing in myself, I get back to being quiet and using the 4 Ms deliberately. Often I leave the room before negative feelings get intense. I take some time to be alone and focus on all 4 steps. The insight “this is temporary” works like magic for me.

It also helps to write down what I want to discuss later on, when I’m calm again. This reminds me I don’t have to try and force a solution right here and now. Usually it’s not a matter of life and death.

It doesn’t happen overnight

BCBQ is a test I’ve been running for a couple of months now. It’s the hardest habit change I’ve done in my life. I’ve tried it in the past with less success.

The difference now is that I’ve made it my number 1 priority.

  • I train myself to rehearse the 4Ms when I wake up, at breakfast, lunch, dinner and when I’m in bed before falling asleep.
  • During morning meditation I think “This is temporary” when I breathe out and “I remain quiet” when I breathe in. (When you know about non-dualism or the 3 characteristics of existence, you can appreciate these words on a different level.)
  • I apply the 4 Ms as often as I can. Not only with my kids or when there’s a conflict, but whenever I notice frustration, impatience, irritation … big or small.
  • All over the house there are “BCBQ” post-it notes to remind me.
  • I’ve asked my wife and kids to say “calm please” when I start to rant.


I used to be quite hard on myself when I had snapped at my kids. But beating myself up about it, didn’t help at all. Since I prioritize the BCBQ habit, I focus on celebrating every time I succeed.

The biggest payoff is that I get to help my kids to be calm or be quiet as well.
Lead by example, right?

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5 thoughts on “A method to be calm or be quiet

  1. This sounds VERY familiar!! I loved the 4M’s, specially the “it’s temporary.” I’ll be using the technique soon enough!

  2. Thank you for this post! You had commented on my blog post from last night, and I had had a horrible day today. After fighting sleep until 10 or 11 my son decided to wake up at 3:15 AM and proceeded to hit/bang loudly on the wall connecting our rooms and by screaming and whining! Remember he is 6, lol he wanted to have something to eat and drink and he couldn’t fix his movie and he didn’t wanna get up to press play because he was “scared”…. Why I’m not sure I don’t allow him to watch scary things. But he has also insisted on continuing to fight and argue EVERYTHING that I said or did today. I decided to take a look at your blog and I saw this and it helped me today. So again I say thank you!

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