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  • Writer's pictureDr. Kate Webster

Quiet Power: H.A.L.T.

Updated: Sep 12, 2023

Hungry. Angry. Lonely. Tired.

Ever want to bite someone’s head off because they had the misfortune to cross your path when you weren’t at your best? I did and, twenty years ago, this is what happened after one such incident:

“Kate, eat this Snickers bar, you’re getting snippy again.” What? A Snickers bar? Was she serious? I looked at my friend incredulously—didn’t she know how frustrated and pissed off I was? I needed to resolve this issue RIGHT NOW! How would eating a Snickers bar resolve my urgent problem?

Indeed, what does a Snickers bar have to do with resolving my issue let alone Quiet Power™?

Instead of furthering my diatribe with my friend and because I trusted her, I did as she suggested and took a couple of bites of the Snickers bar. And, all of a sudden, my world was right-side up again. My previous frustration, while still unresolved, was now much more manageable—I was able to better communicate my needs and, at least, move toward a resolution.

What happened?

When the stakes feel big and emotions are high, it’s difficult to communicate authentically and from the heart. In this incident with my friend, she recognized that I had let myself go too long without eating. When this happens, I become anxious and easily irritated and will react rather than respond to a difficult or confusing interaction—quickly blowing it out of proportion. Nowadays, I make sure I have a healthier choice—a Cashew Cookie Lara bar—and it’s made all the difference in my responding rather than reacting.

This anxiousness and irritability is a clue that not just hunger but the acronym H.A.L.T. is at play. Hunger, Anger, Lonely, and Tired are easily recognizable warning signs to alert you to pause before overreacting. With each of these conditions, there is both a physical and emotional aspect operating. For example, hunger indicates emotional desire for attention and comfort, anger for a sense of empowerment, lonely for an intimate connection, and tired for time to put your needs first.

Recognizing you are in a H.A.L.T. can help bring you back to center so you can deal more effectively and appropriately with the situation. And, the genius of HALT is that it can remind us of several ways to cope at the same time. Here are three ways to cope using H.A.L.T.:

  1. HALT before you overreact—Do a quick spot check as to how you are feeling. If possible, tend to that need before jumping into the situation. Or, follow-up at a later time when you’re not as hungry, angry, lonely, or tired.

  2. Tend to your physical AND emotional well-being—Getting enough healthy food, companionship, and sleep helps your physical state of mind along with your emotional.

  3. Feelings aren’t facts-feelings are meant to be felt, but you don’t need to judge them and give them power over yourself. See the feelings for what they are and

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