There are some days that everyone wakes up on the wrong side of the bed, it’s a full moon or the winds change and everything is upside down. Some days, Hubs gets called in for overtime, nobody likes their dinner, we are running on fumes without a nap and the squabbles seem endless.
When these days happen, this Mama has to hold it all together when really, I want to crumble onto the floor next to my toddler and scream and throw a fit of my own. I want to yell and stomp and slam the door too!
But I can’t. I have to hold it together.
I have to save face, embrace grace and tread on.
So I compiled a list of things to do when I noticed myself becoming annoyed. I have it posted where I can see it at all times, however I hardly read it anymore because I usually can do it automatically now.
First, I had to know before I get upset: What happens when I start to feel angry? Does my jaw tighten? Does my face get hot? Do I stiffen up? I had to take note, because these are cues and knowing them means I can take steps to appropriately handle it. I try to stop it in its tracks, because if not, the emotion builds and compiles throughout the day.
So, once I notice my irritation starting, these are the 5 things I do to keep my emotions in check:
Take 5 deep breaths: I do this slowly before I respond at all. This gives me a few moments of a timeout to collect myself and ask, what is really upsetting me? Using my children as an example: Am I angry at my child because they won’t eat their vegetables? Or am I actually just concerned because they haven’t eaten well all day? Usually anger has another emotion underneath it that needs unearthed.
This also gives me a good feeling because my brain and body just got a boost of oxygen.
Pray: I do a quick prayer asking God to help me respond with love, kindness and encouragement.
Recite: Choose something uplifting. I recite 1 Corinthians 13:4-7 NIV
“Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.”
I chose these verses because they remind me of how I love my children, and I want them to see that in all that I do. They instruct me on what love looks like and how to show it.
Talk low and slow: I remind myself to keep my voice low and slow because my children respond better and it keeps me even tempered.
Kiss their heads: When all else fails, I kiss their heads and smile. Even when I don’t feel like it. I force myself to do this because it is another reminder of how precious they are, and how I want them to know that I love them, even when I am upset.
I learned this when my daughter was an infant, she would cry and cry and I noticed my anger would sky rocket and I would lash out at my husband (poor guy, he’s a trooper.) But I was not really mad at him nor her, I was disappointed in myself because I could not make it better for her. So I would kiss her head and pull her close for a snuggle. Although I was still sad and frustrated, I knew it was not anyone’s fault so no one deserved my anger.
I’ve noticed, as long as I do these things, (sometimes one, other times all of them) then I have reacted calmly and without yelling 100% of the time. These have been instrumental in my emotional well-being.
How about you? I would love to hear what works for you.