I lost it. I broke down sobbing, stomped down the stairs, slammed the guest room door and buried my head under a pillow.
I wish I could say this was an old tale – like from my teenage years. But no, it happened last weekend.
Let me explain.
I had just spent the last 8 hours outside, in 90-degree heat, at a Girl Scout outdoor training. We built fires, set up tents, cooked our lunch outdoors… it was a good time.
But I was tired. Plus, Mr. Migraine decided to drop by unannounced.
I knew I needed to rest and bury my head under a pillow.
But my five-year-old son wasn’t interested in letting that happen. As soon as I lay down, he started complaining to me how his sister wouldn’t let him play on the computer.
“Buddy, can I just have 20 minutes to rest?”
He left the room and then I heard him wail.
I knew I should have been sympathetic – maybe hold and comfort him.
That’s not how I responded.
It was more of a “OH MY GOSH!” as I stomped down the call, crying. Then, I slammed the door to our guest room.
Not my best moment.
So what happened? I was tired. I hurt. Because of my migraine, every sensation hurt my brain. My mind was overloaded and couldn’t process. It couldn’t rationalize.
I lost it.
Maybe you get that way, too. But instead of crying and shutting down, you yell. I know I’ve seen my kids have similar reactions when things haven’t gone there way.
Managing your Anger
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According to authors Dr. Daniel Siegel and Tina Payne Bryson, Ph.D. of The Yes Brain, our brains exist in three emotional states
The green zone where we act rationally, the red zone where we erupt in a screaming fit, and the blue zone where we go cold and emotionally shut down.
In the green zone, we know there are stressors.
- Kids are whining.
- Your son poured the entire box of peanut butter puffs into his bowl.
- Your daughter paces the house stressing that you won’t have time to put her hair in a ponytail.
But these stressors don’t set you off. You’re not yelling. You’re not crying. You feel the stress, but you’re managing it.
That’s the green zone that we all hope to stay in.
But, as we know, that doesn’t always work out.
If we feel out anger levels rising we can push ourselves into the red zone – where we erupt and yell or into the blue zone, where we emotionally shut down and cry.
I’m a blue zone mama myself. I retreat into my little angry core and refuse to interact when I’m stressed.
How do we stop this?
First, knowing the signs when we’re approaching the red or blue zone helps. If we pay attention to our inner mood, we’ll know when we’re close to erupting.
At that point, I usually:
- shut myself in the bathroom for a moment
- Find that’s the time to take my shower
- Ask for a tap-out from my husband
If I’m the only one around and can’t physically get away, I talk through my emotions aloud.
This not only keeps me sane but also shows my kids my mental process in calming myself down.
And if they can see how I calm myself down, they can use it on themselves.
What to say to out loud when you’re calming down
“I can feel my head starting to hurt and think I want to cry. I feel like I have too much to do. I’m going to take a deep breath.’
(take a deep breath)
And another deep breath.
(yup, another one)
Ok, this isn’t working. I need to sit down and relax and breathe deeply until I feel myself calming down.”
Will your kids look at you like you’ve lost your mind? Of course they will!
But do this enough times and you’ll see your kids start to calm themselves down this way too.
It’s like magic.
Next time you feel yourself venturing into blowing up, recognize it and practice calming yourself down aloud. It’s still OK if you lose it from time to time. You know I do. We all make mistakes and its ok to give yourself grace too.