As some of you know I have 2-year-old son and like most 2-year-olds, tantrums, meltdowns, kicking and screaming, back arching, crocodile tears, are now a weekly occurrence, sometimes a daily occurrence. No matter how many parenting articles I read I know they are not always preventable. Don’t get me wrong; there are many methods, and tactics that prevent them. A good nights sleep, avoiding hunger, calm transitions, all help to prevent tantrums…but not always. Sometimes my little boy’s emotions are just too big to be contained and he is overwhelmed with the lack of control he feels for his situation and…it is on…his tantrum that is. He lets out all of his big boy emotions out of his little body. You can see he feels hurt, betrayed, rage, sadness, and genuine frustration. He lets anyone within 100 yards know. And then we respond accordingly. We calm him, we sooth him, we pause our day for him, and we address his emotions.
What about adults? I know I experience the same emotions as my son. So many times we want to yell, scream, and cry. We often tell ourselves that our emotions are silly; that what we are upset over isn’t actually a big deal and that we should get over it. We don’t let our tears out, we don’t pause, and we don’t address our emotions. But the emotions do work their way into our lives. Instead of addressing them, we drink a little too much, we yell at our partner, we lose patience with our kids, we scowl at the dog, we overeat, we overwork, we stop listening to others, and we stop experiencing anyone else’s point of view. We seal ourselves in and our emotions fester. I know I have done all of these things.
If we are not having regular meltdowns where we give ourselves permission to pause our lives and address our emotions, we likely are not addressing certain issues in our lives.
Action Item: Examine your life. Give yourself permission to feel overwhelmed, acknowledge when you experience deep frustration, take a pad of paper and make a list of “I wish’s”. Even if your list feels silly (ex: I wish I didn’t have to do yard work, I wish I had more childcare, I wish I could take more vacations, I wish I took time to eat healthier, I wish I had more money…) ect. Adults are so used to allowing our emotions to go unacknowledged, we settle for an un-examined life. Sometimes the littlest tweaks can change our daily life.
One of my clients realized that by asking her teenage children to cook dinner for themselves twice a week, she gained 4 hours in her week to exercise. It was a small but powerful change. She hadn’t realized that she had been resenting her lifestyle because she hadn’t realized that she felt like she was sacrificing her health.
Examine your life. Reveal what you need to make you happy. Go after it. Then do it again and again and again. One meltdown at a time.