Have you ever had one of those moments where you are fully aware you have let the stress build and know it is going to come oozing out in all of its ugliness, but when it does, you feel as if you are outside of yourself watching your reactions unfold like its a bad movie?
This morning was one of those for me. I woke up reflecting on the changes my mind and body have experienced in the past 5 months since turning 40. I was grieving over my inability to stress eat due to the acid, heart burn and indigestion it brings. My mind then launched into its assault of “not good enough” thoughts. I must not be managing my stress because I feel canker sores in my mouth, my muscles are tight, my joints ache, and I feel exhausted. Maybe I can’t handle things well anymore. On and on it went.
I did yoga while listening to the birds outside, which usually helps subdue these. Then (despite established an earlier and earlier wake up alarm) we left the house late. After casually commenting, “I think we all need to go back to the morning checklists to help us stay on task,” my son began his blame my younger brother tirade. I attempted to calmly explain why his anger and externalization of blame are not helpful and how he should focus on the positives. Ok maybe it did not exactly come out that way. I think I made a comment about how we have no idea when are time is up and could drop dead at any second and if he continues to personalize everything he will be miserable. He continued to go on and on about how his brother never gets in trouble and how we are “Ageist” and I think the combination his previous “trash” comment and the finger/thumb in the shape on the L on his forehead caused me to hit my threshold. I abruptly braked as we were driving down my street and yelled while slamming the car horn. The positive was it got his attention and after a brief nervous laugh, he was quiet the rest of the drive to school. The negative was my elderly neighbor happened to be walking his little dog near the street and assuming I was honking at him, picked the dog up in an offended manner.
I spent most of the morning feeling ashamed and ruminating about having to apologize to the neighbor. This led to worry about repeating my behavior due to negative reinforcement, then cognitive dissonance because yelling and slamming my horn are not behaviors not in line with my values. I had to anchor myself and slow my breathing after dropping the boys off. And luckily, I gently noted in a curious tone how my mind had quickly made all those “interesting” connections. And I believe that mindfulness helped me approach my clients with more openness. And I due to thunderstorms that lasted most of the day, I though it was appropriate to reference the “Bull Dog Weathers the Storm” activity on the Breathe Kids app (even with my adult clients). All you have to do is slow down, sit back, and let it be.
Photo credit torsten-dederichs-unsplash