Do you ever have those moments when you are so caught up in the busyness of life that you feel completely overwhelmed? As a single parent, taking care of my mom and running a business I often get that feeling. More often than not, it is topped up with pangs of insecurity that I should be more organized, I could do better, if only this, then that! Ugh, it’s exhausting!!
I was having one of those days recently. I was cooking two separate things for dinner, mom doesn’t eat vegetables, my little guy doesn’t eat potatoes. I was busy watching the clock as I had to drop my son off at his friends in an hour. In addition to the cooking and getting my son ready, I also had some major drama unfolding in my head about what was happening.
All of a sudden my son split an entire bag of milk all over the counter and newly washed floor. It wasn’t a proud moment for me. I lost it. I yelled at him (not something that happens often in our house), he was scared and upset. He went to his room, he felt horrible. While I started to clean up the mess I tuned back into the drama unfolding in my thoughts. Now I had something to add to it, not only did I have to cook dinner and get my son ready and delivered to his friends – but also clean up the kitchen. I was in a rage.
As I wiped the floor something popped into my head that made me giggle – I was cleaning up spilt milk. I was in a rage about spilt milk. Did I really just lose it over spilt milk? Although it felt like it at the time, it really wasn’t the spilt milk I was angry about, it was the story I had created in my head at that moment. The story about how rushed I felt, how busy this day was, how overwhelmed I was feeling. The spilt milk was an accident and I let the story unfolding in my head determine my behaviour. It wasn’t a proud moment.
My son was upstairs, upset, hadn’t eaten – and all because I was reacting to the drama in my thoughts of busyness, feelings of overwhelm and the story I was telling myself that I could be doing a better job. I went upstairs and talked to him, I apologized, we hugged it out. The evening worked out just fine. When I was tucking him into bed that night we chatted about what had happened. It was a great teachable moment to show him that I too am human, and make mistakes.
For me, it was something more profound. Yes, I am human and make mistakes, but what bothered me was that my reaction was really based on the thought storm brewing in my head. I didn’t get upset because my son had spilt milk, I reacted because I was feeling stressed, feeling like I should be doing better, etc. Perhaps I should have stepped back and taken a few deep breaths, or taken the time to regroup and realize where my thoughts were before I reacted.
The power of thought is really incredible – it is the driving force of our feelings. At any moment we all have the ability to step back, take a deep breath and see what thoughts are behind the way we feel before we speak, respond or react. I often engage with the dialogue in my mind about how I can do better, be more organized…blah, blah, blah. These are just thoughts I am contributing to and these thoughts feed the drama unfolding in my mind.
THOUGHT BOMB MOMENT: the reality is that I am human. I got caught up in my own story rather than what was really happening in that moment. If I had taken a few moments to step back, take a deep breath and realize it was just spilt milk perhaps I would have reacted differently. But I didn’t, and I reacted poorly. The blessing of life is that I am human, and next time maybe I’ll remember this moment and take a step back. What an amazing lesson, so simple yet so profound! This is the message I want to teach my son.
So maybe not my proudest parenting moment, but an incredible teachable moment (I’m all about that right now). This is a perfect example for my son to see how reacting in the moment may not be the wisest choice. We have since talked about this and laughed about it. He gets it. Kids are smart that way.
I have a challenge for the next time you are feeling stressed, overwhelmed or angry, I invite you to consider what thoughts are running through your mind in that moment before you take any type of action. What story is unfolding for you? Is there a chance that it is just your thoughts? Is this a teachable moment? Be well, be you.
Much love, Jessie-Lynn