It happened again. I felt my temperature rising, my head pounded and my hands balled into fists. I yelled. Really yelled. My kids couldn’t hide the tears in their eyes as they slipped away to hide in their rooms. And I followed after them to yell some more so they’d really know how upset I was.
And the ironic thing is, I don’t know what I was upset about. I don’t remember that part. I only remember the hurt in kids’ eyes as they tried to get away from the Mommy Monster.
I lost my temper. Again.
My son is special needs, which simply means that he needs a little extra consideration in everyday things.
Because of this, I am presented with many opportunities to flip my lid, as they say. I hate that part of my personality. It makes me feel dark and ugly and worthless. I’ve developed my short fuse over the last few years as a result of some difficult circumstances we’ve had to endure, and I’ve even been to counseling for it. But that’s another story.
What I’ve learned about losing my temper is it is a very “in the moment” thing. If I give myself one minute – even ten seconds! – to step back, the moment passes. Yeah, I’ll still be frustrated or upset, but I won’t be screaming and shouting and stomping and slamming.
In the moment of losing my temper, I lose all reasoning. I have no regard for anyone’s feelings or the ramifications of my words or actions. I tip over the precipice and only realize what I’ve done when I crumple into the hard earth below.
Like I said. I hate that part of my personality.
Here are some tips that help me avoid losing my temper. Adapt them to fit your life, whether at home or at work.
- Close your eyes and take a deep breath. And then another. This was the first self-calming tactic we taught our kids, and I finally realized it could work for me. My son keeps his eyes open when he deep breaths. I have to close mine.
- Walk away. Unless someone is facing bodily harm, the world will survive if you walk away. I find this especially helpful when my kids are fighting with each other or me.
- Put yourself in timeout. Go in your room (or the bathroom or the office, etc) and shut the door. Again, if no one is facing bodily harm, you can take two minutes to go in the bathroom and just breathe. Everyone will be better off if you do.
- Listen to a favorite song. Any song that you enjoy. Listen to it and focus on the words and the music. If you don’t have it readily available on your phone or mp3 player, close your eyes and hum the tune.
- Call or text a friend. It’s amazing how you can breathe so much easier once you’ve shared your burden with a friend or loved one. You don’t want them to fix it. You just want someone to listen. Tell them that. You’ll get some sympathy and some love, and it’ll be enough to go back with renewed strength.
- Dance. Turn on some jams and dance. You’ll release the building pressure and get some endorphins pumping.
- Sing, “If You’re Happy and You Know It.” Seriously. Every time I do this, my kids stop fighting or whining. They come running and they dance and sing with me. It’s like magic. (If you don’t know what song I’m talking about, Google it. It’ll come up with a bunch of goofy videos, but the song is relatively the same.)
- Recognize your triggers and avoid them. For me, when I’m hungry, I’m snappy. If I start feeling irritated, I’ll grab a quick snack with protein or natural sugar (like a drink of apple juice) to get me in balance. Also, when there’s a lot of noise, I get flustered. If the radio is on and the kids are whining me and the dishwasher is going, I’m primed to lose it. I can feel a temper rising, so I’ll turn off the radio, then have the kids talk to me one at a time. It’s amazing how quickly reducing the element of noise will help me relax. Some others I’ve heard of are temperature (being too hot or cold), the lights being too bright, being tired, having a headache, and so on.
Those are just a few of my tips for trying to keep the peace, not only in my home, but in myself. Every day it’s a battle, but we can do it!
What other tricks do you have for keeping your temper in check?