When a straw breaks the camel’s back

I wonder if you’ve noticed this – you’re busy, stressed, and then you start to get a good head of steam around some minor irritation. You may become pretty angry about it too. Does this ever happen to you?

I had this last week. After a string of minor illnesses that meant my 1-year-old had to stay home from nursery – and my husband and I had to miss a lot of work to look after him (like, we’ve each missed at least a day of work every week for the past four weeks) – my youngest son woke up on Monday with a slightly pink and gummy eye. It was too mild to tell if it was conjunctivitis but, expecting nothing less at this stage, we sheepishly dropped him off at the nursery and spent time at or respective offices on Monday frantically calling the GP for an appointment, then the out of hours hub once we couldn’t get anything through our GP (because OF COURSE we couldn’t get an appointment).

So Monday evening saw me rushing home, then rushing with toddler to an out-of-hours GP a couple miles away, then racing to the late-night chemist before they closed so we could get the ointment that would allow him back into nursery the following day.

But I then became really annoyed at the nursery’s policy not to administer any kinds of medicine, even if the child has a prescription, the parents complete all the forms, and the child is no longer contagious.

Could a friend or family member come to the nursery to administer the eye ointment twice a day they asked?

No, we replied, if we had that kind of support we wouldn’t be so reliant on expensive childcare. (It didn’t help that the nursery had just told me they would be raising the rates to the tune of £80 more a month.)

I was told it was to do with the insurance, but I know other childcare providers can provide this service, so I emailed the management to understand more.

Well, that did not go well.

I got a very defensive email in response that it was their choice and their right (underlining from them) to have this policy and if i didn’t like it I could take my son and leave.

This whole exchange got me thinking – what exactly was going on? What was really bothering me?

Because I’ve had this before – feeling overwhelmed, getting worked up with some provider of some service or other, communicating with them just the right side of professional, and then getting a heated response that left me oscillating between anger (how dare they!) and guilt (I caused this response by being unreasonable/ angry/ difficult…).

It is often the fallout from these kinds of interactions at these overwhelming times in my life that breaks the camel’s back. Continue reading “When a straw breaks the camel’s back”

Wallowing, Swallowing, Allowing

I had an interesting conversation recently about the movie Inside Out (side note: one of the unintended side effects of parenthood is most of my film viewing is family films; thank god for Pixar…)

The person I was talking to hated the message the film gives to kids. “It doesn’t tell children they can choose how they feel,” she said. “And I just couldn’t stand the way Sadness was always moping.”

Inside Out.jpg

Conversely, I had liked the message the film may have been imparting to my kids; namely, that we all have a range of emotions and we can share these, rather than trying to pretend they aren’t there, can’t lighten the burden.

As an adult, this is something I continue to deal with – how to respond to negative emotions. Do you wallow in the negative emotion? Or swallow it, suppressing it until you no longer feel it? Or can you allow the emotion to exist without taking over?

Continue reading “Wallowing, Swallowing, Allowing”

I’ll take what I can get

I recently had the opportunity to put into practice some reframing.

That’s code for I was having a nightmare commute and it’s a good thing my 4G is patchy on the train or some poor soul at TFL’s complaints line would have been getting an earful.

It all started well but went pear-shaped on the track between West Ham and Canning Town. After spending 25 minutes getting exactly one stop closer to work, all Jubilee line trains were held in platforms while a mysterious “non-communicating train” at North Greenwich was – extremely slowly – being put back into the service.

It was a Monday, and the one day a week when my husband does the school and nursery run so I can get a full, normal day of work in. So I thought to myself, not only am I likely late for my first meeting of the week (and it’s a day of back-to-back meetings, so little room to manoeuvre here…), but I’ll have to make up the time elsewhere in my week when time is already tight. I’ve worked out my working/commuting/childcare schedules like an air traffic controller, so running 40 minutes late is not ideal.

I started to feel the exasperation and frustration rise, exacerbated by the sheer helplessness.

But I am pleased to say I was able to nip it in the bud. How, you might ask? Continue reading “I’ll take what I can get”

The objective of anger

It’s been a rainy Sunday and lazy by my standards. Sure, I’ve baked some cupcakes and we had a family disco at my son’s request. But it’s been a lot of sitting around, the boys playing somewhat on their own while I worked on my website copy and wrote in my journal.

And despite being able to be kind and loving and patient towards my son, I’ve had a few instances of losing my patience with him, too. We’re cooped up in the lounge together, and he insists on jumping from one piece of furniture to another, or pushing his baby brother using his face and head, or jumping and kicking, or basically doing the very thing I’ve just asked him not to do.

When this happens, I feel angry, then guilty. Then he does it again and I’m angry again. It’s been a vicious cycle.  Continue reading “The objective of anger”

Rethinking my relationship with my anger

 

I’ve been reading Russell Kolts’ brilliant book The Compassionate Mind Approach to Managing Your Anger, and I have just had a big perspective shift.

One of the attributes of the Compassionate Mind approach is non-judgement, which includes not classifying emotions as either good or bad. They just are. Continue reading “Rethinking my relationship with my anger”

Self-coaching exercise: Examining your emotional response to a trigger

This exercise can be hugely revealing when you find yourself responding emotionally to a trigger, but are left not sure where to go next. Or if your emotional response is powerful and leads you to act in ways you don’t like, be it angry, sad, or anxious. Continue reading “Self-coaching exercise: Examining your emotional response to a trigger”