Today, you had a meltdown. Children have them; adults have them, too. I have mini-meltdowns a few times a week, mainly in the form of getting annoyed or agitated. I’ll often speak unkindly and say something I’ll later regret. A few months ago, I had a major meltdown. I wigged out, kicked a bottle of baby powder across the floor, screamed at my (then) three year old, and then, very dramatically, slammed the bottle of baby powder into the trashcan. While I was freaking out, I could see myself. I was telling myself to stop. I was telling myself to walk away. But I couldn’t. The situation escalated. Of course, a few minutes after the incident ended, I felt like a real asshole. I couldn’t control myself and it was scary.
Now, back to your meltdown. Maybe you yelled at your little boy. Perhaps you freaked out or physically punished your daughter. You lost it. You snapped. You wigged out. You reverted to your old behavioral patterns. You had a meltdown. Maybe, like I did a few weeks ago, you kicked a bottle of baby powder across the floor while screaming like a lunatic. You feel like a failure.
You know this behavior is entirely unacceptable. Certainly, if you screamed at one of your friends in this manner you wouldn’t be friends much longer. If you physically struck you partner while you were upset, the shit would hit the fan. You may even be facing assault charges. Yet, so many of us were raised in homes where punishing and hitting children was not only acceptable but encouraged that, when stressed, tired, or ill, we revert to our previously-learned behaviors. How to stop it? How to break the cycle?
So, you’re melting down. Your heart is racing. The adrenaline’s flowing. What do you do?
First, stop making things worse. Remove yourself from the situation. Stop speaking, because you’re only going to exacerbate things. Now, breathe. Deep breaths. Regain control. Look at yourself in the mirror. Talk to yourself. Keep breathing. Slow down. Become calm. Reset yourself.
Once you’ve regained your positive, peaceful outlook, go to your child. Apologize. Explain what happened. Give them all the love in your heart.
Then, forget about it. This is difficult, but the moment is gone. It’s over. You forge ahead. You have the next moment and the moment after that. You have the rest of the day. The rest of your life. One bad moment does not define your relationship. You set aside the negative and embrace the positive. You move on, you do the best you can, and you act with all the love in your heart.
You feel like a failure. You have regrets. Let ’em go. None of us are perfect. Be better in the next moment. Ultimately, you may fail again. It could happen. We’re all human. Dust yourself off, pick yourself up, and try again. Don’t live in your inglorious past. Every moment is a new opportunity to love.