Whether it's an abnormally hectic schedule, too much disease activity, or cranky kids, there are some moments in life when I find myself ready to explode. I don't have a terrible temper, but I'm not as level headed as I could be when I'm under pressure, or when little munchkins are purposefully agitating me. As of late, though, I've been able to reduce my fury to a mild simmer, simply by taking a moment to talk myself through my exasperation.
My self-talk usually involves reciting a familiar prayer or saying, something that shifts my focus from my charged emotions to the concrete task of saying the words. Here's my usual go-to:
Depending on how stressful the situation, how symptomatic I am, or what the sass level is in the house, I say this prayer several times a day, sometimes multiple repetitions at a time. In fact, I just keep repeating the prayer until my anger all but dissipates. Sometimes, it takes a lot of repetition (like, a lot), but almost always, I'm able to find my center and deal with the issue with a new found sense of peace.
And in moments that are particularly trying, I don't even get past the first line. I just focus on the words that are so beautifully captured in the first line,
"Lord, make me an instrument of your peace."
That just says so much to me - as a mom, as a lupus patient, as a business owner. In reciting this one line, it enables me to detach from my anger, resentment, or frustration. It puts me in a mode of proactively seeking to improve the situation, while simultaneously asking to share the burden. It's quite empowering. And after repeating this phrase 20 times in a row, it's pretty hard to fly off the handle!
There have been a few select times (with more to come, I'm sure) where I stop myself at the very first word. Life really does throw some serious lemons, and sometimes, there are so few words that can bring comfort. In moments like those, I may start out by saying the whole prayer, but after a few repetitions of even the first line, all I can muster is that very first word. But oh, what a word!
While this prayer may not be your kind of thing, I encourage you to find the right combination of words or phrases that allows you to step back and reassess. I think we all need to reset every once in awhile. The bestselling book and one of my favorites, Eat, Pray, Love by Elizabeth Gilbert touches on the idea of a mantra, and you can click here to read an excerpt from the book on this subject.
For me, I'm sticking with my prayer. It's working, and it seems to be making an impact. In fact, just this past week, my kindergartner came home and said, "Guess what our new prayer of the month is? It's that one that you always say with your eyes closed."
Yes, my eyes are usually closed, my sweet little pumpkin, as I'm trying my best not to see red because you've just sassed me to death!
Of course, I don't say it quite like that, but if I'm able to help Deirdre and Bernadette find their happy places sooner than I found mine, all the better. I realize in moments like these the responsibility I have as a mother to lead by example. Despite the fact that sometimes, I'd rather throw a tantrum myself!