Sunday, February 21, 2016

When Emotions Become Monster Trucks

It was just a broken crayon.

But it was a new box of crayons she had just received for her birthday, and it had happened while her sister was using it.

Meltdown:  Commence.

So I took her aside to talk her through it, using the steps the counselor had taught her at school.

Take a belly breath.  Bigger.  Again.

Name your feeling.

I am frustrated!

Good.  A step in the right direction.  This is progress from a year ago.

Why are you frustrated?  

She did it on purpose!  These are my new crayons!  This is a very big deal!

Her arms crossed.  Anger poured out from under the creased eyebrows.

Is the crayon more important than your relationship with your sister?  

Long pause.  Small voice.  No.  But only because she knew that was the right answer.

The anger was still there.  Sweetie, she did not do it on purpose.

Yes, she did!

Sweetie, your anger is a Monster Truck that is squashing the Truth.  You have to trust me on this one.  I know it doesn't feel that way, but she didn't.  You've got to turn off the Monster Truck by telling yourself the Truth.  I want you to say it out loud:  She did not do it on purpose.  

Say it again.

Say it again.

Now say this:  It was not a big deal.  I can forgive her.   

Say it again.

You can choose joy, my daughter.  You have that choice.  You can stay miserable in your self-pity, or you can let it go, and choose joy.  

We watched YouTube videos of Monster Trucks so that she can put that picture in her mind.  Mom's going to help you turn off the Trucks, okay?  You've got to trust me.  

And slowly, slowly, we make progress.


It was just a sleepless night that turned into a bad day.

I got nothing on my list crossed off.  Dinner burned.  The children managed to step on my last nerve.  I snapped at the children, then felt guilty about it.

And before I know it, my own Monster Trucks crush through my maturity, my common sense, and anything else that happens to have a semblance of Truth to it.  

I am a terrible mother.  
I am such a control freak.
My children are definitely going to need therapy because of me.  
I can't do anything right.  
Why am I here?  
Everyone is better at everything than me.  
I am an utter failure. 

What I wanted to do was scream, throw the dinner on the floor, lock myself in the bathroom with my computer, and buy a plane ticket to a deserted island.  

Sometimes, I'm more like my daughter than I care to admit.

Breathe.  Breathe.  Breathe.  Talk to myself:  Turn off the Truck, look around you, do the thing that is right in front of you.  Then do the next thing.  And the next.  If my emotions are screaming one thing, it doesn't mean they are true.  I can't necessarily, in this moment, talk myself out of them, but I can do the next thing--in spite of them.

Most importantly, Tell Myself the Truth.
This life is not about me.  
It's not about how I feel about myself or how successful I am.
It's not about what I accomplish.  
My job is to obey God and do what is in front of me.  

Turn off the Monster Truck.  Don't let it smash the Truth.
You can choose joy, my daughter.  You have that choice.  You can stay miserable in your self-pity, or you can let it go, and choose joy.  

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