Last night my 10 year old daughter had a little meltdown. It started when I told her it was time to brush her teeth for bed. What I witnessed was her doing a wimpy version of resistance. As a coach-mom, I decided to not engage in her drama and let her decide how this would go. I firmly said, “teeth brushed and then I’ll read you a book”. She was still in wimpy meltdown mode (almost in jest but not quite). The more I didn’t engage, the more she started to make her meltdown turn into a real one. Finally, she caved into the meltdown and went full on ‘postal’. I remained neutral (which is huge for me). I decided that to maintain my calm, I’d have to call in back up in the form of my husband. I asked my husband to take over the task. I feel as though I’m training myself and her to stay separate with our emotions…and this time, to keep emotionally clean, I needed help.
What I witnessed in my daughter’s meltdown is something that I see in myself too. Sometimes I’m in a mild grump. For some reason this grumpy feeling feels kind of good…like I want to keep it that way. So grump it is, and I’ll even look for reasons to validate my grump. Then, in my mild-grump state, I’ll experience something that puts me over the threshold into full-on grump (and then some) and that is when I get a little confused and uncomfortable with my mood and may even feel as though I cannot get out of it. That is what I believe my daughter did…she didn’t quite mean to go “postal” but she did…and then its as if the train left the station and wasn’t able to turn back.
What is the lesson here? A) I like staying neutral in other people’s grump B) Sometimes grumpy feels good but C) there is a tipping point where grump gets ugly so D) be careful when you grump…and E) call in the support system if things get ugly. Examples of healthy support are: take some really good deep breaths, call a friend, watch a good movie, take a nap, or go out into nature. If you trust yourself with the more indulgent stuff; a cookie, a cocktail, or mindless computer time…go for it (be aware that rational judgment is not always available during a ‘postal’ moment, so avoid the indulgences if you cannot do things in moderation)!
Then, if you are into self discovery (as I am) you might want to look at the source of the grump and the train wreck that followed. I am for feeling feelings as they come, but it is also nice to look at the thoughts associated with the feelings to sort out “what went awry”. That is where the juicy growth occurs!
So…go ahead and Grump if you wish, but grump with caution, and be prepared with backup if things get out of control.