It’s 8:30am, and I am so mad.
If this were a cartoon, steam would be coming from my ears.
I’m storming around my kitchen feeling sorry for myself, angry with the people responsible, directing my perfectly justified feelings at the people most to blame.
If everyone would just do what I tell them to do, none of this would happen.
I could be a happy, delightful mom this morning, but I can’t because they ruined it.
This wasn’t how the morning was supposed to go.
We were supposed to get up, get ready, and get out the door by 8am.
But when I woke them up this morning, instead of jumping out of bed, ready to do my bidding, my kids stayed in their beds and lingered. When I asked them to pack their lunches, they played instead. When they were supposed to get their shoes on, they started reading books.
Now we are late, we have a 90 minute drive ahead of us, and our schedule is off.
Apparently homeschooling has ruined my kids from knowing how to leave the house in a timely manner.
So now I feel awful. I’m grumpily slamming cupboards and snapping at people, trying to finish everything so we can finally get out the door.
I’m blaming my kids for this mess we are in. If they would just listen to me and follow my instructions, life would be rainbows and sunshine and I could be happy.
But right now I am sinking in a cloud of frustration and happiness feels impossible.
Of course it’s not my fault that I’m now falling apart emotionally….
It’s my kids fault.
They are the ones who didn’t follow my well crafted plan.
They are the ones responsible for my current state of mind.
My kids are to blame.
Blame feels so good.
When I blame someone else for how I feel, I don’t have to be responsible.
I can just be a victim to the hand life dealt me.
I use this logic all the time in nearly every scenario.
It’s not my fault I am mad, it’s my kids, who didn’t get in the car on time.
It’s not my fault that I am annoyed, it’s my son, who didn’t listen to me.
It’s not my fault that I’m frustrated, it’s my husband, who didn’t read my mind.
It’s not my fault that I’m stressed, it’s the store clerk, who isn’t doing her job right.
It’s not my fault that I’m overwhelmed, it’s the to do list that never ends.
I can see all of the ways that everyone and everything outside of myself is making me miserable and it feels terrible.
Is this the only way to feel on this morning in my kitchen when I’m 30 minutes late for an appointment?
Someone else might feel despair or hopeless, and call and cancel the appointment.
Someone else might be excited, if they were dreading the appointment.
So why do I feel angry?
It is because of the thoughts I am thinking. My thoughts that blame everyone around me for what is going on.
Thoughts like: My kids should know better. No one listens to me. My kids will never learn.
All of those thoughts blame my kids and fuel feelings of frustration and anger.
Anger does not feel good, so why does my brain choose to think thoughts that lead to me feeling angry?
Anger is easier for me.
My brain does it on default. I don’t even have to think about it. It just jumps to blaming everyone around me and feeling angry automatically.
Why does my brain do this on default?
Feeling negative emotions often actually feels more natural to humans than feeling positive emotions.
I know this because my brain never relaxes.
My brain is always on the lookout for ways that I should be miserable.
The house isn’t clean enough, the kids are not well behaved enough, my to do list isn’t done enough.
I can’t be happy until all the people and things are problem free, and they never are.
I used to rush around trying to prevent everyone from going off plan, constantly on the look out for how others needed to change, and constantly reminding them of what they should be doing.
This frantic state of mind was uncomfortable, but I chose it because it felt useful, like I was somehow preventing something worse from happening.
The truth is, that I create my misery with my thoughts.
Choosing to be miserable is a choice. It doesn’t just happen. It happens when I choose to think thoughts that place blame outside of myself.
Noticing all of the problems is what creates the problem of feeling anger in the first place.
Think about how gratitude redirects thoughts. If you are miserable because your house is dirty, but then you think about how you have running water, electricity, and a floor that isn’t made of dirt, chances are you feel grateful, and when you feel grateful you are not as miserable about the mess.
Why is that?
Because thoughts of gratitude create different emotions that thoughts of pity.
Your natural default state is to notice all of the things wrong with your life.
This is useful when you are working and taking action that is necessary. You need to think that sleeping outdoors on the ground is a problem, so you will find shelter.
Finding and solving that problem benefits you.
However in most of my day to day encounters, finding problems does not lead to a solution that is useful. It just leads to me feeling worse about my life than is necessary.
This morning if I could see an alternate reality where a child hurts themselves and has to be rushed to the emergency room, when contrasted with the current state of things, life seems pretty great actually! We’re just working on getting in the car when I thought we should have left already. That’s it.
Blaming my kids for my bad mood doesn’t help reality.
It is so much easier to see other people’s action, know how they could have been better, and feel justified in feeling negative emotions, than it is to take responsibility and enjoy the current situation.
Blame is easy, ownership is purposeful. It doesn’t just happen. You have to choose it.
So this morning, when I am heading down the track that leads to yelling, freaking out, and being grumpy all day, I stop that train in it’s tracks.
I am miserable because of my thoughts. Nothing more.
My kids behavior does not make me angry. I chose it.
And if I chose it, I can un-choose it.
So I take a deep breath. I stop slamming cupboards. And I smile at my kids. I keep working towards getting on the road.
There is no emergency. There is just my life, and I’m going to enjoy it.
That’s emotional maturity.
No one else is to blame for my behavior.
I have the power to choose.
If you’re ready to take a step towards emotional maturity, come get a free coaching session before they go away forever.
I’ll see you soon.
P.S. Check out my last post on Boundaries here: