How do you keep control of your emotions in the middle of an emotional earthquake?
The bed shook and began to roll. Earthquake!
Get up? Stay put? I sat listening for falling items, specifically glass. Silence. That was good. In less than a minute the earth settled while the bed rocked gently for a bit longer.
How far was the epicenter? Would there be aftershocks? I waited. There were no more jolts and soon I fell asleep.
It’s Not California’s Fault That She Has Faults!
California’s major fault lines are known in detail by seismographers. Those fault lines were laid down eons ago under great pressure.
Most of the time these deep fissures are not a problem and California is her sweet sunshiny self.
However, under pressure, she gives way in predictable places. Pouting. Rumbling. Mayhem.
Not too different from myself.
When all is going well I am a high functioning, level headed, tender hearted, funny woman.
But under severe stress I, like most humans, give way — most often in predictable places.
My fault lines, like California’s, are not haphazard. And like California’s they were laid down many years ago.
Difficulties in my family . . . crack.
The issues my parents fought about . . . crack.
My believing I didn’t measure up . . . crack, crack.
Fault lines laid down in my young soul.
Now, as an adult, when certain pressures or topics of discussion arise, I pout, I rumble, and then . . . Oh dear!
Experts in geological matters suggest we in California create a “Family Earthquake Plan,” for such emergencies.
They suggest we:
• Know the danger spots — windows, mirrors, hanging objects, fireplaces, and tall furniture.
• Know the safe spot in each room – under sturdy desks or against inside walls.
• Conduct practice drills – physically place yourself and your children in safe locations.
Good idea. Might we examine our personal fault lines and do the same?
Consider creating a “Personal Emotional Quake Plan.”
• Know your danger spots. What are your triggers? The family budget or other money matters? Step-parenting differences? A pending visit to one’s parents?
When these emotionally laden subjects come up, remind yourself this is a fault line for you. Then think carefully before you speak. Tell family members in advance these areas are hard and you need to slow down.
• Know the safe spots – and times to talk. Don’t engage in one of these hot spot conversations if you’re on your way out or don’t have time to give the discussion the attention it needs.
Learn to soothe yourself when you feel the rumble of pending upset. Breathe. Get a drink – of water! Ask for some time to think. Give yourself a time-out if you feel yourself losing control.
• Conduct practice drills – either in your head or with another person. If basketball players can improve their game by imagining shooting hoops, then surely we can desensitize ourselves by imagining the way we might better behave in a heated situation.
It’s not California’s fault that she has faults. And it’s not necessarily our fault that we have these fragile places either.
But, knowing this, it is our responsibility to have a plan. By doing this we can protect ourselves and our families from the emotional earthquakes that occasionally come.
Want to see more from Carolyn? Check out her recent article 3 Parenting Tips for Busy Working Moms.