When things go wrong

90 per cent attitude

I’ll admit right at the outset, I’ve never had a serious illness to contend with and neither have any of my nearest and dearest (although last year my dad was treated for a type of cancer relatively common to older men but it was caught early, completely eliminated and never caused him any real suffering.) However we all go through hard times in our lives for one reason or another and these times test us – they test us to the very core of our being. The question is: how do we react and respond to the challenges we face?

I think a combination of factors come into play. As I have suggested lately, personality types cannot be overlooked. If you are someone with a naturally negative outlook on life then it would be very easy to fall into a depressive state and curse the sun the moon and the stars for bringing such bad karma into your life. It takes a real effort to break yourself out of negative thought patterns if you err on the side of pessimism but, as I touched upon in my post about introverts and extroverts, we all have it within us to break our own moulds – even if it does take effort and energy.

Personally I err towards being quite anxious and can get emotional and tearful at the worst of times – and even to the point of a panic attack. However i really believe that it is possible (at least for someone who doesn’t have to contend with a hormonal imbalance – I can’t speak for those who suffer clinical depression) to use the power of your mind to improve the way you see your situation and the way you react to external forces beyond your control.

I have a couple of books on the subject of mindfulness and I believe that the practices described are such a useful starting point. Strip everything back to basics – concentrate on your breathing and make a concerted effort to let your worries go, at least for that 5, 10,15 minutes – no matter how bleak things may seem.

The mind/body connection is a powerful one, there is a huge body of evidence to show that our thought patterns can alter and affect our physical well being and if you begin to crumble mentally, then it may well be the beginning of a vicious cycle which will only make the external challenges you face more difficult.

I think that reigning in your knee jerk reactions to external trials is also enormously helpful in parenting. I have reacted in both ways at times when the kids have tested me. I have taken offence, become angry, exasperated, tearful, and, other than becoming tearful, none of those reactions improve the situation (there are a handful of times when the sight of me crying has actually provoked the sweet-natured empathy of both boys but I certainly don’t want my children to find themselves playing the adult to me on a regular basis).

At other times I have somehow managed to let tantrums, harsh words or angry actions roll off me like water off a duck’s back and its this strategy that takes the sting out and diffuses what might otherwise have become an escalating confrontation. It is so important to be able to model mature behaviour – not allowing others to provoke you, being firm but fair and sticking to your own principals – these are life skills that allow you to douse the flames which may threaten to engulf you in any given situation.

Of course It’s easy to say but in reality it takes practice – we all have bad days, us girls might be affected by PMT, we might be lacking sleep or have just been given bad news. What I’m trying to say is we’re all human, but with these positive, powerful strategies in mind at least we know where it is we need to get back to once the storm breaks.


And then the fun began...

25 thoughts on “When things go wrong

  1. We are all humans and all have bad moments. While you don’t want your boys playing adult, is it such a bad thing if they see their mother upset from time to time? It’ll help them develop empathy. But that’s by the by, I am inclined to agree with you. A positive mental attitude will help you dig yourself out of most situations. It is, nonetheless, those individuals who have been seriously damaged by upbringing or some other circumstance and can’t see light at the end of the tunnel I feel sorry for. I think nurture has a role to play here, as well as hormones. Thanks for hosting #TruthAbout

    • I agree that it shouldn’t be a bad thing for the kids to see me upset as opposed to angry from time to time. On the subject of people damaged by their upbringing I would say that I look to someone like Reneé who has proven time and again that it is possible to break that negative cycle by using her positive attitude and positive self talk – it’s CBT in action, isn’t it? I’m not saying everyone is able to do this dependent on what state they are in – there is a rock bottom you have to reach before you can look for help and begin to understand that you are your own worst enemy because of they way you think of yourself and it is possible to change your thought process bit by bit over the years in order to improve your life.

  2. As John has rightly said above, we’re all humans, and no one is capable of perfect parenting 24/7; especially when under external pressures. I know I’m much more likely to be Zen after more than four hours broken sleep for example…and my kids are more likely to behave after they’ve had some zzzz’s. Sending big hugs your way xxx
    Mummy Tries recently posted…The Brightest Star in the Sky #SheHelpedMy Profile

  3. You’re so right Sam. I am a hugely emotional person and I can fly of the handle in an argument with tears and emotion bursting out. I am learning to try to stay calm and be mature so that I can actually put my point across and argue my case, otherwise it can become lost in all the tears and I just end up looking like a hysterical woman. On the parenting side, I agree that when we stay calm and in control we get much better results. I’ve been through many stressful times and the power of positive thinking that make a huge difference in whether you sink or swim. When Dan and I spilt up briefly the year before last, I was in such a state. So every morning I would wake up and tell myself how lucky I was for all the good things in my life and tell myself how strong and amazing I was. I did it all the way to work too and last thing at night. Eventually it started to lift me out of the dark hole I’d been in. My dad also swears by this book called “How To Be Happy” by Andrew Matthews which he gave us all a copy of. If I ever feel in a bit of a sticky patch I pull the book out as a refresher. Hope you’re doing ok sweetie. xxx
    teacuptoria recently posted…The Last Piece of CakeMy Profile

    • I’m going to have to look that book up Tor! I love books about happiness. I love that you got yourself a mantra too for training your mind to believe that you really are an amazing strong woman. We should all do that more often rather than talking ourselves down and feeling weak or powerless. I also hope that your house move is finally becoming a bit less stressful! Xx

  4. I find my depression completely changes my ability to manage situations. When it’s under control, I use a lot of mindfulness techniques to keep everything ticking over nicely, though I still get the usual ups and downs you would expect. When it’s bad though everything seems magnified and impossible to deal with. I’ve just had my medication adjusted after a bad patch, and the difference is so noticeable. x #thetruthabout
    Jess Powell (Babi a Fi) recently posted…Women in Welsh Local PoliticsMy Profile

    • As I said I don’t want anyone who suffers from depression to think this is all very naive of me because the clinically depressed state is a place that I’m assuming takes away that ability to uplift yourself with ‘tactics’ like watching comedy or giving yourself a good talking to! Glad to hear that your medication is working again X

  5. On the whole I do agree with you and have always felt this. I’ve never seen myself as a moaner and if I don’t like something I will do something about it. But I have to admit my PnD has made me realise it isn’t always that simple. Now I am on happy pills I have bad times but can take a deep breath and refocus in a way I just wasn’t managing to do before I was diagnosed. I do wonder how I will ever be back to normal without them… But I hope I will be one day xxx
    Caroline (Becoming a SAHM) recently posted…Siblings March 2016My Profile

    • I guess that is the beauty of anti-depressants then Caroline – if they give you back the ability to have some power over your own thought patterns and allow you to use mindfulness etc. successfully then that’s brilliant. Xxx

  6. Great post Sam. I knee jerk and often react badly but then can calm down quickly. I think mindfulness is brilliant and meditating got me through a bad anxiety period. Now if the gremlin is really bothering me; I walk off or hubby intervenes. It’s best to go and calm down. Thanks for hosting x
    Sarah Howe recently posted…My 10 Rules of Sick DaysMy Profile

    • Its always a good idea to leave the room if you feel like you are getting to that point of not being able to talk yourself down on the inside. It sounds like you have some great strategies for dealing with the bad reactions Sarah X

  7. Hi Sam, it is very true. Life can deal us some rubbish cards. Life deals all of us some rubbish cards at times, but the choice we have is how we play them. We make our own luck and we make our own happiness.

    Sometimes, on my darker days, I look at my life and think what a balls up I have made of it. I am a single mum. I am not in my dream job. Finances are a bit tight. I have avocado skin coloured worktops in the kitchen and because I didn’t get that promo at work its going to be a long time before I can replace them.

    But then I think, I am a Mum to a wonderful little boy and I couldn’t be more privileged. I am very close to my amazing family who support me through thick and thin. I am a nice person (and this is important to me). I am being the best Mum that I can be and I am proud of myself. My work is quite understanding of my situation. Cygnet and I go for walks along the river and we feed the ducks and the sun reflects off the water like diamonds. I am also mega proud of myself for making a tough decision, leaving my ex, and being the person and the parent that I need to be. And you know what? Life is pretty good. Oh, and I bought a great skirt in Primark for £8 this week. A little money can go a long way.

    Loads of love to you

    Pen xx
    Pen recently posted…Anti-abortion campaigner: how dare you?My Profile

    • Yes, there is definitely also that thing of focusing on the bad bits of life and comparing upwards – the greener grass of what those who appear more successful and together than us have. Life does sound pretty good when you describe it the way you do too – so much to be thankful and grateful for. Retail therapy (especially the cheap kind 🙂 ) is always nice too Xx

  8. I find how I react in the face of my kids behaviour makes a huge difference to what happens next. Staying calm and positive and trying to ignore the (minor ) bad behaviour can definitely stop things escalating, as you say, and even turn a situation around completely. BUT it’s not always easy to stay calm. We are only human after all. I think forgiving ourselves is important. Parental guilt could easily swallow many of us up I think on a bad day so I try to let things go and forgive myself just as I forgive my boys . I always say ‘tomorrow is a new day’ and think of the good things that happened rather than dwelling on the bad. It mostly works. Mostly.
    Maddy@writingbubble recently posted…What I’m Writing – week sixty-eightMy Profile

    • As I may have mentioned I haven’t even managed to take my own advice since writing this post for various reasons! It’s nice to have it as a goal though and to just keep remembering that there is a clean slate in the morning! Xx

  9. So true and life has been tough here for us and as you know prompted a similar post. It really is important to reflect and remind ourselves we are in control of how we feel and act and I do believe practising our responses and not letting things affect us is crucial to wellbeing and happiness. I am a nightmare during PMT and fail at being rational but the other 3 1/2 weeks of the month, I’m on it. No more sweating the small stuff x

    • Couldn’t agree more Vicki – it’s impossible to be zen 100 per cent of the time but we need to go easy on ourselves and just remember that we are the masters of ourselves at the end of the day and we have the power to improve our lives and the lives of those around us through how we choose to think and act. X

  10. Absolutely agree with this Sam. I went to a lecture by Ruby Wax a few months ago and was blown away by not just her ability to see her depression in a humorous way, but what she said about mindfulness. I would love to by one of her books because I think we could all benefit from it. Not just me, but my teen daughter as well who is struggling with anxiety at the moment. I’m not sure if she would read it but I think I will give it a whirl. Thank you for reminding me. Thinking of you. x
    Suzanne recently posted…Just Say ‘No’ (and Mean It)My Profile

    • Funny you should mention Ruby Wax Suzanne. I didn’t know she was a bit of an expert on the subject of mindfulness til I was in Waterstones the other day perusing the self help section (looking for Reneé’s book if I’m honest 🙂 ) and spotted her latest book ‘Mindfulness for the Frazzled’ which massively appealed to me but I ended up buying a smaller more ‘bite-size nugget’ book on the subject. I may well go back and get her book now though. X

  11. I completely agree Sam, although it’s something I have struggled with – the staying calm bit anyway! I had found myself reacting badly more often than not recently and I have been taking steps to change that. As others have said, we’re all human, but I’m working on being more mindful and taking a deep breath more often x
    Sara | mumturnedmom recently posted…Me and: ten more thingsMy Profile

    • I think we’re all just a work in progress really Sara and writing it down and being intentional is one thing but living it is something else – especially when circumstances and little people try you to your limits some days! Xx

  12. Parenting is not easy at the best of times, but when you’re having a tough time, it can get really hard. children also seem to ‘sense’ that something’s wrong and somehow end up stroking us the wrong way (does that make sense or is it a French phrase?). I’m sending you loads of virtual hugs and can’t wait to meet up for a good chat and real hug. x

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