Meltdown on a High StreetDec 08, 2019
I feel like an IDIOT.
I’m sure no one else in my place would have such a hard time, but I’m about to LOSE IT.
Rain’s pouring into my hair & down my face - which is driving me freaking crazy.
My cheery bright blue down coat is now soaked - an albatross, weighing me down.
I’m also starting to physically overheat, causing me to panic. I hate these intense hot flashes that take over my body.
The map I’m “reading” is in English, but it may as well be Russian - I can’t make out where I’m supposed to go to meet our tour bus.
Obviously this is no emergency, but I’m about to spiral into anxiety. I’m frustrated -
and frankly, I’m tired & cranky from pushing my 12-year-old around London in the wheelchair we brought to accommodate the injury he got last week.
I begin a full-on mental meltdown. Frustrated doesn’t even begin to cover how I feel - I’m inexplicably angry & irritated with this god-damned city.
LONDON! Why do you have to be so damn confusing? Why does everyone act like it all makes so much sense to get around?
Why are all your streets COBBLED?? Do you know how hard it is to push a wheelchair in this shit?
And WHYYYYYY is there so much construction? AND RAIN? AND PEOPLE???
Welcome to the hell of my mind - I don’t verbalize any of this, because my son is feeling like a burden & he tends to over-empathize.
My #1, go-to strategy in this moment? Give up. Turn around & go home.
Hail a cab, go back to our micro-room at the hotel, and just feel sorry for myself all day.
But - we are trying to see this city. We have a goal we’re trying to reach. And I don’t want to waste any more time!
You know this feeling. It’s the WHY IS THIS SO FREAKING HARD feeling?
The “I know this is probably easy for someone else, but it’s hard for me!” feeling.
The “Why am I too stupid to figure this out?” feeling.
It’s normal that the first thing we do is blame ourselves to feel better in the moment.
Sometimes we blame other people. It ain’t rational, but man it feels good in the moment.
“WHY DID Jack have to fracture his hip playing kickball - of all bloody things!! - last week?” ;. Seriously Jen? You’re blaming your kid?
“DAMMIT, gym teacher! Why do you have them being so ACTIVE!??” - Ok - blaming the gym teacher is just absurd!
But I went on & on mentally in those few minutes, blaming everything I could,
Including the woman who sold me the tour tickets & gave me verbal directions in an accent, I couldn’t understand.
Some people find this humiliating to admit, but I’m not afraid to say it: victim thoughts like this are part of being human. We all have to deal with this part of ourselves.
The question is: How fast do you move through them?
Victim thoughts are not only “blamey” - they are also complainey and whiney.
They sound like excuses. They sound like, “WHYYYY meeee? WHyyyy now? WHAAAAA! I can’t help it! This is just the way it is!
As humans, it’s natural to think victim thoughts. Remember - your brain is designed to keep you focused on staying safe & being efficient.
Victim mode keeps us both safe & efficient - by saving our brain from having to work harder to solve the problem.
So yeah - it’s easy in the short run. In the long run, if we stay in Victim mode - blaming, and complaining and making excuses - we keep ourselves from moving forward.
We cannot SOLVE a problem from victim mode.
That’s why I teach my students and my clients to move THROUGH victim mode.
Have yourself a nice little pity party. I certainly did on that rainy street near Trafalgar Square.
But stay there too long, and you’re going to miss out.
Let’s unpack what my day would’ve looked like if I’d indulged my inner victim thoughts:
- Taxi back to hotel. Irritated as shit. Sulk for the afternoon. Deal with a disappointed & upset 12-year-old. Maybe buffer watching Netflix.
- Certainly not have used my short time in London well!
- Definitely not have modeled useful behavior to my kid!
Does it feel good to be a victim in the moment? HELL YES IT DOES>
Go ahead - but don’t stay there too long.
Acknowledge that you have these feelings. Don’t push them down, but DO work through them.
If you’re currently looking back at your year, feeling a little sad that you didn’t accomplish everything you’d hoped, then you’re in victim mode.
Want to have a small pity party? Great - give yourself some love.
And then MAKE A PLAN to move forward.
Me? In that moment, I pulled on my big girl underpants and made a decision: find help. Ask someone. Walk around - and find someone.
I did a lot of self-talk: “It’s OK that you’re wet. You’re going to be fine. Jack is OK. You’re not a moron because you can’t read the map. Pull yourself together. You can do this, Jen!”
If you do nothing else, ask for help.
ASK FOR HELP.
Because sometimes, when our habits of victim thoughts have been ruling the roost too long, we forget there can be another way.
We forget it can be easier than this!
It can - it can be easier! You have control. Feel your feelings & then ask yourself ONE question that will surely move you forward:
WHAT CAN I DO ABOUT THIS? And often, the answer is - ASK FOR HELP.
Small help is good. Just start asking for help. I know this is hard - but it’s the most powerful thing you can do for yourself.
Take back control of your life. Acknowledge that you’re going to have very human Victim thoughts. Don’t judge ‘em. Then ask yourself, “What am I going to do about this?”
And if you think you’re the only one this is happening to, I want you to remember - its not just you.
It FEELS like it’s just you - but
Remember - you don't see the meltdowns on social media.
You don't see the mom pushing her 12-year-old in a wheelchair while getting soaked in London because she can't figure out how to push a wheelchair AND hold an umbrella.
You don't see the maddening frustration that is MOST ASSUREDLY evident on her face when she can't figure out how to find the tour bus -
because she's unable to figure out directions because she can't get the map to make sense in her brain...
You don't see the embarrassment of not being able to figure out something she's SO SURE every other person would be able to figure out.
You don't see the heavy-duty self-talk - trying to stay calm & figure it out rather than turn around & go home.
You don't see that shit on social media.
But it's there. WE ARE ALL FIGURING SHIT OUT. It's just invisible.
Also there? The angel of a man who read my face & walked me where I needed to go. I almost cried with gratitude.
What I figured out?
Instead of complaining, blaming, or making excuses…
Make a plan in which the first step is to say, “What CAN I do about this?” and the second step is to ask, “What kind of help do I need?
Even if you take nothing away from today except to start ASKING FOR HELP, you’ll start to see big changes happening in your life.
Someone out there is waiting to help you. But you have to ask. Stop waiting for it to slap you in the face!