Overreactions, emotional meltdowns. Something has happened to get you very upset. Or (more frequently!) a series of things have happened, and just when you thought you were handling it pretty well – “Bring it on! I don’t let stuff get to me” – boom. One more thing happens, it’s the last straw. And you feel the anger or the frustration build to a breaking point. Swearing, yelling, crying. Or maybe you shut down. You want to pull the covers over your head and say to the world, “I can’t deal. Leave me alone. I am DONE. I have HAD it”.

We’ve all been there in one form or another, to one degree or another. It feels like it’s happening TO you like you don’t have control over it. Well here’s the great news. You have complete control over it. I’ve listed out my techniques below that will empower you to nip it in the bud much more quickly. Really. I did it last week. I was blown away by how effective it was and how fast I turned things around.

Now the plan isn’t to prevent them entirely… unless you decide to live in a cave and never accomplish anything or interact with anyone for the rest of your life. But if you want to be up to big stuff, achieving big goals that fulfill your dreams, then challenges and setbacks will be a part of that big life.

While reviewing my techniques below, I recommend taking a moment to journal as you read through these, thinking about the different ways you can approach each step, preparing for the challenging moments that will inevitably enter your life.

STOP - Don’t panic. Don’t criticize yourself. You’ve simply hit overload. It’s time to hit the “PAUSE” button.

BREATHE - Take a few minutes and just breathe. No thinking. No feeling. Just breathe until you feel a bit calmer. Maybe drink some water, go for a walk, stretch a little. Or just keep breathing if that’s calming you further. If you’re with other people, tell them you need a minute or five or more — no apologies for doing what you need.

START SELF-TALK - Our minds don’t like to be empty, so when you try to hit “PAUSE” on your feelings at the moment, the same negative thoughts tend to creep back in; unless we deliberately fill the space first. The way you talk to yourself is important here; your language is very powerful. I want you to be kind and supportive like you’re speaking to someone you care about.
Here are some suggestions:

“This is temporary.”

“I got this. I’ve worked through hard problems before.”

“This is a manageable problem.”

“It doesn’t have to be hard. I choose how this goes for me.”

“I feel like this because a lot is going on.” This one lets you validate your experience, but don’t stay stuck in the feelings.

“This feels hard, and I’m going to do what I can to not make it any harder than it has to be.”

REGAIN PERSPECTIVE - This is key: see the challenge for what it is. Just one moment in your life. A problem to be solved. That you will get through so you can get back to all the good in your life.
A word of caution here; sometimes, when we try to gain perspective by framing our challenges with “It could be worse,” “Children are starving in parts of the world. Why am I getting so upset? I need to get a grip”, it doesn’t work and leaves us feeling more aggravated; because it feels dismissive of how we feel. This isn’t about comparing yourself to others; this is about perspective of the highs and lows in your experiences. Then tell yourself that you aren’t going to let it upset you any more than it needs to.
Positively reframing a situation can help. That means viewing the situation in a more positive light. It doesn’t mean you deny the negative part: but rather add the positive to feel better. Positive reframing is a deliberate action to improve one’s mood. It’s in the secret sauce of a person with a joyful life.
Focus on something positive in your life now, maybe something you feel especially grateful for. This is another reason why having a regular gratitude practice is so beneficial. So that at times like these you have a specific mood balance “go-to” at your fingertips.

PLAN AND ACT - Feelings are great. I love them. But during a meltdown, they are running the show in a way that doesn’t serve you. Your feelings can take on the power of a team of horses that have run off with the carriage, out of control, and potentially harmful (in this case the harm is to your well-being). Create a plan that allows you to gain control of the situation in a way that is supportive of your well-being. You can also pre-plan for this moment by thinking of who you may need in different challenges, and how best to contact them in times of need. You have car insurance for when you are in an accident and AAA for when your car breaks down. Create an emotional insurance policy of your own so planning and acting can be as easy as calling a tow-truck.

If you notice you’re having near-meltdowns often, it could be time for some tweaking in the self-care department. Build that into your schedule, high on the priority list with the must-do-no-matter-what. What specifically do you need right now? More breaks, more sleep, different food? A recharge with time alone or time with people that fill you up? Take a moment when you feel you’re losing control, to write down your feelings. What are you feeling in the moment, in the days prior and the days past? Is there a trend that you notice?

A little overwhelm is ok now and again. If you feel that you’re frequently in distress or have trouble moving through my techniques above don't hesitate to ask for help.

By Dr. Lee Odescalchi

Author's Bio: 

Lee Odescalchi is a coach and licensed psychologist. She has coached and counseled clients, just like you, looking for more fulfilling lives. Her unique approach uses the most effective methods of personal development and performance strategies. She does this while addressing issues from the past that have led to self-limiting beliefs that get in the way of your success. Lee also empowers people to “get out of their own way” and maximize their strengths so they can produce extraordinary results… in any area of their life.