Oh, my! Quite the holiday meltdown. Imagine yourself on the other side of the camera. Are you laughing so hard you're crying? Making a mental note to refill your Xanax prescription? Or melting down, too?
If you are wishing for a tantrum-free holiday season, please read on. FYI, this is not a post about reducing holiday stress through better self-care. If you're looking for self-care refreshers, see previous post: Self-care in a Toxic World.
As we all know, adults tantrum, too. Fortunately, it is never too late to grow yourself up!
Three keys to tantrum-free living
1. Manage expectations.
Managing expectations of others is key to year-'round tantrum-free living. Start by practicing on your Santaland outing. It is reasonable, of course, to wish for cheerful toddlers. It's reasonable to think your partner will share in the moment. It's reasonable to expect civility among strangers.
Unless it's clearly time to summon mall security, spare yourself disappointment, rage, and every negative emotion in-between by repeating the following: My expectations may be reasonable but, apparently, they are unrealistic. Whatever reality hands you, don't tantrum! Adjust your expectations.
2. Behave constructively.
When you feel threatened, it is human nature to react destructively, Cranky toddlers threaten your image of a perfect visit to Santaland. Your missing-in-action spouse threatens your image of a responsible partner. All those pushy holiday shoppers threaten your peace of mind. Your first impulse may be to yell, curse, make demands, or seek revenge.
Turning away from destructive impulses is simple:
Regardless of how others behave, don't tantrum, choose to behave constructively.
3. Inhibit negative emotions.
So, okay. You've faced reality and chosen to behave constructively, but you still feel like tantrumming. What's to be done?
Fortunately, adult human brains are wired to inhibit negative emotions. Although first reactions may always be defensive and destructive, a rational second reaction is also possible. Whether you call it self-control, delay of gratification, or emotional maturity, utilization of the capacity to inhibit negative emotions requires the following:
For details, see previous post: Whew! That's a Stick Not a Snake!