Q: I find myself feeling upset so often during the day, and I hate that I take these emotions out on my family. What can I do?
A: You find yourself exhausted, upset, negative and just in a funk at the end of the day, and you think, How did I get here? Oh yeah, self, it’s because I burnt the soup. I always burn the soup. No one else ever burns the soup. I’m such a lousy house wife. Not only do I always burn the soup, but I also burn the rice. And I burnt the chicken. [Make sure to read the NOTE* at the bottom of this article to get a real good laugh!] Oh, and the dessert that I brought over as a gift to my neighbor—I realized only later that I used salt instead of sugar! That reminds me of how lousy of a socializer I am—I have zero social skills. No wonder no one wants to be friends with me. Right, and my boss thinks I’m an absolute loser. Speaking of losers, I now see why my son is never picked when they choose the soccer teams. He clearly gets my loser genes. Right, and I can’t even fit my pinky toe into my jean skirt because I still haven’t lost those 20 pounds. So now I won’t have anything to wear to the school dinner. And the entire community will see how big of a failure I am. (Insert here any and all negative comments said housewife can say about herself). Finally, I’m the worst mother that ever lived. Forget that, I’m the worst human being to ever step foot on the planet!!!!
Just as you’ve crowned yourself the worst excuse for a human being to have ever existed, Dear Husband walks into the house. Before he even closes the door behind him, he’s greeted with an outpouring of, perhaps, not the most-choice comments.
What exactly happened here? How did our sweet mother get from making a simple culinary faux pas to losing control and taking all of her frustration out on her husband? I’d like to introduce you to an amazing breakthrough in the field of therapy called Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT). It was developed by Aron T. Beck in the 1960’s. What he taught us is that there’s no such thing as an emotion without a thought. So our hypothetical mom above only got herself to such a negative place because she allowed her thoughts to travel down the slippery slope to doom and gloom.
The Switchback tool can help Mom get off that slope—and get off fast. Here’s how it works. The dictionary defines a Switchback as a 180° bend in a road or path, especially one leading up or down the side of a mountain (Oxford Dictionary of English). When you find yourself going down that slippery slope, and you feel those negative emotions, use your Switchback and make that 180° turn. Change your thoughts from negative and bad to positive and good. It’s so simple, but so hard at the same time. The good news is that the more you practice, the easier it becomes, and I have a quick and fun little assignment for you to make it even easier.
When you’re feeling calm, take out a sheet of paper and draw a line straight down the middle, making two columns. Label the left hand column, “Negative Thoughts”, and the right hand column, “Positive Thoughts”. Write your top ten most negative thoughts on the left and match them up with positive replacement thoughts on the right. Now you are armed with an arsenal of weapons so when the negative feelings start coming, you just use your Switchback; remove that negative thought and replace it with a positive one!
Good luck and enjoy this simple and very powerful tool!
*NOTE: A little after I submitted this article to Nashim Magazine, I was nursing my baby, and I smelled something burning! I jumped up to try and see if I could salvage any of the chicken (I kid you NOT), but lo and behold, it burnt (see picture at the top)! I put all the burnt chicken on a plate as I was cleaning out the pot, and my kids started eating it…and they loved it! How hysterical and totally crazy!!!