“No!!!” I screamed, as my terrified five-year-old looked up with tears forming in his eyes. Slowly the milk spread across the floor, seeping under the cupboards. I’d lost control, at that moment nothing could be worse than four pints of milk spreading over my kitchen floor!
So many times since I’ve regretted the reaction I had in that moment, especially when my son would panic about a small drop of milk on the table while having his breakfast. Had I really scarred him for life? It wasn’t about the milk, there was so much more that had lead me to that point and no amount of chanting “don’t cry over spilt milk” would have saved that moment.
Heavily pregnant with a condition called SPD which left me struggling to walk and in excruciating pain, a string of events that left me feeling hurt and exposed. I was at my most vulnerable and the milk was the final straw, panic had taken over. How on earth could I manage to get down on the floor, mop up and clean behind the skirting? Would it smell all summer? I can’t remember what all went through my head but it certainly wasn’t logical. The milk was the trigger for the outpouring of emotion, frustration and pain I had been holding inside, it needed to come out I just regret that my little boy had to witness it.
We laugh about it now and I’m generally much calmer about dealing with spillages. My husband believes that I am more bothered about things like spilt milk than I am about the more significant events that sometimes happen, but, I now recognise that I have a tendency to bottle things up and a spillage or a stubbed toe can end up being my ‘trigger’.
When we look at self-control it is important to identify our triggers as well as the reaction or habit we want to change. I find the acronym ‘HALT’ helpful. It stands for Hungry, Angry, Lonely, Tired. These are some of the frequent triggers that result in a reaction or a chocolate fix or spending money you don’t have! Identifying our triggers can be the first step towards beginning to deal with those areas of self-control we find difficult. Sometimes this may be preventative (I have been known to sit myself in ‘timeout’ to give myself a minute to calm down before reacting) but also for me, if I find myself reacting to ‘triggers’ I know it is time to re-evaluate what things have been building up inside me and seek a more constructive outlet. I find it helpful to talk through with someone I trust and decide beforehand what some of my safety guards will be. For me this is an ongoing journey, the journey of being ‘Peaced Together’.