A few months ago, I had my first ever major tantrum with Bloody Good Chap.
On our way to breakfast we spent 10 minutes trying to get a photo of me laughing genuinely and casually against a white brick wall, you know how you do.
I looked at the photos with disgust, I didn’t realise how obvious my lack of thigh-gap was.
I got pissed off at myself for eating too many whole blocks of chocolate.
Both BGC and I were hangry, and as supportive as he always is of my random work-related whims on a Sunday, I could tell he was sick of being an “Instagram husband” and just wanted to go and eat eggs benedict.
So naturally, I made my hanger, stress, exhaustion and self-loathing Bloody Good Chap’s fault.
“Ok fine!” I huffed, “We’ll just go for breakfast, F the photos, I look stupid and I can see you don’t want to be doing this.”
“You look beautiful” he repeated, seemingly genuine.
“Your eyes don’t work properly because you love me, you don’t see what other people see.”
“Look, I just am so flat out, you asked if you could help, and now you are, but you don’t really want to and I can tell, and it’s making me self conscious, and I look shit, and it’s embarrassing and….”
And so the rant went, with me twisting everything he said into ammunition.
I’m a pro at it from 4 years of previous relationships’ worth of practice. And I know it too, I know it when I’m manipulating words, spinning things negatively. In the past I knew it too, but I didn’t know how to stop.
BGC went silent as we walked to breakfast, being a man of few words anyway –
and having realised that anything he said may be used against him in the court of Andrea.
So then I got angry at his silence.
I felt an overwhelming urge to walk off and “punish” him.
I wrenched my hand out of his, y’know, just to make sure he would KNOW that I was angry.
The feeling was familiar yet distant. I recognised the urge to hurt and harm with such clarity, even though it’s been years since I’ve felt it take me over that strongly.
It used to be a weekly occurrence in past relationships, and I would act on it without fail, punishing my boyfriends and wreaking havoc over ridiculous subjects. Afterwards I would feel so guilty, but during, nothing could stop me bulldozing the relationship.
But this time, I had the mindfulness based skills I teach in Bloody Good Life 101. I recognised the urge, watched it, and used one of my techniques to let the destructive emotions pass through me without reacting.
Then I put my head on BGC’s shoulder at the traffic lights, he put his arms around me, I burst into tears and sobbed for a while.
Once I’d got out what was really upsetting me, (my self consciousness and hangriness), I grinned and said,
“You just experienced the tame end of what it was like to be with me a few years ago.”
“I’m glad you learnt mindfulness,” he replied with a grin.
Usually, something like this would’ve stuck with me the whole day (sometimes even the next day), and I’d definitely be bringing it up as ammunition next time I was pissed. Back then, I was aware of what I was doing but I didn’t have a clue how to stop it.
I know this happens to a lot of us. If you know this feeling that I’m talking about, the one when your mind and emotions take over and you find yourself reacting in ways that you later cringe at, then I want to introduce you to the mate in my head, Neville.
The Naming your Neville technique stops your mind from being able to stage these emotional take-overs so that you can become zen as the Dalai Lama in the face of a brewing tantrum.
If you joined us in the 6 Days to Decisiveness challenge,
you’ll have a name for your mind by now, (ps – Gertrude was by far the winner of most popular mind name!) and you might have started replaying the things that he/she says in an Irish, Kiwi, or Ms Trunchbull accent.
You can even nip over here and make an avatar for your Neville! It’s a bit addictive trying out all the eyebrow and nose combinations.
Here’s my Nev, well, some Nev options.
Couldn’t decide on his hair… and he needs more wrinkles and more chub.
Mid tantrum with BGC, I realised that Nev was standing on a table in my brain with a megaphone shouting “Storm off!! Punish him!! Show him who’s bossss Andrea!!”
But as soon as I could see that it was Nev that was making a mountain out of a molehill, I could take a step back and think about the situation rationally.
The more you practice referring to your mind by its new name, the less identified you’ll become with your mind, and the less you’ll get less caught up in his random tantrummy whims.
This is the first step to having more control of your reactions and emotions so that they don’t interfere with your bloody good life.
Want to hear about the next steps? Check out bloodygoodlife.com