Blowing a Gasket

Blowing a Gasket

Thanksgiving is this week in the United States. With the holiday’s focus on gratitude and appreciation, a thought for “blow a gasket” moments that may come up this week (or whenever, as they do happen).

So we’re about to lose our cool. Perhaps we’ve gotten one too many eye rolls from a darling kiddo/teen, the help we’ve requested to set the table hasn’t shown up, the rolls came out burned, or any other number of things. We feel our temperature rising quickly.

Blowing a gasket is always an option, certainly. (And yes, it can feel kind of good in the moment.) However, how does it feel a few minutes (or an hour) later? What about fallout to clean up? Does it still feel as good? Honesty moment. (For me, it feels intensely good and then even more intensely bad/yucky/ick.)

While there may not be the immediate “Serves everyone right!!!” high from blowing our top, what might happen if we took a moment and thought of one thing we appreciate (or are grateful for, if you like the feel of gratitude)? Bonus points if we’re feeling frustrated at someone, what he/she is doing, or something related to him/her and we can think of something we appreciate about him/her. (Though if nothing comes to mind, go with whatever you can come up with that you do appreciate, whether related or completely unrelated.)

The appreciation thought doesn’t have to be anything fancy; it can be seemingly silly or insignificant: “I appreciate you brush your teeth each day!” or “I appreciate that you hug your younger siblings goodnight”.

Find a thought, and then try and feel a split second (or more) of appreciation. Then take a deep breath. If we like, find another thought, feel it, and take another deep breath. (And there is no perfect way to do this nor any perfect appreciation thoughts. Try. Find something that feels a bit better, that starts to add cooler water to the boiling internal pot.)

The point here is to cool ourselves down and talk ourselves back from the blowing a gasket ledge. Our cognitive and emotional functioning are compromised when we’re teetering on the edge.

Note that this isn’t about stuffing down how we’re feeling or not addressing something that needs to be addressed. Rather, it’s helping set ourselves up for a more productive conversation once we’re off the ledge and a bit cooler. No helpful decisions or choices result when we blow our tops. (Plus there’s the extra mess to clean up.)

Now, return to the prior situation. How’s our temperature? Has it dropped a degree or two? If we’re still about to boil over, find something else we appreciate — wash, rinse, and repeat until we feel a little cooler. And then from this cooler state, proceed in the prior situation.

Will finding something to appreciate magically stop the eye rolling or get the table set the first time we ask? Maybe, though maybe not. However, it will help us feel less heated and stressed — cooler, calmer, and maybe a touch more relaxed (and to me, cooler, calmer, and more relaxed = better than ready to boil over). And when we’re coming from this different energy space? That’s when magic (i.e., something different) is more likely to happen.

As a bonus, trying out (modeling!) the tool of appreciation/gratitude will best set our teens (and anyone else around) up to learn it too. The less gaskets blown? The less messy and smoother the ride.

Interested in more food for thought on gratitude and appreciation? Check out this post: Vomit, Gratitude, and Appreciation.

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