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Lessons From My Friday-Morning Meltdown

Ever have a morning where anything that could go wrong does?

For me last Friday, it was discovering on my way out the door that a crucial email sent earlier in the week to my new attorney had never actually gone out—when it did, it was the wrong draft with the wrong attachments. Scrambling to find the right ones.

Getting caught in traffic on my way to an appointment. Parking drama.

The thrill of sliding into a new doctor's office with minutes to spare, only to be handed a mountain of paperwork and a ballpoint pen. Delay upon delay. Then being emotionally blindsided by the doctor I was there to see. Just fix my arm, Larry. To his credit, he did. But this would come later.

I once heard a comedian say that God didn't give Californians rain because He knew they couldn't deal with it emotionally. The good Lord sure gave us heat and humidity, though. Now I realize that's a high-class problem. But that morning it was one more thing than I could take.

Thankfully, the frustration didn’t last forever—and what it taught me just might help you manage your own frustration.

Ultimate Reminder #1: Timeouts aren’t just for toddlers.

When you’re having a mini-breakdown, the best thing you can do is acknowledge it. The sooner, the better. Think how much more peaceful our homes would be, how much workplace conflict could be nipped in the bud with one simple, matter-of-fact sentence: “I need a time-out.”

Boom. Problem half solved. So how do you know when you need a time-out?

  • Nothing is going right—including your ability to deal with it.
  • You’re using words you normally cringe at when you hear in others.
  • You can’t remember the last time you took a deep breath.
Ultimate Reminder #2: Stop and take a breath.

Maybe three. If you find this hard to do, all the more reason to do it. Taking a breath forces us to stop, regroup, and regain our perspective.

Ultimate Reminder #3: Ask yourself what you need.

Sometimes you won’t know. Keep asking anyway. Start with the physical: Do you need sleep? Food? Water? Chocolate?

When the pressure’s on, a friend of mine jokes about needing to get herself to a Mountain Dew. For me, it's a frozen treat from Trader Joe's called (ironically enough) "Gone Bananas!"

When the stress piles on, what’s your go-to, foodwise or otherwise?

Sometimes you just need to clean off your desk or take out the trash. Clearing mental hurdles, no matter how trivial they might seem to someone else, can restore hope and a healthy sense of order.

Ultimate Reminder #4: Learn the lesson.

Whenever I go back to Michigan, I always notice and appreciate the living-room-size parking spots. Here in southern Cal, parking spots are about as wide as a Band-Aid. I've had bacon strips that were more generous.

And as I learned again last Friday, California parking garages are even more drum tight. So next time I will find a way to park on the street. Or who knows? Maybe rent a Prius for the occasion. Kidding.

The point is, I’m going to go out of my way to steer clear of parking garages. Making that decision was a real gift.

What lesson or decision would make your life easier?

Ultimate Reminder #5: Find the humor.

Have you ever had someone pierce you with a question you just weren't expecting? In my case it was that doctor I mentioned.

He wasn't a bad guy. But as we were exchanging pleasantries, he launched right in with some tough news in the community that (a) hit close to home and (b) I didn’t realize was out in the community.

Then he asked if it was true. I said I'm not at liberty to comment. Dude, who taught you bedside manner?! Later when I shared this story with my niece, including the part about wanting to say "Just fix my arm (Larry)," it gave us both a good laugh.

Maybe that’s the gift of losing our cool now and then: It allows us to stop, regroup, overcome, and ultimately laugh with those we love most.

When you’re having a mini-breakdown, the best thing you can do is acknowledge it.

Gina DeLapa

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Gina DeLapa is America's Ultimate Reminders® Coach, a sought-after speaker, and the proud creator of the Ultimate Reminders® book series. Her wise and witty reminders ("Beware the organization whose response to a burning building is to form a committee") will make you laugh, stir your soul, and inspire your best. If you're not already getting her free Monday-Morning Pep Talk, be sure to sign up now at