How to Fight Yelling Triggers and Win

Last Friday, Every. Single. Possible. Major trigger attacked me in full force.

P.M.S.? Check.
Lack of sleep? Check.
Hyper, loud kids from the school, no school, school, no school snow routine? Check.
Too much to do? Check.
Lack of exercise? Check.
Cluttered house? Check.
Fight with husband? Check. Actually double, no triple check!

And it was said fight with husband that really put me over the edge. It wasn’t the other triggers because I prepared for them.

I knew within minutes of waking up that the other triggers would be hanging out with me that day, attached to me at the hip, going everywhere with me, taunting me to yell every step of the way. So I prepared for them. I took some Ibuprofen, had a coffee, did some light exercise, picked up one pile to feel accomplished, and told myself “you will get to your to-do list when you can, it isn’t anything urgent, don’t stress.”

And for the most part, these preventative actions and thoughts helped me to fight those triggers and keep them at the back of my mind and not incessantly bothering me as I went through the morning, one of my hardest times of the day. I learned early on in my Challenge that if I can get through the morning without yelling then for the most part I can get through the day without yelling. Conquering the morning gives me confidence that I can succeed and well, confidence and success breeds more confidence and more success.

Anywho, as I came down the stairs last Friday morning, my triggers and my four little munchkins followed me. But so did my growing, but slightly unsteady, confidence so I actually felt okay. I felt I had acknowledged my triggers, dealt with them, and that the morning would be hard, but manageable. I felt that I could indeed choose love over yelling.

And then BAM!

My husband and I started bickering. (Not in front of the children mind you; we are really good about that!) We each said some not so nice things. I cried a lot. As our “chat” continued, my anger grew and grew… a lot. And as our “chat” ended, I realized that my desire to yell had also grown… more than a lot!

As my husband headed out to work, and I stood fuming, probably with smoke coming out of my head, ears, nostrils and every pore in my body, my sweet #2 dared to innocently ask me,

“Mommy, I can’t find my hat. Can you help me?”

I turned around to him, ready to explode and scream, “NO! Go find it yourself! NOW leave me alone. GO! SCOOT!” You see, I hadn’t “come down” yet from the intensity of the fight with my husband and I had no desire to be bothered. Shoot, I had no desire to deal with anything. I just wanted to scream and shout and let it all out. I most certainly didn’t want to look for a hat or deal with the rest of the day for that matter because I knew it would be tough and trigger-full!

As I began to open my mouth, I felt my heart beat rising and my hands sweating. I knew what that meant: a yell was coming. So I did what I needed to do…

I closed my mouth.
I closed my eyes.
I took a few breaths.
And then had a little pep talk with myself, repeating to myself one of my favorite lines that keeps me from yelling,

Orange Rhino, it’s not him that’s the problem, it’s you. It’s not the missing hat that’s making you want to yell; the fight is making you want to yell. The lack of sleep, the PMS, the dirty house, all of it is making you want to yell. You aren’t mad at your son, you are frustrated with other things. Don’t yell at him. Don’t take out your anger and frustration on him.”

It must have been a long pep talk and a lot of breaths because #2 said to me,

“Mommy, are you sleeping? Wake up. I can’t find my hat!”

So I did what else I needed to do…I woke up.

I woke up and embraced the reality that I needed to let go of the fight (enough) so that I could be present for my kids in the way I wished.

I woke up and embraced the reality that yes, it was going to be a hard day, but that I didn’t want to make it even harder by unnecessarily yelling at my son over a hat.

I woke up and embraced the facts that as much as I let go of the fight, that it would still taunt me that day. And that as much as I knew I didn’t want to yell, that I would still be tempted that day to do so because of all the triggers fighting me.

So after we found the hat – in the exact place it was supposed to be by the way – and we got half the house to school, I did what I needed to do to help set me up for a good-ish day.

I planned for when I could get in a long walk to help relax me and keep the kids out of the house and going crazy.


I called my mom and let my frustration out so that I could distance myself even further from it.

I “indulged” and let #4 watch some extra T.V. so that I could clean and de-clutter and find some inner peace.

And I told myself over and over and over again that,

“I will get through this day. I will get through. I can do this.”

I got through the day without yelling. It was touch and go at a few moments (okay, lots of moments,) but I did it and then I collapsed readily onto the couch with a nice glass of wine and some trashy magazines! I mentally toasted to preparation and how creating a plan to fight my triggers means that my chances of yelling less and loving more go up immensely. Does planning also mean time and energy, both of which I am generally short on Absolutely-frigging-lutely!!! But in order to manage my triggers, I know I need to plan for them. I need to know what they are, when they are alive and desperate to push me, and how to tame them so that I own them, not vice versa.

My triggers used to own me.
It wasn’t fun. It was ugly. It was a brutal existence.
Now that I own them, it is no longer brutal, but a much more beautiful existence because knowing and owning my triggers is the core to a non-yelling existence.

* * * * *

Here are some related posts I wrote about the power of tracking triggers.
Tracking my Triggers
What Triggers My Triggers
The Root of My Yelling

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13 thoughts on “How to Fight Yelling Triggers and Win

  1. That’s what I consider the Trickle Down theory. Someone aggravates you so bad that you take it out on the nearest person at the moment. For awhile I couldn’t visit my mom for long periods (sometimes still) because she ramps my stress level up by infinity. Whenever she’s mad at her husband or anyone else she would yell at me and then I’d reach my boiling point and the next time the kids acted up I’d blow up. So now when my mom is amping up my stress I tell her to stop I’m not the one you’re pissed at so don’t take it out on me cuz I don’t want it flowing over into my interaction with my kids. I still yell but more for things like last night my kids started playing at 1a and by the time their noise woke me the had poured a bottle of baby oil or some kind of oil all over my son’s freshly cleaned room and had candy, paper and pictures and keep sakes strewn all over his fresh bed linens. They had taken their toy bins (I had to lock up the step stool) turned them upside down and stacked them to get up into the high cabinet I had the stuff in. I was beyond aggravated especially after having my sleep (which I have problems with already) interrupted. In the end I just gave up and took them in my bed with me since they couldn’t be trusted to stay in their rooms. Needless to say we were late to school this morning.

  2. Oh my goodness, this blog has made my day. In fact I feel a bit ‘saved’ somehow, it resonates so much and gives me hope. I’m so inspired and am crying and laughing at once.
    I’m a mum of four who has just left home to relocate is the US for my husband’s work. I used to work too. At home we had family and friends and support! Here I’m struggling, we are fighting a lot and I have made this worse for myself and my kids by taking it out on them (adding gut-wrenching guilt and self-loathing to the equation), always in the morning when we are all tired and everything seems horrible and we are rushing off to school ( I’ve realised I have a pathological fear of being late…). This just hits the spot. Now I can see clearly my triggers. Am determined to do it, just for a week for now. 🙂 Thank you so much.

  3. I love the idea of identifying your triggers. I think sometimes we don’t realize how much our yelling really affects our children. I hard a particularly trying day on Monday and made it without too much yelling and screaming and even though it was a hard day I felt good when I went to bed that night.

  4. Ah that is a great post! A brilliant example of how you came so close to the edge, and managed to pull yourself away from the brink. That gives me hope that I can do the same, thank you! I have certainly been managing so much better since starting your challenge. This morning I had a wobble as everything was conspiring against me to make the school run on time. After my baby daughter’s third poop in her nappy (and down the legs) I was running out of patience. We were already going to be late. She was waving her legs around and I cried “Keep your legs still!!” It wasn’t a yell, but it was a raised frustrated voice. I took a couple of deep breaths then apologised to my 5 year old son for losing my patience. He replied, “Ah it’s okay, Mummy. You’re a very good mummy and I love you.” Talk about a lump in my throat! What great incentive to keep at this challenge though. I want to be the best mummy I can possibly be to my gorgeous wonderful children who deserve it, and I want them to have a patient kind mummy who doesn’t shout and lose the plot when it all gets a bit too much. So thankful for your help Orange Rhino! It is much appreciated.

  5. It can be so hard sometimes not the let all the other responsibility of being a wife and mother take over our ability to cope with stress. Thanks for letting me know I’m not alone, and reminding me that I need to breath before I talk.

  6. Thank you for posting your experience… I haven’t conquered my yelling triggers yet, but you make me feel hopeful that one day I may be able to.

  7. when you are giving yourself a pep talk aren’t your kids standing there pestering you??? asking questions? demanding you to do what they need?I can get as far as pep talk but then I usually blow it during my little talk to myself!! help!

  8. In french they might say j´adore!!!!! and I adore to be an orange rhino, its very difficult for me because Im also an impattient person (working on it long ago) but I feel so happy and share the feeeling that every day I do my best to be a better mom and also a better me. Thanks for sharing with us what you´ve learn in your own journey and thanks for push and support every single day.

  9. Orange Rhino, you’re so, so…HUMAN! And yet you’ve figured out a way to be superhuman. Thank you for making me into a better mom — and a better person too.

  10. Orange Rhino…you have no idea how much your posts help me. I relate completely and always find a helpful takeaway from you. Thank you truly.

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