In praise of meltdowns

Uncategorized May 01, 2020

I was recently sitting in the pool of potential jurors for a federal case. I was juror #4. Frankly, I did not want to be there. A federal criminal case usually means days of testimony and deliberation and I was in the middle of some projects with deadlines, a meeting with over 50 people to prepare for and another trip out of town. So when juror #3 told the judge that she was a hospice nurse, I started crying. Silent tears came down my cheeks and my lips started trembling because I was transported back to the last days of my husband’s life. AND I was going to have to answer that I am a widow to the dreaded question “do you have a spouse or partner?”

Well, I did not get selected for the trial. I actually got to go home with the promise that I will not be called to serve as a potential juror for another year. What I really got, though – the lesson we learn when we take time to reflect-- was an opportunity to look inside myself.

As a coach, I often ask my clients questions like “what happened?” “why do you think this happened?” “Is there a lesson here that you want to explore?” "How do your core values come into play here?" So I coached myself through this experience.

Question: What happened? Answer: Truthfully, I wasn’t just crying during my meltdown, I was sobbing: my shoulders were shaking, my hands were trembling, my throat was tight and I had a dull ache between my eyes.

Question: Why do you think this happened? Answer: Stress. Anger. I’ve been stressed before. I’ve been angry before and yes, I also regularly juggle 3 or 4 projects at a time. But I’ve never had a public meltdown in front of 50+ strangers.

Question: Why this reaction now? What is different now? Answer: I haven’t been home for more than 4 days at a time over the last month. I’m afraid of the financial consequences if I don’t juggle all of my projects properly. I haven’t followed my routines (which take on a ritualistic form for me) because of all of the travel.

Question: Is there a lesson here that you want to explore? Answer: I’m a big believer that we get physical signs that reflect our emotional health and vice versa. Sobbing and all of its manifestations have deep meanings in the emotional and physical world. Looking at each of those helped me gain more insight and clarity.

Question: How do your core values come into play here? Answer: They were not being honored and I realized that I was feeling pretty bad about that. So I had a full-on ugly cry sobbing meltdown that forced me to stop and reflect.

And now I’m back to myself.

I wish you peace and courage to look inside when something is troubling you.


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