January 7, 2014

The Power of "At Least..."

Being able to keep a healthy perspective is not a talent that comes naturally to me. I have a slight tendency to overreact. I relied on my mom when I was younger (ok, still do sometimes) to give me a "pep talk" when things were rough, or I was stressed, worried, or intimidated. She always did a good job of helping me calm down and focus on what was important, and put the rest out of my mind.

As I've gotten older, I've tried to rely less on my mom to help me keep perspective and be rational. I fear my oldest daughter has inherited my "freak out" tendency, and frequently melts down when things don't go her way. Not in a spoiled way, but just a "I can't handle it" way. I'm trying to model how to be calm and levelheaded, to help her see there is a healthier and happier way to live. Its been good for both of us.

When things go wrong, I try to take a deep breath and look for an "At least..."

The Power of At Least

"At least..." reminds you that it could always be worse.
"At least..." reminds you that there is always something to be grateful for.

For example:

I'm in the middle of church when my toddler decides to have a full blown meltdown, causing me to have to take her out into the hall. And she screams all the way to the door. And everyone is watching. Its so frustrating and embarrassing when kids misbehave at church. 

Can you think of an "At least..."?

"At least I didn't trip on the way out."
"At least she didn't yell any bad words."
"At least it didn't happen during a prayer."
"At least we made it to church today."

How about another: I'm vomiting my guts out with a stomach flu, and have been for hours. I want to just lay on the bathroom floor and sob and moan about how miserable I feel. Puking is the worst.

"At least its not vomiting AND diarrhea."
"At least I'll probably sleep well when this is all over."
"At least its me puking, and I know how to keep it in the toilet. If it was my kid that was sick, it would be all over the house."
"At least I don't usually feel this way, and the worst is probably over."

Or my friend posts a picture of her brand new luxury car on Instagram. Instead of sinking into jealousy and self-pity, I remind myself that:

"At least our cars are paid off."
"At least I almost have a down payment saved up for a new car."
"At least I don't have the same car that I had in college."

One more: Its 5:45pm and I haven't made dinner, done any dishes, laundry, or showered for the day. I feel like I haven't accomplished a single thing all stinking day.

"At least the kids are still alive."
"At least I can try again tomorrow."
"At least cereal is fortified with vitamins."

Flat tire? At least it didn't happen while I was going 80mph. Spilled a carton of orange juice on the floor? At least.... hmm. I don't know anything worse than a carton of orange juice on the floor... Ok, at least it wasn't a carton of OJ and a bag of powdered sugar. Or at least it wasn't 2 minutes before I had to go out the door to work.

It almost becomes a game. Perspective is a powerful thing. When things aren't going the way we want, we can stop ourselves from melting down. And we can model it for our kids as well, and help them stop themselves from melting down.

Because it could always be worse, and there is always something to be grateful for. 

/thehowtomom @thehowtomom /kylieharris @thehowtomom +kylieharris bloglovin' rss feed thehowtomom@gmail.com Image Map


  1. I am you! Or you are me! I totalllllyyyy have a quick freak out tendency and look to my mom to talk me down and talk me out of whatever I'm overreacting about. I'll try saying this phrase to myself next time.

    1. Our similarities are nuts! I love it! Thank goodness for moms, right? :)

  2. Great article! Good reminder to look for (and find) the silver lining in everything.

    1. Thanks Marn! Its my version of the Pollyanna game.

  3. Thank you so much for this. I really needed it.

  4. I ALWAYS need the reminder that there is always an "at least." Thanks, girl.

    Also, a few of these (throwing up AND diarrhea! cereal fortified with vitamins!) really made me laugh. :)

    1. If you find an "at least" that makes you laugh AND feel better about life? Double score! ;)

  5. First time reading your blog- how have i missed it?? Perfect timing is all I can say! Sitting in the middle of laundry and a dirty house, not showered and realizing that Lindseys homework was due today, but is lost.... At least I am not having company over, at least by 8:30 Ill have that long luxurious shower I've been dreaming of all day and at least her teacher is probably so overwhelmed with children that she didnt notice one homework packet missing...:) You rock and Ill be back on here often so keep writing girl!!!

    1. I should remember that one, "At least company isn't coming over." That one will come in handy! Glad you found my lil ol blog. :)

  6. Kylie, thank you SO much for this post. I'm a mom with 8 kids and I definitely have a melting point. You can only be patient for so long. This is such a great and helpful idea, and I'm trying it today!!

  7. Thank you for this post - I will be trying this come the next meltdown/overreaction which I'm sure will come along before the end of the day - hopefully my daughter will come on board as well - Thank you - April, NS Canada

  8. I seem to be in the minority in this… but I actually don't like this approach. Just because your situation (or your child's) could be worse, doesn't mean the feelings of frustration, sadness, or anger aren't real. By responding "at least…" you're essentially invalidating those feelings versus acknowledging them (a key step! Emotions should not be ignored/buried) and dealing with them. "At least" can often leave you feeling guilty for having certain thoughts/feelings in the first place. Counter productive.