So the theme of the moment is anger. And shouting.
As you know from the last couple of posts I am getting quite an education in anger management lately. I’m being shown over and over by my blessed tiny teachers where my own childhood hurts cause me to react impulsively and unconsciously – What a wonderful healing opportunity for me.
As much as I know the ‘badness’ of it, I haven’t managed to stop shouting. I know it, I say it, I intend it but when that damn trigger comes I do it again! This repeated failing means my soul is trying to tell me something important about an old hurt that’s ready to heal.
I am DONE with this silliness. I want to figure this thing out and let it go.
I can see those tricksy triggers and I can see my roaring reaction (blush, blush) and I want to lovingly disconnect the hurts of my past from the things my children do now.
Lord help me!
Meanwhile, I’ve spoken to my children about my behaviour. I asked them to tell me when I’m shouting in case I’m not aware. I’ve told them I’m learning and trying and that shouting is not acceptable at all. “I’m sorry I haven’t managed to stop yet” I humbly said. “Does it at least help that I say sorry and talk about it?”
“No, not really.” says my boy. They have no mercy, dammit!
He told me nothing I do makes him feel better after I shout at him. A sad, silent moment for me. There’s not much to say when someone speaks that sort of truth.
“How about if I shout again I give you a bean to say sorry?” I suddenly asked. (When they do stuff that is awesome, helpful, kind, generous or impressive they get a bean. Together they decide on something they want to do, or get, and when their jar is full of beans they claim their well-earned good thing.) Giving a bean would be a tangible way to say sorry. My boy perked up, smiled slyly and said, “Now I want you to shout.”
But I was quite sure after that talk I wouldn’t shout anymore anyway.
Talk about a humbling moment.
He did something TOTALLY unacceptable. I mean one of those Did-You-Really-Do-That moments. An ‘Are you actually human? Do you have feelings?’ kind of thing. And I shouted! Not even a big shout as far as these things go, but he instantly shouted back at me with tears in his voice, “You have to give me a bean!” And I shouted back, “Yes I do.”
Having to give that bean after he’d perpetrated his nastiness was no easy thing, let me tell you. My ego didn’t like it at all, no sirree!
What suddenly I’m the bad guy??!!
I waited till I calmed down (the next day actually), we resolved his ‘crime’, and then I gave him the bean.
I plan to hand over no more beans in this manner.
Actually my plan is a 30-day (for starters) shouting diet. Abstinence. That’s it. I will shut my mouth and walk away when I am angry. That’ll learn me. That’ll make me engage with my feelings rather than throwing them onto him. I know it’s never about him anyway. I will go inwards not outwards and I will HEAL this wounding, yes siree.
Wanna join me for the diet? Whatever your vice is, anger, shouting, sulking, blaming, withdrawing, punishing, disappearing into your phone or laptop, disassociating… are you willing to see what healing shows itself when you actively stop doing it? It HAS to feel better than carrying around those triggers all the time…
And we can share how we’re doing.
I’d love company. What do you think? Are you in?
Pass this on. Spread the word. Let’s have a No-Shouting revolution! It would only take one generation of conscious, deeply loving parents to change the world.
I am in! I am a shouter and your words ring true with me, everytime. Like you I really feel like I’ve tried and I really haven’t stopped. Since I’ve been aware, all I’ve done is become unhappier because I’ve tried, I’m trying and it’s still happening. Thank you for sharing that this is not just me. I will continue to try, because it’s what I want and what I need for my kids. I’ll join you on this journey with open arms and an open heart and mind. Thank you. Angela
Oh Wow, oh wow! Thank you Angela. Let’s DO this thing! My heart opens in response. You know of course, that the trick is going to be understanding and clearing whatever hurt is under the trigger, right? So have a think (if you haven’t already)
a) What triggers me? Is it when they don’t listen or when they hit or what?
b) What exactly do I feel when it happens? What is the feeling that makes me shout? (for me for example, it’s a sharp emotional pain)
c) Is this underlying feeling familiar from earlier in my life?
d) What memory is connected to that feeling?
Then you know what your wound is that you need to work with. Do this exercise every time you get triggered and see what info you glean.
I will keep writing and writing and writing about how to find out what’s happening below our reactions and also what to do with what we find. And I’ll keep practicing it myself. After all, we teach best what we need to learn.
I’m so glad you are on the journey with me. Good luck with the diet.
I feel for you – this is the hardest thing there is, isn’t it?! So very painful to witness the effects of our acting out. Maybe you know of Orange Rhino, who has been doing this for some time and set up a page on it? I tried it. It doesn’t really work for me but I respect that we are all different. Setting the clear intention however really did appeal. I wanted it so badly and wanted to not harm my kids so badly. The thing is, I had to find a way of working with the guilt/shame issues from after. I needed to work on my perfectionism. On my self-care. On working with my body and looking at what was going on in my body before I shouted and on other ways to manage the feelings and sensations. I needed to love myself for my efforts to take care of myself, whether ones learnt from the past that I wanted to change or ones from the present. I needed to love my husband for his efforts too; we are both reactive, impatient people when we are not working our spiritual stuff and taking care of ourselves. That is hard to accept. Especially given the huge ambitions I started out with; basically, I wanted to be the Dalai Lama lol! I’m only half joking 😉 I wanted to be calm all the time, never shout, not be me, basically. It was really, really hard and painful to accept myself as I was. I am getting there but not in the way I thought I would; it is progress not perfection. I have to own the emotional violence in me first and foremost but I need to do that in a way that is loving, honest and spiritual.
Olivia thank you for your gentle, supportive and honest comment. If anger and shouting is what you learned as a child it is very difficult to undo because it’s so connected to all the old hurt from when you were small. Which is also it’s gift isn’t it? Because then you have direct access to it for healing’s sake.
I also wish I was the Dalai Mama! Oh wouldn’t that be just great…? Then I wouldn’t be telling the world right now that I have these whopping great ‘failing’ moments. Sigh aaaand release.
I chose to share this because so many of us have this fantasy that others out there are ‘getting it right’ – especially people like psychologists and spiritually-minded folk. And I think these expectations of ourselves are often unrealistic – I mean the Dalai Lama doesn’t have children does he?!
I love what you say about self-care and accepting who you are. It’s the only way to find peace in your heart and home – learning that no matter what you think about yourself, at the core of who you are is a shining light that is magnificent. Coming home to that light, to ourselves, is what makes us feel better. And who doesn’t want to feel better? And when we feel better we behave better… It’s a win-win.
Next week I’ll write a bit about what’s underneath the reactions.
Thanks Eilat. I particularly value your blog and your honesty because you are a clinical psych, if I am not mistaken. So often, we parents hold ourselves up to the imagined standards of other ‘super parents’ as you say, and use these as a reasons to beat ourselves up more.
This is hard, spiritual work; the work is to be found right here in the fire, not in sitting in a meditation retreat for a week.
I discovered that the real issues with me are my tendency to get overwhelmed very quickly (something I am learning to work with) and my inner critic. Man, she is gruesome. She kept me safe at one stage but now she likes to beat me up; I am learning to work with her, even love her for how she was a strategy at one stage, but I imagine that voice will probably come out when I am tired, or feel I have made a mistake, even when I am 90.
I dearly wish there was a magic pill I could take to undo the hurt to my son from the past from my own shouting. It pains me enormously, as you have said it does you. There are not easy ways around that though I have to trust that he will find his way and be ok, just as I have, eventually.
One thing – even though your son said it did not make it better, I think the amend is still valuable. For me, it is about naming what just happened. I grew up in a home with a lot of love but also alcoholism and with that often comes a lot of denial and the denial can be very harmful, ie, “no I didn’t get angry”, or “it was your fault”, or “you are imaging this” etc.
The DalaiMumma I wanted to be is a legacy of that too I think – growing up with polarity – things were either wonderful or terrible and so my parenting had to be either perfect or it was appalling and harmful. My work is in trying to find the middle ground.
Well, look forward to next week 🙂
Olivia – that is beautiful! thank you for sharing!
What a deliciousness to know you are out there doing this work in the world. I am SO loving this DalaiMumma we’ve co-created 😀
Let’s go forth and open our hearts to all this imperfect-ness that is being parented and parenting.
ANONYMOUS wrote to me:
I’m not big on publicly commenting on anything online, but I did want to tell you that I really appreciate and value your posts every week. You are welcome to copy and post this anonymously if you want to generate some discussion. I am so identifying with this series about anger! It’s something I grapple with daily, including all the guilt that goes with it. I am aware enough to know that the source of my anger is unresolved unconscious pain within myself, but don’t seem to be aware enough to know what to do with that! There are days when I can control the expression of my anger, but the point is I still feel it and it’s painfully uncomfortable. There are other days, when despite all my very best intentions, I end up shouting or saying something intended to belittle or induce shame. Which it does. Mostly in me! It is very helpful when others, like you, are so honest about having similar struggles. Thank you for this weekly therapeutic dose of realness. I intend to join you with no shouting this month!
Thank you so much for your comment. I can feel your pain as I read and it brings tears to my eyes. Thank you too for your honesty. And I also understand about the public commenting. I struggle with it a lot but believe it’s a) very good practice for me for a number of reasons and b) it helps others. So I deeply appreciate you making contact and I am going to take you up on your offer to post this anonymously because what you say is profoundly relevant to so many others. I am going to think deeply on where to take this from here in terms of giving some tools to deal with the underlying pain. Please see my reply to Angela’s comment below as a starting point. And keep checking in. I am on this journey with you!
Thank you for your honesty and authenticity.
I, too, was a shouter. From a long line of Rageaholics, it’s been a bumpy road. I no longer shout. It took years of day by day, minute by minute to achieve. I now understand it is my responsibility to be the grown up. When the rage soars through me (it would be lovely if it surged, but it’s way beyond that), I leave the room. Then I breathe until I am calmer and feeling, again, like a grown up. I return and we work it out.
I believe the best thing we can do for our children is be open about our imperfections and admit our faults. Exactly as you describe. I still apologize to my kid for what I did years ago. She now tells me “it’s ok”.
Your child will forever be grateful, even if he is not quite there yet. We are all works in progress. If we’re lucky.
Thank you for that Joanne. It’s lovely and reassuring to hear from someone on the other side of the shouting challenge -“I no longer shout.” Taking a step back and breathing and dealing with it when calmer seems to be a major part of it. Now we only need to remember that we are adults in that moment when the rage soars – as you say – rather than 3 or 5 or 12 years old.
We have to learn to love and hold our inner little ones at those moments of pain. Our journey is to learn to love ourselves NO MATTER WHAT! What a gift to have you all reminding me and each other of that.
This has inspired me again to go deeper with the work, of sensing and feeling what is going on in my body when I feel I am about to shout or feel overwhelm. Thank you.
Ok. Taking a deep breath and joining in. Though I must say i am scared of potentially failing. It’s funny to even be talking about ‘potentially failing’ since I shall clearly fail at LEAST once. But I’m going to try to love myself through this setup for failure, and expect interesting surprises. Here goes…
Oh thank you for pointing out the setup for failure. It can’t be that can it? We can’t do that to ourselves AGAIN. This is not about ‘getting right’. This is about learning to love yourself and exploring interesting surprises as you say.
Off we go on a journey, I wonder what we’ll find.
Wow. I love this blog. I love this work. I’m inspired and amazed and impressed by everyone’s feedback and courage. I am practicing, but I think the true task will come when I actually have my baby… Which will be in about 6 months!!
Love & Light-
Rachel thank you for the encouraging comment to us all. Your news is so precious. And not to stress ‘cos mostly – unless you have some heavy issues from infancy – babies don’t make you want to shout. That’ll take a while. They offer you their own priceless, individually-tailored Soul Yoga. Practice being kind and loving to yourself and you two are on a path to great things! Love and light right back to you.