The other day I was organising things for my son to do and I noticed I was getting uptight about it – but I couldn’t see why that would be.
Oh hey! I’m having a big reaction.
Hooray! In I go:
“What exactly am I stressing about?”
“Making sure he has play-dates and activities so he doesn’t get bored”
“Why is it so important that he doesn’t get bored?”
“Because when he gets bored he starts to pick at me. ‘I’m boooored. There’s nothing to doooo. Come play with me. Come play nooooow! Whyyyyyyy aren’t you playing with me? I’m BOOOORREEEED!’ It’s horrible.”
“What is the reason I find it horrible?”
“Because it stresses me when he does that. If I say no he gets angry, pushes, hurts, breaks, won’t let me do anything else and just generally sprays pained anger into the home atmosphere. It makes everyone’s life difficult. I’d rather avoid that if I can.”
“What do I really feel when he does that? What am I really trying to avoid?”
“His anger. I actually feel scared of his anger, his pain, his shooting it all at me… Ugh! I think I’m scared of letting him get bored.”
“Is this a familiar feeling? Have I ever felt this way before in my life? Scared of someone’s anger and pain – of them shooting it all at me?”
“Oh yes this is very familiar. I know just who, when and how it was. I’ve processed it many times. I have opened into the feelings and let myself deeply feel what it was like back then. I have held and loved and reassured my younger self. I know it doesn’t have to be this way.”
“Ok then. Are you happy to continue this way?”
“No! HELL no! I’m done with that. I am not willing to try to please my child constantly so that he doesn’t shoot his anger at me. I must do what works for me and let him express his anger as he needs to. I won’t let my old fear run our family life. No way. It hurts everyone if I do that. He gets too much power – which is terrible for him – and we all live with anxiety. But…
It is scary and tiring to think of having to hold firm in the face of his tantrum; to be understanding, caring, loving and boundaried while he lashes and thrashes in his pain.”
“Why does it make me feel tired and scared?”
“Because a part of me is still scared of the anger. When I was young and small I learned anger was a big, scary beast in front of which I am powerless – anyone’s anger, my own or someone else’s.”
“So what is my child offering to teach me here?”
“Wow! To be ok in the face of anger – mine and someone else’s. That’s so exciting! I can do this! I can practice letting someone get angry and NOT be afraid of it. I can simply allow my loved one to have angry feelings and not feel responsible to fix how he feels. Woooohoooooo! Liberaaaaation! (Add frantic, graceless, arm-waving, bottom-waggling victory dance)
Oh yes, yes, YES I want to learn this. To let my loved ones feel whatever they do without taking responsibility for making them feel better. They are actually responsible for learning to manage their own feelings. I will support my child in his feelings but not try to make it ‘better’, Oh yes! I’m gonna do this thing.”
“Absolutely! Thank you my child for coming to teach me this. I’m going to let you get bored and angry and frustrated and I will love you and hold you while you are in it but I will NOT TAKE IT ON – I want us both to learn not to fear feelings.
Thank you for this practice, my small and immeasurably great teacher. I am so grateful for your constant guidance to my freedom and fullness of being.”
What is your child currently teaching you – and how’s that diet going?
Wow, this is so important. I have this a lot with my younger daughter, who is very ‘dramatic’ and emotional. And when she is angry I feel SO uncomfortable. She’s been like that since infanthood. When I was living in Sweden I saw an Icelandic reiki person and she said to me, ‘she is not your problem to solve.’ They were such important words which I tend to forget. Thank you for reminding me to let her be who she is, and that feelings, even uncomfortable ones, are okay 🙂
Whew. “She is not your problem to solve” might be a title for a future post. Definitely food for thought when put that way. It’s bringing up all sorts of ideas… Thanks for that. And someone said to me once, when you feel fear or discomfort you are GROWING so open into it and celebrate. I give that to you in return. What you are saying is that your daughter is helping you GROW! She’s doing her job well by the sounds of it. Just keep breathing and leeeeeaan into the discomfort as they say in yoga 🙂
Yes! That yoga analogy is a good one, I will use it. And also wanted to say, the no shouting diet has been such a revelation for me in two ways – how much easier it is to implement than I expected (not that it’s always easy, and last night I said I AM NOT SHOUTING BECAUSE WE DON’T SHOUT ANYMORE, I AM JUST SPEAKING LOUDLY AND CLEARLY BECAUSE WE NEED TO LEAVE THIS HOUSE IN THREE MINUTES, ha ha), but it’s not been AS hard as I thought, and the second thing is how much better I feel about myself when I deal with a situation non-aggressively. I used to shout and then slink away, feeling completely horrible and guilty and trying to convince myself my reaction was justified. Now I feel, in my innermost being, that being gentle at all times, even when I’m stressed and frustrated, is the right and only way to raise these children. So grateful for this small but huge a-ha moment 🙂
Oh how wonderfully delicious to hear this. Thank you so much for sharing it. I feel similarly. I mean the shouting hasn’t totally vanished but apparently it takes 3 months of doing this for it to be GONE. And my choosing not to is becoming easier. It’s just less of an option for me – even in the toughest moments I more instinctively just stop and remove myself from the tension and deal with it later and more constructively. Yay for the world that we are doing this.
It will just take ONE generation of conscious deeply caring parents to change the world.