Originally posted on Jul 22, 2013
This week we’ll use Mary to show us how a child’s behaviour can get a big reaction from you because it’s dredging up an old well-hidden past hurt that you are unconsciously trying to avoid. Next Monday we’ll look at when it GETS to you because it’s positioning you into a dynamic that reminds you of an old well-hidden past hurt that you are unconsciously trying to avoid. Are you sensing a pattern here?
Ok, here goes.
If Mary immediately feels irritated when a child is needy, it’s very likely she has some old hurt connected to a child being needy. Because all children are needy – that’s their design – but not everyone has a problem with it.
What Mary finds irritating is probably reflecting something about HER. That means her reaction to the child is showing how SHE feels about what’s being reflected about HERSELF.
Keep going, It’ll get clearer.
If Mary would like to change her automatic reaction of irritation she needs to figure out what’s triggering her. She can ask herself:
- What do I feel when the child does that?
- What about what s/he does is the part that really bugs me?
- If I could give my feelings words and let them speak uncensored – without judging what comes out – what would be the truth of how I feel when s/he does it?
Mary’s honest thoughts might be politically incorrect, for example, “This child is so irritating and whiny. I don’t like her at all. I wish she wasn’t here. I don’t even know what she wants from me but it feels like too much! I would just hit her if I could – but I know that’s wrong. I feel really bad that I’m thinking these things but I wish she would go away. I can’t handle her.”
Maybe you’re thinking Mary sounds horrible but if you can see that – without realising it – Mary is talking about HERSELF, then how does it sound? Read it again.
Sad isn’t it?
Our default programming is to treat ourselves like others treated us in the past. Given what came out when Mary let herself speak honestly without censoring, it seems that somewhere in her childhood, she had needs that felt too much for someone. They couldn’t handle Mary’s needs so she understood that her needs were too much for anyone to handle. That’s a very painful thing to feel.
We humans don’t like pain – we push it away and get angry with things that cause us pain. So Mary has learned to respond with anger to her needy part (that never did get what she needed). And she does the same thing now. If she feels needy, or if she’s faced with a child who is needy, it reminds her of her own pain from back then and she gets angry with whatever’s causing it – which is often the needy child.
When we know, we can choose. Once Mary has this knowledge about herself she can see where it comes from and she can choose. She can choose to carry on judging, punishing and pushing away the child part of herself that didn’t get her needs met. This also means choosing to continue taking it out on children by pushing away their neediness in some way or another. Or she can instead choose to love and heal her own younger self that is stuck in the painful belief that her needs are too much for anyone to handle – because that’s not true.
Kids bring you a whole lot of knowledge about yourself – whether you like it or not. And knowledge is power. So there you go. Next time you are triggered and out-of-control and you behave in revolting ways and think horrid, unmentionable things about your sweet little darlings, remember that those shameful times can actually help you heal – depending on what you do with the knowledge they bring you about yourself.
What do you do with things your children show you about yourself?
After many years I still stand amazed at how often I am mirrored by my children. It feels nice and fuzzy when I stand by and watch these young adults making good choices and taking responsibility in difficult situations.
But when they are obnoxious I smile, bite my tongue and think all the politically incorrect things:)
Gretha you sound like a wise woman. What with all that tongue biting no wonder you watch your mirrors make good choices and taking responsibilities. Parents probably need to develop a permanent dent on our tongue for those teeth to rest on. I wonder how long it takes to develop the easy ability to stand back, hold in those big reactions and let them simply be who they need to be in the world.