I recently wrote about my journey to embrace anger and let it go. Inspired by the Twenty Five Days of Kindness blog about Kind Words, I’ve decided to do a 25-day (or there-abouts) No Yelling challenge. That doesn’t mean 25 days of not getting angry but 25 days of not acting out on my anger by yelling at my kids.
I’ve been trying ease back on the yelling for the last few years with struggling success.
I started out with the very broad goal of “I want to stop yelling at my kids” but it was too big. It’s quite honestly been one failed attempt after the other.
But it’s not very realistic is it? Just “poof” I’m not going to yell anymore. And then the guilt of not being able to pull it off just adds fuel to the fire.
I realized that I needed to define the brush strokes. Baby-steps.
So step one was to start delving into the bigger picture with the question of “why do I yell at my kids?” which has been an interesting spiral-y adventure.
I decided that to find the answer I needed to start with being more mindful about it. Yes, my first goal to stop yelling was to yell more mindfully! To notice, “Hey l totally lost my shit just now, what happened?”
Turns out for me it’s almost always a matter of one of two things; feeling ignored or disrespected or feeling embarrassed in front of someone who I feel is judging me.
So my next step was to try to discern what it was about feeling ignored or disrespected or feeling embarrassed or judged that that gets my hackles up.
I know enough about psychology to understand that many of the “bad” things that surface for us as parents are often rooted in our own childhoods. It only took a quick glance back into my own to realize that I spent a great deal of time feeling responsible for someone else’s anger. I came to believe that I wasn’t good enough. And that root feeling is typically the source for my current temper tantrums.
My fear of not being good enough triggers feelings of my kids not being good enough which triggers my anger because me not being good enough resulted in someone else’s anger when I was a kid. Spiral-y.
From there I needed to do a little exercise in forgiveness and understanding. It was an “a-ha” moment for me when I realized that when I yell at my kids it doesn’t really have anything to do with them. It has to do with me. And that likewise when I was a kid this other person’s anger probably had much less to do with me than it did with them.
I needed to explain to my childhood self that it was never about her. The yelling and the anger and the judgment, it belonged to someone else, not me. It was directed at me and I thought it was mine, so I took it. But it never needed to be my burden to bear and ensuring that I don’t pass it along to my children begins with me being able to put it back.
Now that I’m aware of these things I think that I’m ready to hold myself accountable for the letting go part.
I decided several days ago to see if I could get through the rest of the month of December without yelling, which sounds like a much more feasible goal than the “poof I’m not going to yell anymore ever at all” one.
I am going to try to recognize when I raise my voice that I’m holding onto someone else’s fear and that it doesn’t need to be mine and I don’t need to pass it on to my kids.
We’ll see how I do.