Let’s be honest, being stuck in the house 24/7 with the same people is objectively stressful. So here’s what I’m practicing (sometimes) to make sure that my family and I aren’t sick of each other by the time we’re out of this.
The other night my son and I were watching a movie together and he was grinding his teeth. Teeth grinding is a sign of anxiety and it started to push my buttons. I found my internal dialogue questioning my worth as a parent and as a therapist…all because my son was grinding his teeth!
At that moment, the tension inside of me wanted to snap at him to knock it off!
However, instead of just going with what I was initially feeling, I took a moment and got curious about why I was fixin’ to do that.
My body wanted to manage my emotions around feeling like a bad parent and therapist through controlling my kid’s behavior. But that pause provided awareness of that instinct and gave me a chance to see that this was really an issue within ME that I need to take responsibility for, not my son.
So I tuned in, worked to calm my own anxiety in that moment and instead of yelling at him I was able to connect with him. I got to say, “Hey buddy, how are you doing? Wanna come cuddle with me?” He gave me a big smile, leaned right into me, and within moments his teeth grinding stopped.
He got to experience a nice moment of cuddling and connection with his dad rather than being the object his dad used to manage his shit. My son won’t ever know what he missed out on at that moment…but I do and I’m really proud of it!
That pause and moment of awareness gave me the chance to make an actual choice about the situation, to be clear with myself about what I needed and to make an intentional choice in caring for myself and for my son.
So this didn’t just protect my son, it helped me heal and grow as a human being, too.
So how can you do that?
Well, it starts with identifying what the pattern is by cultivating some curiosity.
– What is going on right now?
– What do I feel in my body at this moment?
– What am I saying to myself?
– How do I know that this is how I’m feeling?
– How do I know that this is what I’m needing?
You get the idea!
Everything you’re noticing here are just messengers. So really lean into what they are trying to say to you! They’re often uncomfortable but they are incredibly valuable if we pay attention to them.
If we get in contact with our bodies messengers (thoughts, sensations, emotions, etc) we can start to realize that a lot of times, it’s not about the other. It’s usually about our own unconscious defense mechanisms trying to protect our wounds.
Those wounds and managing the discomfort we feel are not anybody else’s responsibility but our own. We may need to confront or deal with something with someone, but we gotta be clear with ourselves first.
The next time you feel like lashing out, take a moment to notice your:
– Physical sensations
– Thoughts and Impulses
Ask yourself, “What are these things trying to tell me?”
And then ask yourself, “How do I want to be in relationship with that?”
I can’t end this without pointing out that the Metafi app is a great tool to help you practice this and the more you practice when things are chill, the easier this process will be for you in moments of escalation. So use it early and often!
Thanks for spending a few minutes reading and I hope it helps you enjoy more time with the others in your home and life!