From ages 0 - 32 my go to overwhelm emotion was crying. If I wanted to rally the troops around me and get something done, I would cry and pout. At 32 with two children under four, I was suddenly the adult (I am the youngest in my family origin and baby was/is an accurate way to describe me). In my new found adulthood I realized I couldn't call my sister crying to solve the getting out of the house in the morning problem. No, I had to get two smallies out of the house, EVERY day. The tears didn't work on them. I dug in my tool box and the only thing I found was ANGER, and people, anger works. People MOVE when you are yelling at them. What a discovery, be a total jerk until people succumb to your will. Fabulous!
However, as we know, all good things must come to an end and I went to PEP (Parent Encouragement Program) to learn about parenting (well, I really went to have them fix my kids, but that's another story for another time) and learned the destructiveness of unleashing anger on the people you love the most in the world.
Anger touches all our lives, it's an energy, it's information, it's a guide and it shouldn't be repressesed, unleashed or ignored. It's such a big topic that I have more posts about it (so exciting!) so if you are left feeling unsatisfied, don't get angry (tee hee), there is more to come. For this week let's consider that anger covers up scarier emotions that we would rather not admit to, let alone feel. Shall we go through some examples?
We yell at our kids to put their shoes on. Consider we really feel unheard and disrespected, they put their shoes on at pre-school, why won't they listen to us?
We are furious and nag when homework doesn't get done. Perhaps we are scared they won't get into college, ever get a job, or live up to their potential?
We are hostile and aggressive when our four year old gets up for the 723rd time to ask for something at bedtime. Might it be we are desperately tired and feel smothered by our beloved child?
Anger actually comes from a place of vulnerability rather then strength. Think the Great and Powerful Oz behind the curtain -- just a regular guy (parent), living in a foreign land (kids are strange and beautiful creatures), trying to get home (or to work, or to bed). We use all sorts of bluster, smoke and scary voices to hide the fact that we are just a regular guy from Kansas, scared and alone, with some pots, pans and a smoke machine behind the curtain.
Next time we (or they) get angry, let's see if we (or they) are really feeling - ignored, scared, anxious, unheard, disrespected, abused, smothered, tired, overwhelmed, teased, broken-hearted, embarrassed, humiliated, unappreciated, sick, wounded, hopeless, small or taken advantage of. Changes the game, huh?