A Tip for a Quieter Home: Pause Before You Get Angry
I have never considered myself an angry person who flies off the handle when something happens. So I found myself extremely surprised when my daughter approached her teenage years and there was yelling in our home. To be clear, some of that yelling was coming from me!
I could argue that my anger was coming from a response to my daughter yelling at me for not agreeing with her or trying to help her get to school on time. I could speculate that my anger was a result of what I perceived was her lack of appreciation for what I do for her every day. I could claim that my anger was coming from her moodiness that puts a damper on some family events. I could argue that my anger stemmed from my daughter fighting more with her sister -- and sometimes in public! When I do this, however, I am not taking responsibility for my anger and my actions. Also, I realized that every time I react to my daughter’s anger with anger, NOTHING ever changes. After a few months of being on this rollercoaster, I decided to get off the ride.
I realized that my teenager daughter is an awesome child who is experiencing bursts of energy that come and go. In fact, I think all children have the same type of energy flow, but in a teenager it is much more obvious because it can be cunningly verbal and sometimes cutting to the receiver.
So how did I sooth my anger? I did it by Pausing. I learned to master the art of the Pause by not waiting until I got angry. Instead, when I recognized her getting angry, it became my signal to Pause. Pausing before the anger rises is a totally different experience than when I Pause after becoming angry. When I Pause after I have become angry, it works great but I can still find myself engaging in the back and forth arguing until I get calm.
But now when I see my daughter is getting angry or moody, I Pause and have the instant realization that she is stuck in her whirling emotions and I automatically become the observer. I realize that I need to let her get it out sometimes and it will pass. I also understand in that moment that she is trying to find her own way in the world. When I understand this, I have more compassion for her situation.
To be clear, the Pause does not suppress any of my emotions. I just don’t feel so angry.
And it is not that I permit her behavior because there are sometimes consequences to her actions and when she is calm, we share a lot of conversation about how she has acted. But by Pausing, I am softer and sometimes I am able to just listen and let it go. Now she often comes back to me and apologizes because she can only look at her own behavior and can’t blame me for my reaction.
Will it always work, probably not, but my household is more peaceful and we move through the bumps a lot quicker. It also works really well with your husband and your mother-in-law too!!
I highly recommend the mindful Pause. It takes practice and training to make your child’s anger your signal to Pause but it can be done. It allows you to observe the situation and not get stuck in someone else’s drama -- even if it is your own child.
Here is a beautiful and insightful poem called Pause written by S.L. Klesko. Maybe you can print it and put it nearby so you can start to train your mind to Pause.
Photo Credit: finklez.