Today started out absolutely “perfect” in my mind.
Kids slept in til almost 8 AM, so hubby and I got to just snuggle in bed and talk for awhile.
We went out to breakfast at a nearby play place and had a fantastic time.
We came back and baby went right to sleep for his nap.
Before putting baby down for a nap, I gave my son a heads up that we would start his reading lesson in about 10 or so minutes.
He gave me an excited “Okay!” And couldn’t help himself from sneaking into baby’s room to ask if I was almost done so we could read, and if we could please sit on my bed today to do reading lesson.
He was totally excited and looking forward to it.
Fast forward a bit…
Baby’s asleep and we’re in my room, working on that reading lesson.
The first page went great.
The second page, I started to struggle with my thoughts about his “distraction” and “lack of focus” and how he “should pay attention.”
I didn’t do anything about those thoughts in the moment except believe them.
And then, I started feeling (and acting) a bit impatient. A bit tense. A bit frustrated.
I resisted these emotions, and my energy continued to shift. As a result, so did my actions. I started getting after him for getting distracted. And I started turning promised rewards into threats.
Instead of “When you do [this], then you get [that]”…it became “If you don’t do [this], you won’t get [that].”
Seems like we are saying the same thing, but friends, the energy is TOTALLY different between those two methods of communication…you can hear it in the tone of voice…and it changes everything.
Kids react to our energy. Because, our actions and energy are THEIR circumstance. They have thoughts about that circumstance, which creates their feelings.
But, they’re not aware that’s how it works, so, like most of us adults, the connection their brain makes is that we make them feel happy or sad, and, on the flip side, that they have power to make us feel a particular way.
My son got less and less excited about doing the reading lesson. And, of course he did!
If you’re going to do a reading lesson with someone, would you rather do it with someone who is totally happy and excited and encouraging you…or someone who is increasingly grumpy and frustrated with you?
I don’t know about you, but I’ll take the person who I feel like wants to make it fun and help me learn in a positive way over the grumpy, frustrated person any day day. Ha!
But, I digress. My son got stuck on a word on page 3 and got increasingly frustrated with not being able to figure it out, despite my efforts to help him. And I got increasingly frustrated as I felt like I was “trying to help him” and “he wasn’t listening” and “if he would just pay attention…”
And ya know what?
I lost it.
My brain flipped a lid and I screamed his name at the top of my lungs (in an effort to be heard over his frustration) while slapping my hand down on the bed and then telling him (in a softer but still frustrated tone) that I was trying to help him and he just needed to slow down and pay attention.
My son started crying. “Don’t yell mommy! That scares me!” #heartbreak
He doesn’t like loud noises.
And frankly, neither do I. I especially don’t prefer someone screaming at me.
It’s roughly 12 hours later, and my throat still hurts from that one moment. From saying one word a bit too loudly.
Of course, I apologized. I told him I was so sorry and that I was just feeling frustrated and lost it.
And then we tried to keep going.
Because I had this thought that “we needed to finish.”
Of course, we didn’t finish. While I didn’t scream or lose it in that way again, I was just generally more frustrated and impatient, and his response to it all that he was just “too tired.” And I recognized our energy states really were not where we both wanted to be to finish that lesson.
We didn’t need to finish the reading lesson then.
We don’t have to do the whole thing all at once.
This doesn’t need to be an intense experience.
So, we took a break. I told my son that I needed some a little bit of time to calm down and process what I was feeling.
And then, I took just a few minutes in my room to just breathe and remind myself that it was not my son frustrating me, but my THOUGHTS about my son. And also, I noticed that there were also these thoughts about how I just posted yesterday that I had overcome all these issues I previously had with reading lessons…and the next day…it’s like I’ve gone back in time. AKA, a thought of “this shouldn’t be happening.”
Put a deadline on your goal and announce it publicly and it’s just a matter of time before that brings up all the thought drama lying just beneath the surface.
I thought back to a conversation I had with another coach recently. A conversation about how we have a tendency to love ourselves only when we are behaving in a way that we deem acceptable. Only when we are doing the things we think we “should” be doing.
Soon as we cross the line into what we see as the “dark side,” we want to disown ourselves. We beat ourselves up and tell ourselves our behavior is unacceptable. We take ourselves on a guilt and shame trip. We think it will help us behave better the next time, but it never does. What it does is prevent us from learning from the experience THAT time.
When you do something you don’t particularly love that you did, I invite you to consider that maybe beating yourself up about it isn’t useful. And instead, consider how you can use that experience to cultivate self-love, kindness, and compassion.
Take a moment to stop and acknowledge how you are feeling and just BE there for yourself.
Wow, I really had a hard time right there. I’m feeling really frustrated and angry. And I’m feeling ashamed. I wonder what was going on for me.
Allow yourself to process the emotion, as described in one of my earlier posts in this challenge. Place your hand on your heart as a gesture of love, and feel your breath going in and out of your body. Your chest rising up and done. The weight and warmth of your hand on your body. The beating of your heart.
And, as Danielle Savory says, “Feel how each inhale brings your heart up into your hand and how your hand is right there to hold your heart. Let this touch be a gesture to yourself that you’ve got your back. That you are there for YOU, no matter what. Whether or not you believe it yet, let this physical connection of your hand and heart be made with the intention of creating support for yourself.”
Include yourself in the bigger picture of humanity, recognizing that what you are feeling is part of the human experience, and there is nothing wrong with you.
Of course I screamed. I was feeling really angry and upset. Other people scream when they feel really angry and upset, too.
And, last but not least, talk kindly to yourself!! This can be really hard, especially when we are used to beating ourselves up. If this seems to be true for you, ask what you might say to someone you love if they were experiencing what you are experiencing.
It’s okay. I’m here for you. Let me support you and remind you that you are safe and understood.
And continue to breathe, my friend. Lean in and see what you can learn from the experience.
When emotions are high, intelligence is low.
Allow yourself to process what you are feeling, and then you can create space to evaluate what went well, what didn’t go so well, and what you will do differently next time.
What did I learn from this?
- I have more thought work to do around getting this goal done by an established deadline. Turns out some of the same stuff that came up for me last fall with a deadline is coming up for me now with this deadline. But, that doesn’t mean stop! It means learn and grow and GO.
- I can plan multiple blocks throughout the day to work on the lesson. It doesn’t have to happen all in one sitting. What’s most important to me is managing our energy. And I want to teach my son the importance of taking brain breaks when you need them.
- Moments like these are a great opportunity to practice a “re-do” with my son – to model another way the experience could have gone AND to model how to act toward ourselves and others in the aftermath of having lost our minds.
- That moments like these don’t cancel out all the other great moments from our day. And that moments like these don’t have to ruin the rest of our day. Today started perfectly, and it ended perfectly too – with time playing in the pool, relaxing together as a family, and enjoying time with my hubby in the evening.
“Love thy neighbor as thyself.”
This presupposes that we love ourselves.
The more we can BE there for ourselves, no matter what difficulty we are facing, the more we can BE there for others, no matter what difficulty they are facing.
Learn to embrace the version of you that is here right now.
Can you love her?