Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Emotion Overhaul

I need to change the way I react to others' stress.
Stressful goings on in my home, being around a grumpy Eric or my worked-up Mother, etc.
Even though I know that it's not the correct way to handle things, I still find myself trying to fix Trev's emotions when he's all worked up. Angry at the dog, getting killed (so to speak) in a computer or video game, general frustrations. It's partly in the name of aiding my son, but it's also "please no angry screeching, I can't handle it."
I hear him say that something someone else did made him angry, and though it might be natural (I'm not sure) to blame someone else for the anger, I know he hears me do it, too. And that is not something I want to teach my children.
I'm not sure how to stop it.
Naomi's advice is SALVE. Which stands for Separate yourself from it, Attention on the other person, Listen, Validate, and Empower them by letting them come to their own conclusions. The conclusion being that venting is just that, it's letting go of emotions, and that we can all handle our emotions, they're no big deal.

This is going to be my Big Project for a while. Now is the time for me to work on this.
I think I came to feel responsible for others emotions as a kid, probably most of us did. Add to that the need (feeling a responsibility) to change my own emotions, that things like anger and frustration are wrong, and not 'good' ones - not peaceful, loving or in general quiet, and so must be zapped or repressed.
I also have a spiritual take on it, which adds to my shame at the bad ones. I pretty much see anger or irritation as pollution, something that doesn't go away, but is adrift out there in the cosmos, eventually binding itself to all the other muck, which joins bigger lumps and becomes even bigger horrible things like destruction, hatred, prejudice, etc.
So this is why I'm a bit uncomfortable with using Naomi's advice of "before opening your mouth to your child, just shout in your head all of the bad things that you want to say."
I don't feel free to do that.
I think the answer for me is to follow the above steps, but I need to work from a preventative angle. What that would mean for me would be meditation, plenty of exercise and water, a clean house, yoga, and a perspective of "we can get through this, it's no big deal" instead of "this is destroying my peace, and I can't handle it."

I'm probably not making any sense. I'm writing as fast as I am thinking. Trying to work this out.

Melissia and I have discussed lots of times that while in a good space everything else is easy to handle.
I don't mean in a false way - this doesn't really do any good as far as I am concerned, as I think for me it just adds to the lump of anger that is slowly forming in my chest before it bursts forth later in the day.
Pseudo -bliss would be "let me take a deep breath before I explode, and blast this child into outerspace for eternity", and a truly Good Space would be "Oooooh, milk and flour on the floor! Oh my! And eggs too...are you making cookies on the kitchen floor?" with a laugh and joy in your heart.
The thing is, it's not really all that difficult to do! It seems impossible at times, but really, it's not. All it really takes is just not being attached to the next ten minutes of your life (ten minutes if you want to clean it up then, fifteen if you want to join in on the fun, first).
If you can give up on the idea of right then grabbing the clothes out of the washer and putting them into the dryer, or vacuuming the dog's hair off the couch, or getting back to the Columbo episode that you've seen a thousand times, then it's no big deal. Ten minutes. There are ninety ten minutes a day - if you're like me and get nine hours of sleep a night. Imagine that. Seems like sparing one or two in the name of good emotional, spiritual, and even physical health is certainly worth it. For the children as well as the parent.

I'm gonna back up a bit - after reading this, I'm going over in my head again the advice that Naomi gives, about shouting in your head before opening your mouth. Because, let's face it, I'm not always going to be in a blissful "cookies on the floor?" sort of mood. (too far into my own agenda to give up those precious ten minutes, don't you know.)
So maybe the answer is - and I have to accredit dear Melissia with part of this- is that if you do say nasty things in your head and get it all out of your system before you open your mouth to your child (only actually takes a few seconds to say all the horrid things you'd like to say) then a few things will happen.
You'll be calmer when you open your mouth, as you've already vented.
Your child doesn't hear your anger.
You'll surely find the child meant no malice, making him lovable and delicious that much quicker.
After addressing the issue, you can take a few minutes to yourself to think about all of the things that you said in your head, and analyze them. Are they true? This part is what I credit Melissia with, I remember her talking about going over this with herself. Do I mean those things? The answer will be "no", of course, and maybe with more and more practice, these initial blasts of silent condemnation will not be necessary.

So the purpose of these practices is to raise emotionally healthy children, of course. To have them be comfortable with their emotions. To provide a safe place for them to explore them, and express them freely.
This is where I need to begin, I think.

I think there will be lots more on this subject.
Maybe the next step will be to figure out emotional responsibility.

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