What triggers my reactions in parenting?

Losing my cool as a parent!

As a parent, I truly want to do a great job raising my children. However, I admit that I get stressed.  I have been known to raise my voice and lose my cool when things don’t go as I feel they should.  I know what I should be doing and how to do it but in the moment, all good intentions are put aside and I react.

The key motivator for me to work on reducing my stress is grounded in my reactions around parenting. I don’t recall issues with my reactions when my daughters were infants. While friends were experiencing sleepless nights as new mothers, I felt relaxed and calm with two girls very close in age. But as they started to flex their independence and express opinions contrary to mine, I reacted.  I would raise my voice and give orders to control the situation and their behaviour. I lacked patience when they weren’t doing what they were told. I knew my reactions were a little intense but in the moment, I believed I was right.

Finding a tool to let go of my repetitive reactions.

My initial introduction to Logosynthesis® intrigued me. I sensed this was the tool for me to help end the cycle of losing my cool for no apparent reason. I read the material and despite its focus on dealing with trauma, it resonated that if I could find what was triggering my stress then I may be able to break my habits – on my own. I had absolutely no interest in going to talk to someone about how I should and shouldn’t raise my children, nor to reinforce that what I was doing was wrong.  I already sensed that.  I started to work with the material on my own.  I noticed some results but felt there was more. I approached Trish North to guide me through a session. We picked an image to work with and I felt relief of stress.  I knew there were more layers but I did feel that I had the tools to continue to work at my own pace.

It took me a while to allow myself to focus on feelings and sensory perceptions. I could provide all the rational reasons why I was stressed and I could explain, or rather justify, my behaviour.   As I allowed myself to follow the steps in the technique and to recognize what I was ‘feeling’ in these stressful situations, I started noticing results.   When the floor wasn’t swept the way I had instructed or the dishes weren’t put where I wanted them, it didn’t matter how deep the breath I took as I would inevitably ‘raise my voice’.  They needed to learn to do things right (aka my way)!  I knew there was something triggering this that I wasn’t getting at. It was bugging me and I was determined to find it.

One evening, I took a little break and sat by the dock, soaking in the sunset over the lake. I allowed myself to feel what was happening with this stress. Why don’t they sweep the floor properly? Why do I have to tell them things over and over again? Why do I feel that my chest will explode? As I repeated these questions, a childhood story popped into my mind. ‘Little Mommy’  The words ‘This is my house and I am the Mommy. My children are Annabelle, Betsy and Bonnie. They are good little children and do just as I say.’  Wait a minute.  ‘Do just as I say’. I had read this book over and over and over again as a child. We did not have a lot of books but this book was always close at hand. I recall almost chanting the words. In fact, when my daughters were small, I had come across a Golden Book display with this book and was excited to bring it home for them.

I decided to work with this perception.  I could hear the words and locate it by looking down, in front of me.  I used the Logosynthesis®  sentences with the representation of the specific words ‘They are good little children and do just as I say.’  I  allowed a pause between each sentence and sat quietly for a while. I could feel my chest relax.  As I went back to reflect on the incident of the girls sweeping the floor, I felt calm. I could sense that it really doesn’t matter if they don’t do it exactly as I say. I knew that only time would tell if this would have an effect.  One month later after cleaning the house with them, I made note that I managed to get through without raising my voice in frustration. Even now, six months later, I don’t have the same urge to correct everything they do.

Could it be this easy?

My rational mind tells me it is stupid to think that a sentence from a little book that I had as a child could cause me to lose my temper as a parent forty-five years later. I am a parent who knows better.  As I reflect on the meaning behind this little story, it depicted a lifestyle that was pretty, calm, orderly and predictable. I grew up in a busy household. Perhaps I had engrained the pictures and words into my subconscious thinking to create a fantasy of what I wanted my life to be like.  Regardless of the explanation, after ten years of trying to break the habit of losing my cool with my daughters for no apparent reason, I would never have consciously thought that a little book from so long ago could be a trigger.

All I needed was to allow myself to access the feelings and sensory perceptions from my past and use three simple sentences to put the energy in the right place.   As other situations trigger reactions (and there are many), I take some time to reflect on my feelings and perceptions. Triggers do present and I continue to process them using the sentences. The results are fascinating.