Minding My Own Beeswax
“No, that’s my card.”
“Nooooo, that’s not how you do it!”
“Girls,” my mom warned, “I’m tired of listening to you argue about this. If you can’t agree on how to play, you'll clean up the game right now.”
“But she said I could –”
“No, Grandma, SHE promised I could –”
“That’s it. I’m going home,” my mom said, and stood up from the couch.
I felt my chest tighten, followed by a familiar pang in my stomach.
“Mom, cut it out,” I chastised.
I’ve noticed that sometimes, when my mother becomes frustrated with my kids’ behavior, she'll suddenly announce that she's leaving. Sometimes my daughters respond by saying, “No! Don't go!” And she rarely ever does.
This triggers something deep inside me every time it happens. I'm reminded of times when I was a child that my parents abruptly walked out of the room, leaving me to wonder what I'd done to upset them. Or when they'd just cut off a difficult conversation and later apologize or pretend like nothing had happened at all.
These ways of dealing with conflict left me feeling confused and insecure as a kid, and I don't want my own kids to feel that way, too.
I wonder: why does my mom threaten to leave without warning time and time again? Why did she make the girls’ argument her business? And why did I make her reaction to them my business?
In this scenario, you might have noticed, everyone was trying to control someone else. Everyone was trying to tell another person what to do, or how to do it.
For those of you who have been following this blog, you know what I always say — the only person you can control is you.
So, whenever I'm feeling triggered, I know I need to look at my own reaction and uncover my core beliefs. (For more about core beliefs, click here).
Identifying core beliefs can be a bit like solving a puzzle. First, I identify the feelings I'm experiencing. In this case, I was actually projecting my feelings onto my kids, assuming that they'd feel rejected or abandoned. Next, I trace those same feelings back as far as I can go to the first time(s) I remember feeling them (see above).
Then I ask myself, “What do I believe about myself based on those experiences?” In this instance, my beliefs were, “I'm responsible for other people's reactions,” and “When I say or do something that upsets others, I'll end up rejected and alone.”
That's the hardest part. The next step is to stop believing it! When I'm faced with a similar trigger in the future, I can change my belief to: “We are each responsible for our own feelings and reactions.”
When I practice believing this over time, I'll no longer feel compelled to step in and tell my mom to “cut it out” or how to handle things a different way. I won't feel responsible for my kids' feelings or try to “rescue” them. And I'll act in ways that reinforce my new belief, creating new experiences to affirm it.
What a relief!
Interested in learning how to change your core beliefs? Check out my private coaching services.
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