In order to break this cycle, it will take gaining control over your emotions. That is something that is so much easier said than done. Believe me, I have spent years on this and I am still a work in progress. No one is perfect and we all could use help in this area. The good news is that it is not about being 100% perfect but getting 1% better with each day. So then how do we get 1% better each day? I am going to break this into an easy three step process:
1. Recognize the problem
2. Make a plan
3. Take action
Yes, I know that this sounds generic and much like how an engineer might solve it but that is my background so bear with me.
Recognizing the problem takes paying attention to your emotions. For instance, if you tend to fight a lot with your ex because they give you parenting tips, the next time they do, I want you to stop before responding to them and just gage how you are feeling. By observing your emotions, you will become more aware of them. Once aware, you will be better able to create a plan on how to control them. As you are observing your emotions there are some particular things to take note of. First is the intensity of your emotion. Does a certain topic or interaction with a specific person create more intense feelings in you than another? Next, listen to your thoughts. What kind of internal dialog do you have with yourself when you feel this way? By understanding your internal dialog you will start to recognize common triggers (both positive and negative) that kickoff your dialog. Often times these triggers come from your own dreams, fears, and issues. Your ex may not be criticizing you as much as they are trying to help you. But your fear of being judged or your fear of doing something wrong may be the real reason for your anger rather than what they actually said. Last but not least, pay attention to how long you stay angry. Does it take an hour or two to get over the comments your ex said or do you hang on to that anger even longer (days or weeks)?
Now that you have a better understanding of the internal dialog you have with yourself, you can start to change it for a more positive outcome. Decide how you will either change the internal dialog with yourself or the reaction you have to the emotions. Using the example above, you may decide to simply change your reaction. Rather than make a snide comment about your ex’s parenting skills, you can respond with, “I will consider that and let you know if I decide to use it or not.” For the most lasting and positive results, changing the emotion you feel in the situation is the best thing to do. In order to do this, it may require you to take some parenting classes to find out how successful parents manage their children’s behavior. If you know you are doing your best and you feel your best is enough, then gaining more self-esteem may be all that you need to be able to disregard what they said so that you no longer need validation from them that you are doing a great job.
Self-esteem is something that you can only create for yourself. If self-esteem is what you are lacking, then try this exercise that I found works for me. I use it quite often just before I do a public speaking engagement. Think about your experiences in life and remember a time when you felt empowered, confident, and in control. Think about the smells in the room, the clothes you were wearing, the lighting of the room, and the emotions you were feeling. As you think about this experience, take a deep breath and slowly release it. When you are alone, do this exercise often. Then slowly take the exercise out into public and envision yourself in that moment while remembering to breath. Before you know it you will begin to feel this way when you slow down your breathing and take deep, purposeful breaths. Then all you will need to do to feel empowered and self-confident is breath.
If that doesn’t work, then listen to Jewel’s Stronger Women song over and over until you can sing it to yourself without it playing. It has been very empowering for me. My favorite line is, “From now on I am going to be the kind of women I want my daughter to be.”
Once you have control over your emotions, you will be better suited to help your children learn to control their emotions which will help them in all aspects of their life (friends, school, work, marriage, and yes, even parenting).
I hope you enjoyed reading this week. Until next time, good luck and God bless.