So, the other day I was feeling really frustrated that despite trying so hard to be a gentle parent, I just can’t seem to do it. I wake up with determination to give gentle guidance and make meaningful connections to build self esteem and strengthen our relationship. But every day it happens, I feel tired, stressed, overwhelmed, and I just snap. Of course then I immediately know that I’ve blown it, but by then its too late. I keep trying and trying, but I just can’t seem to break this pattern. So I was feeling discouraged about this, when I came across something on facebook about how to stop yelling, and the last point was something about being prepared for hard work (and accepting that you will often fail) because to break this habit you really need to re-wire your brain.
This statement really hit home. Yes. That is why this habit is so hard to break. Because that is how my brain has wired itself to react to stressful situations. Despite knowing that my angry outbursts are ineffective and damaging and being able to write essays on why a more gentle approach is desirable, despite having read many books and knowing other more positive ways of responding, despite having such a strong will and determination, an angry outburst is still my default reaction to a situation where I feel threatened or under attack (and it doesn’t take much for me to feel this way).
This statement reminded me of a book a started reading last year ‘The Power of Habit’ by Charles Duhigg, because the book explains how habits get wired into our brains, and then habits simply happen without us thinking about them at all. All that’s need to set it off is a trigger. And that’s what happens with my angry outbursts. I get triggered and then it just happens, before I’ve even had a chance to stop and consult with myself on what would be an appropriate response (because ofcourse if I had stopped and asked my wise inner mentor, she would have advised me not to yell and get defensive, but to rather take a firm and gentle approach. So to stop this habit…. Firstly: I can simply try to slow down, pause and ask my inner mentor before taking action. And secondly: I can use the information and strategies in Charles Duhigg’s book, to replace these negative habits with more positive ones.
Get ready for my action plan in Rewiring My Brain Part 2 (which I will write tomorrow…. and actually at this stage it might be more like a rambling brain storm than a structured action plan… )