When you are curious about what thoughts trigger your emotions, your inner world starts to open up. You begin to prepare yourself before you even get triggered. This is how you become a catalyst for your own growth.
A few months ago I told my son to get in the shower for bedtime. He said ok. I came back and he was reading one of my old Calvin and Hobbes comic books still sitting on the toilet. I told him again, he said ok, and I went to help my younger son get ready for his bath. When I came back my son was still sitting on the toilet and I lost it. I raised my voice and yelled. Spit came out of my mouth, I was so angry. He started crying and I felt my heart drop into my feet. He gets easily distracted like I used to as a kid. My expectation was that he would listen the first time. He has gotten so much better, but some books just grab his attention and he loses track of time. It was my fault for not being more clear about my expectations.
My son has gotten distracted on the toilet again since this happened, and I've learned from it. I’m more compassionate toward him and myself. I’m also tuning in to my feelings earlier. The rush of anger starts with the thought that I expect him to put his book down and get ready for his shower. I visualize him listening and being on task. I'm building the story in my head and when he doesn't live up to that story I got spit inducing mad. Our expectations can cause a lot of confusion if we aren't careful. Then I come to check on him and he is off in his imagination or lost in a book. The anger is quick and my actions are even quicker. My father was the same way. I had to break this pattern in my family.
I’m learning to pause, breathe, feel the feeling, just take half a second to soak it in and appreciate the moment. Just taking time to dig into my feelings and learn from them has been a huge improvement. One day he will leave our nest. He’ll be a teenager or an adult and I’ll look back and wish I was more aware of my feelings and the choices that I made. Try taking 5 minutes to review an intense emotion using the Dig to Fly Method and see what you learn from it.
Anger is a useful emotion when handled well. It has helped me in many ways, but it has also hurt me, especially with my relationships. So now I’m taking a moment to be curious about why my anger is there and to be cognizant about how I choose to use this feeling.
When you dig into a feeling, it creates a deeper connection to the experience. Another way to say it is, it connects you to your purpose, your larger mission in life. It’s why thinking about a cookie and the potential pleasure gets you off the couch to look for food. You are exploring the emotion and then acting on it in order to experience this feeling even deeper. Your thoughts and feelings drive you to take action. This is a powerful!
You can use your emotions to your advantage. When you do something well and reflect on it, then your good memories help you remember how your action helped you. This is how you fly free. You don't let your emotions dictate your reactions. You notice them quickly and choose a better option.
Photo by Kevin Woblick on Unsplash