Most of my readers are parents aiming to parent differently than they were parented. Most of us find out that we’re too easily triggered and we fall into angry or even rage-filled behaviors when we’re overwhelmed with our children. It’s important to recognize that it’s our thoughts that create our anger and we have the power to dive into our own heads to uncover stumbling blocks and rewrite our stories consciously.
Today I had a client (name changed) share an exercise she did - writing directly to Anger and Rage. By personifying these emotions you create distance between you - the loving parent you know you are - and these slivers of you that shift you into a parent you barely recognize. The separation allows you to see more clearly and as you’ll see in her discussion, it enables you to find profound answers!
Dear Anger and Rage -
You’ve been back in my life for the past two years. We used to have a relationship where I didn’t know how to be without you. You were an easy escape from reality. A perfect excuse to be nasty, abusive, and violent. A companion. Constantly below the surface. We parted ways in 2013 and you weren’t an experience I had for many years. I didn’t miss you. I was empowered, conversational, and gentle.
Yet - here you are. You’re back. I encounter you almost daily. You’re getting stronger, more violent, and you’re taking it out on the people I love. What are you here to teach me that I may learn it and move on? I don’t want to use you as a strategy to win any longer. You are a stranger here and you’re unwelcome.
Always and Sincerely - Ruby
Notice how she asks for the lesson - everything we do, we do for SOME reason. Behavior is communication. Even ours. Sometimes we aren’t really sure what message we’re missing and writing allows us to tap into parts of our brain that are unreachable through thought alone. This is the response she got from Anger:
Dear Ruby -
You invited me back once you realized your daughter was a threat to your superior positioning. When you experience a threat to your authority you use me to WIN at all costs. When you use me, you give up love, empathy, and Christ. You succumb to the ease of being loud and boisterous! Because it’s easier. You’re no longer responsible and you get to “win”.
But here is the reality - I’m actually making you lose. Because I’m ruining your relationship with your children. Just like your father and his before him. I’m showing up to show you how they felt. I’m begging you to heal me and break the patterns. Your ancestors, your father, and many others are counting on you to do this.
So, now, choose. Me or them.
This gave me chills. Look how she’s able to bypass ego and get to the painful truth behind her biggest stumbling block in her relationship with her kids. She essentially is able to directly call herself out, but in a loving and respectful way that encourages her to feel strong and in control and capable of change. She wrote back one last time:
Dear Anger -
What an explanation. Thank you! I’m not choosing you. I’m choosing to heal. I’m choosing love and Christ. I’m choosing joy. Winning isn’t easier when in the end we all lose. I get to say how this goes and I am finished here. Cut your ties and I’ll cut mine. I am replacing you with wholeness, forgiveness, light, and love. I am replacing you with whispers, gentleness and movement.
Thank you. Goodbye. - Ruby
I adore this completion. Resolution. Our brains crave it in order to integrate big feelings. And she is still viewing her anger as a thing with a purpose, something of value, something she can choose to leave, but something she doesn’t hate. It’s healing just to read this exchange. YOU can do the same exercise. What emotion troubles you? What message is it trying to give you? Write to it.
Dear Anxiety...what do you need me to know?
Dear Fear - We’re safe now, what message am I still needing to hear from you?
Dear Jealousy - What are you afraid will happen if I don’t hear you right now?
And of course, if you’re like my dear Ruby client and struggle most with Anger and Rage, write to them. They have a message for you too! If you’re so inclined, feel free to send me what you discover - via our Facebook page @sureparenting or my email firstname.lastname@example.org For those who find this kind of work terrifying and painful and ultimately unbearable to do alone - you’re not the only one. You can set up a free call and I can walk through this with you with no judgement: bit.ly/callsami. Here’s to confronting what scares us so we can change our thoughts and stories, so we can change our feelings, so we can change our behaviors, so we can change our relationships with the people we love most!