I just had a temper tantrum. Yup, Me. The mom.
My 18 year old son is responsible for driving his sisters to school; it’s the cost of using the car, and admittedly it’s a bonus for me.
This morning he was once again running late. This is a pattern; here’s what it looks like:
I get up in the morning and the worrying thoughts begin: Is he going to get up in time today? Is it going to be another battle? Do I need to wake him? Should I wake him? Next year he’ll be away at college and he is going to have to learn to wake himself up. If I don’t get him up the girls will be late. I may have to cancel my appointment and drive the girls myself!
Each morning, all morning long, my mind is hijacked by these fears and obviously I am NOT present with my daughters who are up and ready while I’m preparing breakfast.
The stress builds to a crescendo at around 7:00am—they have to leave in 15 minutes—is he up yet? Arghh ! I hate feeling this out of control.
I have “mentioned" to him in the past that if he is not ready to leave by 7:15, I will drive the girls and he will have to find his own way to school. On this particular morning, I was questioning (a hero move) if I made my ‘threat’ clear or not. I often catch myself saying things that I am not convinced I will actually do.
I did leave him once a few weeks ago however. It was hard. My hero was all turned upside down.
At 7:21 after texting him to “GET DOWN HERE” I head upstairs to see what is holding him up. He is doing his hair in the bathroom. My anger begins to boil over; I lose my temper as does he. I make some idle threat and he storms out of the house.
My whole body is trembling. I begin to judge myself; I am way below the line in so many ways. I am completely out of presence.
So I go back to my own teaching. I pause, get still sit and breathe. I notice what is occurring in my body, the trembling in my hands and belly and the tightness in my jaw and shoulders. I acknowledge my anger first, then my fear followed by my sadness. I notice myself wanting to push all those emotions away with my thoughts trying to figure out how to solve this recurring problem. I continue to breathe, and welcome the emotions one by one allowing them to move through me like the waves of a turbulent sea. The anger rises as heat in my belly, a quickening heartbeat and tension in my jaw. My breath is the lubricant that releases the constriction of anger. As the anger quiets down, the fear rises up and this too needs my kind acceptance. No thoughts are needed as my breath is the only tool necessary to create a shift. And finally as the fear looseness its grip, sadness enters the room. This too is here. I continue to breathe and my whole nervous system quiets down until I am calm and at peace again.
This is my moment of presence, where I have the opportunity to truly learn and create a lasting shift, if I choose to do so.
You see Emotional Intelligence is not simply about calming your feelings down, it is about gaining the intelligence of the emotions from presence.
I became aware that my anger tells me that this arrangement is not working, and I need to create something new. I ask myself: What do I need to put a stop to? What is not of service to me and the family? My fear invites me to wake up and pay attention; I ask myself “What am I not facing?” My sadness has wisdom too; what do I need to release and say goodbye to?
From presence, the wisdom from our emotions is available. As conscious parents we use our ability to get present to support us in creating lasting shifts in our lives, and in our children’s lives in turn.
Here’s a quick guide for cultivating wisdom from your emotions.
In my case, I needed to check in and see what agreements I was willing to commit to with regards to my son using the car and then be sure I communicate them clearly from above the line. Later that evening I sat him down and explained the new terms. He has use of the car if he is downstairs in the car ready to leave at 7:15, not 7:16 or 7:17. If he is not down by 7:15, I will take the girls to school and he does not get use of the car.
Fast forward to the next morning. At 7:14 the girls and I head down to the car and sure enough right behind us he came bounding into the garage ready to go at 7:15 on the dot.
What I know is I know I can always trust my emotions to guide me. When I am able to get clear about what I want, boundaries are easy to create and much easier for the kids to follow.
Want to learn more about feeling your feelings? Join me and other parents in the Foundations of Conscious Parenting Course where we explore this and many more ways to cultivate more conscious presence in your life as a parent or educator.
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