The theme of my concerns over recent weeks/months/years, has circled my role as a Mum. I have this tremendous fear that my insecure reactions may have already damaged my children’s sense of self worth. How it is especially hard trying to raise them to be healthy, happy and secure, while I am still trying to get myself there. I get angry at myself for falling short, giving them less than they deserve. Tears well up as I confess this, it is extremely difficult to share, so please bear with me. I will try to allow my vulnerability and shame to create something worthwhile here…
I lean heavily into my faith, repeating the mantra, “Don’t Stress, Do your Best, God will take care of the Rest and You’ll be Blessed”. I trust in this, yet I admit my trust wavers, especially when it comes to me doing my best, am I really? While He develops my faith, I pursue healing… I must for their sake and my own.
My children are older now (9 & 16), they are dealing with emotional issues, more than behavioural ones. They are extremely well behaved, and try their best to be so. Recently I watched my reactions as a parent to my children even more closely; I saw how often my desire to teach them sounded as if they were ‘less than’. How my attempts to help them understand happiness made them confused and sad. How my reaction to their unhappiness made them self-conscious and withdrawn.
I broke down…
“How is this still happening?” I thought to myself. After over 6 years of therapy and 13 years of developing faith, I still have not figured out how to stop the cycle of damage and self-loathing which has infected its way throughout my family tree.
I wrote and wrote, I poured out my confessions on every scrap of paper I could lay my hand to. I let the tears fall as I held myself accountable for their growing hearts, which need to be nurtured by a Mum that loves in healing ways, not toxic ones. Yet I had no idea why my love was so poisoned.
Then as usual I withdrew again…. into distractions and a couple of glasses of red.
I had a 2.5 hour session with my therapist the other week, and we spent time figuring out the core of my parenting crisis. It was supposed to be the usual hour, but he knew I needed more time and gave it willingly, bless him.
After many tears shed and much rambling, probably mostly incoherent, we came to a few realisations. Firstly, that I have a list of responsibilities in the forefront of my mind. Fighting for the top spot of that list is my desire to make my children happy, along with being an obedient, self aware, child of God, and a supportive, capable and loving wife etc.
We narrowed in on my role as a Mum, to find out what causes me to react in unhealthy ways rather than healthy ones (besides the general thesis that my reactions spring from a platform of shame and insecurity). We needed to discover the more specific catalyst.
Eventually this catalyst revealed itself to be a connection between being happy and being right. I grew up believing being ‘right’ was the be all and end all. I spent so many early years unhappy for being so very far from ‘right’, believing many lies were truth, that somewhere along the way of realising this I have attached unhappiness with being wrong.
As we dug a little deeper we found that whenever I see a need to correct my children’s behaviour or teach them how to deal with something new, my fear of their unhappiness attaches itself to them being human (not perfect) and my panic causes an emotional reaction. This emotional reaction is more powerful than my words aimed to teach, more powerful than my good intentions. My way of defending against the fear is what shows on my face as I react. My anger at myself for believing those early lies is what shines out, and all they must see is an angry, scared Mum. No wonder it doesn’t work out well. 😦
We also figured out that I seem to be missing a piece of the puzzle, the place of stability that helps gauge which situations are worth getting upset about and which ones can be met with a neutral, unemotional response. In my desperate mission to stop my girls ending up like me, I have been allowing my fear to unconsciously correct their emotions and even their opinions. I cant express in words how ashamed I am. Forgive me Father, Forgive me Girls!
And so now that I have become aware of this in more detail, I must learn to give supportive freedom for them to experience their own emotions and opinions in each situation and not link them to being right or wrong, happy or sad, damaged or healed. Just to simply accept them, for all that they are. The Lord will teach them in life what I cannot, I need to change my focus to be less about teaching them how to not be like I was/am, and more on helping them be who they are. Using Affection, Approval and Acceptance to help them believe they are good enough, that they belong and are loved.
My psych has given me some tips to practice, in order to attempt to undo some of these patterns.
- Sitting face-to-face with them wordlessly, non-judgmentally, soothing the internal dialogue inside me, which drives me to teach them to control and avoid imagined catastrophes.
- Sit and listen without responding so much. (Oh my, that is hard for me at anytime)
- Try not to challenge any opinion they have unless 99% sure that it is incorrect.
- Try not to challenge any emotions they have, merely SHARE the experience with them.
- Try not to let their emotions change my emotions reactively. Wait until I can think neutrally before making decisions. This will teach what my words could not, that emotional manipulation is unfair and unhealthy.
- Before I respond to anything, ask myself this question, “Do I feel good enough or defensive?”, and wait until I feel good enough before I respond.
- Use soft eyes and a low pitch when correcting and teaching.
- Be aware of my fearful reactions during meditation, run through these tips from a calm relaxed place and allow the fear to pass by without being the catalyst for reaction.
This list is not going to be easy for me to apply, but I have been trying and had a few successes. I hope that someone else out there can gain something useful from this post. So that other children don’t have to stay in unhealthy cycles. I ask for your prayers, pray that this is finally the breakthrough I have been waiting years for and that God will reach down His hand and help me walk these new strategies out in my life. That His love will flow through to fulfill my girls when my love is tainted with fear. That my inner enemies will not win out, but will end up in the pit far away from my me and my family. In Yeshua’s Mighty Name I pray. Amen!
This is one of the most informative and necessary posts I have ever come across, and is referred to in my recent post Healing the Insecurity. Please check it out! Blessings to you!
“…to the praise of the glory of His grace, by which He has made us accepted in the Beloved” (Eph.1:6)
The emotional soil our roots are planted in has a bearing on our entire lives. God designed that we should receive love, care and protection in the family. As a child is born into a family it is totally defenseless, and dependable on the family that surrounds it. It is during the formative years of its life that it will receive its identity message. A child brought up in a loving atmosphere and home will face future relationships with security and confidence. Our family loved us and valued us; therefore we must be people of worth.
Psychologists confirm this. They tell us there are three parental attitudes that are absolutely necessary for a sense of security and to develop a wholesome personality. These are acceptance, affection and approval…
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I read this excellent post “Rejecting Rejection” recently and it was exactly what I needed to read. I have been working on my insecurities for well over a decade, from when I first began to let God have a hand in my life. It is not an easy thing to overcome, as the linked post explains, there are many facets to insecurity, such as shame, self-loathing, fear, anxiety, control issues; the list goes on. Even after many years of therapy I am still becoming aware of ways that my insecurities either hold me back from fulfilling my potential, or cause reactions that are not positive or healthy.
Lately I have become addicted to the website TED: Ideas worth spreading, and am intent on developing my ability to create, despite my insecurities. The talks shared on this site are one way to help me tackle this issue. Brené Brown has become somewhat of a mentor for me, as her research is some of the most incredibly accurate and insightful collection of perspectives I have ever come across. Due to the some 8 million hits her talks on TED have received, I know I am not the only one who can relate to her specific discoveries about connection, shame, vulnerability, and all the aspects of these things. Especially, how vulnerability is the birth place of creativity and innovation.
The post I have linked to at the beginning, mentions that “Rejected people, reject people” I can testify to the fact that rejected people become defensive people, as a direct result of their insecurities. We become so used to fighting for our right to exist and to be loved & accepted, that we form habits of guarded defensiveness. We are so used to shooting down those who we perceive are attacking us, that those close to us often get shot with friendly fire. I know that this is at the forefront of my issues with my own children and family members, not in obvious conscious or shocking ways, but in subtle, hard to recognise ways. I am getting better with each day that I stay aware, that I repair, that I pursue growth and change.
However, My biggest concern is that the damage may already be done.
What if, through my own defensive reactions of rejection, I have caused my children to also feel rejected? And if so, are they now destined to follow in my footsteps of insecurity and a life filled with shame, fear, anxiety and defensiveness? There has to be a way to break this cycle.
I must accept that this is possible, and if so, God has to be where I send them, I admit to them that I fall short, and so God needs to be their source of security, not me. I am flawed, I am damaged, I can not be all that they need me to be. I have promised them that I will always try to be there for them, even if I am broken. That, even when my reactions make them doubt it, I love them more than they could know. I apologise sincerely, each time I become aware of another possible rejection. I stay in therapy and stay honest, I pursue healing at every opportunity. I pray …a LOT!
The quote above goes on to say “Rejected people, reject people. Healed people, heal people.” So while I can accept that I am not quite there, I am not completely healed yet, I can not hit pause as a mother and hit play again when I am healed. I must keep working on myself and be a parent at the same time, and that is a scary thought for me. I often feel as if I am doing more damage than good. I imagine that thought would be enough to break even the strongest of people, let alone someone battling fear, anxiety and shame.
And then I remember Him…..
I realise that my Heavenly Father has my children in His loving arms, that I can only do my best and His might will cover the rest. That His design has brought me to this place, to who I am right now, and that His design put me in the role of their Mum. Perhaps as a driving force for me to desperately pursue His healing love.
I had a breakthrough in therapy this week, as usual it followed another recent breakdown. I will explain more about that in a future post, but for now, I like the concept of rejecting rejection… Another step on the journey towards healing…. And that is it, isn’t it! One step after the other. The pursuit of healing and destiny.
In a recent post, I wrote about the new found blessing of feeling more present. I finally got to enjoy the usually unpleasant, even dreaded (for me anyway) Christmas Season, by slowing down and staying in the moment.
Each year I take videos of the rituals and gatherings, and I take lots of photos, hoping to capture the joy of the season. I guess it’s ironic that this year I took no photos or videos of our Christmas traditions, and none of the many gatherings we attended. However, I felt like I was there more, as if I had longer in these moments. I could actually be joyful rather than look for joy to grasp onto.
I took time to be present. I watched my daughter’s fingers fumbling with the sticky tape as they opened their gifts, I tasted the wonderful food, I tried new flavours and turned them over in my mouth more consciously. I watched my family and friends more closely, and strangely, I watched myself watching them.
I am not one to make New Years Resolutions as there are always many things I hope to work on each day, let alone each year. However I feel this one may be important enough to make note of…. To infuse as a theme for the whole year.
My mind is fast, my therapist says its super fast, everything whizzes around in there at top speed (usually accompanied by my mouth). Therefore, I want to meditate and be present more, I would love to become good enough at meditating and slowing my thoughts, that I can become friends with that elusive gift of focus.
This year I have written some of my best work while attempting to meditate, this is the writing I am most happy with, the stuff I can’t wait to share with others. Ideas for the new chapters of my novel (which I usually find extremely difficult to write) have flowed fluently from a place of quiet mindfulness. During this state of meditation, I pray and ask for inspiration, and it usually comes, and if it doesn’t, I am relaxed and so not as worried about it.
Another element I am trying to apply to my life through meditation, is a calmer approach to parenting. While in a meditative state I imagine the day-to-day trials I face with my children and I imagine my meditated-self reacting in less anxious ways. It has helped me lessen my over-reactions to a certain degree and I am intent on developing this more.
I watched a TED talk recently (I know right, I’m addicted), the speaker gave some fabulous tips on what meditation actually is, and the reasons we should all try to adopt it into our lives. If you too want to be more present and stress free in your thought life, I recommend you watch the link below. Then grab a relaxation CD and keep practicing. It is hard at first (tears flowed during my first attempt because my mind just would not slow down at all, sometimes I played the CD 4 times in a row just to get closer to a relaxed state of mind) Like anything new, it takes practice, however the results are definitely worth it.
I pray the Lord helps me achieve more present mindfulness, so that I may write for Him, complete His book, and fulfill my role as a wife & mum as best I can. With Christ’s strength everything is possible…
Why so loud?
Valuing some quiet,
Yet it eludes me.
Explaining who to be.
Adds insult to injury,
Until I’m more unsure of me.
Am I a foreign concept
While I’m being me?
I know that I am,
Bouncing along, higher now.
My grip slips.
Things around begin to spin.
Up could even be down.
Where to grab on?
What is truth?
Reach out blindly, and grab,
This feels real.
But no, it’s only lying again.
Reality comes with a Slap!
Face full of dirt again,
Sheepish from the deceptions.
Retreat, withdraw, until,
I am filled once more with truth.
This post is very well said…Some priceless insights for all to accept in order to be victorious in each new stage of life.
If we take the mindset that our time on earth is that of a classroom or school, we would understand and accept that every storm, trial, challenge, and difficulty was a test. Tests are given by teachers to check for student understanding and to see whether they have mastered a skill.
Teachers introduce a concept and model it. The life of Jesus on earth, His death, and resurrection takes care of this step (Basically the Gospels of Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John). Teachers then ask their students to practice the new skill. They watch to see how their students do with the new information and with a careful eye monitor their progress. They watch to see if any are overwhelmed and pull them aside to reteach or give extra help if they are frustrated or failing. A test is then given and graded. Some students are ready to move on…
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I am thrilled to start the new year off with such encouragment as receiving an award. Deirdre at CrustyBreadBlog has been kind enough to nominate Inner Angels & Enemies for The Reality Blog Award! Please go check out her fabulous blog if you haven’t already, you will be boosted in faith and inspiration.
The Rules for accepting this award are as follows:
- Display the award logo on your blog.
- Link back to the person who nominated you.
- Answer the Questions
- Pass the award onto to any other bloggers you want — and link to one of their specific posts so that they get notified by ping back
- If you could change something what would you change? Faithlessness & Religiosity
- If you could relive one day, when would it be? Any day playing pool with my Dad
- What’s one thing that really scares you? Deception
- What one dream have you not completed yet, and do you think you will be able to complete it? To write the book the Lord has asked me to write, Yes with His help I will complete it
- If you could be someone else for a day, who would you be? A singer in concert, Perhaps Adele at Royal Albert Hall or Vikki from The Waifs at a Blues Festival (How Awesome, but just for one day!) 🙂
The blogs I wish to nominate are so many it overwhelms me. I love and follow so many blogs and even getting to read them all is a fulltime job in itself. That being said I wish to nominate just a few who I haven’t nominated before, to ensure you check them all out:
My apologies to those who didn’t get a nomination, I am on holidays and even arranging this reply is taking up so much time away from my family so I must be off.. Blessings to you all!
A friend recently quizzed me, “Where on earth is their common sense?” in the midst of describing someone’s behaviour which she found to be unacceptable. It was coincidental, because I have been pondering a few questions about common sense lately.
How common is sense anymore? What exactly are the common elements of sense? Does common sense even exist? Or does it perhaps keep evolving as the generations change focus on what is sensible?
I had a thought the other day that perhaps common sense might advance as we develop sensitivity to consequences, to become more sensitive to what we feel is right and wrong.
Does it then make sense, that those who appear to have less common sense than others, may have been afforded less understanding of the consequences when faced with their own poor choices? Are those who have lacked productive discipline even aware of the actual repercussions of their actions which lack ‘common sense’?
The wisdom of this generation varies far and wide, some think that it is common sense to ‘block’ someone who bullies you online, yet regardless of the amount of awareness on this subject, many others seem unable to reach this conclusion. A few may recognise that it is common sense to be ready to be a parent when you choose to start having sex, especially if you been told this all your life. Yet so many others are still children who can barely look after themselves when they make this huge decision. Some feel it is common sense not to air dirty laundry on facebook because it gives so many others the opportunity to voice their opinion about the private situation, and that adds fuel to a fire they are already struggling with. We don’t have to look far on our newsfeed to see how uncommon this sense is… It can leave those of us who have “common sense” baffled by the lack of sense those around us display.
I asked my husband, “What do you think is the difference between sense and common sense?” He replied, “I don’t think there is any such thing as common sense!” Wow! I found his straight to the point answer, freeing and mind blowing on so many levels.
Common sense refers to an accepted understanding which everyone knows. Past examples of common sense include ‘the world is flat’ and ‘African Americans only have worth as slaves’. So then assuming everyone knows a wide range of things is a stretch! Isn’t it?
While looking up some examples of common sense I found this quote.
“Don’t confuse lack of common sense with absent mindedness. Common sense refers to deliberate decisions about which you can predict the outcome.” (Ref – Yahoo Answers)
So therefore, is anything we can predict the outcome of (either via our own experience or a logical reasoning) simply sense, or can it become ‘common’ if enough people accept the theory?
So some examples might be; if you go out in the rain you are bound to get wet. Or if you don’t eat you get hungry, don’t drink and become thirsty, don’t sleep and become tired. The really basic stuff may in fact be common sense, yet we often stretch this phrase to accommodate other examples which may not be as common as we have been led to believe.
I personally have learned many valuable lessons and live my life differently because of them. The choices I apply in my life have now become common practice for me so they feel like common sense to me. But can I expect anyone else to have the same sensibilities as me in their own lives? I don’t think so….
All these questions have led me to a couple of theories.
We can no longer assume everyone or anyone knows something that we understand, just because we have believed it for a long time and found others who agree with us. I have lost count of how many things I thought I knew to be true only to discover they were merely a misguided opinion of someone who was certain enough to be convincing.
The idea of adamant common sense may be linked to our childhood, if whoever raised us convinced us, and our other family members, of various ‘reasonings’, then it can be frustrating and confusing when the outside world holds completely different principles to these.
Perhaps it’s time to let common sense and the assumptions we make regarding it, take a back seat to sense from sensitivity and open mindedness, and encourage loving explanations instead of frustrated collisions and unmet expectations?