How to stop reacting and start responding with your authentic Self
If you are parenting teens and tweens, chances are your children sometimes drive you crazy, make you lose control, and you are worried that they’ll ever live safely pass their teenage years.
Do you find yourself reacting to your teens’ behavior by reflex? I am a parent and I know there are lots of times I clumsily react to my kids’ behaviors and words by reflex. Afterward, I often feel guilty or feel like a failure with how I reacted. Maybe I won the battle by power or by manipulation, but I missed the chance to connect with my child and help him think for himself. I also feel mentally, physically and emotionally drained.
To help you get through the craziness of the teenage year, I want you to start repeating these mantras to yourself over and over again: “Don’t take it personally” and “Don’t get emotionally involved”.
Wait, you’re thinking, I love my child, of course I am emotionally involved and I take it personally. The intention of these mantras is to ground you in the wholeness of your authentic Self. When you’re reacting personally, you’re being triggered by something in the past. When you get emotionally involved (meaning when your teenager is feeling hurt and frustrated and takes it out on you), you take on his hurt and frustration by feeling hurt and frustrated yourself. Do you see how much confusion that adds to solving problems?
Here’s an exercise that can help you learn to respond with loving and support from a place of wholeness. This will help you practice how to not take their behavior personally and not get emotionally involved.
- Create an emotional and mental boundary: Imagine a golden force field around you. This is your physical, emotional and mental boundary. It is strong enough and flexible enough for you to adjust according to the situation. Imagine you can see, hear and respond clearly through it.
- Recall a time that your teen is screaming at you or behaving out of control from outside of that golden force field. Recall your emotional reactions to that. What feelings did you have? What does that feel like inside your body?
- Did your teen’s behavior or words penetrate the force field? If they did, move those behaviors and words outside of force field. I know your teen knows exactly the right words to hurt you at the place that hurts the most. So, this might be really difficult but put your willpower in it. Even if you have to use all your mental power to inch it out, do it. Push hard to make it go outside.
- Now, take a note of your feelings, your bodily sensation, and check in with who you are.
- From this place where you have set a clear emotional boundary, how would you respond in loving support of your teen?
There’s a difference between supporting and loving your child from a place of wholeness versus reacting from a place where you feel lack such as self-doubt, shame, or guilt. Before you can be fully present for your child, you have to come into a place of wholeness mentally and emotionally.
Having done a lot of soul searching, working directly with lots of tweens and teens, researching, my own therapy and personal growth, I want to share with you what I know to make your journey easier for you. Parenting is a gift that life has given us toward wholeness. Every challenge that your child throws in your way is a moment you can choose to practice wholeness by responding authentically.
It might take you lots of practice to connect with your authentic Self as a parent but you will often find that when you connect with your authentic power, the person you find is confident, loving, grounded, and someone who holds the highest long-term hope for your child’s own ability to grow to his best.
Send me an email and let me know if you were able to practice my suggestions and how it went. I would love to know your experience practicing parenting from a place of wholeness. If you need help improving your home life give me a call at 650-397-1376 or email at . Sign up for my blogs to read my future writings on parenting teens, career, relationships, and personal growth.