Wednesday, March 07, 2007

Time Out for Parents

From Cheri Huber's terrific book "Time-Out... for parents. A Compassionate Approach to Parenting"

We are conditioned, however, to be Happy. If we are happy, we believe that we are "good" or "doing it right." If we are sad or mad or confused or afraid, we have been taught to feel that we are "bad", or are "doing it wrong."

So we learn to be even-tempered, never to be "out of control," which is seen as being "childish."

The belief is that to have your emotions take over makes you a bad person, so we become masters at rationalizing ourselves out of our feelings.

Therefore, a "good" parent teaches the child: ALWAYS KEEP IT TOGETHER.

And when, inevitably, the parent loses it, and explosed, s/he hates himself/herself and feels guilty, feels like a bad parent.

That feeling of about-to-lose-it is actually a gift: it is the self signaling itself that a need is being neglected.

It is sort of like emotional hunger pangs. When you get really hungry, you do not consider that you have 'lost it.' You might have learned that it is helpful not to get that hungry, because when you do you tend to gobble your food, eat the wrong things, overeat - it's not a good system.

But does letting yourself get that hungry make you a bad person?

No, of course not. It makes you a person who is out of touch with your body.

When you get to the point of screaming with anger or frustration, does this make you a bad person? NO. it makes you a person who is out of touch with your feelings.

Screaming, then, is to emotions
as gobbling is to hunger.

When we have gone too long without a basic need being met, our reactions become HUGE.


Of course, it's natural to avoid our feelings if we find them uncomfortable. It takes practice to get in touch with them and more practice to accept them for what they are. One step at a time, that's all that is needed. And, you are doing it.


In fact, to feel my feelings I do not have to do anything or involve anyone else at all. We live in fear of our feelings, however, believing that if we allow ourselves to experience them, we'll run amok. The belief is: if feelings are controlled, behavior is controlled. But it is my experience that just the opposite is true: when feelings are controlled, behavior runs amok. When I depress my anger, sooner or later I find myself screaming at someone. When I'm not afraid of my feelings, when they are allowed to exist, it seems that they limit themselves. When I just let the energy of anger be there, noticing how it registers in my thoughts and in my body, it seems to go on for a while and then be finished. If I learn to use that energy in a way that benefits me, I will soon see that the motion isn't destructive at all. In fact, it's quite instructive.

1 comment:

Katie said...

Hey - this woman is quoted in my favorite book - Love and Logic. I think her observations are right on.