“Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves receive from God.” (2 Cor. 1:3-4 NIV)
It happened again. I’d raised my voice in frustration at not being able to help my overwhelmed child and escalated the situation. I knew it wasn’t helpful. Matching my child in emotional intensity only multiplied problems. I’d started out with a game plan: listen compassionately to my child’s grievance and offer strategies to alleviate the problem. But the issue was that my child wasn’t thinking rationally. They couldn’t think rationally. Their brain was awash in chemicals that only saw failure and difficulty. They couldn’t see that a solution was possible.
It’s easy to know what needs to be done in someone else’s situation because you are outside of the emotions coursing through their body. It’s never difficult to be able to tell what should have been done on the other side of the situation. But when you’re in the middle, you are in lizard-brain territory, and all you want is to be free of these difficult and uncomfortable feelings. So you fight. You fight whoever you encounter with whatever you have. For my child, that was me.
I knew it wasn’t personal, yet I still struggled not to take it personally. Feeling attacked, I fought back. And immediately, as soon as the words—spoken too loudly—left my mouth, I felt like a failure. I’d lost control, something I hate doing.
Awash in guilt, I immediately apologized and wrapped my child in a hug. I spoke calm reassurance to them. I gave voice to their frustration and we were able to move forward, both in our relationship and in solving the inciting issue.
This scenario has been repeated more times than I’d like, but I’m learning. I’m learning not to take their frustration personally, but to offer them a listening ear, open arms, and understanding words. When I can just be there with them and allow them to vent their emotions, they are able to move forward more quickly. All they truly need is my presence.
Read the rest over at The Glorious Table.