Working as a Hypnotherapist and Kinetic Shift practitioner I find it all too common a call, "I feel so much anger towards my child and it terrifies me, please help"
I get more and more of these calls each week, to the point that I believe it needs to be explored more seriously but at the very least discussed.
Therein lies the challenge, the women I speak to don't just feel the rage and then move on, they also feel shame, embarrassment, a sense of failure, confusion and a deep disconnection from their child and often spouse as a result. They take their behaviour and the implications that it has on their child so seriously that 'getting fixed' becomes their primary aim.
It often comes as a surprise to them when I firstly tell them that they do not need to 'Fix themselves' because they are indeed not broken.
They are reacting to triggers around them which are raising emotional responses, often excessive and beyond their reasonable control.
After all, as we know, when the mind deals with a conflict between logic and emotion, the emotion will win every single time.
So where do I start with each client? I always chat with each client before I allow them to book an appointment and after a long chat I separate them in to 2 categories.
There are those that I agree to see straight away, these ladies are often too overwhelmed by their angry responses, it may have been with them for too long, the rage may be creating too much fear for themselves and those around them, their rage may be widespread, frequent or even cyclical, Their rage may have become part of their character and so stopping to analyse it even afterwards is too much to ask. These ladies have 1-3 sessions with me and I help them to understand their emotional triggers and remove their emotional responses to them.
There are then the others, those that I tend not to see initially, while I may see them later on I believe that there is so much that they can do to understand their own responses first, and for many this is often enough to help them make a change in their life.
They describe to me how they will walk in to a room to find that their child hasn't yet dressed, or hasn't finished their meal, or isn't doing their homework, or is just making noise, they look at them and hear in their heads a momentary internal battle as they try to calm themselves, but as the emotions win out they will "explode", using the kind of language and words they would never have believed they could with their children, especially when the child is so small. As they start to yell the most hurtful words, their logical mind tries to yell back at them to stop, that they are 'damaging their youngster', 'it is not the child's fault, they are just being a child' but the emotions will win each time and the rage continues, often until they remove themselves, or the child or they give in to tears... for many the child will end up comforting the mother as she cries her regret and apologies. They will without exception describe how they have become 'out of control'.
There is the cliché image of a mum doing this when pushed to the brink by a teenager, but the reality is that the mums who call me are so very often the mums of children as young as 3 or 4.
This may come as a shock to some, after all having children is a gift, a blessing, having children is filled with fun, laughter, wonder... hmm if you are fortunate it is, and for most of these women it is also that for them, but when it isn't it really isn't.
So where do I start when helping them pre session?
I have found the easiest way to explain is to ask them to walk back through what was going through their head before their outburst, because one of the things I am sure of is that the rage is, as with most other presenting complaints, rarely if ever about the rage, the rage is a symptom of something else and is NEVER about the child.
Sometimes, often they cannot pinpoint an exact feeling, but they can go on to explain that they haven't been feeling themselves ...
"Since leaving work, at first, during maternity leave it was great, but after a while I started to feel a bit lost" or
"Things with my partner haven't been great, he works away a lot, has his own life" or
" I feel that nothing I do is right my mother/mother in law is always criticising my parenting, I have reached a point where I become so anxious when I am out that I feel everyone is watching and judging me"
"All of my other mummy friends have returned to work so we can be alone a lot" or
"I used to know exactly what my child needed before they asked for it but now I don't have a clue what is coming next" or
" I lost my grandfather 2 years ago, we were s close and I always spoke to him now it feels like nobody is on my side".... there will always be something else.
For many women, especially those who have had a longer career and become mothers at a later stage, life has been certain, they have had a very defined role, freedom even, they knew how to manage the things thrown at them with the space to think, they may have been the main breadwinner or at the least equal in their partnership, they may have made all of the decisions at home.
Remove that and at first they may think it is great, a real change, a change they have chosen, yet what happens when those choices don't seem to meet all of their needs anymore?
This is where I find 2 lessons come in handy and I call on the simplicity of Tony Robbins modern take on Maslow's hierarchy of needs,The 6 Human Needs.
This is a fantastic tool to help people understand what is driving them. These needs aren't wants or desires they are NEEDS and so must be met. We all have all 6 of them, yet they have varying levels of importance to us all individually.
The NEEDS themselves are a driving force behind our behaviours, they are part of who we are and what makes us tick. In our search to meet these NEEDS we will instinctively do whatever it takes. At first we will try to meet these NEEDS in positive ways, but when we can't we will find them in whatever way we can.
Once we identify what NEED we are meeting with anger we can seek to meet that need in a more positive way and so the need to meet it negatively will be removed.
What are these Needs?
More on the 6 Human Needs and a test that you can take to find out what yours are can be found here
The most immediate way to meet the need for significance is ANGER, the Most immediate way to gain certainty is ANGER.
So how could a woman who was once a bread winner, once in charge of daily decisions, in charge of the outcomes of her day, in charge of her space for thought, in charge of financial decisions, Certain about her role in the world, Certain of her identity forged through her significance within her work environment, certain of her love and connection and place in her wider family when her loved one was still around possibly find this relevant?
How could this be important to a woman who is now challenged day in day out by the random outbursts of a 4 year old, the lack of compliance of a cheeky 10 year old, the words "no" or "I hate you", or "you have made this a terrible day" from a grumpy 5 year old?
How can a woman who once had stories of how she had travelled extensively or career setting or many other things yet now sits quietly because she doesn't want to be a baby bore possibly relate to the fact that she is no longer meeting her basic HUMAN NEEDS?
Logic dictates right here that we say, but this is part of having children, these things will pass, it still doesn't mean I should get angry, remember that having children is a blessing.... But stop and remember, when there is a conflict between logic and emotion that emotion will always win!
If we do not meeting our human NEEDS in positive ways then we will meet them in any way they can. It is an instinct, it triggers powerful emotional reactions such as anger...
The need for significance and certainty will be met, we will, despite all logic and reason, do what we NEED to do to meet these NEEDS. It may escalate, it may be that if they continue to fail to meet these needs in positive ways then the anger will indeed lead to a loss of other needs being met, such as the NEED for love and connection, constant arguments , anger and pushing people away leaves loved ones confused and many women can retreat in to their shell afraid to talk about their feelings, this can lead to a whole new list of issues.
So why do they react calmly to the same circumstances on other days? Because those needs were being met in some way on that occasion.
For example, holidays can be a leveller, love and connection can be high, significance is levelled by a shared load, certainty may not be an issue because 2 weeks where everything is planned gives a sense of ease... (though this is merely an example because some holidays can certainly be the polar opposite of this, depending on the needs of the entire family)
The simplicity of Robbins 6 Human Needs is an eye opener, and while it can be enough for many to start to change their behaviour based on an understanding of how they should meet their needs in other ways, for others it is simply a starting point to understanding where they are so that I can help them to move forward, and they need something which is more use 'in the moment'
This is when I discuss with them how to change their emotional 'state'
This does take some explaining so I have created a follow up post, but essentially, we can all learn to change our state but also the state of those around us long enough to break our though and behaviour patterns and change the course of events in any given moment.
There are of course many other things that we do as part of an actual Hypnotherapy and or Kinetic Shift session but this allows them, before their session to start to understand that that they are not alone, they are not broken and this can be changed, it is not who they are, and so is often the first step in helping them or better still helping them to help themselves to meet every one of their needs in more positive and nurturing ways