One simple trick for hard times: Imagine how you want it to go

It’s finally hitting my son—he has two homes now. He’s struggling to make sense of it, and sometimes lashing out at me. I mean really lashing out—hitting, telling me he doesn’t live with me any more, and that I’m not part of his family. I’ve been thrown for more loops than I can count in a very short period of time. And it’s always like a surprise kick in the gut.

I realized I was kind of going victim about it all. I was seeing these scenario’s as something that was “happening to” me—I was not helping create them, but just reacting to them—in very knee-jerk, disempowered ways: impotent rage, fighting him in petty power struggles, taking it personally, and giving up and getting depressed.

Finally it dawned on me: I could create exactly the scenario I wanted. Not in terms of controlling his behavior, but in terms of choosing my own state of mind and being. I started to envision ahead of time how I would respond to him when he next “acted out.” I would hold a space for him, listen for his feelings and needs, and not let him hurt himself or me.

This gave me confidence—the next time he “threw a tantrum,” I was prepared. What a difference it made! He tried repeatedly to hit me—I held his arms so he couldn’t. He shouted blood curdling screams that he was in danger. I told him calmly that he was safe, and that I would not let him hurt himself or me. This went on for about twenty minutes.

After he moved through his big feelings, he became alert, loving, and connected—he just wanted to lie in my arms and rest and chat. I felt so grateful that I had found a way to feel loving toward him during and after this enormous expression of feeling. As recently as the day before this scenario, I would have been too triggered myself to really be there for him, and would have wanted to take space, or put him away from me to “cool down.”

After trying my trick—visualizing the scenario, and imagining myself exactly as I wanted to be—I was able to give him my presence instead of my absence during his worst moment. Instead of making his difficult moment worse, I could be there for him even when he was fighting me with all his might—and stay close to him until the bitter end. At least this time.

5 comments
Rick Gerber
Rick Gerber

An emotional story. It's great to see that you were able to connect with him.

Gracy
Gracy

That's a great story. Kids respond to the way the parents respond. Last week, my daughter dropped a plastic plate on the floor. The food went everywhere. INSTANTLY, she looked at me to see what I would do. Normally a kid will cry out of fear after doing something like that. I knew that she was scared so I just laughed and said "Sammy? Did you just drop that silly plate?" She smiled and said yes and then started laughing too. That's the key, you've gotta relax and respond positively.

Nicole
Nicole

I appreciate your honesty and willingness to share your process with us
xoxoxox
I will try this technique with my lo's!

Sherris Berner
Sherris Berner

I think that it is really great the way you were able to get through that together. I am sure it meant a lot to him to be able to get that all out and have your support through the whole ordeal.

Jill
Jill

Awww...thank you. Great reminder, I appreciate it.

Trackbacks

  1. […] I’m learning that “losing it” can be an important part of the process. Certainly, if it’s happening, it’s part of the process no matter what. I’ve talked recently about How to be in charge and still stay connected, as well as Imagining ahead of time how things will go. […]