an exclusive feature by Bonnie Compton*
Be the change you wish to see.
How many times have you told someone Please calm down? Perhaps your child, grandchild or partner. Have you ever been told to calm down when you were upset? How did it make you feel? I bet not good!
You’ve probably even told yourself on numerous occasions to simply stop fretting and calm down. Or not to react every time you get upset. However, it’s not that easy, right? Trying to make someone else calm down is also useless.
Calm begins within ourselves…then it ripples out to others.
Many parents, in my parent coaching practice, want to learn to calm down. They share they try to stay calm but cannot when their child upsets them, especially when their child doesn’t listen and needs to be told multiple times: go brush your teeth…brush your teeth…I said, go brush your teeth!!! If you’re a parent, certainly you know the drill!
Calm is your superpower
A calm state is certainly something to strive for, but you’d have to be superhuman to stay there. However, it is achievable once you begin to understand your emotional triggers. What upsets you? Perhaps when your child or partner doesn’t listen to you and you feel disrespected. If you have a strong reaction to that, chances are you’ve felt unheard, unseen and disrespected at times in your life, especially as a child.
So before you make any attempts to remain calm when frustrated or upset, take some time to explore what upsets you. What are your triggers…who and what are pushing your buttons? When you take time to explore what’s beneath your upset, you begin to see other areas in your life with similar triggers. Perhaps different situations or people, but a common theme.
Here’s the good news. When you begin to uncover your hidden emotional triggers, you have an opportunity to heal and grow. Once you’ve done this work, there is a much greater chance you’ll be triggered again. And you’ll learn to set boundaries when necessary.
After you’ve identified your triggers, dig deeper and take a look at your underlying emotions. Brené Brown, in her latest book Atlas of the Heart, reminds us of the vital importance of understanding and naming our emotions. She states, “When we don’t have the language to talk about what we’re experiencing, our ability to make sense of what’s happening and share it with others is severely limited. Without accurate language, we struggle to get the help we need, we don’t always regulate or manage our emotions and experiences in a way that allows us to move through them productively, and our self-awareness is diminished. Language shows us that naming the experience doesn’t give the experience more power, it gives us the power of understanding and meaning.”
When we begin to name our emotions that lie beneath our reactions, we’ve then got something to work with! Maybe we realize we’re upset because we feel taken for granted or disrespected. I promise you that when you react, you’re triggered and there’s a reason you’re being triggered.
We’re all emotional beings and that’s not a bad thing. Our emotions are important in allowing us to have a full and well-rounded human experience. Learning to identify and understand what’s beneath our feelings is key. With that knowledge, we are then able to intentionally respond rather than react.
*The Power of Calm is an exclusive feature for grandparentslink.com by Bonnie Compton, APRN, BC, CPNP, a child and adolescent therapist, parent coach, pediatric nurse practitioner and end of life doula, who lives in Charleston, SC, with her husband. Her expertise, tips, advice, and articles have been featured in The Washington Post, Parent Magazine, Working Mother, Grandparent Link, Mindful Parenting Magazine, and Lowcountry Parent Magazine. Driven by the core belief that it’s never too late to make positive changes in any family situation, Bonnie passionately shares her vision for Parenting with Courage through speaking, webinars, the media, and as host of her own podcast radio program Wholehearted Parenting Radio, available on iTunes, Web Talk Radio, Radioactive Broadcasting Network, and Stitcher Radio. She is a mom of four adult children and believes that being a mother has been her most important job; and loves being Gramma to her five beautiful granddaughters. Bonnie is also the author ofMothering with Courage, Available here!
Have a question or want to contact Bonnie? 843-718-1551, firstname.lastname@example.org