Categorized | Kids

Become Aware of this Menace to Your Relationships.

Posted on 20 September 2010

There is a silent yet very harmful menace that can show up in our relationships both with our spouse and with our kids and that is known as Anxiety. In fact, if you observe the times you are yelling at your spouse or your children, it is usually because you feel anxious about something. Whether the kids did something that made you feel anxious, or your spouse made a comment that took you back to your unmet childhood needs, the bottom line is that anxiety can threaten to upset any connection and peace you seek to have in your relationships.

Despite my constant work on managing my anxiety, after all I am a type A personality, tonight I found myself raising my voice at my daughter due to my feeling anxious about the state of mess in her room. She had played so nicely all day with a friend and didn’t clean up the way I had wanted her to. I really didn’t want to be so nitpicky about it, yet for some reason I was anxious about the state of her room and had a hard time containing my upset when she shoved the mess under her bed and in her closet.

Thankfully, I caught myself in time so things didn’t escalate too much and was able to “use my words”. I told my daughter, “You know what? Let me think of some better ways you can store some of the things in your room, I see the current storage options are too confusing.” I was anxious because the current storage solutions I had setup in her room were no longer working yet it was not her fault, but mine. I was totally anxious and that anxiety distanced her from me because she felt like I turned into “Mean mommy”.

I learned a LOT from Parenting and Calm Coach, Kirk Martin, in his parenting CDs about the concept of Anxiety and what it looks like when we place our own anxiety on our kids. You may notice yourself saying, “Hurry up!” “I’m waiting for you!” “Don’t talk to me that way” “You’re going to be punished” etc.

The alternative is to become aware of our own anxiety and realize that our kids are not us (or your spouse is not your father or mother) and that they have their own story about what’s going on, for them. If we put our own anxiety down, we can connect with our kids and find out what is going on for them instead of being trapped in our own heads and hearts. It’s not about us, it’s about them.

The same is true of our marriage and relationships with our spouse. For marriage learning, I turn to Jewishmarriagecounseling.com, which luckily enough is my husband. We use the tools of Imago therapy to iron out our own little bumps in the road and fortunately he is the therapist, not I, since I seem to get more anxiety than him and he can immediately calm me down by listening to what I have to say instead of getting defensive with his own anxiety.

I guess the bottom line is to really become conscious about how much Anxiety may be impacting your relationship with your spouse and your kids and notice that it may be distancing you from each other, rather than bringing you closer and connected.

Once you begin noticing the intensity of your anxiety, you can “turn it off” by using your words and telling your loved ones how you feel. You can say, “You know what, I’m so sorry, Mommy is feeling nervous right now because of how your room looks.” Or “Mommy is nervous right now because when she was a little girl she got into trouble in school so when you get in trouble, I start to feel nervous.”

I wish you much connection and closeness in all of your relationships!

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