I knew that I wasn’t providing the best, most stable and loving environment possible. I wanted to do better.
I implemented exercises to increase my self awareness and self control. I outlined my values, and implemented strategies to stick to them. I got on the right path and still regularly reflect upon my hopes and dreams for my family to make sure my actions are in line with them. I finally took my job as a parent seriously and gave it the attention it deserved. I developed a way to go from angry and anxious to self regulated and empowering. And it worked!
But! One of the strangest things I noticed after becoming a more skillful parent was that I didn’t immediately feel better. In fact, there were times when it still felt really hard…and even felt like it was the wrong thing to do. This confused me. Where was the pay off? Why didn’t I feel good, why didn’t this feel right?
I want to call attention to something. There is a kind of satisfaction that comes when we give in to our triggered urges. I don’t want to hide this away. I want to get it out in the open and diminish its power. So, I’ll admit that sometimes it felt really “good” to loose control and let it all fly. Staying in control didn’t feel as “good” as loosing it. When this happened I would question why it was that I even wanted to change.
When I first started getting control of myself and acting more like an adult, I really was confused. I was doing the right thing. But strangely it felt incomplete. The truth is not that “loosing it” feels genuinely good. It’s more like “loosing it” feels similar to giving into a lustful urge. It’s a big rush, in the moment, not a sense of lasting satisfaction.
This rush is what you get from satisfying an intense negative emotion, not from making a good decision. It’s what happens when you give into the hurtful programming that lies within in you. This is the distinction that helped me understand, and helped me to keep choosing the right way.
This is an FYI to those parents trying to leave behind an aggressive/impulsive style of parenting. It’s not all high-fives and recognition. Changing my parenting behavior was hard, and it’s still hard. There are no, magic bullets, but there is support, little victories, and others who share your journey.