I read an article recently about how responding gently when you’re frustrated can feel very inauthentic at times.
When you’re angry and you want to let it be known, it can feel like you’re pretending to be patient, when inside you’re really bursting with frustration.
Even though we all know through experience that acting out of our frustration never brings an acceptable solution, it’s much more satisfying to our flesh to take jabs at the person who is making us wait, hurting our feelings, or not doing what we’ve asked them to do.
It’s much more satisfying to our flesh to take jabs at the person who is making us wait, hurting our feelings, or not doing what we’ve asked them to do.
So I got to thinking about those moments when I’m feeling very “inauthentic”; the moments I feel like I’m faking it, and I realized two things:
I don’t have to fake it. I can express that I’m frustrated or hurt in other ways than unkind words or pointed sighs. And isn’t that what we’re trying to teach our kids how to do, anyway?
It only makes sense for us to be practicing it as well.
It helps us to have empathy in those difficult moments when we’re working on being mindful of our own responses. If it’s difficult for you, it’s 10 times more difficult for your developing child.
The things that feel very “authentic” are often the ugliest part of my flesh that I’m supposed to be mortifying anyway.
I often forget this in the moment.
The raised voice, the passive aggressive responses, the doors closed just a little too hard… They all come so very naturally to me, but I can’t hide behind “It’s just the way I am. I’d be inauthentic if I behaved differently”.
Treating others unkindly out of impulse may be “natural”, but when our child hits another or says hurtful things, we don’t “okay” this behavior just because it’s organic, and we shouldn’t from ourselves, either.
If it’s true that all behavior is communication, and we should be striving to understand our children’s motivations in order to help them cope, then the same will be true for ourselves, right?
The truth is that our reactive behavior is more often than not, completely inauthentic.
It’s a mask, a weapon, or a shield, to keep the other person from seeing what’s actually authentic.
The important thing here is to get to the bottom of what’s causing the hurtful behaviors and find ways to deal with that.
Thankfully, once you’ve begun to do this, responding kindly and searching for a solution -instead of becoming triggered and reactive- will get so much easier!
This kind of emotional work is hard stuff. It requires trusted community and a major sacrifice of your pride, but I truly believe that real authenticity, borne from vulnerable honesty, will not only help you process your own emotions (and handle them better), but will also be a great example for your kids of how to do it themselves.
Until next time,