I went through a time in my life when I didn’t understand my feelings. I would go through my day handling things as they came along. (Or I thought I was handling them, but at the end of the work day I would go into my house and my children would get unruly, as children sometimes do, and I would lose it.) I hated myself for it. That is not how I wanted to raise my children. It disturbed me so much that I went for counseling. What was pointed out to me there changed my life.
I was told that I was acting in a passive aggressive way. That took me aback. I had never thought of myself as passive aggressive. The counselor explained how this works. She said, “You react passively to everything that happens during your day. In other words, you stuff your feelings down, you don’t let yourself feel them or deal with them.”
I thought about it for a second, Could I be doing that?
Then she said, “Do you start feeling pressure on your chest part way through the day, or a darkness or heaviness trying to cover you?”
I recognized what she was describing. Part way through my day I would have a heaviness come over me and it would build as the day went on. She talked me through it. I could see that at times some of this began with my kids in the morning or a call from the school during the day.
Another place that added weight to my chest was my work. I would like to say that I was a perfect hairdresser but I was far from it. Things went wrong on many occasions over the years, when I worked on my customers’ hair. I had a lot of customers who knew exactly what they desired and I am glad they felt comfortable telling me what they wanted. It made me into a pretty good hairdresser but there were also times when the stress of a situation became a blanket that went home with me. This happened when someone’s hair didn’t take the perm just right or the ends of a color went too dark or too light.
Those weren’t the only feelings I would stifle. It could have been something someone said, or even something that I said that I didn’t like the sound of after I said it. Or someone may have thought my prices were too high, my children too loud in the house, or their perm was too tight and two weeks later too loose.
No matter what it was, I would stuff those feelings down all day and when I stepped into the house and faced the challenges of homework, supper, kid’s being kids, and bedtime, I will be honest to say the pressures at times were too much. I would liken it to the day when I was driving a car in a crash up derby. The car had taken quite a few good hits to the front end, both in the men’s competition and now in the Powder Puff, the women’s event. I rammed a car just to see what it felt like. And then another. And then I was hit. The car sputtered and stalled. From being revved up so many times and being hit; the radiator was bent and piping out boiling hot steam. It looked very angry. Someone’s back bumper hit the safe zone of my white door and slid up into my driver side window. I tried to start the car a couple of times. I thought about the bumper that was so far into my window that I could have kissed it. I looked back at the radiator cap that seemed to be aimed at my head. Then I was told I had a choice. I could wait sixty seconds and try to start the engine again or I could pick up the white flag that was sitting on the floor beside me and wave it to say I was done. I could surrender. I surrendered.
The counselor said, “You need to get in touch with your feelings. You need to allow yourself to feel them and you need to deal with them right when something happens or as soon as possible after it does. Don’t push it down. Recognize it, deal with it, and don’t wait. If you do that, by the end of the day your tank will not be heated up and pressurized. When you let your guard down at home, there will be no pressure there to make you blow up when a little more pressure is added.
Now to go home and put this into action. How was I going to deal with each thing as it came along? It didn’t take long for me to start being aware of when the feelings started. When that person left, I thought about the feelings and what I was going to do with them.
When dealing with people, I tried to guarantee my work, so people could come back to get things corrected if they weren’t happy. Opening up a conversation about this when the person was still in my chair helped a lot. I could see people liked having that option.
Reading people is sometimes a challenge. Sometimes I would take what the person said and put it into proper perspective in my head. Was I being too sensitive? Had the other person been having a bad day? Had something happened to them before they got to me? Maybe they weren’t feeling well.
Had I offended the person or did I speak without thinking? If so I would find a way to apologize, then the feeling would go away and I learned to do this sooner rather than later.
Was their motive to frustrate me or offend me? Was the person just trying to get what they wanted without knowing how to do it nicely. After looking at the issue to see if I had handled it the best I could, I would choose not to be offended and I would forgive them. This was very freeing.
With each feeling I looked at the issue that started it. I pinned it down and resolved it to the point that it had no effect on me.
I remember the first day I practiced being aware of my feelings and resolving them when they happened. I went in the house and I felt peaceful and happy and when things started to happen at home as they did, I could deal with them calmly. I no longer let the pressures build. I wasn’t perfect but after that I was told I had a lot of patience with my children. Now you know some of my tricks.
Romans 12:18 (AMP) If possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone.
Matthew 18:21-22 (AMP) Then Peter came to Him and asked, “Lord, how many times will my brother sin against me and I forgive him and let it go? Up to seven times?” 22 Jesus answered him, “I say to you, not up to seven times, but seventy times seven.
Matthew 6:14-15 (NKJV) “For if you forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. 15 But if you do not forgive men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses
John 15:12 (AMP) “This is My commandment, that you [a]love and unselfishly seek the best for one another, just as I have loved you.
This next verse is written to fathers but will have the same meaning for mothers.
Ephesians 6:4 (AMP) Fathers, do not provoke your children to anger [do not exasperate them to the point of resentment with demands that are trivial or unreasonable or humiliating or abusive; nor by showing favoritism or indifference to any of them], but bring them up [tenderly, with loving kindness] in the discipline and instruction of the Lord.
John 13:34-35 (AMP) I am giving you a new commandment, that you love one another. Just as I have loved you, so you too are to love one another. 35 By this everyone will know that you are My disciples, if you have love and unselfish concern for one another.”