So far, we have purchased two notebooks and some pens. The more special journal has become our Gratitude Journal, and inside we have made several daily lists of the people, places, or things that we most deeply appreciate. We are in the process of retraining our brain to focus on the positive.
We are using the spiral notebook in a number of ways. We have created a “Declarations Page,” on which we have declared our commitment to move forward with creating the peaceful home that we seek, our intention to maintain our gratitude journal. We have made lists of the many benefits to our family that will arise as we shift our household to a more peaceful and calm place. Either we have listed the action items that we will take on to create the changes that we have committed to, or we have listed the obstacles that are preventing us from moving forward and have brainstormed possible solutions.
Today we are going to make a powerful commitment. We are going to declare that we will control our anger, frustration, and anxiety to the best of our ability. Before you make this commitment, think it through very carefully. What strategies are you going to use when you are feeling overwhelmed by intense emotions? I invite you to ask yourself if anger, frustration, or stress are “working for you” in any way. If so, consider how you might achieve the result that you seek without engaging in destructive or negative behavior.
If you are still struggling with making this commitment, please consider your child or children. Our children are like sponges, and will behave exactly as we behave, not as we say they should behave. Don’t you want your child to have the life skills to control anger, frustration or worry? If there is any hesitation here, I invite you to make a brief list of how your child’s life will be better once he or se can control his emotional state. On a separate sheet of paper in your spiral notebook, please make a list of how your life will improve once you take control of managing your intense emotions AND how your child’s life will change as well. For example you might write sentences similar to these:
- Billy will begin to learn how to manage his anger as he sees me manage mine. Hopefully he will learn to get along better with the other kids in his class, and he will not spend so much time getting upset
- Susie and I will develop a closer relationship. She will stop feeling afraid of me and we can start to have some more fun together.
- Once Lucy can manage her stress better she will be able to relax a little more, enjoy herself at school and on the soccer field, and she will feel better about herself as a person.
- I will be so much more comfortable with my family and better able to focus on work when I can stop screaming at my children and hating myself for it.
Let’s take a minute to consider our own anger style. Is it explosive? Passive aggressive? Repressive? Do I withdraw when I feel angry? Do I blame myself even when I had little or nothing to do with the problem? What changes do I have to make in order to develop a more assertive and compromising anger style? Do I need to practice telling others why I feel angry? Do I need to shift my focus during arguments from being right to asserting how I feel? Do I need to work on compromising instead of sticking with my own beliefs with a closed mind? You may not come up with all of the answers on this particular day, but you will have planted a seed and you will become more conscious of your own behavior. I would suggest that you continue to engage in this exercise until you are ready to commit to managing your anger and intense no matter what.
If the time is right you might consider talking with your child about your new commitment to controlling your angry feelings. If this is also a problem for your child (and I am guessing it is if they have watched you get enraged or taken over by your anger and other emotions), you might tell your child that you think he may have the same problem that you have, but you are confident that you can help him to change.
Now let’s turn to another page in our spiral notebook and title the page “Things I can do to calm down when I feel angry, frustrated, anxious, or overwhelmed by my emotions. Think carefully about the things that make you feel better when you are upset and note them on your list. This is a highly personal activity and there is no one to please with your answers except you. If your child is interested, invite him or her to do this exercise with you, making his or her own list of things to do when it is time to calm down and get in control. Some of the items that you might consider are:
- Deep breathing
- Creative Visualization
- Using self-talk to remember that you can handle the situation, or that everything is exactly as it is supposed to be in your world right now
- Getting physical: shooting hoops, jumping rope, doing sit-ups,
- Distraction: doing a soduko puzzle, reading my book, writing in my journal, drawing an angry picture, talking to a friend, playing with my pet
- Organizing the kitchen cabinets
- Writing an email to catch up with old friends
You and your child might both decorate your lists and hang them up either in your rooms or in a common place in your home. When you are feeling overwhelmed by the intensity of your emotions, refer to the list and try one of the activities that you had written down.
One final activity relating to this particular topic is forgiveness. Forgiveness really is a key cornerstone to a happy and peaceful life. Research shows that people who can forgive tend to struggle less with anger and anxiety, enjoy better health. Take a moment when you can to do so (maybe before writing in your gratitude journal at night? Maybe first thing when you wake up in the morning? Decide if there is anyone in your life that you would like to forgive? Forgiveness is simply a choice. If there is someone in your life that you are ready to forgive, I urge you to do so. If it seems appropriate, share your choice with your child. Forgiveness is more a mental shift than a physical activity. You can communicate your forgiveness to the person involved, or you may simply choose to forgive the person in your heart. When you are ready, declare your forgiveness on the declaration page of your spiral notebook.
Thank you so much for joining me on this journey! I am so grateful for the opportunity to share these life changes with you and I can’t wait to hear from you regarding what suggestions are working for you and which ones are not working for you.
I thank you and wish you the very best of everything!