Big emotions are big emotions no matter your age. We often think about the big emotions we’ve walked our children through… the toddler who throws himself on the floor in the middle of the store and screams out a tantrum, the daily whining andcomplaining, sibling squabbles, and the sassy challenging retorts of a child asserting her independence.
As parents, we know that these behaviors are par for the course of growing up. As unpleasant as it may be to deal with a big emotion situation, we expect children to experience these things as they are learning about themselves and the big world they live in.
As adults, however, the expectation is that we would have already achieved emotional regulation, the ability to control our emotions. And while it is a learnable skill, not all of us self-regulate easily or well. I’m one of those people.
We all have hardwired emotions. The basic emotions of joy, anger, disgust, fear, sadness, surprise, and trust are the foundational emotions that more complex emotions build upon and blend together.
What makes big emotions BIG is simply the overwhelming nature of the emotion.
I once read that the only bad emotion was an unexpressed one. However, my emotional expressions have always looked something like this…
Happy — laugh, sing
Sad – cry
Angry – yell, slam doors, belittle the person I’m angry with
Overwhelmed – shut down
And friends, that’s where my struggle lies. Never having been taught to manage my own big emotions or look into the underlying cause, I have had a lifetime of self-esteem turmoil and emotional brokenness.
After seeing our middle son exhibiting my less than desirable character flaws, especially of anger… I knew I needed to seek help.
Emotions are critical indicators to our basic needs and are passages to self-understanding.
Yes, I can now tell you that I was an angry mom. A very angry mom. I yelled… a lot.
I yelled to stop my children’s annoying behaviors.
I yelled to break up fights.
I yelled to make them stop crying.
I yelled to make them eat.
Rather than displaying empathy and love to reach the heart of my children, I just needed to stop the chaos. It needed to end… immediately.
It wasn’t that I didn’t love my children. It was that I was broken and didn’t realize it.
I didn’t know that I was the recipient of generational anxiety. My anger and meanness was just dismissed as just being our “bad” bloodline and the continuation of poor behavioral patterns from previous generations.
Let me tell you that I wasn’t a gem to live with anyways, but being a mom pushed me in ways that overwhelmed me with big emotions every day.
My anxiety triggers were unknowingly detonated which resulted in heart-wrenching, guilt-filled, self-loathing, explosive anger.
My boys used to pray “God, please don’t let mommy get really mad today.”
It broke my heart. I didn’t want to be mad. I didn’t want to yell. I just didn’t know to how to self-regulate. I didn’t even know how to speak in a pleasant tone to my family. I just wanted to be left alone so I wouldn’t cause my family any more pain.
I loved my boys and my husband so much. So much. How could I love so much yet act so unloving, angry and mean?
But when big emotion after big emotion came crashing down upon me, I was drowning in my own ocean of unhappiness. So I yelled more.
Friends, when you don’t love yourself, it’s hard to love others the way they deserve to be loved.
I wish that I could wrap up the story and tell you that “they lived happily ever after.” But our journey isn’t over.
I still yell. I still get angry. But I know that I have a choice. Anger doesn’t have to define me. Anxiety doesn’t have to define me. Yelling doesn’t have to define my parenting.
In sharing my story with other moms, I’ve found that I’m not alone. We moms mask the emotional battle raging in our hearts with a smile and go about our day hoping that no one gets a peek of the ache and self-doubt surging up inside us. Well not anymore!
It has done my heart so much good to find my tribe, to have other girlfriends who know my struggle, who pray for me and encourage me.
I want to yell less and love more. In understanding the root of my anger and yelling, I have felt an incredible heaviness released from my heart. In understanding myself, my flaws and strengths, I have been renewed in spirit and have truly been able to look at my children and husband with a deeper, more appreciative love.
And I want this for you too.
Over the next 2.5 months, I invite you to take a take the YELL LESS, LOVE MORE challenge with me. Our goals are very clear… yell less, love ourselves more and love our family more.
It won’t be easy. In fact, you may feel like Paula Abdul’s backup dancers taking one step forward and two steps back. But together we are going to explore how to self-regulate our own big emotions… and how to parent with love and grace as we teach our children (through behavior modeling) how to manage their big emotions as well.
What you’ll need during the challenge:
- Our daily email. Please make sure you are subscribed to my newsletter. I’ll be emailing out the newest post and also a daily challenge and encouragement for you.
- Meditation and prayer time.
- A notebook. Any notebook will do. I created a Yell Less, Love More notebook on Zazzle that I’ll be using so it’ll be a visual reminder of what my goals are. (BTW… there are lots of cute items on the MOandMH Zazzle store!)
- “This Year I Will” free printable. It’s a great way to clarify your personal goals.
- More patience.
- An “I can do this” attitude and a willingness to change!
I am so excited for the things we’ll be sharing during this challenge and for you to meet the guest contributors who will be sharing tips on how to yell less, love more, parent with positivity, and more! And on Mother’s Day when this challenge wraps up, we’ll have a wonderful day of celebrating with our families!
Please email me at [email protected] or comment below to let me know you are taking the Yell Less, Love More challenge with me!