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Trigger happy

February 4th, 2015 | no comments

As I sit to write this, I’m completely exhausted. Emotionally and physically exhausted. My toddler came from my loins but I don’t know WHERE she came from! DAMN, she’s a fighter. Between delightful moments she decides to challenge everything. Seemingly doesn’t listen to a word anyone says. I considered getting her hearing checked, except for she can hear the word “lollipop” from 4.5 miles away.

And all my trusted tactics don’t work: count to three, time out, silent treatment, raising voice treatment…that one never works but sometimes you just can’t help yourself. You get triggered. And no, not the “getting triggered” definition I found in the urban dictionary that is straight out a gangsta rap video.

I decided to write my own definitions. The first one is how I describe it to girlfriend who will nod in silent agreement mentally saying “I’ve SO been there sister, yesterday morning as a matter of fact”. And the second, is the more PC version.

[trig-gerd] v.

  1. To completely lose your s*** because your frickin’ kid is acting like the devil again.
  2. To habitually respond in an emotionally charged way that is brought on by your lack of food, sleep, control, sex, joy, freedom, calm, money, time or love.

We all snap at our kids, forget to follow that parenting book and like Old Faithful we go off, right on cue.

How to avoid getting triggered by our kids

But the sobering reality (which you need because kids drive you drink) is that when your kid finally gets a rise of out you, it’s not about THAT moment. Think about it, when you are on some tropical vacation and your kid throws a fit, you look out at the ocean and shrug it off. But when you are in those same four walls with the same parental grind, there is a lot more that leads up to that blow-out then you would believe.

It’s about what led up to the moment that is key. What were you thinking or feeling in the moment? What was lacking in that moment? Did you react out of habit or some learned behavior that you picked up for your parents?

The messed up thing is that getting triggered is actually a result of the past. Yes, your kid IS ridiculous, and you should be pissed off. But there is something about how your child is behaving and your mental state that got you so fired up, you reacted THAT way?

Here’s some MOMwork for you. Step one is to become aware of how you react. Because as soon as you shed light on the truth then that habitual, emotional reaction will lessen over time. So let’s look at some questions to ask yourself.

When do you get triggered?

What triggers you? Here are the biggies for me:

  • When my kids waste food (drives me cra cra)
  • When they don’t listen and are smug about it (wicked feelings of disrespect)
  • Child is crying and I’m sleepy or hungry (I’m so “snapable”)

What does your trigger look, feel and sound like?

This is the u-u-ugly part. In the moment of s***-losing, what feelings are in your body? How is your body reacting? Are you thinking clearly? Do you sound like your mother?

Now back up a few moments before you were in full blow-out mode. Were there signs that you were about to go over the Wylie Coyote cliff? Were there moments where you could have stopped yourself? Were there chances to leave the room, stop the conversation, and choose NOT to egg that person on?

What needs to change?

Set the intention: The only way to change your habitual reaction is to set an intention to work on it. This means try. Try with an open heart. Changing your behavior one out of ten times is very good. So be kind to yourself through the process.

Listen: If we are quiet enough we can hear our inner wisdom speaking. We should not be raising our voice or antagonizing. I guarantee your inner wisdom has already told you stop and you have ignored it.

Remove thyself: When you start to feel the same anger or negative energy bubbling up, leave the room. Physically removing yourself diffuses the situation.

Forgiveness is like giving yourself a warm mom-hug

There is a lot of guilt, fear and shame about getting triggered. Forgive yourself. Forgive your kid for acting like an a**hole. And forgive yourself again. We are not perfect and this job is SOOOO hard. My kids have stretched my skin and found every button to push. But after the dust has settled I love them dearly, they have made my life better and I’m proud that I’m doing the best I can.

Big hugs and leave a comment below saying when you get triggered.

As a Working Mom Support Coach I offer virtual and in-person emotional and practical guidance organizing the back-to-work transition.

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