Anger isn’t a new topic around here. In fact, I’ve written about it more than any other topic on the blog.
It also happens to be this month’s theme in my Prosperity Prescription course. Which has a way of stirring the pot, so to speak; bringing up oft difficult stories and emotions so that they can be cleared.
All of this to say, anger takes up a lot of space in my life; from my own emotional responses to The Babe’s tantrums over just about anything.
I’ve exploded and let my anger get the best of me. I’ve gone the other way, and tried to eradicate anger from my life by pretending like it doesn’t exist. I’ve tried to suppress the expression of anger by biting the inside of my lips (yeah, that doesn’t feel very good) or digging my nails into my hands (nope, doesn’t feel good either). I’ve even tried to research it and write about it, in the hopes that understanding WHY it’s coming up for me will help to make it less intense.
But never in my life have I tried to be playful with my anger.
As in, embrace it, enlarge it, exaggerate it, and allow it to pass through me quickly versus letting it stay and build like a pressure cooker.
That little nugget of wisdom came from a few of the people in the Prosperity Prescription group. I had asked how to help The Babe deal with her own expressions of anger and discontent. Their response: children, by nature, feel a lot of things without getting caught up in them. They are happy one minute, elated, angry, content, and sad the next.
They have an amazing ability to vacillate quickly between emotions without getting stuck in a single one. There is no lingering, no resentment building, and no toxic buildup in their lives. They feel it, they express it, and they move on.
If The Babe could do that, I decided I could to.
Or at the very least TRY.
Thankfully toddlers provide AMPLE opportunities to try on different ways of responding to anger.
Shortly after I had made this internal declaration, The Babe began to throw a tantrum. She didn’t want to get her diaper changed and was trying to open the door to her room so she could leave. She was hiding on the side of her crib, kicking and screaming NO WANT TO, MAMA and I could feel the anger and frustration bubble up inside of me.
Instead of walking over there and forcing her to change her diaper (which would have ended in a lot of tears and shouting), I got down on my hands and knees and channeled my inner lioness.
I began crawling on all fours, whispering I’m coooooming to get youuuuuu, and slowly making my way towards the corner where she was perched. Just when I thought I was in for it, The Babe started to laugh hysterically and say MORE. We continuing the game until I reached her corner, nibbled on her belly, and swooped her up to a soundtrack of giggles. When I placed her on her changing pad, she laid down without prompting and began talking about her nap. When all was said and done, it took the same amount of time from start of tantrum to diaper being changed, even though the end result was drastically different.
When she woke up from her nap, I was presented with another opportunity to get playful. Instead of shouting at The Babe, I started to shout AHHHHHHHHH and stomp on the floor as if I were a toddler throwing a tantrum. I shook my head back and forth and just went with it. And within a few seconds, I was laughing at myself because of how absurd the whole thing was. The Babe thought it was the funniest thing ever, and her laughter paired with the physical expression of my anger helped it pass right through me.
And then, last night when I was making dinner, The Babe began to scream hysterically because she wanted to help me with dinner. I had asked her several times to stay away from the stove because I was pan-frying something in hot oil. She literally screamed her head off for 10 minutes.
In the past, this has set me off down a path of muttering expletives, yelling at The Husband, and fuming over how I can’t even do something simple like make dinner in peace. This time? I just laughed. When I was able to pause what I was doing, we sat down and had a calm discussion about why she was so upset. Turns out she had wanted to help Mama make meatballs because she had watched kids doing that the episode of Daniel Tiger she had just watched. So we set up with a mixing bowl and spoon (and a few packs of squeeze packs in place of raw beef) so she could feel like she was a part of what I was doing.
It feels like so much has shifted this week already, but know that it’s just the tip of the angry iceberg.
I’m excited to see how things continue to shift, as I consciously choose to be more playful when it comes to anger. Because if this past week has taught me anything, it’s this: The more playful we can be with our anger, and the more we can allow our anger to simply pass through us, the happier we will be.