Have you ever been in the supermarket with you child when they threw a fit?  How did you feel?  Were you embarrassed to the point of the leaving your groceries in the store and going home?  Did get a tense look on your face?  Did you grit your teeth and threaten to spank your child?  Did you do something to pacify your child? 

Why is it that some parents have the ability to handle these situations with grace, while others melt under the pressure?  The answer may be as simple as understanding the word, Anxiety.  Anxiety is defined as the feeling of worry or unease about a situation with an unknown outcome.  Or rather, anxiety is the feeling a person gets when they desire to have control of a situation that they have no real ability to control.  Often, anxious people seek control in unhealthy, destructive ways (i.e., yelling, arguing, pacifying).  While these methods may be functional (they control the person with whom you are interacting), they are in no way healthy.  If this is the case, it makes sense that parent of the child in the grocery store feels anxious.  They do not have the ability to control the moods or actions of their children.  Although there will be many parents who read this statement and disagree with it, it might be beneficial to give it some more thought.

You are the only person that can control you!  While others may influence your decision, the ultimate decision for how you feel and act belongs to you.  Anxiety is most often activated by fear or frustration.  In the case of a parent and unruly child, the fear might be related to other’s judgments of your ability to parent.  The parent’s anxiety seeks to quiet (think control) the child rather than move to understand and engage the child.  It is difficult for many of us to engage with anxious people.  We feel anxious when we are near them.  Therefore, we must either withdraw from them or we must quiet them.

The Screamfree Institute, founded Hal Runkel, focuses on helping people learn to be in anxious free relationships (e.g., parent/child, husband/wife, and friend/friend).  More, a person in an anxious free relationship is “learning to relate with others in a calm, cool, and connected way, taking hold of their own emotional responses no matter how anyone else chooses to behave and learning to focus on their self and take care of their self for the world’s benefit.”

If you find yourself arguing, fighting, or constantly engaged in battle with a child, spouse, co-worker, or best friend, you might be struggling with anxiety.  You might be trying to control the person you love, rather than trusting them to love and care for you. On the outset, it seems less risky to control someone than to allow them to have free will to hurt you.   If these situations are applicable to you, you might consider it is time for you 1) focus on yourself, 2) calm down, and 3) grow up.  Relationships can only flourish when they are allowed to grow in non anxious environments.

If you need assistance in these matters, you can contact the Christian Counseling Center at 270-442-5738.  You can also check out Hal Runkel’s work on the website, http://www.screamfree.com.

 

Andrew N. Williams, MMFT, LMFT

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