Many inspirational speakers, coaches and other experts promote the belief: change your thoughts, change your life. However, this is a myth for most people who have experienced trauma–especially if you’ve had a tendency to be disconnected from your feelings.
But if you believe that you *should* be able to be calmer and not get triggered by your kids by simply changing your thoughts, you’re more likely to end up feeling ashamed if you fail.
Changing your thoughts to change your behavior works better for parents who had healthy emotional attunement from their caregivers in early childhood. If you’re a parent whose caregivers couldn’t attune to you emotionally in childhood, you’ll likely have a nervous system that’s more hypervigilant. As a result, you’ll tend to react or startle more easily, and you’re more likely to react quickly, yell, raise your voice, get irritated or overwhelmed by your kids.
I’ve been there, and no amount of mental willpower changes it.
Your highly sensitive nervous system picks up on things that others don’t notice, and is often triggered into intense emotions. This happens automatically and subconsciously, often before you can stop yourself. That’s because of how your nervous system got wired to keep you safe at some point in the past. (It’s not your fault).
But even knowing that can make it hard to be patient and compassionate with yourself when you yell or speak harshly, and feel the wave of regret following.
It’s important to be gentle with yourself (that helps you heal), and to remember that it takes more than changing your thoughts to heal and build up your capacity for staying calm in highly stimulating situations. Changing your thoughts often leads to simply disconnecting from your body and emotions again.
It takes learning to stay present in your body and feel safe when uncomfortable sensations arise.
As you learn to stay present in your body, you begin to rewire your nervous system, and eventually it gets easier to stay calm. I’ve been on this journey for a while, and I’ve experienced the results.
Curious? If you have questions about how I can support you with this, hop onto a free chat with me.