By Dr. Laura Markham
“Fear is the cheapest room in the house. I would like to see you living in better conditions.” – Hafiz
When life gets overwhelming, we often feel angry and victimised. And yes, there are some things we can’t change (such as a global pandemic). So when you get stressed and overwhelmed, where do you start? With what you CAN control: You.
Do you notice how quickly a stressful thought can spiral into grouchiness (aka resentment, irritability, anxiety and overwhelm)?
Maybe we notice that we’re almost out of milk, and wonder when we’ll have time to pick it up, and before we know it, we’re in a tailspin over how overwhelmed and rushed we feel, how we’ll never catch up with all the things we have to do, how we never get our own needs met, how unappreciated we feel.
That anxious overwhelm can make us feel so bad inside that maybe we lash out at the next person who annoys us, who might be our child. Or maybe we just stay in a pinched and anxious mood all day, sighing or snapping at our kids, off-loading our tension onto them.
Many of us feel stressed and overwhelmed — which is a form of anxiety, which is low-level fear — so often that the bad moods begin to feel normal. They make it impossible to be emotionally generous, so we’re more impatient and resentful, so our children behave worse. They trigger doubt about whether the sacrifices of parenting are worth it.
All parents struggle occasionally, but when we’re in perpetual stress and overwhelm, we stop enjoying our children.
Unfortunately, although our kids can’t articulate it, there’s a cost to that. It undermines their sense of self-worth. They act out more.
How can you prevent this tendency?
Start by Noticing Those Urges To Fight or Go Numb
Stressful events happen to everyone. Sometimes, we rise to the occasion and grow from them. Sometimes, they overwhelm us. What makes the difference? How we think about them.