We constantly react to the world around us, moment by moment. Sometimes our reactions surprise us, and it feels like we respond before we have even had a chance to understand what’s going on. When this happens, it is often because something is triggering us subconsciously, and we instinctively try to protect a thought that is very shaming for us.
Let me give you an example: Your son is running on a slippery surface and his feet are wet.
You tell him very directly and firmly not to run, because you know he is going to hurt himself.
He runs and he falls, and he starts to cry. You immediately shout “I told you not to run! Why don’t you just listen when I tell you something?” Your mood shifts, you become very angry and irritable and you lose connection with your son. Perhaps you punish him by taking him home or withholding a treat that you had promised him. Later, you regret this shift in your mood and you can't quite understand what came over you.
Here, the trigger relates to being listened to, being respected, or obedience. Your emotional reaction (anger) comes out so quickly because your brain is thinking something along the lines of “nobody ever respects me” or “why don't people ever pay attention to what I say?"
These self-critical thoughts are arising as a result of something even deeper that you believe about yourself and that feel very shameful about. Something is really boiling under the surface and you are trying to hide it.
We all have limiting beliefs, most of which were created in our childhood. And yes, they are stimulated now by the behaviour of your son or daughter!
The reason this happens is that you are thrown into such an intimate and vulnerable relationship that is very similar to the one you were experiencing when you were little. But now you are playing a different role. Am I scaring you? I know, it is a lot to take in.
The great news is that the latest research in neuroplasticity shows that the human brain, and the way we think, is actually “plastic” and therefore changeable. When we understand our limiting beliefs, we can consciously replace them with others that serve us better.
I believe that parenting offers a unique opportunity to access those limiting beliefs, and that your burning desire to be the best parent you can be, for the sake of your children, is the perfect motivation to shift your mindset.