Dealing with our own personal stuff means that we’re aware of our internal and emotional going-ons. What we’re feeling, if something is the matter, and the very strong likelihood that our internal landscape, our state of mind, affects our parenting.
For me personally, it happens that if something has come up that I have found personally challenging, such as an upsetting personal incident that I haven’t completely made sense of, I’m less patient with my children. I feel like I don’t have the internal resources to parent as best as I can, that I want the challenges/demands/their need for me to stop already, as though I’m ‘full’ and can’t quite take anymore. In these instances, I’ve found that, as a first step, noticing it helps.
For me, when I feel emotionally snagged, I just don’t feel right, like, things can feel heavy and I often feel like I can’t physically do much – around the house, etc (and I sometimes begin to crave tuning out…onto my phone etc). And the kids’ beautiful childish ways are something that, in that state, I find very testing (because of my own perturbed state).
The Issues That Come Up for Us
Taking the steps to solution any issues, tests, obstacles etc, is something we should do for the sake of Allah first, and then for wanting to operate from a place of accepting (and then engaging with) our tests, from being the best possible versions of ourselves, and not resisting or putting our heads under the carpet when things come up. For wanting to cultivate sound hearts too – qalbun saleem.
The unresolved, wafting-around-in-our-minds ‘issues’ at times can look like personal limitations, frustrations or failures we’ve come up against; which, for me, means I need to strategise for or learn about this area to be better, to feel ‘unblocked’ and unstuck; it could look like a relationship test or a family issue.
Even if we don’t parent negatively because of these things or perhaps not right away (and some things weigh heavier than others), it is something that is added to the day, I find, like a detraction from lightness and patience resources (sabr tank!) Like, these things are subtractions from our parenting game rather than pluses (‘pluses’ can be anything that replenishes you in parenting and adds to your energy, positivity and vitality and general imperfect smacking-it-ness [!] )
Issues are ‘subtractions’, leaving us feeling stuck, if they are left untackled or if we haven’t changed our perception of them.
What Can Help On Those Days
I usually begin with lowering expectations on the days where I feel emotionally snagged, which means my aims are to be kind and to help where I need to. Leaving out toys to invite play helps and easy foods, too. I don’t think it helps to feel bad about letting certain things go on those days.
Getting outdoors (what I mostly do) or, if need be, journalling during the kids’ screen time (which I prepone if I need to on these kinds of days) and confiding in my husband and/or calling a good girlfriend, depending on what the problem is. To make du’a too and tell Allah; asking Him for guidance, help and direction. To discharge it in some way, to begin the process of making sense of it; so that the problem, even if still unsolved, is emotionally ejected, to some degree, out of my system.
Figuring Out Our Issues
Sometimes, we do have to be more patient with ourselves, to be with and allow the discomfort (which can feel hard) and then slowly move the day forward, one micro task at a time. Then, I find, the puzzle pieces begin to take place, one at a time. And one at a time, doesn’t mean one after another. It means, okay yes, that’s what I felt; go to the park, walk around, perhaps listen to something inspiring/subject related to the issue I’m dealing with, be with the kids in the park, walk home; on the walk home, I realise a different perspective, I think of Allah SWT, I gain a new insight through just being or by way of sitting with the situation without the charged emotions or the blame or resentment that was trying to incite me. I think yes but what can I do, whilst staying on my own side of the road? What happened? Why do I feel this? How can I better prepare for this next time? What do I need to release/let go of? Arrive home, lunchtime, dishes, naptime/ quiet time, perhaps speak to a loved one who is a soft place to fall…feel better, more emotionally centred; find a few moments to read; and then proceed with the routine.
Other times, we need to adjust or view the situation at hand reconnected consciously to our bigger purpose in life which is being created to worship Allah. Asking ourselves what next step would please Him and what next step would help in moving towards shifting our states and situations for the better.
Sometimes, it is easier to solve, just a few steps (okay here’s what happened…what do I need to let go of; okay, why do i feel annoyed? I didn’t honour myself and a boundary for myself perhaps…okay, next time what will I do? Okay cools, so now, bye bye. Done). And sometimes, it takes more time and effort.
Dealing With Our Stuff: A Personal Tale
Over the course of writing this, there was something that triggered me in the morning. Before the kids woke up. And it was Fajr time. But before I had prayed, I felt like ‘journal and let it out before the kids wake up’ and that felt hard because I wanted to keep sleeping for a bit, before I prayed and before the kids woke up. But I journalled anyway, and that really did help. I didn’t feel great afterwards but I felt like I could move through things from a place of peace because I’d discharged some emotions and understood more what I was feeling. Alhamdulillah. Then I went to pray and prepped my younger son’s breakfast whilst my elder son was still asleep.
So by the time my elder son did awaken, and I was helping both boys with a few things, my state had completely shifted. I was feeling good now and moving around the place and attending to the kids with internal peace, alhamdulillah (doesn’t always happen so quickly). I had this piece in mind also, and a thing from a few days prior to this, when I took some missteps, and didn’t emit my emotions and work through them right away – so I was walking around with an internal unease, and doubts, and thus reactivity was harder to avoid.
Why It’s Important To Figure Out Our Stuff
If we emit and work through our emotions, I find we have a better shot at pause and mindfully choosing our responses as parents, insha’Allah.
When I’ve emitted my emotions, I usually feel more more centred, and can more likely return to the boys in a more settled state; a place where I can shepherd at least a bit better because I’ve helped myself. I also have a clearer mind or a more peaceful/stiller state to solution problems from.
What are some of the things we can do to face up to the personal stuff that comes up, and the emotions that come with it, and how can we deal with these?
Actionable Steps In Implementing The Tip:
1) Journal. This is useful in helping figure things out/make sense of our emotions. If we feel emotionally snagged, I find it helps to journal and not hold back. Things don’t have to be accurate at this point, just how they feel for you personally. Accuracy and checking can come later, once you’ve discharged the emotions, and they have lost some of their edge; then you can ask yourself, rationally, am I being true here? Have I made some assumptions? Do I need to ask some questions?
But first, I find for myself, I have to move past the raw emotions (if I’ve already hit them) in order to able to check the story. So first step, discharge uncensored. That should be a release. Then, check if it’s true; if more info is needed; if we just ran with a story with assumptions; if we need to apologise.
(I learnt the asking questions bit after capturing your story from Dr. Brené Brown)
2) Take a time-out, and get intentional. Just for five minutes in the same room (if the kids are busy) or ideally, in another room. What works for me is to just be for five or ten minutes. Sometimes to just be or to journal or to whisper up to my Lord or do some deep breathing (if anger is involved!). Often, I use this time to get (re)intentional of how we’re going to move through this day…(are we going out?)
3) Engaging the kids in an activity of some sort and calling a loved one or somebody trusted that can help can be useful.
4) Seek Inspiration – watching a beneficial khutbah on tests or life’s purpose, engaging with personal development material (books, audiobooks, podcasts), especially on the topic of what our current test – these can all be helpful in getting the ball rolling towards seeking a solution.
More importantly, they can also remind us to have good expectations of Allah and that whatever is happening is occuring for us, insha’Allah.
5) Kindly ask for help if need be. I used to struggle with this one; really overthink it. Sometimes, for ‘bigger’ helps, I still do but I’m getting there alhamdulillah. If I’m in a not-so-great place, isn’t it wise, even kind of me to ask for that help, not as a luxury like my mind chatter is making out, but rather so that I may return to my loved ones in a calmer, more centred state, so I can shepherd better? I don’t think the opposite is an option: not asking for help (when the option to is there!) whilst walking around on edge or giving from an emotionally blocked place, where it feels heavy? Where innocent things our children do feel triggering.
Ask for help. And when those thoughts of being burdensome come up, say jazak’Allahu khairan and thank you to them. Be grateful to have love and support and then let’s love and support loads, too, when our loved ones need a break, too. Take the break, come back recharged and then be wonderful and give and serve with love!
I hope some of these tips help, and I wish you great days with your child(ren), insha’Allah 😃
Please share if you or someone else you know may benefit: jazakum’Allahu khairan and thank you.