This is something I have struggled with, particularly when it comes to parenting. Kids can push you to emotional places you never thought you'd go, challenge you in ways you never thought possible and turn you into someone you despise. I know this is very true for me, particularly with my eldest son, for some reason he knows how to push my buttons to get me into an academy award winning display of fury and rage.
Why does this happen? Why do I find it so hard to control?
Sometimes I think it's because, through no fault of his own, he was a very difficult baby/toddler/child. Unfortunately for my son, he was born with glue ear in both ears, or he developed it very early on. Being born in London the NHS which manages to keep millions of people well enough, doesn't quite cater to conditions that don't display the way they should. Constantly being sent home from the docs, swearing black and blue that there was something wrong with him - I was instead labeled a hypochondriac parent and sent home with my irritated bundle that didn't sleep or eat. When I say didn't eat, he never breast fed well, he didn't sleep for longer than a 3 hour stint until after his surgery at 4 and a half, and some days he would manage to eat ONE digestive biscuit. Fortunately we moved to Sydney where we finally got the right diagnosis and he was booked in for emergency surgery a week later. FINALLY, his first night back from surgery he slept through the night and eventually started to eat like a regular kid.
It goes without saying that I was riddled with guilt for some of the actions I displayed in the 4 and a half years of sleep deprivation. We got to desperate levels and would sometimes do desperate things. When I finally discovered that his behaviour was due to something real and very painful (poor sod) I felt terrible that he had to go through all of that and I felt equally angry that with the correct diagnosis years before, we could have avoided all of the pain and heartache. I realise my husband and I weren't to blame but I know that what he unwittingly put us through, still has an effect on our relationship, if I'm to be perfectly honest. That history combined with the way he pushes my buttons is enough for me to snap and I hate myself for it.
Now... how do I get to a place where I can control my anger? Let's just say it's still a work in progress. I've tried the counting thing, sometimes works. I've tried to ignore some of his behaviour but that usually leads into a Mexican stand off. I've tried to focus more on his positive traits or use distraction methods which definitely help. But most of all, what I find works the best for me is consciously filling my heart up with love for him. You see, love and anger can't reside in the same place, just like love and fear. I stop what I'm doing, focus on pushing out the dark anger that's creeping in and mindfully blast a golden beam of love through the top of my head and into my heart. It works, it really works. This is a Matrix therapy technique. Next time you're giving an oscar winning performance equal to Jack Nicholson's in the shining, wether it's with child, spouse, friend, parent or heck even your dog, give it a go. It will take you from psycho to the Dalai Lama in a flash. Let me know if it works for you too.