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Day 40: Invisible problems

November 23, 2023

Which of your relationships do you think of when you look at this facebook post?

For me, it’s my relationships with my children.

I’m attending a training course at the moment as part of the adoption support service offered by our local authority. The course is titled, “Non-violent Resistance” and it’s about resisting a child’s difficult behaviour without escalating the situation by shouting or being aggressive in tone, body language or actions. For some parents in the group, it’s also about dealing with Child-on-Parent Violence.

It’s harrowing listening to the behaviours some parents have to face on a daily basis, having things thrown at them, being sworn at, hit or kicked by their children.

In the course, we’re taught how to manage ALL interactions – with a view to minimise the violent outbursts some of the children are prone to. We’re taught to pay attention to ALL behaviour and to catch the warning signs of dysregulation early so we’re more likely to build connection earlier and thereby avert a later crisis.

For the parents in the group who are facing these kinds of very difficult behaviours, the course is working and they’re reporting vastly reduced numbers of violent or aggressive interactions.

The facebook post that inspired today’s blog really helps illustrate the thinking we’re being taught to employ, which is this: When their behaviour is “off”, they are struggling with something and regardless of whether we get it, everyone benefits if we respond accordingly.

What does this have to do with joy?

I’m not sure joy is possible without connection to people you love, and I’m not sure love is ever fully realised if we’re not able to connect at the kind of level that makes space for the invisible demons, snakes and boulders.

I think we increase the chances of helping our children – or partners or even friends or colleagues – to access the resourcefulness they hold within them when we see their behaviour as an indication of either connection and safety or dysregulation and difficult emotion of some kind.

In my experience, children and adults can both struggle to articulate, or even identify, the demons, snakes or boulders that cause them to “act out”, but when we’re able to meet their behaviour with curiosity rather than judgement, find a way to connect with them and help them get free from whatever it is, the trust and connection grows and the relationship get bolstered rather than battered.

For me, that’s both a source of joy and a way to contribute to it.

I miss the mark often, but with something this complex, that’s not too surprising – and I’m dealing with my own demons, snakes and boulders so part of this process has to be to meet myself with the same curiosity and compassion I aim to offer to others.

In my work as a coach, I regularly explain that all the relationships we have in our lives are reflections of the relationships we have with ourselves, so it makes sense for me to cultivate this sense of openness inside myself if I’d like it to show up more often in my relationships too.

What would you like your relationships to reflect back to you?

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