What to do when your anxiety throws a temper tantrum

messy flynn

‘That’s not very nice’ he kept repeating from his bedroom. His sing songy voice going between that phrase and ‘the wheels on the bus go round and round.’

It was meant to be his naptime but my 2 year old wasn’t having a bar of it. A bottle of milk perhaps, but no nap.

I’d laid him in his cot after a big morning out at play group. It had already been an interesting morning starting with him not wanting to put on his clothes. I’d pull his pants up (soft leggings because ‘jeans are too cold’ apparently) and then he would wiggle out of them.

Then later on he was swinging my button necklace round and because I was scared he was about to whip me with it I pushed his hand away from me firmly.

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The wee little boy cried.

I got down on his level and apologised to him. ‘I’m sorry you got upset. I was worried I was going to get hurt.’

Flynn looked at me with his eyes brimming with water and said ‘Mummy, you scared me.’  (Cue my tears!).

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Fast forward to heading to the park and that was relatively good, apart from the fact that I was busting to go to the toilet and this park did not have one.

I left Flynn with my friend and wandered off to find a shrubbery (yep, I totally quoted Monty Python to my friend).

Here was the catch. I had to find a wide enough tree that would shelter me from all the mummies at the park, the multi-cap disabilities place to my left and the golf course immediately in front.

I squatted as low to the ground as I could. I had to figure out how to pee in a way that wouldn’t splash my jeans wet all while making sure I was getting it over and done with quickly so the golfers didn’t mistaken me for the 18th hole.

Aahh, that’s better.

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Flynn has a play and I get him home for a nap. Except he doesn’t want to nap.

Tears trickled down my face as I muttered to myself ‘there’s no use in trying to get this biz to work.’

I then proceeded scoffing a few homemade choc chip biscuits into my mouth (because hello, justified… they were made on spelt flour ok?)

Then Flynn invited me to sit with him in the sandpit which was a nice moment. He looks me in the eyes and says ‘Mummy, I love you.’

My heart melts.

Then he throws sand in my face with his shovel.

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Sometimes anxiety is like my toddler right?

It starts the day with not wanting to put its pants on (AKA facing the day).

Then it starts swinging around the necklace (your anxiety triggers) and you end up getting hurt.

‘You scared me’ you say to your anxiety when it whips you.

And here’s the thing.

Anxiety isn’t there to scare you. It’s not deliberately swinging around the necklace for you to get hurt. It’s trying to get your attention.

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Before you know it, you’ve settled down and you’re ready to face the day but then you’re caught out again. You feel like you have to wander out to far places to hide. To be able to excrete the pain (yeah, see what I did there…)  You squat low, wanting it to pass quickly, hoping no one will see the real you.

Sometimes your anxiety parrots things back at you ‘that’s not nice.’

Or perhaps it feels like sand is being thrown in your face.

And all you can do is cry.

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Dear one.  Your inner child is demanding for you to be heard.

Zen master and global spiritual leader Thich Nhat Hanh has this to say about the inner child:

“But just because we may have found ways to ignore our inner child doesn’t mean she or he isn’t there. The wounded child is always there, trying to get our attention. The child says, “I’m here. I’m here. You can’t avoid me. You can’t run away from me.” We want to end our suffering by sending the child to a deep place inside, and staying as far away as possible. But running away doesn’t end our suffering; it only prolongs it.

The wounded child asks for care and love, but we do the opposite. We run away because we’re afraid of suffering. The block of pain and sorrow in us feels overwhelming. Even if we have time, we don’t come home to ourselves. We try to keep ourselves constantly entertained—watching television or movies, socializing, or using alcohol or drugs—because we won’t want to experience that suffering all over again.”

Acknowledging your inner child may feel uncomfortable and as such you’ll default to cover up those feelings. The more you do that the more your anxiety increases though.

To alleviate your anxiety you need to turn towards the emotional pain of your wounded child and show her compassion.

Thich Nhat Hanh says “You can talk directly to the child with the language of love, saying, “In the past, I left you alone. I went away from you. Now, I am very sorry. I am going to embrace you.” You can say, “Darling, I am here for you. I will take good care of you. I know you suffer so much. I have been so busy. I have neglected you, and now I have learned a way to come back to you.” If necessary, you have to cry together with that child. Whenever you need to, you can sit and breathe with the child. “Breathing in, I go back to my wounded child; breathing out, I take good care of my wounded child.”

You can communicate with your inner child and soothe her. Each one of us has a story and that story can often come with pain and suffering. What happens often is that these painful memories and feelings are so hard to deal with at times we shove them down and ignore them. To address them would be painful, so we keep them locked away and these feelings intensified and then we use avoidance techniques like watching television, going for a drive or take on addictive behaviours. Anxiety starts to manifest itself in our bodies and minds. You need to give yourself a dose of loving and mindful attention in order for these feelings to be processed.

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Here are some questions you can ask of your inner child:

  1. How would you describe your inner child?
  2. When did your inner child go inside? What happened for your little child to climb inside of you?
  3. How do you know when your inner child is active in you?
  4. What messages does your inner child still need to hear?
  5. What irrational beliefs did your inner child have about life?
  6. How willing are you to deal with these irrational beliefs and replace them with realistic truths? When you do this your inner child can start to enjoy life.
  7. What are some of the negative consequences of suppressing your inner child?
  8. How open are you to enjoying the little things in life?
  9. What part does fun play in your life?
  10. Today I will love myself by….

Acknowledge your inner child today by showing her compassion and kindness.

Lean in. You’ve got this.

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If you’d love help to acknowledge what your inner child is wanting then get on a call with me to find out how you can honour your inner whispers so that you can have freedom from anxious thoughts.  Email me at: thebutterflyhouse@dianabraybrooke.com.

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Diana is a spirituality life coach who works with anxious women who want to say ‘yes’ more. She knows what it feels like to be in a place of darkness – to not know yourself and where your inner light went – and how to move forward once you come out the other side. With seven years experience as a high school teacher, Diana asks the right questions to guide you into a deep acceptance of who you are helping you see your true beauty. You can learn more about Diana and get instant access to the Freebie Vault (free e-books, guides, prayers + toolkits), when you sign up on the V.I.P list. You can also send an email to Diana at: thebutterflyhouse@dianabraybrooke.com.

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