Make Your Home a “Safe House”
You have a choice to keep anger outside the confines of your home.
Posted April 14, 2020
Every human has a right to set their own boundaries. It is the essence of feeling safe. This is especially true within your home. However, since your family elicits your strongest triggers, this is often not the case. Instead, there may be endless chaos, which is the antithesis of feeling content and nurtured.
These reactions are so powerful and irrational, they do not respond to rational interventions. When did you ever solve a problem in the middle of an argument? Never! It is because it is like a cosmic boxing match. Have you ever noticed how repetitive the arguments are? You could almost script them word for word. So, the only way to deal with them is to create a set of rules around conflict that simply “breaks it up.”
Just stop it
A basic step is to commit to making your home a “safe house.” Under no circumstances will you allow conflict within the confines of your house. It is easier said than done but doable. You have the right to relax on the couch in peace after work. Your children deserve to find refuge at home away from all the rigors of school and demands of society. Your spouse has the need to disengage from the rigors of maintaining all the various aspects of a functioning home.
In short, each and every member of your household has the right to have a place on this planet that is safe to re-energize and connect. This commitment is arbitrary and boils down to a daily decision (sometimes minute-by-minute to continue to create this environment.
But conflict within the family is inevitable, so what do you do? Take it outside. Although you can’t always avoid it, you can mitigate the impact within the confines of your house. One friend of mine had two teens who argued incessantly. She just sent them to the garage. She could relax and the arguments shortened dramatically.
This global commitment to creating a “safe house” is the driving theme behind the following rules around anger.
The family rules of anger
1) When you’re upset, just disengage.
- Stop and take your own “time-out.”
- No relationship is improved with interactions based on anger–EVER!
- Have a family meeting and ask your children and spouse/significant other what it’s like to be around you when you are angry. The answers aren’t pleasant.
2) The apologies later don’t work or make up for anything.
- Ask your family.
3) Imagine that you are your child watching you walk through the front door after just having an argument with your boss or claims examiner.
- Would you be excited or full of dread?
4) How attractive is your partner when he or she is angry? Compare that to when they are smiling. So, how attractive do you think you look when you are upset? Anger isn't attractive!
5) Listen–only listen for at least a month.
- Do not give any advice to your children or partner for at least a month.
- It should preferably last indefinitely.
- Advice should only be given when asked for.
6) Your opinion of your children’s “values” is not helpful.
- Find out who they are.
- They are more interesting than you think.
7) Make a commitment to be a source of inspiration and joy to your family–not a nightmare.
- Your family dynamic will change within weeks.
How you process your pain and anger has a huge effect on those close to you. Your children are the most vulnerable to your moods. This is a famous poem by Kahlil Gibran about your relationship to your children:
Your children are not your children.
They are the sons and daughters of Life's longing for itself.
They come through you but not from you,
And though they are with you yet they belong not to you.
You may give them your love but not your thoughts,
For they have their own thoughts.
You may house their bodies but not their souls,
For their souls dwell in the house of tomorrow,
which you cannot visit, not even in your dreams.
You may strive to be like them,
but seek not to make them like you.
For life goes not backward nor tarries with yesterday.
You are the bows from which your children
as living arrows are sent forth.
The archer sees the mark upon the path of the infinite,
and He bends you with His might
that His arrows may go swift and far.
Let your bending in the archer's hand be for gladness;
For even as He loves the arrow that flies,
so He loves also the bow that is stable.
Is your home a place where you would want to hang out if you were your child, partner, or spouse?