Taming the Reaction Monster

After spending years being a reactive person, I needed to take charge of the way I think and behave and tame the Reaction Monster inside me. I have had deliverance, so there is no excuse. I am my own problem, it's time to change the way I think (and behave.)

Sadly, my children had seen and mimicked my reactive angry behavior. If there is one thing I’ve learned while parenting, is that if you don’t want your kids to do it… You should stop doing it FIRST.

What do I mean by “Reaction Monster?” Let me set up a mini scenario:

Intense Reactions Come Out First: Riding in the car where everyone is being noisy and silly. I just notice that my son has been kicking the back of my seat for a while and he’s pushed me over the edge of my tolerance so I scream at him to stop. Bad reaction, quick to anger, no grace or kindness being given = Reaction Monster.

Someone spilled the sock basket... Raaaarrrr!

Stop hitting each other!  ...  Raaaaaarrrr!

Stop yelling at each other!  ...  Raaaar! (That's when you realize, you're doing exactly what you are telling them not to do. )

Walking away from the Reaction Monster

I started noticing my reactive and explosive behaviors. My kids would all be suspended in time, staring at me, wondering and in fear of what I would do next. That is no life for a child. I want them to always know that I love them, even when I am justifiably angry. After all, anger isn’t a sin, but breaking relationship (or sinning) while angry IS.

What is sin anyway? I feel like we’ve lost touch on this word because it is so overused.  Sin is acting against God’s law. It seems really out there and I think to myself “I would never turn against God.” But if you think about what He is all about, consider the two greatest commandments…

Love the Lord your God with all your heart mind, soul, strength ------ Relationship with Him

Love your neighbor as yourself ---------------------Relationship with people

Love your neighbor as yourself----------------------Relationship with yourself (which is a whole other can of worms!)

God is all about Relationship. So if I sin, I’m breaking relationship with someone. In this instance, I’m breaking relationship with my children. I am being easily angered, not gentle at all, not kind, and for sure not self controlled. So I totally “hate” on them every time the Reaction Monster rears its ugly head.

Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs.  Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. Love never fails. 1 Corinthians 13:4-8a

The Reaction Monster proved to me over and over that I wasn’t loving my own children actively, I was hating.

So it was time to tame it.

Think-Outside-Of-Myself Time

It's time to change the way I think and think outside of my own selfish thoughts, desires and brokenness. Think of others and how they feel about what I’m about to do, or already did. Think about if my actions are creating or breaking relationship. 

Sadly, it was hard to think outside of myself BEFORE the Reaction Monster leaped from the depths of my being. I had let it run freely all too often. It’s like I already gave myself over to it. I asked God to help me out. I needed to see what I’m doing. So as each bad-reaction situation happened, He would bring me to my senses and I would have to apologize. Embarrassing? Yes, but that’s what it took for me to stop it. So every time my reaction was worse than what the situation deemed appropriate, I would apologize. Every time I was embarrassed of my behavior. (Apparently that’s what it takes for me to “get it!”)

Measure Reaction Against 1 Corinthians 13:4-8

So now I think about what I’m doing in comparison to 1 Corinthians 13:4-8. Am I being patient, kind, not easily angered? If not, I can choose to put away my selfish attitude and adjust my emotions and react according to the situation. Self control, YEAH! (I don’t have it down pat, yet. But I give myself a brownie point every time I react well.) God is healing and changing me one situation at a time.

Now I can choose to be kind in my reactions. I can discipline my kids with grace for their menial kid-mistakes and give a punishment to fit the crime. I even seem to be more patient about their disobedience. We should protect them from our scary side and heal that part of ourselves so that they can have really good parents.

Communicate My Needs

I find that when I have a bad reaction it’s because my expectations (or needs) aren’t being met and no one is doing what I want. (Wow, that sounds selfish.) So I started stating what I want from my children before I blew up at them. When a dramatic situation happened, (ie. Children fighting in Wal-Mart) I would stop, state my expectations of their behavior and let them choose. If they choose wrongly, they are disciplined appropriately by a well-behaved and self controlled mother.

There are times when thinking outside oneself and changing behaviors to tame the reaction monster because there is a need for deep emotional healing. But that is a whole other can of worms...