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How Is Anger Like a Baby?

So, how is anger like a baby? What on earth is this blog post title about and what’s it got to do with parenting?!

I’d like to introduce you to this passage called Anger, by Vietnamese peace activist Thich Nhat Hanh. Give it a read:

"Anger is like a howling baby, suffering and crying. The baby needs his mother to embrace him. You are the mother for your baby, your anger. The moment you begin to practice breathing mindfully in and out, you have the energy of a mother, to cradle and embrace the baby. Just embracing your anger, just breathing in and breathing out, that is good enough. The baby will feel relief right away."

Thich Nhat Hanh

At first glance this quote might seem a bit out there. Cradling your anger like a baby..? What?

Stay with me!

Read it again... and see if you can connect with it.

Take a moment to remember a time when you felt angry. If you’re a parent, this shouldn’t be too hard. There are 100 things that can trigger our sense of rage every day!

Do you usually try to push away, squash, fix or ignore your anger? It makes sense if you do. Does it help?

Could you imagine instead having a sense of that anger as something you can hold, notice, be curious about, allow, soothe and comfort?

As a parent you can probably conjure to mind the sensation of cradling a howling baby quite easily.

Maybe close your eyes and give this a try... what is it like?

Next time you feel the rage rising up, see if you find yourself responding to it any differently.

Remember, the aim is not to make the feeling go away, the aim is to become aware of what we’re feeling, and to create space for it. Simply doing this can start to help us feel better.

Let me know what you think in the comments.

Quote “Anger” by Thich Nhat Hanh (2001) from the book Mindful Parenting by Prof Susan Bögels & Dr Kathleen Restifo - highly recommended reading.

The Guilty Parent Club

If you are interested in understanding more about your emotions as a parent and how you can feel more regulated, take a look at how The Guilty Parent Club could help.

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