The only way to change my behavior is to change what I believe. For so many years, I focused on changing my outward behavior hoping it would work its way into my heart. I tried all sorts of techniques to manage my anger. I tried giving myself time outs, journaling, yoga, memorizing scripture about anger. But I was still an angry person. It wasn’t until I began to believe the truth about myself and about God that my anger outbursts began to change. No, I didn’t wake up one morning and discover I was no longer an Ice Queen. In fact, there are still many times throughout the day that my Ice Queen comes out or my Orphan thinking trips me up.
But I have come to understand that what I believe about myself and others affects my actions, sometimes unconsciously. I’ve found that whatever is rolling around in my head eventually comes out in my actions. The afternoon hours between 4:00 and 6:00 have become known as the witching hour at my house. Typically by that time of day, I have not measured up to all that I was hoping to accomplish. I also know the current tornadic state of the house will not be pleasing to my husband. I become a mixture of anger and fear that spews all over my children as I try to make dinner and salvage the last parts of the day. I might add that I’m also hungry and tired and so are they. I get angry with myself because I have not met my own expectations for myself.
I begin to believe that I am a failure as a mom and a wife. I go back through my day and try to figure out where I went wrong. Maybe I shouldn’t have taken that hour break to watch Oprah and drink some green tea. Or I shouldn’t have stayed so long at my friend’s house after carpool. I should have rushed home and started working on housework. If only I had done that, then I wouldn’t be so disorganized and behind schedule. I’m angry at myself for all the stupid choices I made in the day, so when one of the kids dares to step out of line, the anger I’ve directed at myself, spills over onto them.
In this situation, what I believe about others also affects my attitude and behavior. I believe that my husband will be disappointed and possibly angry when he comes home. He will wonder what I did all day, and why I’m not keeping up my end of the bargain. After all, he works two full-time jobs so that I can stay home and take care of the house and the kids. Because I don’t want him to be angry and disappointed, I become focused on doing whatever it takes to not be a failure as his wife. I yell at my kids and stomp around the house complaining about the messes they have made all day. I’m like a drill sergeant shouting orders of what they should be doing. When we finally sit at the table, I’m silent and sometimes still fuming. I’m usually angry at myself for getting so stressed out and barking at the kids. It’s easy to believe that my kids are the enemy, and my day would have been perfect if they wouldn’t have been … kids. I’m upset that Andrew had to pick up a bunch of toys before he could sit at the table and relax. I believe that I have disappointed Andrew again, and I vow to make tomorrow a better day. Do you see how what I have believed about myself and my kids and my husband has affected my relationships with them?
Do you have a witching hour at your house? What do you find yourself believing about yourself and others in those moments?