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Managing the Needs of Babies

the Emergence Explorer

Questions for the Week of August 28, 2006

Emergence Character Type Babies 9-AI-2

This Week's Questions

[posed by Jen F.]
  • When I hate my three year old's behaviors, am I disconnected from him?
  • Can I learn to feel delighted by all his behaviors, even his tantrums?
  • When I lose my patience and yell, "Just a minute, Jack!," does that injure him?

Do you know?

[Question 1] If love is learning, and seeing, the beauty in something, or in someone, is hate like a bullet hole which prevents seeing the beauty in something or someone? I understand that feeling hate is a block marker, and as such, indicates I have an injury. However, can I love my three year old son, Jack, and yet hate some of his behaviors? What I'm saying is, first, I feel uncivilized blame. Then, after getting annoyed at him, I feel sad, needy, and alone. My question is, when I am frustrated and annoyed at Jack, and when I hate his behaviors, am I disconnected from him? If so, is this like a bullet hole that I cannot see?
[Answer] Yes, Jen. Your inability to see the beauty in some of Jack's behaviors indicates you have an injury, and this inability is like having a bullet hole in your ability to connect. Merely knowing this is not enough though, especially if you still feel bad. What may help then is for me to elaborate a bit on the ideas you've referred to, starting with the idea of "holes."

Holes are the things we can't see. Like literal bullet holes, which, while we can see what is around them, we can never actually see the hole itself.

Wounds to our psyche's share the very same qualities as wounds to our bodies. Thus, the essence of all psychological wounds is that there is some person, place, situation, or thing which we literally cannot visualize.

Now notice what this implies. It literally means we cannot visualize something. Therefore, by extension, it also means we cannot see the beauty present. Literally, we cannot see this beauty. Nor anything else present.

So how do people normally make sense of this "psychic hole?" They use the feelings they get from not being able to see this "something" as the defining experience. What I mean is, they evaluate this particular person, place, situation, or thing by evaluating their "blind to something" experience. And since being blind to something is never too pretty a feeling, these assessments are never too pretty either, let alone valid, or accurate, in any way.

Applied to your question then and to your three year old's behaviors, it means you are correct in your assumption that you are missing any beauty in these behaviors. How can I be so sure there even is any beauty? Well, in you son's case, I know of at least one of these behaviors that is truly beautiful; his tantrums. In fact, I know this to be true personally as I have, on several occasions, gotten down on the floor with him and imitated his tantrums until I got him to laugh.

Of course, he got mad at me for making him laugh. But so what. He laughed. And I laughed. And we both had fun.

Herein, Jen, lies the essence of seeing the beauty in his tantrums; we connected during them.

So how did I get him to laugh? By imitating what he was doing during these tantrums so closely as to create a bridge of visual similarity between us. I also did this at the very time wherein he needed to be alone in order to concentrate on his tantrums. Why? Because in order to have a tantrum, you must be alone and mad. Connecting ruins a person' ability to do this, both to be mad, and to be alone. It also makes people laugh at the absurdity of what they are doing.

So what is my point?

I love Jack's tantrums. I smile even now just picturing him and I together on the floor acting like idiots. I especially love the first time we did this, the time wherein I was imitating him on the other side of your glass patio doors.

He got so mad. And he looked so beautiful.

So where would you begin to heal these kinds of "holes" in your ability to connect to your son? You could begin by visually dissecting what he looks like during these behaviors, starting with the behavior you hate the worst. Then, you could sort what you see into two piles of experience; the "what you can visualize" and the "what you cannot visualize" pile.

The stuff you hate will be in the "what you cannot visualize" pile.

Now ask your husband to help you to find some visual material with which to fill in these holes. You can do this either by having him suggest what he sees during these events, or by having him guide you toward seeing more while Jack is in the midst of one of these behaviors.

The point is, if you can come out of shock in the midst of the event, then what you will see will, no doubt, be beautiful. And will make you love your son even more.

More important, successfully doing this process even once may help you to see how normal it is for all of us to hate the ones we love at times. They are, after all, the people we have the hardest time being set off by.

Finally, hang in there, Jen. Finding this beauty is easier than you think. Given you ask for help when you need it, that is.

[Question 2] I so want to stay connected to Jack during these moments. I also do not want to avoid my neediness. But I fear that my uncivilized blame will harm him by startling him. How can I learn to see the delight all his behaviors?
[Answer] All his behaviors? My, my. Don't you have some modest aspirations <grin>. Not!

Jen, no one loves all of anyone's behaviors. Least of all, their own child's. Ease up on yourself and you may find, the easier you are on yourself during these events, the less you will feel provoked by the behaviors you don't like.

What I'm saying is, knowing you, you are probably suffering more from the shame you feel about hating Jack than about feeling the hate itself. After all, babies do not feel shame about feeling hate. This is what makes seeing their rages so beautiful. They literally feel only the anger. No shame. Thus, they look beautiful when they are mad.

What I'm saying is, if you can see past your shame, you will see the beauty in his anger. And in your own. If you can, then you may find, you actually love feeling anger. And seeing him angry. At least, the feeling part of what you see.

What I'm saying is, the main thing to focus on here is not so much on Jack but rather, on how you feel about yourself when you feel these hateful feelings. I'd bet if you would work on these feelings, that what you'd probably find is that it is your behaviors you actually hate, and not Jack's.

Healing uncovers beauty. Always. Keep trying Jen. You deserve to see this beauty.

[Question 3] When Jack was a baby, I used to sing to him all the time and he really seemed to love it. But I can recall one time that I sang to him and he got startled. He was about 9 months old. Now, when John or I sing to him, he yells "NO"! My question is, did I injure him?
[Answer] Yes, Jen, you did. And this is the bad news. But there is also some good news.

The good news is, you have personal access to the wounding scene. Thus, you already have a good portion of what you need to know in order to help Jack, and you, heal this injury.

Why include you in what needs to be healed? Because no injury of this type ever happens to only the baby. Both mother and baby get affected by what they see. Which makes it all the easier for a mother to help her baby heal.

The thing to remember though is that most mothers injure babies this way because they relive one of their own injuries in front of their baby. What happens is, when they relive a startle, this startles the baby. I've seen cases wherein this has happened many, many times. How this plays out then is that the mother must first heal her own injury and only then, try to heal her baby. Only in this way, can the mother stay conscious enough to guide her child's healing.

[Question 4] If Jack is already crying and in Layer 7, meaning, if he is already feeling needy and requiring constant attention, is he is shock? When I hit the wall of my patience and yell, "Just a minute Jack!" does that injure him?
[Answer] Jen, you've asked two questions. The first one is, "Is Jack in shock when he requires constant attention?" And the second is, are you injuring him when you shout, "Just a minute!"?

Let me start with your first question.

The important thing to know here is how to tell the difference between Layer 7 neediness and Layer 5 symptoms. Layer 7 neediness is a right sized response to some particular life event. Layer 5 symptoms are responses which are either too large, or too small, for this particular life event.

Now ask yourself this. In the events you are thinking of, is Jack responding normally? Or is he responding larger, or smaller, than life? In other words, do his behaviors match the life events. Or are they either over or under reactions?

So how does this apply to your question? Well, if Jack is in Layer seven, he is very conscious. But if he is in Layer 5, he is in shock. Now consider what this implies.

Babies can feel rage and be conscious. This is why we can see their rage as beautiful. The rage we see as frightening then is Layer 5 rage. Which is to say it is the symptoms of an injury.

Symptoms of injury rarely seem beautiful to us. Why? Mostly because we cannot witness them consciously. They are either too big to take in or too small to notice.

How does this play out then? Mothers who can consciously witness their babies neediness or rages will see the beauty that is always there. But mothers who cannot consciously witness their babies neediness or rages will see these behaviors as ugly or painful to watch.

The point? Witnessing beauty, and discerning Layer 7 from Layer 5, requires you can consciously witness the behavior. Thus, if you are in shock while witnessing what is happening, your observations of what is happening will be flawed. And invalid. And in all likelihood, blaming.

As for your second question, does your shouting "wait a minute" injure Jack? Again, to know, you need to be able to consciously witness Jack's reaction. If you can't, you can't tell what is really going on and therefore, you'll need someone else who can consciously witness Jack's reaction to your shouting in order to know if he's been injured by it.

Then what? Then you need to look in what you see for the basic quality present in all injuries; an over or under reaction to the particular life event. Thus, if you shout and Jack acts as if nothing has happened, then he has been injured and is under reacting. And if Jack hears you shout and jumps out of his skin, then he is injured and is over reacting.

To finish this then, you'll need someone to consciously witness how you look during these events. And to look for the same criteria you have looked for in your son; any over, or under reactions. Why do you need to do this? Because if you have an injury, you will be unable to see your son as not having an injury. In other words, in you are wounded, you will see your son as wounded even if he is not wounded. Which, in your case, will just perpetuate your shaming and self doubt. And make you more likely to injure him.

Here again, Jen, one of the best things you can do for your son is to make sure you heal yourself.

[Question 5] When Jack is being difficult about things like eating, cooperating with bed times, etc., it seems like my husband and I often tell ourselves Layer 2 explanations, such as that Jack trusts us and and knows that we love him. In fact, my husband, John, feels that Jack can misbehave in front of us because we are his parents and so, he is not afraid of us.

My problem is, I cannot picture Jack feeling needy when I am needy. All I can see is a little creature who is out to torture me. Sounds like my second and fourth questions, right? My questions here are, is my belief that I am a bad mother injurious to my child? And should I feel guilty and selfish for not wanting to stay connected to him? Finally, how the hell do I get to back to Layer 9 again when I do disconnect?
[Answer] This time, you've asked three questions. Let me take them in order.

[1] Is your belief that you am a bad mother injurious to your child? Only if it shocks him. Other wise, it will pass in time like a fart in the breeze.

[2] Should you feel guilty and selfish for not wanting to stay connected to your son? I certainly hope not. I regularly and frequently spend chunks of hours in Layer 1. Of course, most times, I choose not to do this in the presence of others. So what allows me to do this when I'm alone?

What allows me to do this while I am alone is that I know the map of human personality. I know the Layers. Further, I know, pretty much all the time, what Layer I'm in. This allows me to have the luxury of being in Layer 1 with no worries I'll miss anything important.

Why do this though? Because this down time allows me to recharge my ability to connect. And my desire for it.

In other words, all people need down time. Choosing when is the key. And knowing where you are in the Layers is the main way to know.

[3] Finally, how the hell do you get to back to Layer 9 again when you do disconnect? My answer? You build a visual bridge of similarity to whomever or whatever is right there in front of you. Thus, like what I've done in the past with your son when I have gotten down on the floor with him and visually imitated his tantrums, visual similarity is the essence of connecting to others. This is true whether to a baby having a tantrum or to a monkey in the zoo. And while learning to consciously choose to build these bridges requires you heal your BLocks, you can do this healing given you put in the effort. And given allow someone else to help you heal. Someone else who is building these bridges with you.

Now stop being so guilty and learn to enjoy being mad at your son. After all, he enjoys being and at you <smile>.

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