04 Jan A story I really didn’t want to share
I don’t know about your mornings, but at my house, mornings are stressful.
I remember one particular November morning a few years ago. We live in Oslo, Norway, so outside it’s pitch-black and snowing. I’m tired.
I’m rushing to finish making the school lunches for my kids when I realize school starts in thirty minutes. We’re going to be late!
“Axel, Ella, are you guys ready? Let’s go!!”
My six-year-old daughter Ella comes and grabs her lunch box. I help her with her coat and boots.
“Axel, where are you?! LET’S GO!!
Axel is nine at the time, and he’s in a mood.
I feel the rage building up inside of me. The pressure cooker blows, and I am no longer in control. I vaguely remember grabbing Axel’s arm, opening the door and shoving him outside. I throw his backpack and lunch box after him and slam the door shut.
The debris settles and shame hits me immediately.
What have I done?!
Ella is standing quietly behind me. Her big green eyes reflecting my own horror.
Later that day, the kids come back from school, and I sit down with both of them to apologize.
I really want to promise that this won’t happen again, but I can’t say the words.
Because the truth is, I don’t know how to change.
Like most other women, I learned to contain and suppress my rage from an early age. Back in school, I got in trouble for being rowdy, but the disorderly boys — Nothing! What I learned from that was that my rage was not welcome, at school or at home.
Most of the time, I made sure it didn’t show. I just pushed it way down and pretended it wasn’t there. I became a control freak. In my professional life, I was a high-achieving perfectionist. I was super-demanding with myself and everyone around me.
It worked! Kind of. Until I exploded, that is. (Which was more often than I care to think of.)
To the outside world, though, I was successful. I had a great international career in law and finance, I got to travel and see some amazing places for work, and I had a great family.
What no one knew, was that at home I was falling apart. Always high-strung, I couldn’t settle down long enough to enjoy spending time with my husband and kids. I was constantly exhausted, irritated, and angry. A living pressure cooker.
I thought I was a bad mother and a bad person.
What I didn’t realize then, was that anger was not my enemy. Anger was there to teach me something…
That something was that I had a need (or needs) that was not being met. That someone made me feel (myself included) unworthy. Or bad. Or, that I had compromised myself, made myself fit in according to someone else’s standard.
What I have learned is this:
Our fire knows better. Our fire knows who we are and our inherent value even when we don’t.
A woman’s fire is her unused superpower.
But to be able to use that superpower, my understanding of anger had to change. That took time, because I found no one who could teach it to me. I searched everywhere. I read books, I tried different coaches, and other experts. For years! No one could help me. In the end, I took pieces of what I had learned and created my own process.
I’m going to share three things I did and that changed my life.
1. I had to resist my urge to contain and suppress my anger
Instead, I learned to HOLD my rage, to feel it all, and to ask myself: What do I need in this moment? That prevented me from feeling overwhelmed.
2. I had to embrace my fire
Including everything that I thought made me bad — and allow my fire to be a warming, connecting, life-giving and empowering force rather than a destructive burn.
3. I had to change my relationship to POWER
Like many women, I had such negative connotations to the word power (think brute force, manipulation, dominance) that I didn’t like power. I didn’t want power. Yet, I understood the dangers of abusive power. Now, I had to redefine power as something good, something we need to make positive changes. Power with instead of power over. Power to connect, collaborate, and create.
Once I learned how to access the full spectrum of my power, my life started to change…
- Instead of commanding fear, I began to be more respected.
- I was finally able to quiet my mind (most days) and connect with my deeper inner knowing of what’s needed in a specific moment
- I was able to delegate more, freeing up my time (which was a huge relief)
- My relationships with my family improved
- Even my health improved (years of indigestion started to subside)
- And on my best days… I felt radiant!
What do you think your life would be like if you had healthy ways to channel all that power you have inside?