I Can’t Just Ignore It

child with fingers in his ears
As a kid, whenever someone did something I found upsetting, Mom’s advice to me was to “Just ignore it.”
 
“What does that mean, Mom?”
“Pretend you don’t hear it.”
 
My young brain was baffled by this. Because I DID hear it and it still bothered me. What I ended up doing was learning how to stuff the upset and frustration down.
 
Whether Mom knew it or not, her advice put the onus on me to know how to set boundaries and manage my own emotions in those situations.
 
Mom was comforting at times, but it seemed to be when she was in the mood to be comforting. The rest of the time, I was sent to my room to calm down, told I was being too sensitive, blah, blah, blah. Did you have a parent like this?
 
After my oldest was diagnosed with autism, and myself soon after, the family dynamics I experienced growing up made more sense. The leaf may fall from the tree but it remains connected, know what I mean?
 
When I was an adult we learned mom had ADHD, and childhood trauma that made her more impulsive, inconsistent and prone to outbursts, many of which had a belt or some other object at the end of them.
 
I needed a lot of help back then learning to work with the nervous system I had but no one knew that I needed it or how to give it. Does this hit home?
 
It wasn’t until I discovered Zen Buddhism while going through cancer treatment when I was 18 years old that I found there were ways to help my highly sensitive and easily dysregulated nervous system to be calmer and more focused.
 
Parents these days have so much more access to the skills they need to heal the hurt from experiences like this. I get it. It can feel frightening at the thought of taking on the unhealed hurts from when you were a child.
 
When you don’t, that remains your understanding of what it means to be a child and you may unintentionally treat your child accordingly. The things we stuff down still show up in spite of ourselves. Pernicious little gremlins aren’t they?
 
Realizing that stuffing is great on Thanksgiving but not for emotions, is an important step to unlearning the suffering caused by people who didn’t know any better.
 
I’m still unable to ignore things because I hear everything, feel overwhelmed by the lightest touch, and can go into fight or flight when startled, etc. Pretty hard to feel other than anxious isn’t it?
 
But with the skills to speak up, set boundaries, and practice self-compassion, I can live without shame, create win-win relationships, and be kinder to myself. This may feel beyond you right now but that’s because you haven’t experienced it the way I teach it.
 
Each day, I make conscious choices to nurture my well-being based on the skills I’ve learned. You see the results in the content I create for you. I can teach these skills to anyone willing to invest in themselves. Is that you?
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