Jane's Mental Health Source Page

One of the Web's Oldest Personal Mental Health Sites [Est. 1998]

Stop Pushing Mum’s Rage Button

3 comments

My answer to the question, “How do I stop my mum from constantly descending into a huge fit of rage, in which she bringing up “bad” things that I had “done to her” from ages ago?” This adult child feels like walking on egg shells around mum and no matter how child reasons, mum descends into a rage.

You cannot change your mum, just like you cannot change anyone not yourself.

(Even ourselves: I don’t know about you, but I find myself quite stubborn and difficult to change!)

However, you can shift the dynamics of your interactions.

This is a way to then shape how you communicate with each other.

Image by Nicolas Raymond (Canada)You and your mum have settled into a comfortable albeit unproductive method of communicating, that involves a lot of shouting, which then triggers an emotional “Rage” button within mum.

Once pushed, the Rage button then seeks to engage all matters that reinforces rage and why mum is righteously enraged. This leads to bringing up past issues that confirms for mum why she must be enraged.

This is why you see the phenomenon – the “cause and effect” you see.

Reasoning does not work because logic threatens the “Rage” button. Any threats will create a level of resistance equal or greater than perceived threat.

By you trying to ‘reason” with mum, you might as well be saying to her, “oh grow up, mum, stop being a baby,” which really really REALLY pisses off mum. It doesn’t matter that you don’t mean this – what matters is how mum interprets this.

A novel idea to changing the dynamics of the relationship is to remove the dance of resistance you have developed with each other.

Let mum have her feelings in a way that also removes YOUR response from feeding into this vicious cycle.

Instead of saying, “I’m sorry mum!”
Say, “It’s too bad your life is so awful, mum.”

Say in neutral tone, and keep the same level of neutrality every single time. Practice your neutral face, the way your face looks when you say something like, “this book has a blue cover” or “the monitor is dusty.”

“It’s too bad you are wronged all your life, mum.”
“It’s too bad you have such a bad life, mum.”
“It’s too bad you think your kid sucks, mum.”
“It’s too bad you believe your child has done bad things to you, mum.”

…etc.

Notice how in the above statements, YOU are not in it.

You are showing mum that you notice what she is feeling, and you are simply echoing what she is saying, without you interpreting what this means about YOU or how you are as a child or an adult.

You are being a sounding chamber, letting mum hear her own feelings.

Sometimes people need to hear what they are saying from someone else’s mouths to really hear what they are saying and how strange or dysfunctional the words sound.

Eventually she will no longer get that adrenaline rush of being engaged in a dramatic shouting match.

It may take weeks months years but eventually it will get boring for mum.

When there is no resistance, there is no fight.

When there is no fight, there is no “fight or flight response”.

When there is no fight or flight response, mum’s body doesn’t produce the druggy high of adrenaline rush.

When there is no druggy high, there is reduced occasion of pleasure.

This is perverse pleasure that people can develop,
a sick way to remind themselves that they are still alive,
and that they still “feel”.

Written by Jane Chin

February 19th, 2013 at 9:46 am

  • weg

    thanks for the article! Very helpful!

  • Luke

    Thank you so much. I really needed this, and no one has given this advice before.