The No Nelling Challenge

no nelling

I’m a yeller. There. I said it.

I used to think it was because I’m half-Italian but now I think it’s because yelling is my default when I feel like I’m not being heard. I hate not being heard. In fact, when I think of all the times my husband and I have fought in the last nearly 20 years, I blame the escalation of the fights on me feeling like he’s not listening to me. He blames them on me not shutting up, which is directly linked to me having to yell louder to be heard.

That was all fine and dandy when it was just me and him but now we have kids. Not just kids but mirrors, sponges and encyclopedias of everything ever spoken within their hearing range.

Even though my husband and I haven’t had a shouting match in a long time, there’s still plenty of yelling going on. Often, there’s no real heat behind the shouting. It’s more like the loudest wheel getting the grease. But, I’ve gone to bed too many times with a sick feeling in my stomach over things I’ve yelled at my kids during the day.

Apologies aren’t enough. As I like to say, don’t be sorry – be different.

So, I’m going on a yelling fast for 30 days. If you’re reading this on Saturday, I should already have 48 hours of no yelling under my belt. I made a point to tell my kids that I’m going to work very hard to not yell anymore and my 3 year old daughter said, “No nelling Mama!”, hence the name of my challenge.

Why am I doing this? Our house is so loud and it’s commonplace for the four of us to yell at the same time to be heard. My kids (ages 3 & 4) are yelling at each other more and more. There have even been times when I was afraid of my anger and prayed to God to help me get a grip. Now, I’m praying to be shown why yelling has become almost automatic for me. It’s not just the volume of what comes out of my mouth, but the words themselves. Sobriety has given me more patience than I ever thought imaginable but the only thing I want being automatic in my life is love and kindness.

How am I going to do it? Like with drinking, I’m quitting cold turkey. I’m also not going it alone. There are countless other moms who’ve done the same thing and have documented their journeys. I’m taking help from wherever I can find it but I’m mainly going to lean on The Orange Rhino Challenge. I’m also going to blog about it as a way to hold myself accountable. Not incessantly, but enough so that if I relapse, others will know. That’s been a very helpful tool for me in sobriety.

Why only 30 days? Why not stop yelling forever? I’m half-Italian, remember? I want to keep it real, folks. When I was a kid, I wanted to be a lawyer because I was told I’d be able to argue as much as I wanted. I’m a passionate person and don’t think that all loud vocalizations are negative. The point of this for me is to be hyper-conscious of my words and delivery so that I don’t scar or shame my kids. Someday, after I have my kids fooled that I’m the Virgin Mary, a well-timed ass chewing might be very effective. 30 days of focusing is long enough for me to learn from the experience but I don’t want to count days forever.

What am I hoping to gain from this? My goal is to develop the tools to be a kinder, more patient mom. Yelling doesn’t work. All it does is make everyone involved feel stressed out and shamed. It’s hard to not be afraid of your parent’s anger when it’s coming at you loudly. My job as a parent is to be a guide. They’re kids and they’re going to make mistakes that I deem stupid but I never want them to feel stupid. How I guide them is how they’ll guide others. Most importantly, how I speak to them is how they’ll speak to themselves. I have a direct influence on what their internal dialogue sounds like.

I hope you’ll come back to see how I’m progressing on my journey! If you need some support in no nelling, here are some resources:

The Orange Rhino

Lisa-Jo Baker

Less Drama More Mama

Good Job! and Other Things You Shouldn’t Say or Do

22 Comments on “The No Nelling Challenge

  1. Karen, this is awesome. GOOOD FOR YOU! It takes time to develop the new neural pathways to reacting to situations that trigger us so, especially when that habit is quite engrained in us AND we get triggered to do it everyday! I’m really really proud of you. It takes courage a. to put this out there, b. to actually do it. If you start to yell — or even if you DO yell — put your hand on your heart, give yourself a dose of self-compassion, and call a redo. Keep us posted! Love, Lisa http://www.barefootbarn.com

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    • Thank you Lisa! The 30 days is up this Friday but I definitely have some new tools to keep me going. I’ll post a recap about it all on Friday. It’s been an amazing experience. I love your idea and will try it! Thanks so much!

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      • Karen, I have noticed that WHENEVER I give myself a dose of self-compassion, things shift. The executive functioning part of our brains open up. We move out of fight or flight. We have a few extra seconds to choose our reaction! Slowly. But it happens! Love to you! I’m really excited to see the update!!! Love, Lisa

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  2. Ok, I love the line on “mirrors, sponges, and encyclopedias” perfectly stated. Almost too perfect. I wish they would start to pick up on some of my finer qualities … teehee. I have so much to say about yelling it is ridiculous. A trip to county jail in 2007 cured me of that character defect/default. Maybe I’ll post about that next week. Good luck. (I love all these challenges. Such a fun bunch of bloggers.)

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    • It’s nice to have support from people who’ve been there (much like it is with sobriety)! So far, so good. I’ll be posting more soon!

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  3. I’ve been know to yell too, though apparently not enough that my phone doesn’t autocorrect yell to tell. I yelled a lot more when I was hungover. Sobriety has shown me patience with my kids I didn’t know was there.

    Agree yelling makes us all feel bad and likely shapes how they will parent. I don’t know about you, but I grew up with yelling. Hoping to break the cycle. Good luck on your 30 days. So glad you decided to do this.

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    • I grew up with yelling too and it bothered me. My kids are already calmer and it’s only been a few days. Thanks for the encouraging words!

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  4. I grew up in a house full of yelling. Consequently, it’s my natural inclination to yell myself. I don’t yell out of anger much anymore, but I am notorious for yelling Instructions (read demands) at my husband when we’re in different rooms. This drives him absolutley crazy! He had a terrible first marriage to yet another yeller. So I try really hard to not do it, and when I forget, I cringe and apologize. All that being said, I’m in for this challenge. Only “inside voices” from now on.

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    • I told my daughter to use her inside voice and she said, “That was my inside voice. THIS IS MY OUTSIDE VOICE!” Yelling was pretty normal in my household as well. Sometimes angry yelling but often just loud communication. I can’t remember the last time I really heard silence!

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  5. Karen! I love this! I am also half-italian (mom is italian) and I completely understand the nelling! I think that what you are doing is amazing! What a great gift for your children! It does take a lot of patience to have two children close in age! Heck, it takes patience period to have children at any age! I just asked my 18 yr old daughter if she considers me to be a neller and she said ‘no, but you go on and on and on’. lol That is also VERY italian! Right?! Just call me the NAG mom! Since sober I’ve been working on not talking so fast and cutting people off if they are talking too slow (hubby!). Basically ‘listening’! My mom and I can talk at the same time and hear each other and switch subjects faster than anyone and be happy with our communicating. My husband just shakes his german head like ‘how’d they do that?’ lol I can’t wait to hear how your ‘no nelling’ challenge goes! Hugs!

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    • Oh, man, I go on and on too. If I don’t feel acknowledged the first 5 times I say something, I keep digging in until I feel heard. I’ve also been known to be more interested in what I’m going to say next instead of listening to the conversation I’m having now! Thanks for the encouragement and hug!

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  6. Wonderful post…loved it. I don’t yell very often, and when I do I have to remember that compared to a 3 and a 5 yr old, I am a big guy and yelling must seem scary to them. I know on the few occasions I have yelled, they either cried / teared up or sat there stunned (when they are stunned, then I know it’s been a properly timed one!). So I have to be wary as well, and we have gone to a parenting counsellor to learn mirroring and other techniques to de-escalate things and to have things more about teaching rather than scolding. You have some great reasons and tool there in your post…great reminders of how we do have little sponges walking around. 🙂

    I know that with my employees in the past, they have told me that since I rarely yelled at them, when I did, they remembered it. As do I with former employers / bosses – that is, those who were normally quieter. For those bosses that liked to yell all the time – I ignored them after a while. So for me it’s important that I learn to either reign in the anger, turn into something positive, or yeah, let my children see that anger isn’t something to be feared, but to be learned to do in a healthy way. That is a lesson I am going to be learning along side them 🙂

    Paul

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    • I know what you mean about ignoring people who yell too much. I’ve had bosses like that too and it loses its effectiveness (if it was ever effective in the first place). I don’t want my kids to be afraid of my anger because I want them to know that it’s ok to get mad and that it doesn’t mean I’ll withdraw my love. This is a real lesson in communication!

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  7. I need to do the same! I’ve noticed myself using that default as well, especially as I go through these still-early stages of recovery and haven’t yet learned better coping mechanisms when things get difficult with my boy. 🙂 I am so glad kids are forgiving…but I’d like to have less that needs forgiveness.

    Good for you for doing this! Remember to be gentle with yourself. 🙂

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