Wednesday, August 6, 2014

First responses are not always the best response


Life is not always about what happens to us, but how we respond to the situations around us. Sometimes it begins with making a different choice other than what our "first response" would dictate.
I recently read an article from hands free momma's blog which helped me to remember that I am not alone it all this.

Here are a few thoughts that come out of my book "Goodbye surviving, Hello thriving"  I hope to have it available early fall.  
Life has been a journey. It has taken me to places that I never imagined. But I have had to learn new skills and habits along the way. I also have had to break some of those habits that have not served me well. I have had to learn  some "new responses" to situations.
"I remember one Sunday morning when my young daughter who was about four years old came into the bathroom while I was getting ready for church. She told me. "Mom you and I, we look so beautiful in our dresses; let's dance! " The old, worried, stressed out me would have pushed that aside and say, "Not now honey, I don't have the time we are going to be late."  I was learning the power of those little moments. I swept up my daughter and took ten or fifteen seconds out of my life to whisk her about the bathroom in a magical dance. In those few seconds we were both swept up into a fantasy land,  a magical moment that could have easily been lost. The dance only lasted a few moments, but the feelings lasted most of the day, and the memory will last a lifetime."   


Adaption and learning new strategies and habits

We become what we repeatedly do. Steven covey (7 habits of highly effective teens)

"Sometimes, I get the feeling that we're just a bunch of habits. The gestures we repeat over and over, they're just our need to be recognized. Without them, we'd be unidentifiable. We have to reinvent ourselves every minute.” Nicole Krauss

"It has been said that we are nothing more than our behaviors repeated throughout  our entire life. We are made up of daily life choices. We are also talking of daily habits, especially the ones that seem like they are not a choice anymore because they come so easily, and we do not consciously realize that we are making a choice because it is just habit. Some daily habits serve us well, but far too many of us have habits and strategies for getting us through life that really do not serve us well. We all have a habit of insisting on keeping up these broken strategies that really do not work. Why?  Because they are habits, and habits have a history of being too hard to break. Let me share with you an example from my own life.  

I had found myself in a bad habit of yelling at my children. The trouble  was that the children were beginning to model that same behavior. I found myself hating the fact that they were yelling at one another. We were getting to be a very loud family. I found myself wondering what it was going to be like once they all reached the teenage years. The thought of three very loud, yelling teenagers was frightening. We found ourselves yelling at each other to a point that everyone was yelling and nobody was  listening to anybody. Everyone was getting louder and louder to be heard over the other yellers.  It was out of control. I could only see it getting worse and worse, with no end in sight

It was my middle child who was the catalyst for change. She began holding her hands over her ears for large parts of the day. She is very sensitive to words, and yelling was over the top for her. She couldn't stand it anymore. I would notice her in the midst of the yelling with her hands over her ears.  Then I noticed that she would just tune out anything and everything going on in the house for large parts of the day. She was not happy in life.  She was spending way too much time with her hands over her ears or just plain tuned out to life. I knew it was not healthy for a 5 year old to be like this, I just didn't know what to do about it.  

One day I came to this daughter to give her a compliment on something that she had done well, and out of habit her hands went over her ears and her eyes closed. I was not angry at all, and I was not yelling, but she had gotten into the habit, she was ready for me to start yelling because most of the time it was that way.  I stood there in shock. What had we come too?  I felt like a monster, my child was hiding from me, and all I wanted to do was to tell her that I loved her and that she had done a good job.  My heart was about to break. I slowly took her hands off her ears, I whispered to her, "please open your eyes, I want to talk to you."  She shook her head  to tell me no.  I began to feel angry at her response toward me, but more angry with myself. The feelings I had were so strong, but the sadness coming from her was even stronger. I shut my mouth and waited.  She finally opened her eyes, but wouldn't look at me. When I finally  reached under her chin and held her head up, she looked at me with such sadness in her huge blue eyes, I was pierced to the soul.  "Why did you cover your ears when you saw me coming?" I asked,--- " I thought you were going to yell at me like you always do." was her reply, "I do not like the yelling and everyone keeps on yelling all the time, it never stops."  Oh my heart ached, I vowed that moment that we were going to change that habit.

How? What needed to happen for us to change? I called a family meeting right away. I announced that there was a new family rule. No yelling. I was going to start and set the example. We had to break this habit and replace it with another. "Yelling is not communicating" became our key phrase. The other was, "We do not communicate by yelling".  When we found ourselves yelling the new habit was this.... We were to stop, take a deep breath, and repeat one of those two phrases before continuing on with what we wanted to say in a nice, calm voice.

It was hard work. I would get about three words into my yelling rant and then have to stop, take a deep breath, repeat the phrase, then speak softly and kindly. It seemed like I was repeating these phrases five thousand times a day. It was exhausting at times.  About the third day, I was ready to give in, I had tried, but it was such hard work. I felt like it was constantly on my mind and a constant battle I didn't know I would ever win. I felt like I didn't have time to stop, and repeat the phrase so many times a day, but my little blue eyed girl caught my attention again. I noticed that she was not spending so much of her time tuned out to life with her hands over her ears. I also noticed that the sparkle was coming back to her eyes. She was doing better, and we were beginning to see results in the rest of us too. So we continued on the journey.

It was nearly six months into the journey when I realized that I had made it until noon without having to repeat the words; "yelling is not how we communicate".  I was overjoyed. We had come so far. It was no longer a constant, conscious, nearly overwhelming effort.  It was becoming a new habit not to yell. It made those long days in the beginning worth it. "
My hope and prayer is that we will find a desire to be better, to do better, to be a little slower in responding becoming aware that there may be something better than that "first initial response".   


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    Debi and Charly @ Adorned From Above

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