How to respond with LOVE when life gets messy
Happy New Year! I hope your 2017 is off to a great start. For most of us parents, today was the first day back to school after a long (emphasis on the long) holiday break. I was initially ecstatic about being home for 12 days with my husband and my children. Towards the end of this break, in typical fashion, everyone inevitably got on each other’s last nerve and the blissful colorful holiday cheer quickly faded to black. So if you are anything like me, today was a mixed bag of feelings—exhaustion, relief, sadness, frustration, and hopefulness… just to name a few.
As I settle in to post-holiday reality, I am taking some time to set intentions for myself for the days and months ahead. One of my personal intentions is to become more responsive and peacefully-communicative with my husband and kids. My reflexive, auto-pilot, stress-infused approach to communication and dealing with life’s challenges has not been working for me. 2016 was a rough year for my family, as major life events of deaths, serious illnesses, a move, etc really took its toll on all of us. And like so many of us, when life happens, we tend to lash out on those who we hold most dear---our family members, and also ourselves. That quickly spirals into a mess of guilt-ridden emotions that only creates more inner-upheaval, self-loathing, and an unhappy family.
I need a reset!!
Here is a tool that I created to help me to respond instead of react to situations in my life. Whether it be daily hassles or major life events, this tool will be a reminder that even in the most difficult of situations, I will be ok as long as I pause, give myself compassion, and choose a response instead of reflexively reacting,
This tool will enable me to give myself some compassion for however I am feeling, knowing full well that I cannot possibly be empathic or compassionate to anyone else if I do not respond first to myself. I want my love for myself and my connection with those I love to be strong, regardless of what circumstances or situations life throws my way.
This tool will allow me to create the pause necessary so that I can make a choice about how to respond to my needs and the needs of those around me no matter what the circumstance.
Whether I am speaking to my husband, my sons, or my mother, I want to be sure that I feel heard, and I hear; that I receive respect, and give respect; that I receive compassion, and that I give compassion.
When life gets messy, here’s how I can show me some LOVE:
Pause & pay attention--a critical first step!
Just observe what is happening right now at this moment no matter what is happening around you
What is the situation? Name it, describe it objectively.
Observe without judgement or evaluation.
(ex: My child is having a tantrum and I am yelling at him)
What just happened in the moments or day leading up to this time.
(ex: I have not slept and I had to wake up early)
2. Own my feelings:
Remind yourself that every behavior is a person’s best attempt at getting a core need met, and that goes for you, too!
When needs are met, a person can feel:
Comfortable: Full, Satisfied, Relaxed, Fulfilled, Easy, Safe, Content
Rested: Refreshed, Rejuvenated, Invigorated, Alive, Exuberant, Spry, Alert, Energized, Relaxed
Interested: Curious, Engaged, Absorbed, Fascinated, Involved, Intent
Glad: Happy, Excited, Delighted, Encouraged, Elated, Exuberant, Overjoyed,
Hopeful, Joyful, Confident, Cheerful, Enthusiastic, Optimistic
Peaceful: Calm, Serene, Radiant, Blissful, Secure, At Ease, Tranquil, Composed, Expansive, Clear, Content
Loving: Connected, Touched, Tender, Open, Nurtured, Amorous, Affectionate, Warm, Compassionate, Friendly
Grateful: Appreciative, Thankful
Adventurous: Eager, Playful, Amused, Invigorated, Alive, Motivated, Inspired, Stimulated
But when needs are NOT met, a person can feel:
Uncomfortable: Pained, Embarrassed, Uneasy, Hurt, Miserable
Tired: Exhausted, Fatigued, Lethargic, Weary, Sleepy, Dull, Overwhelmed
Uninterested: Aloof, Apathetic, Disinterested, Bored, Distant, Withdrawn
Sad: Unhappy, Disheartened, Disturbed, Despairing, Troubled, Heavy, Anguished, Depressed, Dismayed, Lonely, Disappointed, Gloomy
Nervous: Anxious, Distressed, Perplexed, Skeptical, Worried, Edgy, Insecure, Unsteady, Alarmed, Confused, Jittery, Suspicious
Mad: Angry, Enraged, Bitter, Furious, Hostile, Upset, Embittered, Aggravated, Exasperated, Agitated, Irritated, Frustrated, Annoyed
Scared: Fearful, Reluctant, Afraid, Shocked, Anxious, Terrified, Hesitant, Horrified, Paralyzed
3. Validate my own feelings:
Acknowledge thoughts to yourself: ex: Wow, this is really hard or this situation really sucks!
Part of giving empathy to yourself is being very honest with yourself about your feelings in that moment.
Just having a thought doesn’t mean you want to act on it. They’re just thoughts. Allow them to be there.
(ex: ‘This kid is driving me crazy! I just want to leave!')
Don't edit your thoughts or feelings here. All are welcome and very important to acknowledge
(ex. 'I am feeling so resentful and sad')
If you judge or try to suppress your thoughts and/or feelings, then they will just emerge later likely in unhealthy ways.
Remind yourself that all feelings are valid
(ex, 'I am welcome to feel any feeling that comes up')
Self-empathy is necessary before you can give empathy to anyone else.
4. Explore Choices and Solutions:
Now that you are in the moment and mindful of your thoughts and feelings, you can reflect on the situation and make a conscious choice for how to respond in a way that is in line with your values
Ask yourself, ‘How can I make a choice for how to respond, or solve this problem, in a way that supports my values and the person who I want to be?’
‘How can I respond in a respectful way that also allows me to feel comfortable, authentic, and heard’?
‘What concrete actions can I take to deal with this situation’
When life happens, you no longer have to beat up on yourself, feel sorry for yourself, or start growling and grumbling at everyone who enters your field of vision. That never makes anything better and only makes you believe that your kids and spouse/significant other and friends think you are an out of control loon!
Instead, show some LOVE! Doing so will not only preserve your sense of self, and your connection with those you love, but it will also model healthy emotional intelligence for your children.
Go ahead and give it a try. Remember, like anything new, this process takes practice. But it does work if you let it!
LOVE on, fellow parents!
Do you want to raise respectful, polite and thoughtful children who are self-confident, responsible and happy….
…….without resorting to yelling, punishing, or threatening?
…….without turning a blind eye to unacceptable behavior?
…….without having to reading the top 20 best-selling parenting “manuals"?
…….without hiring a parent trainer/”expert”?
There IS a better way to parent. It involves nothing more than YOU as the Parent Expert using all of your amazing innate intuition to guide you. You already have what you need right within yourself!
What's the secret to this intuitive approach to parenting?
There is actually brain science behind why we parent the way we do. And most parenting guides NEVER talk about it. Learn HOW this works, use it in your favor, and you will create the optimal environment for your family to thrive! And the everyday average parent can do this!
So, ditch the parenting books—who has time to read them anyway?? Allow me to introduce you to the real parenting pro—YOU!
--Lots of Love,