Category: Personal Growth

7 Tips for Controlling Your Response When Things Go Wrong

Last week I shared two stories about how our perception of what is happening fuels our response; that paying attention to our thoughts and the stories and emotions they generate is important when parenting and is a skill which can be learned and practiced.

Yeah right!! There was a time when I didn’t believe that I could control how I felt let alone that it was a skill which could be learned. Many of you may also have a difficult time accepting that you can control how you feel and respond.

CAN CONTROLLING YOUR STORY MAKE A DIFFERENCE?

I was a reasonable person, and I lived a good life but, darn it, stuff was always happening. I mean, if the kids are acting crazy, it’s going to make you feel crazy. If milk keeps getting spilled, if the house is getting trashed, and if grades are down, you feel down yourself. When money’s tight or your spouse isn’t helping you out, you feel overwhelmed. If you feel unsupported or if you have a health issue, all of this is going to mess with how you feel and respond, right?

Back then I knew the answer was a big fat yes! But time and experience have proven to me that you can control how you feel by taking control of the stories you tell yourself.

THOUGHTS CREATE OUR STORIES

Perspective is an amazing thing. It is, simply put, the story we tell ourselves: what we think is happening or has happened. It all begins with a thought. Once we have a thought, if we hold it in our minds, it becomes a story because our brain does its job and goes to the files and finds evidence that our thought is correct. This process takes fractions of seconds and this scenario repeats itself hundreds of times each day.

You change your story by controlling your thoughts. You manage your emotions by controlling your story. When you do this, you take more positive actions and you get better results. It is a skill and the more you practice it the better you get!

TIPS FOR HAVING BETTER STORIES

TIP 1—Take responsibility and stop blaming
When we choose to tell ourselves stories that blame others, we decide to become victims. Victims parent poorly. I hear parents blame their kids all the time for how they’re feeling.
• You make me so mad.
• You have ruined my day.
• I can’t think straight because you’re so noisy.
• I wouldn’t be yelling if you would listen.

Blame is always an indicator there’s a problem with our way of being or how we perceive what’s happening.

TIP 2—Decide to think the best of others
A father expected his 16-year-old daughter home at a certain time but she was late, very late! He began writing a mental story. He imagined all sorts of scenarios for why she was late. She lacked respect for family rules. She was thoughtless. She was irresponsible. The later she was, the bigger the story grew and the angrier he became. As she opened the door, he exploded with, “You’re late! You know the rules, and you broke your promise. You’re grounded, young lady.” Of course, his daughter ran to her room crying.

To let you in on the facts, the girl’s date had taken her to a drinking party after the movie. When she asked him to take her home, he refused. She had tried to call home, but the line was busy. So she called a friend who got off work at midnight and came and got her. In the meantime, she sat on the curb in the dark because the party was out of control and not safe.

The father’s story was at the heart of the problem, not his daughter’s lateness. When we decide to think the best of others, we can manage our thoughts and the resulting stories more effectively.

TIP 3—Choose words wisely
“What’s in you is what comes out.” It’s true! Pay attention to the words you say in frustration, sorrow, and anger; you’ll get a good idea of what you’re holding onto in your subconscious mind.

Our words reveal what we truly feel. The words that we allow to come out of our mouths are what ultimately drive feelings and the resultant actions and bring the results we live with daily.

Watch the words you use when thinking or speaking about your children and teens:
• Childlike vs. naughty
• Young vs. clumsy
• Needs more direction vs. oppositional
• Tired vs. grumpy
• Preoccupied vs. lazy
• Angry vs. rebellious
• Being a kid vs. messy
• Wants my presence vs. needy
• Has a need vs. is pushing my buttons

TIP 4—Check your core beliefs
We can get an idea of the beliefs we’ve formed growing up by paying attention to the stories we tell ourselves over and over again and by listening to the words coming out of our mouths. These beliefs may not be supportive or helpful in having good relationships with others or in our ability to be Present and parent well. Once we’ve found a core belief which is not helpful, we can get rid of it by rewriting the story.

TIP 5—Track your thoughts
Because thoughts are powerful, we need to gain control over them in order to stop getting more of what we don’t want. Once you’re aware of a negative thought, you need to capture it—write it down. You might be thinking it’s crazy to write down negative stuff, but I’ve lived this, and I know it works! So pay attention to your negative thoughts and write them down. Look for patterns, unsupportive and destructive stories and repeating themes. You can shred or burn your daily list periodically. Take control!

TIP 6—Teach others what you’ve learned
Teaching others what we’re learning and experiencing is a powerful tool that helps us make even greater changes. As we teach others, we clarify for ourselves. If we teach what we learn to our family, we’ll be heartened as we see them making changes also, and our whole family will be blessed.

TIP 7—Keep practicing
Keep working at controlling your thoughts. This is something you need to do daily. There isn’t a point when you’re so good at it that you can stop working on it

Would you like to know more about these seven tips on controlling your responses with your children, then check out the book Becoming a Present Parent: Connecting With Your Children in Five Minutes or Less.

Your Shares are the BEST Compliment. : ) 

When the Result Stinks You’re the Problem!

My mom, NaVon Cazier

My mother has come to live with us. She is eighty-seven and has Alzheimer’s. That makes every day an adventure.

My mother and my husband both go to bed a bit later than I do because they sleep in. Recently, early in the morning, I used my blow dryer for about a minute and a half. This is not an exaggeration as my hair is short and I do very little to it.

All of a sudden my mother appeared at the bathroom door demanding, “What in the H___ are you doing that in the middle of the night for!” Whoa, that took me back and I replied, “Well mom, it isn’t the middle of the night. It’s six forty-five and I am getting ready for work.” By this point, she was already heading back to her bedroom mumbling about the inconsideration of some people and having her sleep disturbed in the middle of the night.

My husband, Don

I have a wonderful pair of scissors. They cost a bit of money and I keep them in a drawer with my sewing supplies and I NEVER use them for anything but cutting material. Recently, I was sewing an item and left the scissors sitting on a pile of material scraps on my kitchen counter.

Later that day I found them outside, on the patio, in front of the door of our new office where my husband had been doing some electrical wiring. I knew that my husband, unable to find the pliers, had used my good scissors to cut his electrical wires! I picked them up and marched into the house, stood in front of my husband and said in a very irritated voice, “Why were my good sewing scissors outside by the office? These are expensive scissors and are only for cutting material!” Needless, to say he was taken back and replied, “I don’t know why they were outside.”

These are two really wonderful examples of how the story we tell ourselves can and does impact how we respond.

OUR RESPONSE MATTERS   

When we’re parenting children understanding the connection between what we think is happening or has happened and how we respond really matters.

It matters for two reasons:

  • What we think will determine if our response is appropriate or not
  • Our response will send a message to our child about how we feel about them and often about who they are regardless of whether this was our intention or not

Frequently, if our story is skewed, our response is harsh and inappropriate and the message it sends is damaging to how our children feel about themselves.

In the case of my mom, her story was that it was the middle of the night and so she felt that I was totally inconsiderate of the rest of the family and that fueled her angry response.

In the case of the scissors, my story was that Don was using them inappropriately and that he was an adult and should have known better and that fueled my accusatory and angry response.

In both cases we were wrong in what we perceived was happening.

My mom and I both sent a message that we didn’t really intend to send. My mom was bugged that her sleep was interrupted but she doesn’t really believe I am an inconsiderate person but if I had been an impressionable child or teen her response could have sent a negative message that could have been internalized as true.

I know my husband isn’t inconsiderate and inappropriate but my message implied that he was both. Often the message that we send to our children when we’re not in control of our response is that there is something wrong with them, not with what they may or may not have done.

Thoughts, perceptions, and beliefs create a story and based on those stories we feel an emotion and then respond. Our response generates a result which can be good or bad, helpful or unhelpful.

Paying attention to our thoughts and the stories they generate is important and is a skill which can be learned and practiced. As we do so our lives get better and happier because we have more positive outcomes for ourselves, our relationships, our children, and our family.

Next week I will share seven tips to help you begin practicing the skill of controlling your response even when you are angry, frustrated, irritated, etc.

Your shares are the best compliment.

 

Of Hens and Families

                                                   A Very Bright Chicken!

We have chickens, free-range chickens. That means they are never locked in the coop. That has its advantages and disadvantages!

•It feels like country even in the city
•They poop on your patio and steps
•Breakfast can always include eggs
•It takes a hunt to get those breakfast eggs
•There are fewer bugs everywhere
•Ripe garden tomatoes might not make it into the house!

You see the last thing on the list- Ripe garden tomatoes might not make it into the house! That has been happening to me all summer. In fact, I have been picking my tomatoes when they are still slightly orange with a bit of green. It’s annoying because the reason to plant tomatoes is that you want ripe from the vine tomatoes.

I’ve been watching for the culprit who’s getting into the garden. Today I found her out! She is the mangiest chicken in the flock. She’s missing feathers on her neck and on her behind. She’s skinny and scraggly. You wouldn’t think much of her. However, you would be wrong! She is smarter than the average chicken despite her looks.

This morning I discovered her in my garden and I shooed her out. Then, because I can’t figure out how she gets in I watched her. Within minutes I saw her scoot under the fence at the corner where it connects to our neighbor’s fence. I shooed her back out. Then I placed a large rock in front of the low spot.

These low spots are actually created by the chickens themselves. They love taking dirt baths. Over time they can create quite an indention.

That’s what has happened around the perimeter of my garden. When I discovered this I placed cinder blocks in every indention I knew about. That’s why I couldn’t figure out how Scraggy Hen got in this morning.

After I blocked her newest entrance I watched her pace from one end of the garden to the other looking for a way in. I could feel her frustration as she paced back and forth trying this and that.

Although I felt for her plight what I felt, even more, was the desire for a ripe red tomato out of my own garden so I turned my gaze away and I went back to my cleaning. The next time I looked her way she was in the garden! How did she do that!!

I shooed her out and then I watched some more. For just a few minutes she went back to pacing the fence line, then she veered to the left towards the pasture fence. The fence at the back of the garden is also the fence to the back pasture. It’s made of far different wire than our chicken wire garden fence.

This fencing is meant to keep out cows and sheep, not chickens. Scraggy Hen looked along that piece of fence line until she found a place where the wires were just a bit more open and through them she went. Now she was in the pasture and she headed for the section that is at the back of the garden, where she searched until she found a larger opening. Voila, in the garden again!

What Do Chickens Have To Do With Families?

Now, this post isn’t about hens and gardens or even ripe tomatoes. It’s about the challenge we have to work out a solution when something that used to work stops working for our family or family relationships.

Scraggy Hen had been getting into my garden the same way all summer, under the fence. She had a routine going. Get in, eat all the tomato you can and get out before Mean Lady shoos you out. Then today it stopped working. Scraggy Hen paced up and down along the fence line for a long time. She would finally wander away and then eventually come back and pace some more. It was frustrating to watch and if chickens feel then Scraggy Hen was frustrated. She just kept checking the same old spots but they were blocked and she couldn’t get through anymore.

That can happen in family relationships and family systems; what used to work stops working and then we mentally pace. We keep trying to do it the old way. We feel frustrated, angry, annoyed, sad, victimized and any number of other human responses.

Back to Scraggy Hen. She got tired of pacing that fence line. She wanted ripe, red tomatoes for breakfast. She had had them before and wanted them again. So she checked out a new fence line and got through. Back into ripe, red tomato heaven!

For Better Solutions Get Out of The Box

What Scraggy Hen did was get out of the box. She stopped thinking in the same old familiar pattern and tried something different. She stopped being frustrated and feeling victimized. She took control of her response and began to think outside of the box. When nothing was going right she went left, literally.

Scraggy Hen was used to getting into the garden a specific way. When that way stopped working she had to find a new way. She had to leave the comfort zone of what she knew and try something else.

There are books written about how to become an out of the box thinker, to find better solutions. But here are some simple steps to begin practicing now.
.
•Stop accepting victimhood and begin taking control of your responses.

When things aren’t going well it’s easy to feel like a victim of other people, even our kids. However, we are always in control of our response and when we believe and live as if that is true, it goes a long way in helping us manage even unmanageable situations and come up with better or new solutions

Repeat to yourself every time you feel that someone is doing something to you – I am not a victim!

•Leave your comfort zone

We all have ways that we have always done things or think that they should be done. It’s easier to follow the status quo but families who thrive keep changing whatever needs to be changed. They aren’t afraid to try doing something in a new way. In every family, everything is an experiment. Some work and some don’t and it’s OK. Try another experiment!

•Challenge your assumptions (stories)

Often when things stop working or go awry we assume it’s the other person’s fault. However, as we remain in control of our response to what doesn’t feel right we can also begin looking at our own motives, desires, and stories. What is fueling our feelings and our actions?

•Ask yourself searching questions

For example – instead of blaming your kids for not doing their chores ask yourself questions about how you are when you’re attempting to get them to do their chores. Are you present? Are your boundaries good? How do you feel about chores and what energy are you bringing? How is your consistency? Are you allowing yourself to feel like a victim? Why? When we ask ourselves searching questions about what is happening or not happening we can often make slight changes in our own behavior that can right a sinking ship or help us find a new ship altogether.

• Step out of your shoes and step into that of your spouse and children

It’s easy to get stuck in our own heads and in our own feelings. But when we step out of our shoes and into someone else’s we get a better idea of what’s driving another person’s behavior. For example, I had a friend who’s 13-year-old would not talk to her. It made her feel like a bad mom, that her daughter was mad at her or that she didn’t love her. She kept trying to get her daughter to talk to her. It only widened the gap.

Finally, this mom stepped out of her shoes and into those of her daughter. She decided that being 13 was probably a tough place to be and that what her daughter might need was a consistent connection, not words. She spent 3-5 minutes sitting on the edge of her daughter’s bed each night in the dark, in silence. She gently laid her hand on the bed next to her daughter’s arm. After a few weeks, her daughter began opening up. This mom stepped out of the box in her thinking.

•Don’t Take The Need for New Solutions Personally

Life is full of ups and downs. We can ride these waves of change better when we’re open to exploring different options and trying new experiments. Don’t take the need to change personally. Don’t make it about how you are doing as a parent. Just try a new experiment.

Your shares are the best compliment. : ) 

A Toilet and Self-care

The bathroom crashers – Ashley, Elizabeth, Aubrey

Recently, my daughter shared this story with me.

I was sitting on the toilet. In front of me were my three small girls.
“What are you doing?”
“I’m going to the bathroom.”
“Are you almost done?”
“No, I just got in here.”
“Well, how long will it take?”
“As long as it takes. Now go out. I need some privacy.”
“But we need you.”
“I’ll hurry, now go out.”
“But mom, why can’t we stay.”
“Because I need some privacy!”
“We won’t talk.”
“GET OUT!”

I’ll bet your laughing. And I also bet that many of you have had a similar experience. It seems to come with the territory called parenting and it can wear us pretty thin at times. That’s why taking care of ourselves on a consistent basis is critical.

WHY WE SHOULD TAKE CARE OF SELF

There are some really good reasons to take care of ourselves when we’re in the thick of parenting:

• Facilitates greater patience
• We are less likely to take our frustrations out on our children.
• We’re able to process our emotions in more adult ways than yelling, spanking, etc.
• We remain freer of resentment which allows us to see what is really happening in tough situations
• We experience less exhaustion
• We avoid feeling depleted and are instead energized
• It helps us tune in to the joy of having children even on busy or chaotic days
• It gives us the mental resilience to remain Present with our children more often
• We will actually remain physically healthier
• We will feel happier and more fulfilled

Often, when we find small moments of time for ourselves to recharge there is a sense of guilt but caring for yourself is a key to caring for your family better. Self-care is an investment in our family relationships, rather than a selfish indulgence.

WHY WE DON’T TAKE CARE OF SELF

There are a number of reasons that both mothers and fathers neglect their own self-care:

• No time
• You don’t know what daily self-care looks or feels like
• You feel that it needs to be away from home, doing something special, for it to count

Let’s take a look at each of these excuses for neglecting ourselves.

 

A. No time
This is the same excuse we use for not being Present with our children. But as in the case of being Present, it can take as little as 30 seconds to 5 minutes.

1. Deep breathing
It only takes 30 seconds to take 3-4 good long deep breathes. There is ample research that backs up the claim that breathing deeply is good for us. A few deep breaths:

• Relieve stress
• Helps a feeling of calm return
• Allows us to process emotion more quickly
• Slows a rapid heartbeat
• Drops blood pressure

2. Read
Go to the bathroom and lock the door. While you are in their read 1-3 paragraphs in a book you keep by the toilet just for this purpose. It takes less than 3 minutes to read a few paragraphs. I use this technique daily. Sometimes it’s the only self-care (except for my shower) I get and it helps me feel cared for on even the busiest days. You will be surprised at how many books you can actually read in a year this way!

3. Take a shower
A restful shower in the morning or evening can take as little as 10 minutes. I take one daily for the express purpose of letting myself know I am cared for. You probably take a shower to wake up or get clean. By changing that story I can promise you that your shower will begin to feel quite different and you will feel cared for. I have been doing this daily for over fifty years now and it’s one of the daily events I look forward to the most!

4. Sit down
Just stopping and sitting down for 1-3 minutes, even if children are with you, can feel like self-care if that is the story you tell yourself for sitting down. I also use this technique every day and when I sit down for this short rest I smile because I know it’s a tool for self-care and not just my bum in the chair. : )

I’ll bet you can come up with at least 3-4 ways that you can take care of yourself in under 5 minutes that can be repeated a few times each day. I would LOVE to have you share them in the comments.

B. You don’t know what daily self-care looks or feels like
At some point, I had to make a conscious decision to figure out what I could do that would feel like I was taking care of myself. So I paid attention to my days and began making a list. You know what is on my list – a shower, reading in the bathroom, sitting down on purpose for no other reason than self-care, and deep breathing.

Take the time to make a mental list. What would work for you? For one of my friends, it’s sneaking a piece of licorice out of her secret stash a couple of times a day. It always makes her smile and she feels like a kid again.

Another friend makes a cup of herb tea and then sips it as she passes the counter during the day. Yes, it gets cold but every sip tells her mind – you matter and I am taking care of you!

Another suggestion is to smile. When you want to yell or spank or run choose to smile. It may sound impossible when you’re stressed out by the 3rd cup of spilled milk or by your 2-year-old who is going to see how long he can scream; but there is magic in a smile, even if it’s forced.

Forced smiles also increase positive feelings. When a situation has you feeling stressed or flustered, or overly tired even the most forced of smiles can genuinely make you feel happier.

My mother walks out to check on the chickens. It takes only 5 minutes and she repeats it a number of times a day. She loves her yard and her chickens and rain or shine, summer or winter she takes these small breaks.

So take the time this next week to make your mental list and then implement with the express purpose of telling your mind and body – I love you. I’m taking care of you!

I promise that it will feel like self-care no matter how simple it is.

C. You feel that it needs to be away from home, doing something special, for it to count
Remember that consistent actions are what are required for self-care to impact your daily walk as a parent. If you have to leave home or do something special then self-care will be spotty at best. Even if you are one of those lucky couples who go on a date every week it is still not consistent enough. In order to impact your ability to parent at your best then self-care has to happen daily, in fact, a few times daily.

The need to leave home and do something special is a story you tell yourself. Our stories are powerful. All that is required is that you rewrite your story about self-care. If you need to, write out a simple one statement declaration about your new self-care story. Then repeat it to yourself every time you take one of your new actions.

EXAMPLE – I care for myself when I shower, sit down, read in the bathroom or breathe deeply.

Getting away is wonderful, as is doing something special. But if we truly want to have greater satisfaction in our parenting lives then we have to learn to care for ourselves every day, in fact, a few times every day.

You’re going to spend far more time with your children than you’re going to spend without them, so it’s imperative to learn how to self-care while you’re in the thick of parenting. It’s simple, it’s doable, and it takes small amounts of time and virtually no money; but it can and will pay huge dividends. Nurturing yourself while you’re doing your job of parenting is going to help you be in a place mentally where you can and will be Present more often.

You Can’t “Do” Yourself Into A Good Relationship

Have you ever noticed that when we’re having trouble with our spouse, neighbor or our children we begin to wonder what we can “do” to make the situation better? Can we devise a new system, have a good old-fashioned “talk it out” session or come up with a consequence/reward and so forth.

Recently I was mentoring with a mom who found herself in that sticky place. She wanted to know if I had any counsel that might help. I want to share with you what I shared with her.

Blame is an indicator

Relationship is everything and ultimately it depends on you! You can’t “do” yourself into a good relationship. You have to “be” yourself into one. Our way of being is far more important in our relationships, especially with our children, than anything we can do. It comes down to how we are with them. How do we treat them? How good are our own boundaries? How consistent are we? Do we have control of ourselves? Do we keep the promises we make to ourselves and to them? When “how” we are changes, when our way of being is right, everything begins to change and the relationship grows.

I always know when my “way of being’ is at the heart of an issue. I can tell because that is the moment I point my finger at someone or something and blame them for how I am feeling. Blame is an indicator that we need to look at our own behaviors, our own stories.

This good, loving mother shared with me that her son is needy, sometimes whiny, and doesn’t respond when asked to do something. He doesn’t like being directed. It’s frankly annoying. The energy between them is not positive and she is short with him.

See that blame finger pointing. Because of how he is, how he is behaving, she has to put up with feeling irritated and annoyed.

 

You Can Re-write the Story

As we talked further here is what else came out:
• He loves to snuggle
• He likes having a choice
• He needs details to move forward in a job or activity with confidence or to make a smooth change in          plans
• He is interested in learning

This mother realized that she was telling herself two different stories about her son and that her focus was most often on the negative story about him.

So she designed an experiment to change her “way of being” with her seven-year-old boy.
She rewrote her story. He isn’t needy. He is bright and needs detail and information to move forward and when given a choice is responsible for doing a good job. He likes her company because he loves her and he loves connecting with her.

She has coupled this new story with a new way of being when she deals with her son. She gives him a choice when asking him to do something. For example: “You need to clean your room. Which would work for you, to clean your room now and then go play, or to have 30 minutes to get stuff done you want to do and then clean your room?

When major plans change she takes him aside and lets him know before they tell the whole family. For example: They had a family activity planned. As she and her husband looked over the calendar for the week they realized that that one extra activity would mean they were gone from home every evening of the week. They decided to do the activity the next week. She let her seven-year-old know why the change needed to be made and when they would do the activity. When they told the family he didn’t make a scene.

She has also begun using “random touches” with him as often as she can remember to do it. A random touch takes 3 seconds and is accompanied by silence while looking the other person in the eye. It’s just a pat on the arm or back as you walk past them, a squeeze of the knee when sitting by them, etc.

I asked her today how her experiment was going. She said that when she remembers to give him details it works PERFECTLY. When she gives him a heads up about a change in the schedule it works PERFECTLY. And as for random touches….well that is making ALL the difference. Not just for her seven-year-old, but for all of her children.

She said that using random touches has changed how she is with her children. For example: When she is working and a child asks her for help in some way, if she turns so she can touch a shoulder or arm she is able to disengage for a few seconds and focus on them. She is learning to be PRESENT.

Check Out Your Way of “Being”

When you find yourself angry, frustrated or bewildered in any relationship, when you feel that someone or something outside of yourself is causing your discomfort or pain that is the time to check your “way of being”.

This mother’s efforts to change her “way of being” in this relationship is paying HUGE dividends in her family.

Remember that relationship is everything and that you can’t “do” yourself into a good relationship. You “be” yourself into one.

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Complaining and Charity-The Connection

There is NO silver bullet for change

Simple things done consistently over time are what bring the changes that matter in our lives. Often we look for a silver bullet but time, increased understanding and practice are what are required for lasting change. Here is an example.

The 1% Principle

I learned about the 1% principle way back in 2011. It basically states that when you work on the one most important change you need to make it exponentially expands that change for good in your life – it affects not only the 1% you were focusing on but all the rest of your life as well. That sounded really important to me and even true.

But it wasn’t until the fall of 2013 that I put it to the test.

I wanted to flow into 2014 gracefully and make needed changes. So I began taking that desire to the Lord (my chosen source for information) and asking him for some guidance. I phrased it this way, “What is the one action step I could take in 2014 that would make the most significant change for good in my life?”

You will notice I asked for an “action” step and only one of them. Remember the 1% principle.

God must have wanted to see how serious I was about the question because I prayed that same prayer every day for three months! Then one night I knew the answer – stop complaining!

That response shocked me because I certainly wasn’t a complaining person. However, over the next few weeks, as I watched myself, I found that I did a fair amount of complaining.

• Can’t you put your socks in the hamper?
• This meat is so tough.
• I can’t believe the city decided to fix the road now!
• Stop being so noisy.

I worked on this one thing for the next couple of years but eventually, I went back to my knees because I didn’t feel that I was making much progress. This time the response came immediately and was just as shocking. Be grateful! I have worked on that for three years now. I have used gratitude journals, better prayers, more service, and I have become more grateful and I do complain a bit less.

But this year I felt the need to understand this whole complaining thing better. I recall a conversation I had with a friend not too long after I was counseled to stop complaining. She said, “You’re not a complainer. Everyone says stuff like that. It’s just talk.”

Words are Powerful!

One of the topics that always comes up with families I work with is how powerful that ‘talk’ or our words and thoughts are. They carry enormous weight.  I understand that subject well and I have used a number of exercises over the years to get a handle on my own words and thoughts. In fact, there’s a whole chapter on the topic in my book Becoming a Present Parent. 

So although I am aware of when I complain and work to keep on top of my thoughts and the words I use I still felt that something was missing because I still complain. There seemed to be a gap in my understanding that if understood would radically assist me to complain less and be more grateful.

I have to take a short detour here in the narrative. At the same time I began working on complaining less I made a serious decision to become a more charitable person, less judgmental. That has been a work in progress too. Here is how they’re connected.

Last week I was sitting in my office pondering what I knew about complaining, thoughts and words and how they affect our lives. In that moment a light bulb went on in my brain. Complaining was more than just being bugged about something or someone.

Complaining is actually any negative thought we have. Any negative thought. And in that same moment I came to understand that when you are having a negative thought, even before the thought becomes words or action, you step back from charity. You cannot be negative and charitable at the same moment any more than you can experience fear and faith at the same time.

I have been embracing this new information for a week now and it has radically changed what I allow into my mind and out of my mouth. It’s a simple concept but it isn’t always easy to implement. Entertaining negative thoughts and speaking complaining words are as my friend said, “What everyone does.” It is a bad habit!

What You Get if You do the Work

But here is what can change in your family and life when you change the habit of entertaining negative thoughts and speaking negative words:

• You get better and more inspiration. You cannot hear God (your Higher Power) when you are listening to the negative

• Your relationship with yourself will improve. You cannot be charitable to yourself and your weaknesses when you use unkind words about yourself.

• When you truly love and accept yourself, warts and all, you will love your family better. You will be more charitable when someone messes up.

• Your family relationships will improve. You cannot be charitable, teach effectively or build up those you love when you hold negative thoughts about them or their actions or speak negatively to them.

• You will be a more effective example and teacher. Children learn better when there is less yelling, tension or judgment.

• You will yell less. If you hold negative thoughts and emotions long enough the complaining words will come out and spill onto others, despite your best intentions

• You will grow as a person. The process of learning to control your thoughts, words, and stories will teach you new things and elevate your way of being. That is what happened to me last week.

• You will be more charitable and less judgmental

• You will feel more gratitude, even for the hard things, because you will recognize them as opportunities for growth.

I have been working to lessen my own complaining for five years. Yet just last week I got another part of the puzzle and it’s exciting.

Sometimes we equate the time it takes to make a significant change in our lives with failure; “If we were really any good we would have gotten a handle on this by now.”

But that’s a lie. Simple things done consistently over time (whatever amount of time is required) is what bring changes that matter and adjust our lives for the better. I have been working on becoming a more grateful, non-complaining, charitable person for five years and I just had a new lesson. Thank goodness time spent does not equal failure. It equals eventual success no matter what it is we’re working on.

So don’t get discouraged. Just keep working on whatever is your 1%. When you don’t quit, change is guaranteed.

• It took me eight years to learn to sew well.
• It took me over fifty years of singing to be able to read music.
• It took me ten years to stop raging and yelling.

Simple things done consistently over time are what bring the changes that matter in our lives. Don’t Quit!

Want a clearer view of what change in real life looks like and tips to make changes that stick?

 

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Happy Father’s Day – PART III – The Glen Morshower Interview Articles

The TEAM KISS

This is part III of an interview that I had with Glen Morshower in 2011. Missed Part 1 or Part II?

This final Morshower article deals with the third question I asked Glenn –

What is the most powerful experience you have had with your children?

 

Glen – The years that my children were teens were really powerful, helping them with first loves and breakups. My children felt at ease with their parents and we would take cheerful walks and talk.

In our family we had a motto of sorts – you can share everything that you are comfortable sharing (which is to say, that you don’t have to share anything you don’t want to). The door was wide open no matter what it was they felt, said or did.

We created a safe place to fall. We were a safety net for our children and they used that net lots of times. Our children knew “You are gonna be loved here!”

Mary Ann – After Glen shared this with me he said, “I am going to tell you something I have never told anyone else. I have never said this in an interview before. This is about my greatest pain and the Team Kiss”. What he shared was so beautiful and I feel privileged to share it with you.

Glen – I felt that this idea was a whisper from God, the Team Kiss. My children are grown and we still do the Team Kiss. Let me tell you the history of how it came to be.

My mom and dad divorced when I was three. My mother remarried when I was six and my stepfather wanted to control everything, including my relationships. He was determined to break me through physical abuse. That was hard but not my greatest pain.

I felt even more pain in knowing that I had never seen my birth parents together being kind to each other. I only saw them together in the same room three times in my life after age 3, at the funeral of a grandparent, my wedding, and my brother’s wedding. Then they would stand 30 feet apart. I could be with one but not both, even in the same room. It was painful.

But even that wasn’t my greatest pain. My stepfather was determined that I would never be allowed to see my father. I had absolutely no access to my dad. I knew he loved me and I loved him but I was forbidden to see him until after I turned eighteen and that was enforced by physical means.

Early on I had a wonderful fantasy that when my stepfather died I would have the experience, for the first time, of sitting at a simple dinner with both of my parents and my brother, the original nucleus, telling the three of them that I loved them. I had no delusions about them ever getting back together. I knew that wasn’t going to happen. I just wanted the two people who created me to be kind to each other.

In later years my mother and father began to be civil to each other, they began to heal. However, my stepfather was a wedge in healing that relationship. My stepfather died in May of 2005 but just a short time before that my real dad died. I never got to have my fantasy fulfilled.

However, it was this fantasy and that whisper from God that created the Team Kiss.

Here’s how it works. Both parents kiss a cheek of their child at the same time. It’s a double kiss. To this day it is my children’s favorite kiss.

The Team Kiss is a reassurance. The two people who love you and made you have their lips on your cheeks at the same time. A child can breathe in both parents simultaneously. No matter what is happening out there in the world they are reassured that these two people love them.
Mary Ann – I hope you have enjoyed Glen’s words and wisdom as much as I have. I loved talking to him.

Let’s remember the most important things Glenn has shared.

• Everyone who crosses your path is there to help you
• Give your children unconditional and powerful love and affection
• Be gentle
• Listen to your children
• Give children the freedom to learn and love them through the process
• Don’t try to control the outcome
• This is a choice/consequence world
• And most importantly “Do unto others as you would have the world do unto you!”

Thank you Glenn Morshower for your honest and heartfelt words of wisdom!

Missed Part 1 or Part 2?

Glenn Morshower is regarded as one of the busiest character actors in Hollywood. Best known for his role as Aaron Pierce on the FOX hit series 24, Glenn has a hugely successful acting career spanning 35 years. He and his high school sweetheart Carolyn married in 1978 and have two grown children.
“The Extra Mile” is a series of performances which are written and performed by Glenn Morshower. The program is a combination of motivational speaking, storytelling, dramatic and comedic performance, acting instruction, and life coaching. Thousands, including a good number of celebrities, have attended these events across the US. You can learn more about it here.

Share Glen’s thoughts and experiences with those you love by clicking the links below.

In Honor of Fathers – PART II – The Glen Morshower Interview Articles

 

 

I hope you took the opportunity of reading Part One of the Glenn Morshower Interview articles. If you missed it you can view it HERE.

Today’s article deals with the second question I asked Glenn –

What is the best thing that you did for your children as a parent?

 

Glenn – Things occur for a reason, even bad things. I am not saying that what I am going to tell you is the TOP reason bad things occur but I surely think it falls in the top 3 – clarification.

When bad things happen we are forced to go where we don’t want to go and in being there we know we don’t belong. We have clarification!

This knowledge helps us make more healthy choices because we know we don’t belong in this difficult place. We want to change it. So we begin to make changes; not at microwave speed but in small increments.

The changes I made were:

• To give my children unconditional and powerful love and affection. We openly displayed affection in our home. We did a lot of hugging and kissing.
• I listened to them all the time.
• I gave them the freedom to learn and loved them through the process.
• I was gentle.
• I taught them to make consequence based choices.
• Most of all I gave them TONS of fun. Now that they are grown-ups I still give them tons of fun. I still play with them. They think their dad is a nut.

I think God has encouraged me to make a change in the Golden Rule. I say this with all reverence. The whisper said, “You know there is something in you that knows the Golden Rule can be improved.”

Because of this knowingness, I have reframed that rule from “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you” to “Do unto others as you would have life do unto you.”

Can you see the difference? In the first rule, you don’t have to be kind to the waitress in Nome, Alaska that you will never see again. In another scenario, you may be kind and the other person isn’t kind in return. They may even be hurtful.

But in this new way of stating the rule you do what is right because you understand that life will give back to you what you give out. You are kind to the waitress and the unkind stranger because life will give kindness, consideration, and gentleness back to you. If you treat everyone with love and respect life will give you love and respect. If you give your resources freely life will give resources freely back to you.

The BEST thing I gave to my children was to treat them as I wanted life to treat me!

 

Don’t miss part III next week. Glen shares something with me he said he had never shared in an interview before. It is powerful and you won’t want to miss it!

Glenn and Carolyn Morshower – Married 40 years

Glenn Morshower is regarded as one of the busiest character actors in Hollywood. Best known for his role as Aaron Pierce on the FOX hit series 24, Glenn has a hugely successful acting career spanning 35 years. Frequently seen in roles of authority, he has appeared in over 160 film and television projects including:
The Men Who Stare at Goats, Good Night and Good Luck, Black Hawk Down, Air Force One, Hostage, Under Siege, All the King’s Men, Pearl Harbor, Transformers, Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen, Transformers 3, with running roles on CSI, The West Wing, and Friday Night Lights.

The Extra Mile” is a series of performances which are written and performed by Glenn Morshower. The program is a combination of motivational speaking, storytelling, dramatic and comedic performance, acting instruction, and life coaching. Thousands, including a good number of celebrities, have attended these events across the US.

In Honor of Fathers – The Glen Morshower Interview Articles

In 2011 I had the extraordinary opportunity to interview Glen Morshower – Agent Aaron Pierce, from the Fox hit “24.    I had attended an event he spoke at and I was riveted by his humor, wisdom and pure joy in living. So I plucked up my courage and asked him for an interview that I could share with the mothers and fathers I work with. He said he would be glad to and gave me his phone number. I never called.

I thought about calling often. I would look at his card, smile in remembrance of his exuberance and then put the card down.

Finally, one day as I thought about tossing the card in the trash, I plucked up my courage again and called. I left a message on his machine reminding him who I was and what I wanted. I didn’t expect a call back. He’s famous after all and a busy man.

The phone rang a short time later. Imagine my surprise to hear “Hi Mary, its Glenn.” It took me a moment to figure out Glenn who. “Oh my gosh, I can’t believe you called me back.” And that was how the following delightful hour began.

Glenn is an amazing individual. He has a zest for life that’s infectious. He was fun to talk with and I had to write fast and furiously. (I do not know shorthand) I made every effort to gather as much as I could to share with you. Over the next few weeks I will be sharing what I learned. I know you will enjoy it as much as I did.

Mary Ann – Is there anything from your parenting which you regret?

Glenn – “I can honestly say that I loved it all! It has been the best role I have ever played. Now that my children are grown I miss holding them and tucking them in.

Here’s why I have no regrets in my parenting.

I grew up in a painful situation. My parents divorced when I was three and my step father was physically abusive. I learned early on that there is a purpose to the gifts we are given in life, even those experiences that are painful and are rarely viewed as gifts. My experiences were a gift and taught me character and gave me something to transcend.

I developed an awareness about life that I consider heaven’s gift to me. I became wide awake. I learned compassion and gained understanding and those are the things that I brought to my parenting.

I frequently tell audiences that moaning about a painful past is not helpful and in fact counterproductive. You need to re-frame that past. That can be done by realizing that everyone who crosses your path is there to help you even when it is obvious that it’s not what they intend.

There are two things that those who cross our path can give to us.

• There are those give us a clear road map of how to live our life. They model excellent behavior and we should embrace the experience.
• There are those who will clearly model how not to live life, how not to be. They give us an equally powerful road map of what not to do to others.

My stepfather fell into the second category. Because of his powerful example:

• I never raised a hand to my children.
• I didn’t try to control the outcome.
• I concentrated on teaching them that this is a choice/consequence driven world. What are the consequences you want to inherit? Instead of choosing what you want, choose instead the consequences you want. Make consequence based choices. This leads to a healthier, happier life.

As adults we need to be careful not to use “victim speak”. Making excuses for our bad behavior or blaming another person for our bad behavior is a weak way to pardon that behavior. Take the responsibility of making a course correction in your family tree.”

The first thing I learned from Glenn –

Glenn understood a form a pain that he deliberately chose not to dish out to his children. He chose love and tenderness which he found effortlessly flowed to his children because he decided to give them what he had always wanted but never had. He made a decision.

The most poignant portion of his answer to the question I had asked was this: In giving what he had desperately wanted he found personal healing.

And isn’t that what we all really know is true – that what we give we get back in abundance. Glenn gave love instead of hurt.

Next week Glen shares what he felt was the best thing he did for his children. Be sure and join me because it is tremendous.

Glenn Morshower is regarded as one of the busiest character actors in Hollywood. Best known for his role as Aaron Pierce on the FOX hit series 24, Glenn has a hugely successful acting career spanning 35 years. He and his high school sweetheart Carolyn married in 1978 and have two grown children.

“The Extra Mile” is a series of performances which are written and performed by Glenn Morshower. The program is a combination of motivational speaking, story telling, dramatic and comedic performance, acting instruction, and life coaching. Thousands, including a good number of celebrities, have attended these events across the US. You can learn more about it here.

Why not share Glenn Morshower and his joy in life by clicking on the buttons below.

I Hated Mother’s Day!!

Mother’s Day is almost here and for the next few weeks, I want to talk about it. Let’s begin the conversation with me telling you that I used to HATE Mother’s Day. Really, I hated it. I would sit in church or with groups of other mothers and hear stories about mom’s who never yelled, always said the right things, attended every baseball game, loved camping, liked playing with their kids, were affectionate and nurturing, didn’t yell if someone threw up in the car…I was not that mom.

I wanted to be that mom but I wasn’t. I frequently said or did the wrong thing. I wasn’t always nurturing, comforting or there and I didn’t like to play. I had already yelled so I was out of that competition. And baseball, yuck, I hated baseball.

It took me many years to learn how to stop yelling; to learn to hug more often, to go to sporting events, and to just be quiet and listen. I had to learn a lot of skills that I didn’t have when I started out. Sometimes coming to a realization that there was a skill I lacked was the challenge.

As far as parenting goes, I thought it was as simple as picking a good man and having a passel of kids. It never occurred to me that it would be useful to have some type of plan, to learn new skills, to be clear that things don’t always work out the way you think they should and that people, even kids, get to decide how they want their lives to look and feel. It was sometimes a jolting and unnerving experience.

I have frequently joked with my family that NOTHING turned out how I thought it would. That happens to be more truth and less joke.

However, I do not hate Mother’s Day anymore. I embrace it! I love Mother’s Day. It’s a day on which I celebrate the fact that I am a mom. I have a family and we are OK. My children love me very much, despite all my mistakes and lack. My husband is happy with how things turned out and so am I.

I may not be the mom that gets talked about in church or at the ladies luncheon, but I am the mom who raised this family of seven happy, healthy, kind, and good people. I am the mom who learned a great deal and made some valuable changes. I am content with that.

HAPPY MOTHER’S DAY to all you mom’s who sit in church or at lunch with other mom’s and feel less than. NOW STOP IT. Stop comparing yourself to other mothers. Stop judging yourself harshly. Stop believing that somehow you are failing your family.

Take my word for it, that it is wasted energy. Instead, celebrate the fact that you are a mother, that you are doing the best you can, and that you do have good desires in your heart for your family. Then get more education. Learn something new. Practice a skill you need and don’t quit till you are reasonably good at it. Be proactive. Mentor with a mom who is where you want to be. Keep working on yourself. Keep loving your family. Keep going!

What you will learn is what I learned while actively parenting children in my home for 39 years – you will learn you can grow and change, your children will love you despite your weaknesses and lack and, yes, in the end, it will all be OK.

What thoughts can you adjust for a more satisfying Mother’s Day?

HAPPY MOTHER’S DAY