Tag: 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.

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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.

 

Set Yourself Up For Success

Choosing one ‘best’ thing to work on right now makes ALL the difference in how much success you will have in making changes in your life.

“I fight the 100% Devil constantly, daily, every minute of every day. In my head, I have a To Do list a mile long, and that doesn’t include the things I need to do that I forget are even on the list! I said to my husband the other night that I felt like I was drowning and that I just wanted to give in and sink to the bottom and find some peace.

‘I am still working on the same problems from over 20 years ago… I now know it is because I try to do too much at once and set myself up for failure.” Jody

“I keep saying to my husband that this can’t be the way it is supposed to be. Life shouldn’t always feel like you are always behind, always disappointing yourself and others, always with more to do. I feel like I spend my days just getting through the day, and that’s REALLY far from my larger view of what life is for. I deal with whatever is urgent right at that moment.” Shannon

I’ll bet this sounds familiar to you, this feeling of drowning and sometimes just wanting to give up and sink. I’ve been there, I mentor hundreds of parents who have been there and I’ll bet you’ve been there.

Life can feel as if we are spinning too many plates at the same time. There is a limit to how many plates we can spin at once. If we have too many plates spinning many end up falling to the floor and breaking.

It’s important that we decide which plates are vital and which are not. Some plates may be important but not at this time. We can spin them later when we take off some of the others that can only be spun now. Why not stop spinning plates and choose in, to the 1% principle. What one thing could you begin today or this week that would make a BIG difference in how you feel, how your family feels and in your overall sense of success and happiness?

How do you determine what the best 1% might be? Here are a couple of things you can do. There are others but this will get you started.

1. Personally, I pray. I ask, “What one thing could I do right now that will make the biggest difference in the quality of my life and my family. Then I pray that prayer until I have a very clear thought come into my mind. I have had to pray for as long as three months and as short as a few seconds. It all depends on how ready I am to hear the answer and respond to it.

2. Make a list of all the things that you think you need to work on or change. Then ask your self this question – What feels like it could wait. Then cross that item off your list. Repeat this process until you only have 2 items left on your list. Now take a day or two and see how each of those is manifesting in your life and how they make you feel. Then ask the questions again – Which feels like it could wait. This will leave you with the one thing that ‘feels’ as if it would make the biggest difference. Now do something to change it. Remember the steps to making lasting change and begin working on your best 1%.
REMEMBER – It’s by simple things, done consistently over time that BIG changes are brought to pass.

What is your current 1%? Mine is tracking daily successes. Every day I write down at least one thing that I did well. What we track we do longer, more consistently and get better at. I’m making good progress and I feel better about myself and my progress every day.

If you’re interested in learning more about the 1% Principle, I recommend Raving Fans, by Ken Blanchard.

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Want Lasting Change?

Over the years mentoring parents I have found that there’s one challenge that comes up over and over again. I call it the

100% Devil

 

This is the troublemaker who sits on your shoulder and tells you all your problems have to be fixed now; there’s not enough time to make the necessary changes; you have to do it perfectly, or not at all; there’s so much to do you’ll never get it done or you don’t have what it takes to make a lasting change. His purpose is to make it difficult for you to begin, let alone stick with it long enough to effect change. And he’s excellent at his job.

BUT there is a cure for the 100% Devil. It’s called the

1% Principle

 

This principle states that if you focus on the best 1% of whatever it is you feel needs to be changed, corrected, fixed, etc. then success in that 1% will affect in positive ways, all of the other things you aren’t focusing on now. The 100% devil is the enemy of this principle: small and simple things, done consistently over time bring big results.

The 1% principle works because the results of focusing on the 1 thing that will make the most difference right now is exponential change.

When you work on the best 1%, other issues which you aren’t even looking at miraculously resolve themselves. If you splinter your focus the best you can do is to maintain mediocrity and at the worst move backward. Real growth comes from building on a solid, consistent, best 1% improvement.

When I was a young mother, I was a yeller. It kept my family walking on eggshells because they never knew when I would explode. It took a neighbor walking across my street and handing me a brochure on anger management to get me to look at what I was doing. It was a painful place to come to, and for a few months, I wouldn’t even accept I was there.

But as I observed myself it became evident it was true. I needed to do the obvious and simple thing and stop losing my temper. In our struggling family of seven children, five of whom were teens, there were many things I could have worked on. But my heart told me this was the best 1% at the time.

It took over ten years for me to conquer that demon. So what kept me going? How was I able to persevere long enough to make it happen? How did I dash the 100% devil to the ground so I wasn’t tempted to quit after a few months, two years, or even nine years?

I learned a lot during the time I worked to conquer my temper. Here are the steps that worked for me. There may be other possible steps, but this list is more than enough to get you going and keep you going.

1. CONCENTRATE on the one thing you need to do right now
Do you need to take a look at your current family culture and build a vision? Do you need to give up using technology when you’re working with your kids? Do you need to listen more, yell less, play with your kids, have more mini-conversations, eat dinner together, or go to bed earlier, control your money habits? What is it for you?

2. COMMIT to being consistent for as long as it takes
Some of our family goals will take many years to come to fruition. So will many of our personal goals.

3. REMEMBER being consistent is not the same as being perfect.
Never let the 100% devil remain on your shoulder for long. Dash him to the ground. Don’t believe his lies. Change takes time. Growth takes time. Perfect is not the goal; progress is!

4. BREAK what you want into smaller steps
If the goal is to stop yelling, how would that look?
• Accept that it’s about you and not the behavior of others.
• Commit to your family you’ll use a respectful voice—ask for support.
• Decide what you will do instead of yelling when times get tough.
• Get counseling if you need it.
• Practice, fail, practice, fail, practice . . . for as long as it takes

5. CREATE space
When I was working on controlling my temper, I had to create space for reflection, for getting help from others who had accomplished what I wanted to accomplish, and for nurturing myself as I did the work. Make a commitment to the change you want to see and then make space for the work that it will require.

6. KEEP your word
Do what you’ve decided to do. Be as consistent as possible. Track your efforts. I had to keep taking the steps to control my temper for ten years. Don’t quit.

7. MAKE CERTAIN the steps you take are in your control
When I was overcoming yelling, I was careful my goals were in my control. I couldn’t attach my success to someone else’s behavior.

For example, if a mother wants to have the kids’ chores done by nine, her actual goal might be to stay Present at chore time and move from child to child encouraging and helping them.

If she works with her children each day, supporting them, then she’s successful and reaches the goal even if they’re not completely finished with chores by nine. If success hinges on having it all done by nine, she has less chance of success because she doesn’t have total control over what each child does.

8. FOCUS on today—it’s all you have to work with.
Ten years is a long time to work on one thing. But as I focused on one day at a time, I was able to persevere. Do your best today. If you don’t do well today, then when tomorrow is today, begin again. Once today is yesterday, let it go! Don’t quit!

9. BELIEVE the end result will be exponential growth.
Believe that 1%+1% will not equal 2%, it will equal exponentially more. While I was working on overcoming my yelling what else happened.
• I learned to be more forgiving
• I learned to be more charitable
• I became more grateful
• I strengthened my relationship with my husband and
children
• I got control of my responses

I could list quite a few more but this will suffice as an example that when you focus on the best 1% you get exponential results.

Real growth and change come from learning to move toward your goals and desires one step at a time, consistently, for as long as it takes.

It takes time and practice to make lasting change and to grow as a person or as a family. We must commit to it. We need to consistently do the work. We have to believe we can accomplish our heart’s desire. In fact, it has to be our heart’s desire.

Doing small and simple things, consistently over time, is what will ultimately give us the success we seek as individuals and as families.

Have you waged war with the 100% Devil? What have you done to win your personal war? Let’s share and help each other out.

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Say NO to New Years Resolutions!! Tools to Make 2018 Better

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!

Many of you have been with me for some time now. We’re friends in learning.  We’re seekers together. I want to thank you for the past few years of association by giving you some real tools to make 2018 better.

Start by saying NO to ineffective New Years Resolutions!!

2017 is almost gone! I’ve been thinking about the last year and I’m satisfied. No, I didn’t get everything done I wanted to do. No, my life isn’t always peaceful and put together. But, I have learned a great many things. I have made some significant changes in my own way of being this year. I have done some work that matters. I’m content.

My One Action Step to Make 2018 Better!

Now I’m facing 2018 and I have determined that I want to flow into the New Year gracefully and move through the year making needed changes, learning and again, ending 2018 with a sense of satisfaction. So for the past few months, I’ve been taking that desire to the Lord and asking him for some guidance. I have phrased it this way, “What is the one action step I could take this year 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. I have learned from 60 plus years of New Years Resolutions that there is a tendency at the end of the year to take note of all the weakness, imperfection and losses and then create a huge list of to-dos for the next year, to fix all that stuff. I’ve also learned that this is a recipe for failure.

I have come to believe in and act upon the 1% principle; that when you make the correct 1% change 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. I have also come to understand, through experience, that focusing on my strengths and successes and then seeking divine guidance helps me clearly see the correct 1%. No more New Years Resolutions for me based on what hasn’t gone well during the past year.

I went through this process of discovering the correct 1% in 2013 and here is what I came up with – Stop complaining! I didn’t realize I was complaining so much.

This year, as I pondered my work in the area of complaining I realized that I have made some progress but I’m still not where I would like to be. So I again went through the process of discovering the 1% for 2018 – Be more grateful. Hmmm, I thought I was grateful. Back to the drawing board. : )

Three Steps to  Change

There are some steps that are helpful to know in order to really make change stick and not feel discouraged in the process.

  1. Awareness of what to change. Now that I am aware of what my work is for 2018, be more grateful, I can see when I mess up. Wahoo, progress. It looks like this. You mess up, recognize the mess up after the fact and then decide how to do it differently next time. When I find myself feeling ungrateful I will remind myself what steps I have decided to take to be more grateful and then I will commit to doing that next time.
  2. The second step looks like this. You mess up and in the middle of the mess up you recognize it and stop and redo right then. So eventually, when I have an ungrateful thought or am beginning to complain, I will be able to stop and rephrase in a more grateful way.
  3. The third step is that you think about messing up and you don’t! The time will come when more often than not when I feel ungrateful and want to complain I won’t. I will change my thoughts and focus on what I am grateful for.

Each step takes time – weeks, months, sometimes years. We have to give it what it takes.

Because I know the steps I can see that I am already making progress and it isn’t even 2018 yet. I am on my way to success!!

The Tools in a Nutshell

Here is a summary of the tools for a better 2018 in a nutshell:

• Stop focusing on what you didn’t get done in 2017. Stop looking at all the problems that still need to be resolved. STOP!
• Look at all the successes you have had this year no matter how small. Make a list of at least 10.
• Ask your Higher Power for ONE action step for 2018, a step that can make a big difference in your personal life.
• Hold that thought no matter how insignificant the change may feel to you.
• Make a commitment to work on that one thing all year long.
• Understand that the first step in change is awareness. When you mess up and then recognize the mess up, rejoice. You are in the first step. Don’t stress about how long you stay on step one. Don’t quit!
• Know that when you can stop in the middle of a mess up and redo right then, you are in the second step.
• Change has happened when you can stop the impulse to do the thing you want to change and instead do something better!
• Repeat the process at the end of 2018

May each of you have a remarkable 2018 filled with movement toward personal happiness.

Your friend and mentor,
Mary Ann

I WILL BE SPEAKING at the Winter Homeschool Conference on January 27, 2018, in Layton, Utah. This conference is designed to support and rejuvenate home educating parents who want to thrive, not just survive the homeschooling experience. You don’t have to be currently homeschooling to attend! I will be speaking on Process vs Outcome. Knowing the Difference Can Change Your Family. If the topic resonates with you I would love to have you join me. ​​​​​​​

P.S. You can learn more about seven ways to get better self-care in my new book Becoming a Present Parent, Connecting With Your Children in Five Minutes or Less. Knowing the difference will help you let it be enough. You can also receive a chapter from the book on Touchpoints, creating points of connection rather than having points of contention, FREE by visiting becomingapresentparent.com It can be life-changing for your family. I promise!