How often do your emotions derail your values?
On my phone I have a bunch of great apps which help me monitor everything from calorie intake to exercise routines to cholesterol levels. Unfortunately, they aren't terribly effective.
You see, I don't actually alter my behavior because of these apps. I don't use or apply all of the snazzy stuff they do.
Instead, I order my food without consulting "Eat This Not That" and I don't tackle the exercise drill recommended by my Jawbone "Up" band. Nothing changes when I disengage from the information flow of these powerful tools.
Although I would like to be healthier and drop a few pounds, I don't align the reality of my behavior (Will I opt for nachos or a salad?) through the grid of what I value (I would like to have sodium intake be less than Dead Sea levels.).
This tension between mental commitments and actual behaviors exists in many areas of our lives, but nowhere are the stakes as high as they are with our families.
When we say we value something (honesty, quality time, forgiveness, or whatever you define as important), it's vital that our actions back up the words.
After all, actions always, always, ALWAYS trump words.
We have to filter our behavior toward our children through a grid of who we want to be.
So how do you put habits into place where the value becomes not just something that lives passively in the background, but something you actually USE?
How do we making USING our values a habit?
To start, there is one GINORMOUS challenge called EMOTIONS.
We will never be emotionally neutral from our children. We are wired to care for our children and for so many of us, when our kids challenge us, the default mode is to lead with our emotions.
We yell, correct, or criticize.We lead with frustration, anger, or impatience.
We REACT first, then recover with logic and calmness later.
This is the relational equivalent of binge eating.
If you're like me, leading with emotions seems natural. The key question is:
How do we elevate our values over our emotions?
How can we set ourselves up to successfully practice the values we preach? The answer is simple, though not easy: WE PREPARE!!!
We don’t “cross the bridge when we come to it," that's too surprising. Emotions are triggered by surprises, so avoid them at all costs.
Instead, we need to THINK THROUGH the RANGE of things our children can do and decide, in advance how to respond.
And in the planning, decide to ELEVATE YOUR VALUES over your EMOTIONS when those situations occur.
When we don’t prepare, in advance, we will revert to our default mode. That means if you’re a passive person, you may be unprepared to engage when your kid needs it most. If you’re an aggressive person, you may OVER engage…
We are optimists – believing (or perhaps failing to imagine) that OUR kids could ever do ________ (fill in the blank)
The key is not to be surprised, but to anticipate the problems that will arise.
Do you have the list of ways your elementary age kid could throw you for a loop? Can you imagine what your middle school child will call you to YOUR face? How will it go when you discover ______ about your High School student?
Tomorrow we'll talk about specific situations you SHOULD imagine in advance.