In every situation, and every interaction with others, we can choose how to respond. We may not be aware of our choices while in the middle of the situation, yet we still make a choice every time we respond with anger, compassion, or escape altogether. This choice starts with our internal dialogue.
When we are stuck, lost, or hitting a wall, our internal dialogue determines how and when we get through our rough patch. A very powerful tool for these times is to ask ourselves, in the heat of our frustration or pain, “What do I want to get out of this?”
Most of the time, we aren’t even thinking rationally about what we want. Perhaps we might be thinking about what we don’t want, which is an attempt to run away from a situation, and not deal with it. Rarely, though, do we ask ourselves what we are fighting and feeling so hard for.
When we demand that others (ie. our children) do what we want them to do, what is it that we are really trying to get out of the situation? My guess, is that 9 times out of 10, we’re trying to run away from something we don’t want, and we have no real touch with what we want.
We were at church the other day, and my son was sitting three row ahead of us, right in the front row of the congregation. All of the sudden, he started going at his nose. It went on and on.. then he ate his results… right in front of everyone! I was mortified! I kept trying to think of ways to send him signals to stop. The guy sitting next to him was grossed out. I was grossed out. I was stuck, frustrated, and starting to feel the anger well up inside me – “Just stop!” I thought.
Then, I asked myself, “Why am I so upset about this? What am I trying to get out of making him stop?” The truth was, I was trying to avoid people thinking I was a horrible mother for raising a child who would pick his nose so freely in front of everyone. I was trying to save myself, not him. He obviously didn’t care.
After the service, I told him that he shouldn’t pick his nose in church, and he was embarrassed. I felt horrible. Should I have said anything? I still wonder what my true motivation in that was, and if my saying something made it worse, or better.
In all things, we have choices. And how we choose has an effect on the people around us, and our own lives. If we know what we really want to get out of a situation, we have a powerful tool to make better decisions.
The other scary thing, just as a side note, is that even if we are not aware of our own intentions, they are often very obvious to the people around us by the choices we make. We can say what we intend, but what we do, and what we choose not to do, speaks far more than what we say we want.
Our choices are our power. What do we really want to get out of life, out of relationships, and out of everything that happens to us? That truth drives how we live, and how we homeschool.