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I’ve been reading the Orange Rhino recently. She is a mom who found herself trapped in the yelling pit of parenting, and one day decided to stop. She made a pledge to go 365 days without yelling at her kids. She wrote about all the excuses she let get in the way before making this decision, all the reasons she simply couldn’t stop yelling at her kids. She followed the post up with rebuttals to those excuses. Her words resonate with me. I have so many excuses, and I swear they are good. We are hanging by a thread most days, and I finish the day feeling like I got hit by a truck wondering how in the world I’ll get up and do it again tomorrow. Another time maybe I’ll get into the circumstances of it all but for now it doesn’t matter.
There are so many excuses that keep us from going where we need to go. Habits take hard work to break and to build. There is great information out there on how to effectively make those changes, replacing habits instead of trying to start from scratch and so on. I learned a lot about habits in Dawn Trautman’s e-courses. I can be very good at looking at situations and planning. I can analyze where someone is going wrong and what tricks, tweaks, and solutions might help change that. I can talk the heck out of something – I know you would have never guessed! As my therapist told me recently before informing me that I no longer need therapy (is she the crazy one?!), I am intelligent, self-aware, pragmatic, and a good problem solver.
The problem is that I use all the planning, researching, and problem solving as an excuse. I use it as a great way to not do the hard things now.
There are a lot of things that I am spinning my wheels in research/planning mode about right now. Things that I can’t tackle because I haven’t had the time to properly plan and analyze. But almost 2 weeks ago, I made a choice. I didn’t want to be *that* mom. No, not the one described in my header above, I am totally *that* mom. But I didn’t want to be the one yelling. I didn’t want to be one who didn’t have control over her own emotions so she couldn’t help her children learn to control theirs. I didn’t want to be the “drowning in guilt and beating myself up because every day I did every. single. thing. that I didn’t want to do” mom.
So I changed. Just like that.
Well, it’s not that simple of course, but it also is that simple. I made a choice to let my excuses be unacceptable. I made a choice to make certain habits and behaviors be unacceptable.
I celebrated by purchasing two pieces of jewelry. They balance each other out in a way that’s important to me. First, I bought the “I can do hard things” necklace I’ve been eyeing for a long time. This will be hard; I can do it. This reminds me to stand up tall, suck it up, and just do it. Yes it’s hard. I refuse to let that be an excuse. I am very capable of hard things.
Second, I bought this “just breathe” bracelet. Doing hard things is important, but it’s hard. I can put a lot of pressure on myself, and this reminds me that in those moments when hard just seems too hard that I can just breathe. Those breaths bring glorious life-giving oxygen into my body, slow my heart rate, and stop the stress level from rising any further. Sometimes, all you can do is breathe.
This started with a choice about stopping the yelling in my home. No matter how frustrated, angry, and exhausted I am yelling will not help. At best, it is not a good communication tool and sets the wrong tone for our home. At worst, it is a weapon of abuse. I haven’t been perfect. Perfection is not the goal. But I have refused to let myself spiral downwards into the yelling pit. I may raise my voice for a phrase, but I stop in my tracks, often mid-word. I apologize for yelling. I take a deep breath and start over. I am learning about what triggers my yelling and how I can better deal with those emotions on my end. Sometimes when I can’t shake the feeling – the tight chest, tingling body, and boiling blood – I do a quick head or handstand. It helps blood flow and forces my body to engage in a different way. Those muscles that were ready to explode gratefully accept the call to action. And I breathe.
My sensitive and passionate son finds it helpful as well.
Habits are important. Plans and analyzing behavior can make the difference between being successful or not. But for this girl, it was time to get off the hamster wheel of analyzing and planning and make a choice to change. I’m working hard at making similar choices in other areas of my life. One decision at a time. Over and over every day. Reminding myself that it’s not an all or nothing, put the most magical perfect plan in place, and suddenly it will implement itself for you. Instead, it’s in every small choice I make each day, and I have the opportunity to change those choices. They won’t all be good, but I can decide that they won’t all be bad. And it is hard. But I can do hard things, especially if I just breathe.