Are you taking things personally?
Sometimes it feels like children are doing things just to get at us. It’s as if they are not considering our feelings one bit – or, they are considering our feelings and are misbehaving just to do us in. How can they do this to us? After all we do for them…
It’s pretty easy to create a story about kids doing things just to bug their parents. It might even happen from time to time in the form of revenge. Most of the time though, kids’ behaviour is really just that – behaviour stemming from what is going on their lives. When parents buy into that story, it can end up resulting in a highly emotional parental response…maybe tears, yelling, sermons, or any combination thereof.
The opposite is also true. When we choose to believe that kids’ behaviour is not malicious, it can remove a lot of the emotional weight.
In his book, The Four Agreements, Don Miguel Ruiz highlights this:
Whatever happens around you, don’t take it personally… Nothing other people do is because of you. It is because of themselves. All people live in their own dream, in their own mind; they are in a completely different world from the one we live in. When we take something personally, we make the assumption that they know what is in our world, and we try to impose our world on their world.
Even when a situation seems so personal, even if others insult you directly, it has nothing to do with you. What they say, what they do, and the opinions they give are according to the agreements they have in their own minds…Taking things personally makes you easy prey for these predators, the black magicians. They can hook you easily with one little opinion and feed you whatever poison they want, and because you take it personally, you eat it up….”
Here are today’s questions:
Does your child’s behaviour hurt your feelings?
Do you respond with tears to your child’s behaviours?
What will you do to change the story you are telling yourself about your child’s behaviour?
There are two key steps to taking things less personally. Firstly, we need to become aware of the stories we are telling ourselves about the misbehaviour. It may involve creating a new statement of self-talk around the behaviour. Instead of,
“WHY is she doing this to me?”
it could become:
“This is not about me…” or
“Wow, something is bugging Abby today…”
The second step is planning your response rather than just reacting. We call it “ACT don’t YAK!” Often an emotional response comes out as too much talking. When we can plan our actions, we won’t need to rattle on emotionally.
A client shared their example of this with us this week. She went upstairs after her child had left for school. The bed was left unmade and clothes were on the floor. The child’s school was only a few minute’s walk from home. Her response: she took a picture of the room, texted the child and mentioned that she would be vacuuming after lunch and expected it would be taken care of. Sure enough, the child was home for 3 minutes at lunch, made the bed and headed back to school. There was not talking about it, no ranting, questioning (Why did you leave without making your bed…blah, blah, blah). Everything was done and the bed has been made all week since then.
Act don’t yak, and take responsibility for the stories that you are telling yourself. This can make a big difference in your home.