I received an email from a seminar participant last week, and it got me thinking about how much our own behavior affects those around us – sometimes without us ever knowing. Quoting part of the email:
“For a very long time I have been struggling with how to talk to my son, who is now 8 years old. Despite being a great kid, he has a very negative self-image and is an unforgiving perfectionist. In the past my reaction to some of his behavior has been very negative and deconstructive and usually leads to outbursts and very negative self-talk. During the class I had an ‘Aha’ that my negative reaction to his behavior was helping create a bigger problem.
“Upon coming home from your training, I immediately told my wife what I had learned. The next morning I committed myself to use the, ‘Stop, you are better than that / Next time…’ approach with my son. As instances would arise, I could see that my change helped keep the situation calm and we had no outbursts the entire weekend. I felt the change was doing something, but I wasn’t sure if the kids even noticed.
“It was not until today that I figured out how much of an impact the change is having on my kids. My wife called me to let me know that she was walking by the bedroom where my 2 sons were playing and she heard the 8 year old say, ‘You are better than that.’ Knowing the changes I was trying to make, my wife immediately went into the room and asked what the boys were talking about. My 8 year old piped up and told my wife, ‘Daddy has changed. When we used to get in trouble he would get mad at us and now he tells us, we are better than that. I really like that.'”
How many times have we said things or reacted out of habit, without giving thought to the words we use or the reactions we are causing? Like ripples in a pond when you drop a stone in the water, our words and actions spread out, far and wide. Perhaps it is time to do a little, “Stop it. I’m better than that,” on ourselves…