Saturday, January 3, 2015

New Resolve

It is the start of another year. For me it is a time of both looking ahead and looking back. As I review my activities, I can celebrate many things. I also can see some things in hindsight that I would have done differently. That is always the opportunity with new beginnings - to see what you might choose to do differently. It is part of the development of self awareness to attempt to know yourself, see yourself, and honestly consider what you have said and done. Are there things to change? Are there choices that lead to more kindness? Can you become more noble? Can you develop the inner strength to accomplish what you set out to do?

That is how the past can lead us into the future. We can see what we want to change, and then take hold of what is needed to make those changes. When we really commit to making the changes, that is called resolve. Often “New Year’s Resolutions” are superficial and we lack the commitment to bring them about. When we engage our will in looking back, seeing what we want to change, and actually making the changes, then we have resolve. Resolve is the firm determination to do something.

When I think about the word resolve, it separates into two ideas. One is to solve. We all have challenges and problems that call for solutions. Looking back over the year, we can see some of our attempted solutions weren’t so successful. When we re-solve, we are choosing a different solution to the same sort of challenges and problems from the past. We are solving again. And because we are unsatisfied with previous results, we are determined for a new solution. We have the resolve to make the changes.

If we honestly look back over our relating and connecting with young children, we can see our successes and situations where we might choose a different result. I often speak about the importance of reviewing the day for getting insight into what causes us to ‘lose it.’ Once we discover our own ‘buttons’ it already makes it less likely that they can be activated. And once we truly resolve to change, we can start taking the steps toward changing ourselves.

At the beginning of this year 2015, I suggest choosing one or two specific actions to resolve to put into practice. Too many and the likelihood of those actions taking root is diminished. You may have already found something you want to bring into your life of relating with young children. If not, I offer several simple practices for your 
consideration. See if any of the following suggestions speak to you:

This first practice is using an acronym as a mantra. I found this acronym on someone’s blog, and I wish I could give credit to the author but alas I did not note where I read it and now cannot find the source. W.A.I.T. - Why am I talking? Take this mantra as a moment of pause when your reaction pattern tries to kick in, as your button has been pressed. Say it over and over and over. WAIT. What do I want to say? Do I need to say anything? What if I take one breath or two or three, before saying or doing anything? Can I shorten whatever I think needs saying into it’s essential few words to get across to my young child what I really want? Do I even need to intervene in this at all? Why aren’t I thinking? W.A.I.T.

The second practice is to embody feelings of peace and strength, so when you need them they are accessible. Take a quiet few minutes for yourself a couple of times a day. Use the bathroom as a place of quiet and privacy if you need. Do this either with eyes open or shut. When you have your quiet space, fill it with thinking about peace and inner strength. What are those qualities for you? What do they feel like? Embody these feelings of strength and peace, meaning let them wash over and through your physical body. Let it pour into you, filling your heart and then raying out into all parts of you. What does that feel like? Embody those feelings. Practice daily and really feel it in your body. This embodying of positive feeling changes your neurology to be able to be more present, calm and strong when the going gets tough.

The third practice is to allow those to whom you relate to have their feelings without you needing to ‘fix it’ for them. Accept and acknowledge their feelings, and in your response keep their feelings separate from their actions. When your child is melting down, or whining for something, or having a tantrum, simply acknowledge what they are feeling. “You really wanted ice cream.” “You want to go with Mommy.” If you affirm what they are feeling, they will feel heard and that is a deep magic. Try it and see. At breakfast today, my partner Leslye and I were talking, and she mentioned it is the same with adults. I agree. If the other in an interaction listens to us and reflects back to us what we are feeling, we feel heard. They don’t have to agree with our wants or ideas, but being heard is a powerful magic for everyone. Read Janet Lansbury’s post on this theme. 

So, it is a new year and new opportunities await us to make our selves into the parent, the human being, we want to be. I offer these practices as support for your resolve over the coming months. I wish you all the strength, peace and creativity you need to meet the challenges that await you.

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