At Thrive, we teach people how to express themselves authentically.We also teach how to process and understand emotions – heavy, light, joyful, angry. Yet when my 15 year old flipped me the bird, a surge of emotions flared up in me. Did I handle it optimally? Absolutely not!
If I could process every scenario that I might ever encounter in life so I’d know how to handle them, then maybe I could have handled it better. But when I encountered an unanticipated negative behavior that was completely uncharacteristic, I found myself befuddled. Eeh…uuh…ooh!!! What the crap! I searched thru my antiquated childhood parental game tape – I have to say something, she should be respectful, kids don’t respond to adults that way, BLAH, BLAH, BLAH.
Yes, I reverted to the old crappy punishment, “Your friend cannot come over today!” Nah, nah, na, nah, na! (At least that is what it felt like.)
Her flipping me off certainly didn’t feel good. But me, with an irritated ego, throwing out commands and dictating brules1that reinforced the misalignment of the situation didn’t make me (or her) feel good either. So how could I have set a good boundary for myself that didn’t entail cutting her off at the knees? After all, I taught her how to express herself and to not hold her anger in. She just expressed it a manner that shocked me.
Do I think that’s what she meant to do? Absolutely not! And neither did I. We’re always going to have those moments that we wish we could have handled differently. But once they happen, then what?
Going forward, I know that I don’t want to respond from my ego. I want to take a pause and discern, in the moment, what it looks like to stay in my flow, allow her to stay in her flow, plus hold the space for us to reconnect to the foundation for how we want to conduct ourselves in our household.
So, how do we establish an honoring standard or level of expectation from which we ALL operate (and not just the kids)?
By creating one!
It starts with foundational beliefs such as:
- We know we love one another and want each other to be the best we can be.
- We know our home is a safe place where we can freely express ourselves and learn life lessons in a loving, supportive environment.
- We know that hurting each other is never anyone’s intention (negative responses stem from our own fears).
Strong foundations create a secure anchor, to which you can reconnect in those challenging times. Once the connection is reestablished, it is easier to move forward in a way that feels good and honors everyone involved. This is when grounded insight happens. This is when you can respond and operate from your flow. This is when you can respond from a place of love and support.
What does it look like for you to respond authentically without offending others?
1brules (bull-shit rules); The Code of the Extraordinary Mindby Vishen Lakhiani