I’ve been thinking about the Yelling issue the last few days and about how, in my own life, that negative behavior can be blamed on the same thing a lot of my negative behavior can be blamed on: Acting Without Thinking.
I am the type of person who is constantly trying to better myself. I am also the kind of person who is often failing at trying to better myself. I like to think that makes me special. I often look at my failures and try to find common threads in them…maybe the root of the problem. What is it that makes me attempt these things and fail over and over again? And I realize that the majority of the problems in my life that I tackle over and over and over again – those problems could be solved if I would just learn to THINK before I act.
Let’s talk dieting. 2 weeks ago I proclaimed my joy over fitting into my size 8 jeans again. At that point in time I had lost 19lbs. Since then? I’ve gained 3 back. And let me tell you why: I’m to stressed/anxious/irritated to think before I binge.
When the thought occurs to me (often late at night) to indulge in something I shouldn’t…I immediately do it. I don’t think about why I shouldn’t…I just DO IT. It gets worse. If I can’t do it immediately – like if the thought is about french fries at the fast food place down the road – I purposely avoid thinking about it until I get there. So that I can eat it without feeling guilty first. Yes, of course I’ll feel guilty about it afterward, almost immediately afterward, but I’ll have already eaten it so – Too Late! Ha!. So sometimes I’m driving down the road to the ice cream place thinking, but not about the action I’m about to take. I’m thinking Oh! Pretty Tree! Funny Bumper Sticker! Ugly House! Dead Armadillo!, but I’m not thinking about the fried chicken tenders I’m about to inhale in 12.2 seconds. So therefore? No annoying subconscious to get in the way of my decision making.
But if I could just STOP and THINK, there are so many things in my life that I could change. STOP. Think about eating that browning before eating it…then maybe I can talk myself out of it. STOP. Think about yelling at my kids before I do it, then maybe I’ll come up with a better alternative. And then…here’s the big one: STOP. Think about any emotional response before I have it. Responding to anything with a boat load of emotion behind it? Always fails for me. Yet I do it ALL THE DAMN TIME.
Since Dad died, I feel like this bad habit of responding to a situation on fresh emotion? Has gotten much worse. And of course, when I’m responding off of emotion? There are probably tears involved. This never ends well. NEVER. I always feel like an idiot afterward, and usually my point doesn’t even get successfully made because the emotions block the path. If you start crying when trying to communicate with someone, the tears will either screw up the message, or the person on the receiving end of the message is so uncomfortable with the tears that the don’t pay attention to it. But mostly? I just look like an idiot.
One not-so-big-of-a-deal example is the day I got laid off. I was upset (obviously) and when I went to get the kids from daycare one of the directors had to remind me that I hadn’t paid my registration fee for the upcoming year. I was confused because I had thought it would just come out with tuition but it turns out they needed me to sign something to make that happen and I’m AWFUL about not reading the fine print. Well…I felt so stupid. I felt like a failure for getting laid off and then I forgot/messed up something for my kids. I hate being the parent that forgets stuff…so I kinda started crying. And then I wanted to convey that it was not HER making me cry so I said, “I’m sorry, I got laid off today…” to try to explain my tears. That didn’t help because then, of course, she thought I was upset about having to pay the late fee with no job. But that wasn’t it…I just needed to STOP TALKING and take several deep breaths and THINK. Because my emotions were screwing up what I was trying to say which was, “So Sorry! I’ll bring the check tomorrow!” and they were making her feel bad because she thought she was the one that made me cry.
See? STOP. Think. And more often that not? DEEP BREATHS. These things would come so in handy if I would just apply them.
So…instead of saying, “Back on track! I’ll lose that 3lbs!” or “Mom Mission: Decrease The Pointless Yelling!” – I’m going to try something different. I’m going to try to get to the root of the problem when I fail in my Many Missions To Improve Myself. I’m going to try to simply STOP. And then Think. I’m going to be deliberate with my actions. If I’m doing or saying something? It’s because I thought about it for a few seconds first. Maybe even a few minutes, if it’s a big thing. If I’m too emotional to respond in that moment, stop for a minute and breathe. Maybe don’t say anything. If I feel the urge to yell? Count to 10. Think about other ways of responding first. If I want that huge pumpkin muffin? Stop. Think. Maybe I want to walk around the block instead. Or do 5 push-ups.
For the rest of this week…that’s my goal. To be very deliberate in every step I make. I’ll kick start this by exaggerating a lot of the pauses in my mind so I can force myself into the habit. I’ll pause before EVERYTHING…just to get used to the feeling. Need to Pee? STOP. Think. Do I need to pee right now? Which bathroom should I use? Do I need to put on my shoes? STOP. Think. Which shoes should I wear? Deliberate on every mundane and stupid thing there is…just to get my mind used to the idea so that when the big things come up like the urge to scream, “I HATE YOU!” to my husband when he accuses me of throwing something away for the 10th time that day…I’ll know to stop and think and say something calmly like, “You know? You really make me want to blow my brains out sometimes.”
It’s always about the baby steps, right?