I’ve been trying to incorporate one of Brené Brown’s rules about not responding to something when you’re in the middle of a shame spiral, into a lot of different areas of my life: No texting, typing, or talking. I find I’m susceptible to highly-emotional responses that A) don’t always serve any desired purpose and B) do more harm than good. Because I grew up being raised by a parent who would have to do the “apology walk of shame” after he had calmed from an angry outburst, I have seen the effects of reacting in the moment and so I like to use Brené Brown’s mantra for a lot of different stimuli in my life. It’s just a small thing to tell myself to force myself to take a beat before responding.
Sometimes the kids do or say something that triggers my anger response. My anger responses are inherited from my Dad and they involve yelling and it takes everything out of me to resist that urge as it manifests in the moment. So, I tell myself: No texting, typing, or talking. I take a few breaths, I remember the things I have learned about parenting and what my kid’s individual needs are. I ask myself: What is your goal here? I give myself time to center the message I want to deliver in the way I think it will be most effective based on the kid and the moment.
Recently one of my kids hung up on me and I wanted to text back IMMEDIATELY and say, “That was so rude!” but I remembered my rule and waited a beat and while I was contemplating the best way to make sure they understood that was not an acceptable way to handle a disagreement, they called me back and apologized.
Lately there seems to be something every day that makes me feel a sense of immediate outrage. I want to rant about it on Facebook and/or Twitter but then I tell myself: No texting, typing, or talking. I stop and let the story develop so that maybe I get more context or information. I look to see what people smarter than me are saying about it. I consider my purpose, is it to actually get a message of action across? Then what is the best way to deliver that message? Instead of just immediately posting the first inflammatory headline I can find, I try to say something meaningful that might actually get through to the people who don’t agree with me instead of preaching to the choir.
Sometimes I’ll see someone post something to social media that I don’t like or agree with and I’ll remind myself: No texting, typing, or talking. To be honest, the disrupt is often just a reflection of differences in belief systems or world views or lifestyles and – will my criticism or correction change any of that? Am I close enough to the person to even take that step? I see “famous” people use their instagram in what I consider to be strange ways during this time in our country and I sometimes want to say, “Is this the best way to use your voice and your audience?” But first of all…I realize there are tons of people in their mentions/comments already saying that so my voice is not going to stand out. And second of all…why? Why take on that burden myself? I just unfollow them instead.
I also find sometimes that if I get sucked into a “debate” on social media it takes ALL of my emotional focus for quite some time as I’m constantly checking on responses. So during that beat I always as myself before I type a response, “Do you have the time/energy to let this suck you in the rest of the day?”
I found myself being the Mom/Wife that nags constantly and now, when I get those urges to say something I’ve said a million times I say: No texting, typing, or talking. I have found this especially important over the last few months. With Donnie under so much stress from his job (which is why he ended up quitting) and the kids just under stress from the chaos of the pandemic and their lockdown in our home, I don’t think there’s a lot of point in nagging them about hanging up their towels. It takes me about 3 seconds to hang it up for them when I see it on the ground, so I do that instead and then I’m not brought down by the negative feeling of nagging and neither are then. Instead, when one of them goes to get into the shower I’ll just remind them: “Don’t forget to hang up your towels!” and then I try to keep an eye out for when they do hang up their towels and simply holler, “Thanks for hanging up your towels!” when I notice that instead.