You may have wondered what yesterday’s commentary about generations had to do with how we make Choices and Chances in our lives. Well, let’s pick up today’s discussion where we left off. It is logical to recognize that what we have experienced in our lives will have an effect on how we handle situations in our lives.
Our income status as a child will affect how we view money, how we view education, how we budget our income, what causes stress for us, what defines comfort. The list is almost endless.
How we have been disciplined as children, can effect how we discipline ourselves and our own children. The value placed on family will affect the structure we create in our own homes. The marital status that we observed in our parents will have an effect on the beliefs we form about marriage.
As we’ve discussed before, our mind is a huge storage, data, bank of information, experiences, feelings, behaviors, values and beliefs. But how we use that information is critical to the way we design our lives.
It is not possible to recount every experience, every feeling, every belief that we have formed in a lifetime all at one time, everyday; but the information guides us. The data base is being referenced, even when we are not thinking about a specific event, as we react and respond to situations we deal with daily.
I notice that many of my expectations, that I have for my children, about their behavior, were created out of how I was disciplined and what was expected of me as a child growing up. For example, when I was young, there was not an avenue made available to debate a parental decision. If my mom said, “No.”, then she meant NO, and there was no discussion. On the few occasions that I would decide to attempt to inject my opinion, it was usually met with a consequence for what she thought was an act of defiance. I learned, through those experiences, to accept whatever decision was handed down to me.
Since having my own children, I have noticed that sometimes, when I have made a decision, and my children try to present their opposing view, I have to RESPOND with a reminder to myself that they are not being defiant. They are just trying to get me to see their point of view. I don’t want them to think that just because an authority figure has made a decision for them, that they have to accept it. I have encouraged my children to offer their side if they really feel that their side has not been considered or could present a better outcome for all concerned. I often felt when I was young that my feelings were not considered in some of the decisions my parents made. Based on my experience I decided to start an open discussion opportunity for my kids so that they did know that I appreciate their feelings too. They are just as important as mine.
I have had occasions where I have overturned an earlier decision after hearing their point of view. There have been times when I have not. I have also had knee-jerk REACTIONS, if they decided to passionately oppose my decision. I have felt the anger swell up inside me when their tone went from controlled to frustrated and upset. Because of my experience, these feelings, and that tone can strike me as defiant or disrespectful. I have sometimes even instituted a consequence. It isn’t a pretty situation. They are confused, feeling disrespected, AND wondering “What the heck is wrong with her??”.
In nearly each one of those reactionary times, I have had to back pedal, review the presentation, and most every time, apologize for my reaction and reverse the consequence. They were not trying to be disrespectful, but only voicing their opinion and disappointment for not getting what they want. It was me that instituted the policy of allowing them to share their opinions after all. That is what I really want to create in my household. But, it was that very same “baggage” that created the opportunity for them to open up, that caused the REACTION.
Where does it come from? I wasn’t allowed to speak up, why should they get to? If I did speak up it was considered disrespect, so they are disrespectful? I didn’t get my way, why should they? All of the above? It doesn’t matter. It doesn’t have any relation to what my child is saying, in that moment. It’s all about a past experience of MINE. I did not keep my cool, evaluate the circumstance and create an appropriate RESPONSE that applied to the present and my child.
In each split second, of any given circumstance, we make CHOICES; but do we RESPOND or REACT?
A response is more thought out, more calm, more positive, more deliberate in being respectful to all parties, considering the exchange between oneself and another.
A reaction, is sometimes more negative, more self-centered, not as well thought out, it can lack focus on achieving a desirable outcome for all. It can be a defense mechanism in direct relation to feelings associated with a past experience. Reactions may be equated to “flying off the handle” or acting impulsively, responses may be equated to “making sound decisions”.
When one reacts, and then says,”I can’t help it!”
I say…”OH YES YOU CAN…AND YOU MUST”.
Other people in your life have not had the same experiences as you have. Others can not relate to what you have FELT in the past…the positive and negative.
If you really are intent on being able to CREATE THE LIFE YOU CAN”T WAIT TO LIVE, then you must learn to RESPOND so that you can get the outcomes you truly want and keep your family/friends loving you–really! Having a more deliberate approach, gives you the ability to create peaceful, WIN/WIN, love-filled, situations for yourself and those around you!
Identify areas in your life in which you react, based on past experiences. How would you like to change those to responses? What would those responses be?