Posts Tagged ‘Connection’

Perception, Reality and Updating Family Systems

Wednesday, April 4, 2018 @ 06:04 PM
Author: admin

Perception, Reality and Updating Family Systems, expectations influence perceptionsOur last few blogs have concentrated on ways to establish and nurture deep connection within our families. Now let’s take the time to review our efforts and identify the changes that have resulted. (Notice I did not say “if” any change occurred; I presupposed that change happened which means I will be zealous in my effort to spot it.) Our presuppositions strongly influence what we allow our brains to see.

It takes determination and persistence to upend the status quo. When change does not come rapidly, it is easy for discouragement to overtake our intention. Too often surrender quickly follows. Our goal to build healthy, enduring, and dynamic bonds within our families is far too important to allow failure. How can we prevent that?

Since we know the slow pace of change often contributes to the abandonment of the effort to improve, let’s address that. One important strategy is to ensure that every shift in behavior is noticed—even the tiniest advancement. Any change is worthy of notice. The first element of our working strategy is to amplify our noticing.

This goes for adults as well as for children. (Many marriages, friendships, and jobs fail when we feel underappreciated, unnoticed and taken for granted.)

When we set the intention to be on the lookout for evidence of change, this “noticing” lens influences what we see, just like when we adjust a camera it frames the picture with an intended point of view. If we focus on the mountains, the flower-filled meadow in the foreground becomes blurred.

While it is important to keep our eyes on our big goal, remember to notice the incremental changes accomplished on the way. This helps us avoid discouragement, spurs appreciation for effort, and recognizes that change is a process that includes progress as well as occasional backsliding.

As always, we want to bring an attitude of neutral curiosity to the scrutiny of our progress. Once we notice, we want to find out why and how we succeeded. Let’s find the aspects that encouraged progress towards our ultimate goal as well as those factors that distracted us or challenged us or actually were counterproductive. All the data is valuable.

At the risk of stating the obvious, we want to continue to do the things that advanced our goal and we want to eliminate any obstacles that got into our way.

Next, let’s commit to another priority: acknowledge progress. This crediting process must include acknowledging ourselves as well as each family member. Sure, people may often brush off the compliments which we expressed.

The important thing is, they have been heard. Once heard they cannot be unheard. This might be judged a silly observation. But consider how often you replay dialogue between friends, family, and coworkers. Whether it’s an argument, and intimate moment, or a laugh human beings love to replay our audio tapes. Let’s commit to saying something that will warm their spirits when they replay it.

Updating our observations is important for another reason. It keeps us within the realm of reality. It also reminds us we don’t want to operate from an all or nothing mindset which tricks us into believing unless everything changes, we’ve failed. Any change regardless of size has value. As long as we have breath, we have the opportunity to keep plugging away.

In addition to noticing with our eye, we must also see with our inner awareness. It will need updating as well. We must regularly update our inner templates of how we think of our children within our memory, our hearts and, our minds.

Otherwise, our familiar “box” that defines how our child or spouse behaves will blind us to the new person whom they have become.  When we continue to live as if nothing has changed, the newly-born change will wither and die.  Instead of thinking  Johnny never or Johnny always… pause to remember in recent weeks when he broke the pattern—once, maybe twice, or more. What we expect to see influences what we allow ourselves to see. We must not allow habituated thinking patterns to override emerging change. It is essential that we live in the realm of reality not in the realm of assumption, especially when those assumptions keep us boxed into old behaviors and identities. We must not imprison people in “boxes” from which we never release them.

Since noticing and updating serve such pivotal roles, how can we improve these skills?

When thinking about a family member, pause to ask ourselves: Is this thought based on who they were or who they are? Then consider how they also might benefit from updating their template of Who and How you are. Discuss this idea as a family and begin making it part of a regular practice of acknowledging one another.

Roots and Wings, Questions and Answers, Building Connections

Wednesday, March 21, 2018 @ 02:03 PM
Author: admin

Roots and Wings, Questions and Answers Love connects families across time and distanceBy the very fact that you chose to take the time to open this blog, you have demonstrated a commitment to being the best parent you can. Posts like this one help us identify leverage points from which we can better guide and connect with our children. Today as I write this blog, tragically, another school shooting has occurred. This is another reminder of the fragility of life. In recent weeks we’ve concentrated nurturing our relationships within our family context. Strong, connected relationships form the foundational bedrock of healthy families. They do not happen by accident. They grow from a consistent commitment of words and aligned actions.

As Intentional Parents we have committed to a goal: to parent in a way that reflects our deeply held values and which helps children grow into happy, healthy adults with strong “roots” and sturdy “wings.”

So, let’s consider a few questions.

(First, identify one specific attempt you actually made to reinforce your relationship connection members of your family. Then repeat this series of questions regarding at least one attempt you made to connect with each of the remaining members of your family.) Let’s explore what you can “data mine” about your efforts.

Roots and Wings, Questions and Answers Keep reaching until you connectHow well was it received? What did it accomplish?  How did their response affect your emotions?

How have you reminded yourself each day to ensure you fulfilled your intention to make a daily connection?

Did you think to consider taking advantage of each family member’s “love language?” (If you need a refresher, reread this blog.)

What did you notice within yourself as the interactions occur?

 What happened when those efforts “landed”?

If your effort was rebuffed, how did you respond? (Think of both your external reactions and your internal emotions and thoughts.)

What can you do to help identify additional ways of connecting? How can you make them more effective?

How did timing, location, and the presence–or absence–of others influence whether or not connection successfully occurred?

Now run an instant replay in your mind WITHOUT any soundtrack.

What role did body language play—yours and theirs? How did they play off one another?

Now run ONLY the soundtrack. How did word choice influence the result? How does your wording influence the communication, for example, when you speak saying “you” versus “I”?

What have you learned about yourself? What have you learned about individual members of your family?  Decide what actions you want to repeat and which ones need further revision or a totally new strategy. When unable to connect “in person” what other ways might you try? Notes? Text messages? Get creative. Instagram? Letters? (the snail mail kind!) The bottom line:

Sustain the intention and

Develop the effective strategies

Implement systems that remind you to follow through.

Approach this effort one day at a time. What will you do today?

Changing Intentions, Changing Behavior: An Uphill Climb

Wednesday, February 28, 2018 @ 05:02 PM
Author: admin

Changing Intentions, Changing Behavior: An Uphill ClimbLast week we challenged you to set time aside to have deeply connected and vulnerable conversations with the people you love. We titled it “Before It Is Too Late.”  Our intent was to encourage some positive change regarding the mood of negativity, anger and, violence in America. We believe we must focus on connection as a prime priority.

Creating genuine feelings of belonging and connectedness are the solution to anger and isolation, not the after-effect.

A loving relationship is the soil from which our family bonds grow. We plant the seeds of trust, caring, forgiveness and, acceptance. The growth process takes time and attentive nurturing.

Change of this magnitude requires a combination of intention, commitment and, execution. It is definitely an uphill climb that demands persistence, powering through failure, forgiveness, encouragement and, acknowledgment of every tiny increment of success.

So … back to last week’s challenge. Did you actually make time to have the conversation in which you told them you love them? How many times did you do? if not, what distractions, habits and behavioral patterns got in your way? Pause for a moment to listen to your inner dialogue as you considered the previous questions. How “accountable” were you? What rationale (excuses?) did you invoke to justify not taking the time for the challenge?

Step back. Now ask yourself, if a spouse, friend, coworker or, child used similar reasons for not following through on a Big Intention would you call “baloney” on them? Would you think it but not share the thought?

Now imagine yourself as the “listener” hearing your reasons for not acting on your intention. Do the words ring true? Great. How can you overcome those obstacles to create a different outcome this week? What are you willing to do to make sure you make the time to connect? What reminders might serve your goal?

If you judged your “reasons” as insufficient, are you ready to move beyond these distractions, obstacles or, excuses? What will you have to think, do and say differently?

Intimacy requires us to be vulnerable with one another which means it leaves us open to being hurt. Risk it. Start the conversation. Lead by example and speak from your heart. Reciprocity may not come but the words will have been heard. Even if the message didn’t take root immediately, repeat the process until it does. When family members do respond, listen, totally, with heart and mind. That is a daring act of love which transforms, hearts, lives and, worlds. This is how we attune and it is through this attunement that we interact in ways that benefit the entire family.

The time for these conversations is now. #LoveRadically

Before It Is Too Late

Wednesday, February 21, 2018 @ 04:02 PM
Author: admin

Before It Is Too LateTo be successful, parenting requires love–deep, abiding, patient, forgiving love. Yet, because of the responsibilities parenting includes, it is often the locus of conflict between parent and child, between needs and wants, between growing independence and parental inclination to keep kids close and safe. These dueling priorities can lead to dramatic confrontations, angry words, isolating silences and deep feelings of disconnect. Each side embraces a potent sense of righteous indignation and conviction of the other’s faults, errors and unwillingness to listen and/or compromise.

Certainly, this explosive state of affairs is far from constant. Nonetheless, I’m betting conflict is familiar territory for us. We’ve all lived through the exhaustion, despair and, frustration. As intentional parents, however, we recognize that we must remain focused on our purpose–to build lifelong bonds as a family– and not be distracted by any temporary conflicts. Sometimes it takes a metaphorical wake up call to remind us of our priorities.

Last week’s horrific shooting was one of those events. I’m not going to wade into the gun issues; although a vital conversation, lots of others are shining a light there. Instead, let us choose to learn something powerful for our families. I’m sure those families were just like us. They probably had their points of connection as well as differences. I’m also sure that they all believed that they had plenty of time ahead of them to work through their conflicts and come to a connected, respectful resolution … eventually.

But as we all know, for seventeen Stoneman Douglas families, time ran out. For kids huddled in hallways fearing for their lives, there will never be another hug, another argument, another apology, another resolution, another vacation. All that remains is the memory of whatever final words or texts they shared as well as all the things they wished they could say but now remain forever unspoken. In their final moments, kids recognized what was really valuable to them: their families. Horrified parents who waited in fear for news of their children’s fate scrambled to reach them, prayed for their safe return and then wept as they learned the worst had happened.

Stay focused on the opportunity as intentional families to wake up, to step out of the quicksand of frustration and failed expectations regarding kids behavior and disconnect those negative emotions from the central focus of our mindset. It is so easy for us as parents to crumble under the weight of the arguing, of watching kids break family values, of kids pushing up against boundaries–all that is exhausting and distracts us from “seeing” that we do really care about one another.

Yes, it is important for us to strive to change or improve what is not working. BUT,  we cannot afford to overlook what is working. Take time to acknowledge it. Give it the attention and appreciation it merits. Kids and relationships flourish under the sunlight of attention. It is through those parts of the relationship that are working and connected that more good things come.

As the country struggles to find ways to keep our schools and communities safe, we all agree that “somebody should do something.” In fact, each and every one of us can do something; it does have to be grand or even part of a larger movement. We can start where we care the most. Today. Tonight. Reduce the negative energy in our own families in our own work relationships and friendships. Nurture feelings of belonging. It is a fundamental human need.

For us, there is still time. Why not make the most of it? Please consider this challenge:

Imagine how powerful that could be for the entire family. Two truisms: Family conflict is inevitable and time is finite. Focus on what really matters: love and connection.