Rear View Mirror, Gratitude and the Lens of Love
Conventional wisdom says hindsight is twenty/twenty. With Thanksgiving now in our rear view mirrors, what lessons can we bring forth throughout the holiday season?
Intentional Parents can choose to sustain a gratitude perspective amidst the onslaught of holiday noise and stress. Take a deep breath and imagine the benefits that might accrue to you and your family. Resist the temptation to groan and bemoan that it's impossible to add another item to your To Do List. This is doable and it needn't take much more than a moment of time and attention.
How many times a day do you check your phone for texts, Twitter and Facebook alerts or to post on Instagram? What if you resolved to reduce the times you choose to react to your phone. If you check it hourly, change it to every two hours or, only at break time or only after 5:00 p.m. (How does that make you feel? Responses may vary from exhausted relief, to a shivery sweat of withdrawal. We'll blog about this aspect another time.)
Back to this momentous decision. Intensify your resolve and breathe ... Now create a "Notes" page titled I Am Thankful For... Each day use this newly available chunk of time to list one thing about each family member which you appreciate. These can be significant or minor. Avoid turning it into a Big Deal. This list is for your eyes only and it's intended to shift your point of view from one of stress, frustration and failed expectations to a lens of appreciating the little blessings.
Too often the weight of what we think loved ones should be doing or saying traps us. We focus on how they fall short. This tendency ignores the fact that we are all works in progress--especially our children. Our parental "hat" tends to highlight our awareness of what our kids still need to master: the skills, habits and values which they need to be successful human beings. This makes it easy to overlook our own shortcomings.
For a bit of perspective, let's pause for a moment to review a recent day. Turn the lens back on ourselves. How many times did life serve a "reminder" that we can do better, that we depend on the help, cooperation, and feedback of others throughout our day. Humbling right? Knocks us right off that pedestal that is too easy to set ourselves atop.
Let's return to our Daily Appreciation List. As we contemplate taking on this daily practice, what feelings bubble up? Our emotional response often provides a window of the emotional thermostat of our family relationships. What feelings wash over us? Excitement? Confidence? Doubt? Exhaustion? Something else?
If you struggle to find something positive to list, take this awareness as a wake up call that your family Emotional Bank Account* needs deposits. Fast!
Temporarily ignore instances that conjure disappointment, annoyance, anger or judgment. Sometimes we get stuck on "correction" mode and chronically evaluate our loved ones through this negative perspective. Problem is, this grim point of view easily overwhelms us and dominates our feelings towards others. We quickly see how they've missed the mark and we remain blinded to their efforts to comply, learn or, improve.
Time to don the proverbial "rose-colored-glasses. For this exercise, release the negativity and accountability lens and focus on finding one thing--no matter how small--one thing about each family member that brings a smile. While searching for an entry, view life exclusively through a lens of love and affection. Temporarily ignore instances that conjure disappointment, annoyance, anger or judgment. (There's plenty of time to address that later.)
For the next month take on this daily practice. Notice how it opens your awareness to what IS working on your family. Notice too, how it alters the emotional temperature of the family. Consider sharing your Daily Positives List with your loved ones. (Have no expectations regarding their reactions! Simply inform them that you wanted them to know that you appreciate "this" about them.) Observe both their immediate and their long-term response.
What might be the result of committing to this daily gratitude practice for the month of November? Please share your experience with us. Look in the distance of time's rear view mirror and remember the overwhelming joy of welcoming your child to the family. That memory serves as a driving force for being the Intentional Adoption-attuned Parent that he needs.