Ditch the Broken Tools.
I want to share a story illustrating how stubborn I can be on holding onto beliefs that are not serving my goal. How quickly I can opt to what is comfortable and convenient, instead of staying present and searching out more enjoyable ways to live my life. I get it. It is hard to change. It is hard to learn/do/behave differently- even when it means we are doing things SO MUCH HARDER! It is not until we release the convenience of "this is how I've always done it" and start doing something new and different that we can feel the positive change in our life. I want you to ask yourself at the end of this story- are the current strategies that I use with my children, partner, boss, employees helping me get to my goals, or is it time to learn some more effective tools?
We rescued our dog, Jude, two years ago. We adopted her from the SPCA in Richmond, Va. When we brought her home, she refused to eat. For 5 days, it was scary. So I reached out to my friends for help. A close family member shared with us her homemade dog food. Jude now only eats homemade dog food. My husband, Jason, and I make it from scratch and store it in the fridge for her to eat throughout the week (it's the only meal prep I do). Part of this dog food making process includes opening 4 cans of ingredients. And about a year ago, our can opener went dull.
Every week- when my husband and I would make her food, we used that dull can opener. At first, it wasn't that bad. Just slightly annoying. I would notice it took more hand strength to get the blade to cut the aluminum. After a couple more weeks, it needed to go around the can twice to make sure the can was opened. And after a couple of more weeks, it just flat out wouldn't work. That's when I would go into full-on rages, over opening cans.
"JASON! Please help me open the cans...I want to cry and give our dog away!"
One weekend, after getting back from the store and about to start the dog food preparation, I ran upstairs to put on my comfy pants. Let's be real, delay the start of said dog food preparation. After killing about 10 minutes, I returned to the kitchen, feeling upset/frustrated/annoyed/resentful and not really knowing why. That's when my wonderful husband shared:
"I opened the cans for you because I know how much you hate it."
I believe there were tears in my eyes. I was so grateful that I didn't have to open the cans, I probably cried. Yes, I know I cried! But after I was finished, I cleaned off the can opener and tucked it safely into the kitchen drawer. Because "that's what I've always done".
Wash, rinse, repeat this process for over a full 52 weeks.
Now, I know what you're probably thinking, possibly saying out loud right now:
"Seriously? Get a new freaking can opener already!"
I thought about it. Oh, I *thought* about it.
I did what just about what everyone does when they have a problem- I researched can openers online. I had three in my Amazon cart. I had a $45 electric one that was beautiful. But....I wasn't sure if I wanted another plug-in appliance. There was a really cool toucan can opener that was fun. And, it was $20. The last one that was stored was a plain black OXO standard issue opener for $11.50. All three can openers had been sitting in my cart for about 6 months. It just never seemed like a purchase I wanted to make. That is until I made the dog's food and then I was cursing up a storm and revisiting my Amazon cart...again, not sure which one to buy.
My life changed forever on one random morning. Jason and I were walking into the grocery store needing a couple of things and on a tight timeline, we split up to be faster. I was trying to find him again when I walked down the aisle in the store with the kitchen appliances, which caught my eye. Immediately, I found the black OXO can opener, from my Amazon cart, and grabbed it! It was 2 dollars more expensive than ordering but I knew I needed it, NOW!
I rushed back to find Jason- and when I did I held up my find and he proclaimed "YES!!!! Buy it!"
We went home we happily opened all the cans to make Jude's food and talked about how silly it was to wait so long to just buy a new can opener. What used to cause me many moments of frustration was all over in an instant. A task that I would dread now takes me about 5 conflict free minutes. But the true value of that buy wasn't apparent until last week.
I was home alone, about to fix myself some tuna fish, in a can. When I picked up the can opener I became aware how tense and nervous I was. It was in the background, almost a year of using the broken opener. But, as soon as I cut open that can- a feeling I can only describe as pure and utter joy came over my body. I remembered that we bought a new, faster, easier, amazing can opener! And I relaxed my body. The tense feelings reminded me of the past frustration, and the relaxed feeling brought me joy that I found my new tool.
So why the story? Because how often do we use broken tools (ie. timeout, shaming, blaming, spanking, guilt, yelling) thinking that our children's behavior is going to change. I am here to serve the wake-up call that those tools with never get you the results you desire. You will only make things harder for you and your family. It is not until you ditch the broken tools and learn new more effective ways to communicate and hold your children accountable that huge shifts will occur.
If you are in Richmond, VA click here to sign up for my parenting class titled "WIN @ PARENTING! 6 Week Positive Discipline Class" We will start January 6th from 1-3pm.
If you are not local, or not able to attend, but would love some new tools: reach out and let's chat! I am excited to coach more families in 2018!