So since I've been educating a lot of people on what Women of the World does, I've been thinking about What I Am Doing. We have a "Family Mantra"-- a series of thoughts or mottoes or missions, to help keep us focused. After a year of working on these I thought I should put it down on the everlasting internet for all to consider.
Motto 1: Think Before you Speak. If I had a nickel for every time I heard this as a child..... This above reminder can be found on Pinterest, and was particularly aimed at squelching gossip. However, I use it to help my kids choose their words more carefully during disagreements with each other. This is a good reminder for all of us to make sure we are truthful, helpful, inspiring and kind.
Motto 2: There is a Good-Better-Best scenario for all things. Now, I am not one to throw religion around. I like to keep those thoughts to myself, however this is from a talk from an LDS (Mormon) apostle Dallin H. Oaks. Here's the link to his talk. Basically the idea is that we have to skip over "good things" some times to make room for the "best things." No matter what your religious views, this is just good logic. We teach our kids this perspective in an effort to help them make the best choices possible. It's important for all of us to realize things are rarely black & white; there's a lot of grey.
Motto 3: Know what you are doing and WHY you are doing it. This stems from the long-used parental argument of "If your friends jumped off a bridge (skyscraper, building, out of a plane, etc.) would you?" Back in the day I guess that parent logic worked for some kids. My point of view is that if my child (or I, for that matter) wanted to jump off of the proverbial bridge, they (I) should understand the motivations for jumping before hand. Mass-thinking, everyone following the leader, can lead to a lot of negative outcomes. Our decisions to do, or not to do, something should be our own. Peer pressure is a hard thing to overcome, even as adults. What a great tool to do what you want because YOU want to--own the decision. This can be dangerous because you will have no one to blame when those negative decisions are made. However, without failures, how do we learn?
Motto 4: Stay out of "the box." If you haven't read any of the Arbinger Institute books, you should. They teach great tools to dealing with conflict in work situations, family situations, positive spousal communication and simple ways to parent children, especially those who need extra love. Click Here for their webpage. To really water it down, the Arbinger books talk about being "in the box" and ways to get out of "the box." It's all about perspective. When struggles occur, all parties need to step back and consider all the perspectives involved--it's often more than "your" perspective and "my" perspective. Once our perspectives are enlightened, problem solving becomes possible. We've taken several months to learn how to recognize our triggers that cause us to "get into the box" and how to best approach others when they are "in the box." It's a work in progress, and more than just telling someone they are "boxed in." However, I have seen changes in our family that have at the very least, resulted in a productive form of voicing differences. At least they listen to each other before they speak--so progress, right?
Motto 5: You can only control 2 things in Life- your actions and your reactions to others' actions. This is a lesson I learned very early in life. Crap happens. It happens to everyone, and you can only decide to sink or swim. In our world where everyone competes on Social Media (yes, we are all doing it at some point) and fears of the unknown abound, let your mind take refuge in the fact that most of the time the things coming at you are out of your control. What can you do? Not a damn thing, except to look at the situation with an honest perspective and choose your course of action. In respect to our children--we can't truly control their actions, even when they're little. Anyone with a toddler knows this. You can lead, guide, maybe bribe and cajole them, but ultimately if they are going to do something, good or bad, it's up to them. I strongly believe having honest, open communication with family members, friends, co-workers, spouses, etc. often (daily) will allow us to get to know each other and build a foundation of trust. And isn't that where avoiding conflict starts--trust? I trust you because I know you, and your character. We can work this out because I trust we can make a good decision/solve a problem together.When trust is broken, well the game changes. It can take years to "fix" that situation, and everyone has to be willing to take responsibility and action to fix it. "Do your best, forget the rest."
This is not a perfect road map on successfully navigating life. These are the tools I use every day as a spouse, parent, daughter and friend to steer myself in a direction where I can more easily choose to be happy. Life will never be perfect--and how boring would it be if it were? When life is rocking and rolling against us, we will need people, not things, to make it through. Hopefully these ideas will steer us in the right direction.