My response, my responsibility

My husband has a saying that he uses all the time. Sometimes it really annoys me because I don’t want to take responsibility for my reaction to what I think it someone else’s fault or mistake, something for which I think they should apologise or fix. But generally it’s a good reminder about the power I actually have in a situation, even a situation that I’m not happy about.

Yesterday was a good example of when he used the saying and I just didn’t want to hear it. I was with a large group of people and just got the sense that there was some disgruntlement there by some of that group against me, or just in some angst in general that happened to be directed at anyone who was close by them at the time, ie. me! Well, it got to the point where one person was quite rude and I got to the point where I’d had enough and either wanted to leave or say something (which might not have been so pleasant!). But I couldn’t at that time. So I seethed and tried to just manage how I was feeling. My husband could obviously tell I wasn’t happy and came to talk with me. But instead of listening to my gripes and complaints and sympathising with me, he just said ‘I know, but your response is your responsibility’. Well, if I wasn’t cranky enough as it was! Lol.

But my husband happens to be a pretty wise kind of guy, and reminds me all the time of this fact: that people can treat me however they like, and I have limited control over this, but the way in which I act and the way in which I treat them back is COMPLETELY my call. I can choose whether I will be angry, or calm, kind or hurtful, generous or selfish, assertive or passively resentful. Sometimes I need to give myself some space from those who’ve hurt me or acted wrongly towards me to be able to process what’s happened and then choose my response. Other times, when it’s a smaller thing, I can check myself in the moment and make a choice.

Yesterday was a particularly difficult situation for me, but what I’ve noticed is that the more I practice the kind of response I’d like to give, the easier it is to give that response. So not only do I get to choose exactly the kind of person I want to be, irrespective of those around me, but also, it becomes easier and easier to be kind, generous, calm, gentle and assertive the more I practice it.

You may not have a husband constantly reminding you of the power of response that you have, but perhaps you could put something else in place to remind you, and to help you practice. If you’ve any ideas, I’d love to hear them. Please do share!

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How To Stay Focused When Your Parents Don’t Share Your Ideas

imagesCAZG0V2GFrom everydaylife.globalpost.com

Imagine this scenario – you want to study music, but your parents want you to study a “more reliable profession” like accounting or computing. You actually enjoy music and you are thinking anything else just doesn’t grab you. Your parents have other ideas, because they love you and only want the best for you (and they do!).
Or you might be in Year 10 and thinking about your subjects for the HSC. Your selections make sense to you because you have chosen subjects you like, but your parents pressure you to change some of them because they think they will not help you get a good score.
What about staying out late, who you choose for a boyfriend/girlfriend, piercings, or tattoos?
You know they will not like your point of view. So how do you keep your values but prevent things from becoming a shouting match? Here’s some food for thought:

1. You have a pretty good idea of what you like and what you are good at.
2. Sorting out your point of view – check out the facts and work out why it’s so important to you.
3. Do you have all the information you need to make your decisions? Is there anyone else you need to speak to?
4. The calmer you stay, the more confident and believable you will sound
5. Parents have experience behind them and they might have some useful thoughts to consider.
6. Listen to your parent’s point of view and try to find the positive things from them. If you can show you are trying to hear them, they are much more likely to accept your point of view.
7. You don’t have to agree with everything your parents say, even if sometimes you need to do what they want you to do. You can show you understand what they are saying, but still hold your point of view. Trust me – as an adult you will continue to face these challenges, so it’s good experiencing it now.
8. If you need more time to think about what you have heard – you can say just that – “I need more time.”
9. Finally, trust is a really important factor. If you can show you are responsible, reliable and can accept when you make mistakes, you will develop a much better relationship with your parents. It will create trust between you both and when you really need to stand your ground, it will be so much easier.

These are my thoughts, and I hope this has been helpful. How do you hold your view and keep the peace? Next time I will look at what to do when you can’t keep the peace.

TBH

I love TBH

TBH I like your eyes and your hair is so shiny

TBH you’re my best friend

TBH I think you’ve got a great sense of humour

TBH you’re really smart

TBH I never give you compliments when you dress up because I’m so jealous of how hot you look

TBH, you seem super nice and awesome, we should talk more!:)

But…

TBH sometimes the things people say seem a bit insincere and fake.

TBH, how do I know you really mean it? Maybe you’re just being nice so I’ll say something nice about you.

TBH, how honest can you really be if you only know me from my online profiles?

TBH maybe you’re just saying something to influence the way people think of you and it has nothing to do with me.

TBH it can be hurtful if everyone else gets likes or nice comments and I get nothing.

And…

TBH, maybe you want to be mean to me but by putting TBH first it makes it look like you’re being a friend and doing me a favour.

TBH just because a mean comment has TBH in front of it doesn’t make me feel any better.

TBH I don’t think I want my self-worth dependent on someone else’s TBH comments, I want to be strong in myself

TBH I think I prefer compliments from real friends not some random stranger online

TBH maybe I don’t like TBH as much as I thought I did

Reconnecting at Christmas Time

Ah Christmas time, my favourite time of the year. A break from school or work, hot sunny days, going to the beach, a swim in the ocean, the flip flop of a pair of thongs on baking concrete, and a BBQ in the backyard producing those enticing aromas.

It is a special time. We celebrate with our family, with friends, the birth of Christ, or a sense of hope and a time to just enjoy being together.

But what about the other side of connecting at Christmas time? I also appreciate that for some, Christmas time is a difficult time of the year. Conflicts in the family can strain the relationships and make communication very difficult. Who should make the first move? You might think “Why should I be the first one?” and “I didn’t do anything wrong!”
At this point it might help to put aside blame and thoughts about why things happened and think instead about these questions:

You could first ask yourself “How am I now benefitting from this situation?” “How is what I’m doing now helping me?” So hopefully this is getting you thinking about change.

If you’ve decided you don’t want to be where you are in your relationship, what can you do to improve it, however small? Even if it only takes you a tiny step closer to restoring your connection, isn’t it a step in the right direction? Perhaps if you are not ready for face-to-face words, then a short note on a Christmas card or attached to a small gift like a small box of chocolates, can say to the other person that you are trying to work things out. If it helps, you could talk to a friend about what you want to say in the note before you write it, or write it down on paper first. You could use humour too. What would make them laugh?

You may have other ideas – what do you think you would start with? (Remember even a great journey starts with a single step).christmas

Would This Help?

Lately I’ve been thinking about empathy…

Someone at work shared the picture below with me and it got me thinking about what life would be like if I tried to put myself in other people’s shoes when interacting with them.

Empathy

So often I think we can confuse a person’s behaviours with their personality. For example, if someone says something snappily at us or swears at us we might assume that they are a nasty person and write them off.

The thing is, I’m sure we’ve all done things that we regret and that we would hate for other people to base their judgements of us on. In fact, if I speak for myself, the things that reflect the worst on me are also the things I try to excuse to myself by saying I was having a bad day or I was tired or …..

Whilst in the end I choose to take responsibility for when I have wronged someone no matter what ‘excuses’ I may have. It is still nicer when the other person is generous with their understanding of what those ‘excuses’ may be and doesn’t base their whole opinion of me on that one interaction.

One thing I find helps me to offer that same sense of understanding back when I have been hurt or wronged by someone is to try to put myself in their shoes and try to think of reasons why that might have happened rather than just assuming the worst.

Another thing I find helps is to wish positive things for the other person rather than thinking along the lines of “That person did such and such, I wish a piano would fall on their head”. When I choose to think in that way it helps me feel better myself rather than holding on to the anger and hurt, but it also helps me to feel more positive about the person and to want to work towards reconciling with them.

What helps you have more empathy towards someone? How has having empathy in a situation changed things for you?

What makes me/you laugh?

It has been a while since I have written a story for our blog since returning from maternity leave, but I am excited to be writing again and sharing this story with you…

So what makes me laugh… can be the smallest things, such as putting an empty bowl in the fridge, or watching my son’s little bottom lip pout when he is asleep. But reflecting back to when I had a great laugh, I mean a big deep belly laugh; you know that mad crazy red in the face lose your breath, and have tears running down your face kind of laugh; or the kind of laugh that you find really entertaining where you almost feel like you have lost control; well…

I was talking to my younger sister a few weeks ago, and she was telling me how her best friend won tickets to see Ricky Martin in concert. The tickets were VIP passes to meet him after the show, so of course my sister was extremely excited, and she was telling me about getting her nails done, what she was going to wear, and where she was going out to dinner.

My sister quickly changed the subject and whilst using her dry mocking sense of humour she started telling me about the conversation she had with our step-mother who is 100% in love with R.M. Now to understand why my sister would be impersonating my step-mother it’s because she talks a bit like Edina Monsoon from the T.V show absolutely fabulous, but she looks like Camilla, the wife of Prince Charles. She loves to gossip, keep up with the Jones; and she loves to socialize; but overall she is a very loving person, and would do anything for you.

…So what made me really laugh was the way my sister was impersonating my step-mother, and how I could really relate to how she was telling the story. And because of this, tears were literally streaming down my face full of laughter, and my belly hurt so much from laughing it felt like I had just done 100 sit ups.  Even now as I am writing this, I’m remembering how good that laugh actually was.  Anyway…

laugh

After the phone call with my sister had finished, some people told me that they could hear me laughing, and they told me how much they enjoyed hearing me laugh, and how it made them smile. And they even told me what a beautiful person I was, just because of this moment.

 

I guess the essence of this story is not about my step-mother, but it is about the connection that you have with somebody or other’s through laughing.  And for some people, it doesn’t have to be a big laughing fit, but it’s about a connection and common understanding through something positive; and how you could be having the worst day possible, and then all of a sudden, someone tells you something funny, and you get the chance to laugh.

So when you were reading this story, I hope it made you think of a time when you laughed… or it has motivated you to arrange a time to catch up with someone or a group of friends to have a laugh; because you just realised that you haven’t laughed in a while;  and that it might just take the pressure off your shoulders if you do.

“There is nothing in the world so irresistibly contagious as laughter and good humour.”  By Charles Dickens

Habits

I think, as a general rule on a daily basis, that we underestimate the power of habits in our lives. We have a particular pattern of responding when someone in authority gives us an instruction. We respond to someone who is angry at us in pretty much the same way every time. We have the same thoughts every morning when the alarm goes off about what our day is going to look like or how we feel. We get so ‘in the habit’ of doing things a certain way, we forget that we even have a choice about it. We think it’s ‘just the way I am’, or ‘normal’. We don’t even stop to question why we do what we do.

‘The reality is that our habits really affect who we are. I love Gandhi’s saying: ‘Your beliefs become your thoughts, Your thoughts become your words, Your words become your actions, Your actions become your habits, Your habits become your values, Your values become your destiny.’

This quote indicates that we have more control over our destiny than we often give ourselves credit for, and part of the journey of reaching our desired destiny is taking responsibility for the habits we allow ourselves to continue in each and every day.

A thought worth reflecting on maybe? Do you have a habit that is keeping you doing the same thing you don’t want to do? Or making you feel negative towards yourself or someone else? Or is keeping you in the same place when you want to change? Maybe take a moment to journal about it today, or do some creative representation of that feeling or habit. Think about how you’d like things to be different, and make some plans towards what you can do differently. Have a chat to your Reconnect caseworker about it; two minds are often better than one!

Parenting tips: Power to control or love

Most parents are often thinking that they’ve got the power over their children because children are their dependants.  Children depend on them for all sorts of life’s needs such as:  food, accommodation, clothes, and other supports and love…etc. However, if parents are using too much of their power over their children and want to use it as a tool of control,  parents will often feel that they are losing their power or it will completely disappear when their children grow up, usually just before they turn 18 or after that age.

Have parents ever asked themselves: Does anybody want to be controlled by their parents? If the answer is no, then probably their children will be thinking the same and children will not like their parents who want to use their power to control them.

If parents try using their powers to control their children during teenage years, it will increase their teenager’s pressures, anger and tension and which can all lead to stress and depression later on in their children’s lives.  Both physical and mental health can be affected.

Often the children of these parents want to try, in anyway they can, to release themselves out of their parent’s powers of control.  They are often going against and challenging, their parents, with results such as: they do not listen to their parents, they run away from home, drop out of school, muck around with “bad” friends, go out to parties more often, drink alcohol, smoke, get tattoos, use drugs or attempt to try out all, so called, “bad stuff” at an early age …etc

Negative affects in children

Whether parents want it or not, using powers to make all decisions for children may lead children to lose their ability to learn how to make decisions by themselves.  They may also lose their self esteem, feel shamed and often not have positive thinking. Relationships between children and parents may break down completely, children may not want to get close to their parents and may not want to talk to them or trust them and may not want want to share their stories. The children may hide themselves in their rooms to play games, chat on-line, watch movies…etc…, instead of doing their homework.  At school these children are often isolating themselves from others or having trouble with them. Other active young people will not likely want to make friends with those young people who don’t want to be active.

Inner suffering

Young people who always do things that their parents tell them to do without question, can become an irresponsible kind of person.  Inside they will always feel confused and will not take responsibility for their actions. Even worse than that they can become their parent’s tools. On the other hand, parents who are worried about losing their power with their children, may try to apply more strict discipline and it can create more conflicts and gaps in communication, which is where communication breakdowns start and from here it can be difficult to “reconnect”.

Let’s think of it in this way: when we are doing something we do not like because we have no choice about doing it, it has no meaning for us.  Children will use this, “use power to control” model, like a boomerang that they throw back toward their parents. Parents will only find lasting success when they discuss with children the things that they would like them to do, and encourage and support them to do things that are useful and meaningful for both parents and their children. Educating children by using too much power to control will bring negative results afterwards.  Parents are better off using powers to love them with unconditional love.

I wish you find love in parenting your children, not control.

10 Apps to Stress Less

Happy Mental Health Month everyone!

You might have seen the posters up for Mental Health month with the 10 Tips to Stress Less. I often find when I talk to people about what helps with stress they don’t know what works for them. Or they know what they need but don’t know how to get it (e.g. a good night’s sleep for someone with insomnia).

Sometimes it’s just a matter of trying out new things til you find something that works, other times you might need a little assistance. Luckily help is at hand…or in your pocket.

Here are my 10 tips to stress less (with help from your trusty smart phone):

10 (ish) Apps to Stress Less1. Get active – Check out any of those fitness apps that help you make fitness goals or remind you to be active. I use Nike Training Club and Runkeeper. If you are after something a little more fun/different maybe Zombies, Run! is more your style.

2. Call a friend – Sometimes texting or chatting just isn’t enough and only a phone call (or video call) will do.

3. Get some good sleep – If you struggle to get good sleep there are lots of apps out there to help improve sleep. I like Sleep Stream for getting to sleep and Sleep Cycle to track how much sleep and what quality.

4. Cook a meal from scratch – If you don’t know how to cook apps like Taste.com.au or Cook Everything have tips for cooking as well as tonnes of recipes to try out.

5. Laugh – Read a comic, play a game, watch stupid videos on youtube. Whatever gets you rolling on the floor laughing.

6. Take some time out – learning mindfulness can have lots of health benefits as well as reducing stress – If you’ve never tried mindfulness the Headspace app has a free ten day beginners program to download if you want to try it out. If mindfulness seems like a bit of hippy mumbo jumbo to you, try playing a game that makes you focus one just the one thing like Sudoku puzzles or arcade games.

7. Play your favourite song – Or even better…make yourself a stress reduction playlist.

8. Write it down – sometimes all you need is just to get it out of your system. Writing in a journal is a great way to do this. I love the feel of writing in a notebook to really get the stress out but sometimes a journal or note app on the phone is much more convenient.

9. Surround yourself with reminders of what you love – Fill your phone with photos of things and people that you love. Use them as your wallpaper or make an album to look at when you need a break.

10. Do one thing at a time – Get organised with a to do list and knock off one item at a time. Having 5 completed tasks at the end of the day is much more rewarding than 10 half finished tasks.

What apps do you use to help manage everyday (and not so everyday) stress?

Five tips on how to make big decisions

Decisions decisionsDecision making is a part of life…

You could almost say that the decisions we choose to make, shape our life. Making big decisions can be overwhelming, confusing, and can even make you feel anxious; especially when it’s a new situation or a challenge in your life.

Making decisions sounds simple, but major decision can be life changing. It really does come down to you being responsible for your life; And for young people, that can be threatening, especially when you don’t know what you want.

 

So let’s break it down: I’m going to share some tips that I have found very helpful in my life, and I hope you find it the same.

  1. My first motto is “if in doubt… don’t do” , unless you feel confident in understanding the outcome of your decision, and you are mentally and emotionally prepared for the change, then I suggest you give yourself a bit more time to think it through.
  2. Tools to help you think it through – Sometimes we can’t always think clearly because the stress of making decisions can be a bit loud in our head or feel like you have a big cloud in your brain. So using a visual tool can help you see things a bit clearer such as: Map it out/visual board – start with where you are, and where do you want to go…set small goals. Cut out pictures from magazines and from online. Talking to parents, friends, school counsellor and year advisors can be a great start in clarifying your goals. Once you are clear about what pathway you want to go down; STOP and ask yourself, if I make this decision, will it take me to where I want to go.
  3. Pro’s and Con’s – sometimes making a list of the positive and negatives about the decision, will allow you to think ahead, and foresee the consequences that could come from making the decision.
  4. Face doubt and have a back-up plan. – There will never be a guarantee that what you decide will turn out the way you had planned; so have a back-up plan. Again, talk to people you trust or seek professional advice. See links below! www.reach.org.au             www.pcyc.com.au              www.youthcentre.com.au
  5. Never give up… be persistent and make sure that you choose your environment where possible. Make sure that the friends you choose reflect where you want to go and the life style you want to have. Join a great youth group, go to your nearest drop in centre, and look out for community events that have your hobbies or sport interests.

QUOTE: “Youth is happy because it has the capacity to see beauty. Anyone who keeps the ability to see beauty never grows old.”Franz Kafka