3 things I’m going to do this year
2016 was an interesting year with a major high (marrying the love of my life) and a major low (untimely death of my sister in law and niece). Coming into 2017 on the heels of these two events, I’ve noticed that my resolutions this year are different than previous years. I’m only focusing on things that will add value to my life and are doable because life is too short to be wasting energy on things that don’t matter or add stress to my life. I have no idea what 2017 is going to throw at me, but, I know that I’m going to do my best to throw good into the world.
Praise more readily
One of the thing that was expressed time and time again after my sister in law’s death was her genuine ability to see the best in everybody and praise them for that. She made everybody better because of her praise. Seriously, people loved being around her and would do anything for her because she made them feel amazing.
I knew I wasn’t at her level of natural praise giving, but, I thought I was doing a pretty good job. A comment though on New Year’s day from a family member showed me that I actually had room for improvement. I had been giving praise a plenty. The problem was the praise I was offering came across as being phony and insecure. To add insult to injury, often I was coupling my praise with some sort of criticism or a way they could improve. This conversation was a real eye opener. I knew in 2017, I wanted to becomes more like my sister in law and the goodness she was constantly sharing. Not someone who brought down those people around her, especially the people I most loved.
Giving praise more this year means that I’m going to have to change my viewpoint. Instead of looking for all the reasons why I shouldn’t offer it, I’ve got to start looking for reasons to give it! Instead of offering praise that sounds fake, I need to be specific as to why I think they deserve that praise! Instead of turning to criticism as a way to get them to do what I want, I’m going to praise for effort and the good things they do. In turn, that will increase their desire to do what I want. I’m excited to see how Effectively praising changes both my life, and the life of those around me, for the better.
If you want to add praise to your New Year’s Resolution, watch this video to learn praise’s power!
Listening better is kind of carry over from 2016. In 2015, my then boyfriend and I were separated for the summer while he did a prestigious internship. Between our busy schedules and time differences, phone calls became a hurried, and often frustrating thing. As the summer progressed, I feared that our lack of true communication had the potential to create long-term problems in our relationship. The last thing I wanted. Even though we had limited time to talk each night, I knew quality time was more important that quantity time. We had just released the skill of Effective Communication and I thought, “I’m telling all these people that it works and to use it, but why am I not doing it”? Without him knowing I started to use the steps of the skill during our nightly phone calls. I wasn’t always great at it as old habits die hard, but, slowly I noticed that the phone calls were getting better. They weren’t as frustrating. Learning how to listen better and reflect what he was saying back to him in his own words made him feel understood, while also allowing me not to put words into his mouth or make assumptions.
After three months of marriage I would not call myself an expert in any way, but, that being said, I’ve noticed something since we’ve been married. Life is busy. Between chores and dinner prep, it’s easy to only give one ear to what the other person is saying as we try to do all those things that are on our plate. It wasn’t a problem when we were dating as we had limited time together so it was easy to give each other our full attention. Neither my husband or I want half-heartedly listening to become the norm, but, we know how easy it can happen without us even realizing it. I’ve seen that most of communication problems in family stem not from lack of communication, but from lack of listening and understanding. Because of that, I’ve started doing small things that allow me to focus on listening better. I’m putting down my phone when we converse over dinner. I’m taking 5 minutes at the end of the day to follow up on something that had been discussed earlier to make sure I understood exactly what was said. Basically I’m continuing to use the steps of the skill of Effective Communication and it’s made a huge difference in our relationship.
Confession. Constantly running around in my head are all these expectations about how I think things should go. Like, how my wonderful husband should not leave the peanut butter on the counter after he makes his sandwich in the morning. The problem is, I don’t always express those expectations. If I never tell him how is he to know that that simple task of putting the peanut butter jar back every morning drives me absolutely bonkers. He doesn’t. He’s a lot of things, but he is not a mind reader.
The problem with not expressing our expectations for a situation is that their is no way the other person can live up to a standard they don’t even know has been set for them. They just can’t. No, I’m serious. They really can’t. They will, at some point, fall short, and in that moment our brain will take it as a personal affront. We will think, “They did so and so because they don’t love/respect/value me. They’re just so selfish.” Do you see how quickly that type of thinking could escalate?
Now, my husband generally has a pretty good idea of the what is expect of him generally because he’s an adult. A child on the other has no idea. How are they supposed to know that they don’t touch something at a museum if they’re going for the first time. Or why it’s not safe to talk to strangers, or a billion other scenarios. They don’t. Much like I need to express those expectations for my husband and other family members, we need to do the same with our children. We need to teach them well before they go to grab that priceless piece of artwork that museums are not for touching. Or to stay out of a street because cars go fast and could hurt them.
Children really do want so much to please their parents, it’s just that they don’t how. Which is why we need to talk to them about what we expect. And not just once. We need to talk to them until we’re sure they understand what is being required of them.
Using Preventive Teaching helps children understand what is required of them in any situation.
I’m pretty happy with these goals. I know they’re going to allow me to strengthen the relationships that matter most to me! And that’ll be a win for 2017!