Often, when things begin to unravel in our lives, our tendency is to worry and fret. If we do that long enough, this process turns to depressive thoughts and life gets even heavier. Our strategies tend to be ruminative and create feelings of being ‘stuck.’ Our strategies for personal change often do not work.
If problems are emerging with children, whether that be behavioral, emotional, or social, our tendency is to worry even more. Fear strongly drives our attitude and efforts. This is natural to some degree, but it doesn’t mean it’s good. Why? Because the strategies we call upon to then help our children under such circumstances are often quite flawed. Let’s examine how these flaws unfold in day-to-day life.
Three Failing Strategies!
1. Let’s Try Something Different…Today.
We all grew up reading the classic story of the hare vs the turtle. In that moral lesson, the speedy hare spasmodically moved about in a race with the turtle. His agility and speed were no match for the turtle. Yet, the turtle plodded along…and won the race as the hare slept.
While perhaps the message that ‘slow is better than fast’ is not quite right, the core idea here is that consistency of effort is key. For those who are often working to change, many approach change with a hurried, somewhat intermittent approach…always wanting the results yesterday. In reality, one approach is blended with another, while yesterday’s version is abandoned.
There is often lack of simple, consistent day-to-day effort in following a game plan. This is the old-fashioned somewhat gritty method of deeply testing a method to see if it works. If we do something consistently for 30 days, we will know if it is working. And yes…the key here is consistency.
This is important for two critical reasons. First, we are likely trying to influence a pattern of behavior with a child and we can’t know what is working with sporadic, inconsistent efforts. And secondly, we are then modeling inconsistency, when the very result we seek is consistent effort! Lose and lose.
Bottom Line: “What I do consistently matters most!
2. Too Much Talk. Not Enough Action.
When someone arrives at my office, having tried many approaches to getting results, they demonstrate great knowledge and are usually prolific at describing their failures. However, I almost always find that they enjoy talking about change…more than actually changing.
With kids, they keep talking when they should be taking action. They keep prodding and pushing to protect kids from a poor choice, rather than letting consequences teach their kids. With a spouse, they keep talking about what’s wrong, when they should be listening. With their own habits, they keep talking to themselves with rapid-fire internal dialogue about distractions, rather than simply getting up and going to the gym.
Bottom line: If there is repeated talk about any type of change, this becomes a substitute for action. And, therefore…inevitable failure. Stop talking. Start doing…consistently.
3. Find Someone or Something to Blame.
One common characteristic that I also see comes in the sometimes subtle, and sometimes not so subtle, skirting of responsibility. Whether it’s showing up on time, failing to get to the gym, over-reacting emotionally to children, or even simply abandoning a game plan, those who struggle often have a plethora of refined excuses. There is always a reason ‘why they didn’t honor their commitments.
Often this gets directed at a spouse if children are involved. Other times, it will be a coach or teacher who is responsible. If it’s personal change, we often blame parents, our history, and once again, spouses often come into play. Or sometimes, it just life events that take the hit.
Unless I realize that ‘I am responsible’ then, I have no path to personal change and development. I can’t blame others, the situation or my children. This allows me to complain, whine, and even harbor deep feelings of anger. But that’s where I linger.
Please understand: Your choices are your responsibility. My choices are my responsibility. End of story. I can’t blame anyone for my lack of follow-through. Instead, changing things in any way requires me to take full responsibility for just…me.
Now, having said that, many of us do not have the requisite tools to bring about change. We don’t know how to change our thoughts, our habits, or how to improve a child’s negative patterns. However, once we realize that we are responsible, we find a way. We seek out a solution. We find a path to a better life.
Bottom Line: I Am Responsible for My Behavior, My Actions, and My Choices.
Consider how often these fatal flaws show up in your thinking. If they are present, then recognize the self-defeating nature of those strategies and start an action plan. Any action plan is better than none. Trust consistent action…that is focused on an outcome that you want. This will not fail you or your children.