Sunday, November 8, 2009

A dime for your thoughts....

No bad attitudes allowed!

The kids and I have a little activity: going: anyone who demonstrates a complaining, whining, ungrateful attitude puts a dime in a plastic cup on the table.  The idea was intended to bring awareness to the frequency of our choice to complain, whine and just be generally .... unhelpful.  It has definitely helped me, since I'm generally more aware while in the complaining thought.  The next thought is usually something like "Now Faith, you are the Mommy,  You have to set an example".

It got me thinking about beliefs vs action.  On the one hand, our actions are a reflection of our beliefs in the face of whatever event we are experiencing.  But then, if we have already decided on the more useful action to do in a situation, but feel like doing something else, what should we do in that moment?   Should we stop, do an internal dialogue, explore the situation, or should we just act?  I generally disagree with the idea that Johnny would be standing on the outside, but really sitting on the inside.  But what if Johnny has already agreed that in such and such situation, standing is more useful?  In that case, in the presence of one of those situations, say someone is about the kick the chair out from under Johnny, then yeah! to standing on the outside!  Johnny can explore all this more after (though the bump on his rear may be the stimulus he needs for a deeper exploration...hmmmm)

A few weeks ago, I was walking along, minding my own business when I saw a prospective business contact from the corner of my eye.  I was aware enough of myself to notice that instead of stopping, an action I had previously defined as 'useful', I continued walking along.  I turned the corner, caught up with myself and identified the emotion I was currently experiencing as fear.  Because I had previously decided on supporting beliefs and useful actions, I didn't continue with the internal questions.  I didn't go into why, how come.  I didn't check to see what had happened to my new beliefs.  I decided that the dialogue could wait, and I could trust the decision I had previously made.  I turned back and went over to have a conversation.

Sometimes I don't act in ways that I already decided would be useful because I think I should feel totally comfortable with my action in the moment it's called for.  I've recently changed that belief.  In my playroom with my son, I've given myself quick mental 'switches' out of unproductive internal states.  While I'm in the playroom, I act.  When I get out, I explore.  What if I saw my life situations that way?

So here I am with my kids.  Am I just conditioning?  "Have a grateful, pleasant attitude or give up a dime!"  I hope not!  I want to be intentional about helping the children to explore their feelings.  I want to be consistent with demonstrating my belief that complaining attitudes don't get them what they want.  I want to be clear that sometimes we explore, and other times we act.  Perhaps exploration without acting and acting without exploration are both two sides of the same coin.  I just want to use different currency, something with a rhythm of exploration and action.

What do you think?

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