Thursday, July 22, 2010

I am Leveler!

I remember the first time a doctor told me I had to help Jaedon learn some skill (like looking in my eyes) that he was not doing and that typical kids did effortlessly. I was freaked out! If my son has no inclination to do a particular thing, how in the world could I make him???  That reminds me of my reaction when I discovered that no matter how much I wished it or whined it, Isaiah was not going to ask me how my day went, and tell me how his day went, immediately after he came home from work.  How could I make him do what I so desperately needed???

A couple of years ago, Isaiah and I participated in a relationship skills course and one of the first activities is the identification of your and your partner's stress style.  In other words, when you are doing stress, how do you typically do it?  In summary, they identified 4 styles with a myriad of combinations of representations. 
  • The Blamer: "It's your fault!" (minimises your feelings, highlights hers)
  • The Appeaser: "It's my fault" (minimises her feeling, highlights yours)
  • The Computer: "The facts of the matter are..." (minimises all feelings)
  • The Distracter: "No problem at all...let's go to the movies!" (later we deal with feelings)
The program advocated a response called the Leveler, created by pulling the strengths of each style out and combining that to create a more optimal response.  So I can
  • be aware of the other person's feelings without taking responsibility for them
  • own my feelings and my being the author of those feelings
  • be aware of the facts and make a desision to delay resolution until another time, if that is useful in the moment.

I may do stress because I'm not getting what I want, but as I own my stuff and acknowledge whatever portion of other people's stuff I can see, I recognise that I can't make anyone do anything.  That anyone includes my son with autism.  Since he provides me with a wealth of learning opportunities, I'll go back to exploring with him.  How do I deal with my desire to make him do something?

I've discovered that I may not be able to make him do the particular thing, but I can encourage him, celebrate him and even ask him to do a whole lot of things. So many of the not-so solid skills, the missed steps that Jay is challenged by, are things that he already does, perhaps infrequently, unintentionally and with a looong delay after my request.  Yet, whatever we focus our energies on becomes bigger. I've decided to be a detective for my son's hidden skills so I can celebrate them like crazy. If I don't believe they are there, I won't even see them when they show up. So I have a built in curiosity about what he does. Everything is examined for the value, the possibilities, the learnings. When I see something that I want to see more of, I celebrate it. When I haven't seen it yet, or not seen it in a long while, I ask for it. I explain why I'd like to see that thing. You know what? Sometimes he just does it!

Last year, Jaedon repeatedly stood on his toes while his toes were folded under his foot, so he was standing on his toe knuckles. It didn't seem to hurt him, but his ankle bones seemed to be protruding all the more because of this position, not to mention the gigantic corns on his toes. One day, I decided to explain my concerns, ask him to go on his toes in a more traditional way, and demonstrated it. Guess what? He changed how he did tiptoes! I couldn't believe it.

I heard recently that love is not vested in the outcome.  I really like that thought.  I have a totally different energy when I'm asking for something without needing it, without being invested in making it happen.  I had honestly decided that it didn't really matter if he kept standing on his toes that way, I just preferred, and thought it better for his foot, it he changed it.  I was prepared to help him no matter what he decided to do.  So back to the real world with larger sized humans.  Whatever I focus on gets bigger.  Hmmm, so my energy around my 'needs', does that make the neediness bigger?

I'm setting an intention today to focus my energy on what I want to see become bigger by celebrating the existing occurances, like I do with a brief glance or spoken word from Jay.  It's like releasing the lion within, or exposing the rest of the iceburg.  Isn't even one occurance liberating?  Can't I release myself to hope for more?  When Jay lost his potty training a few years ago, a very wise friend said to me, "Great!  We know he can do it!  So now we just have to encourage him to do something he is already quite capable of!"  What a refreshing thought!  So much more energizing than harping on the 'have nots'.   That feels like that dripping faucet King Solomon referred to... irritating, even to me.  I will reflect the possibilities! 

Today, everything will examined for the value, the possibilities, the learnings.  I am the Leveler!  Owner of my own feelings, celebrater of what I see, requester of things I want to see more of, passionate hoper for tomorrow! (a superhero!)

By the way, if you have a child who may not be doing something you want him/her to be doing, don't focus on its absence, focus on its presence. Look for it with anticipation. Celebrate it like crazy, ask for it enthusiastically!  Who knows, it may work with the adults too!  Oh, working doesn't mean you will definately get what you want, you'll just enjoy not getting it so much more!

1 comment:

  1. Faith, thank you! I love how you shared your toe-standing motivations with Jaedon with no strings attached.

    It seems so often that when trying to make someone do something we share reasons that are motivating to us, but not necessarily to the person whom we're trying to motivate. The result is always one of 1) never getting what you want, 2) surrounding yourself with appeasers, or, 3) employing leverage and issuing ultimatums to get it.

    All along, if we simply shared reasons that would be motivational to the would-be motivatee and then didn't breath even the slightest hint that our happiness was somehow tied to the outcome, we would see significantly different results.


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