Isn’t parenting a trip? I find myself constantly evaluating and re-evaluating myself and thinking about how I might have handled things better or differently. There are also little victories along the way that leave me feeling like a mama-boss. But for the most part, this journey is all about learning what works best for our family, and learning from others.
About a year ago I completed a life-changing, personal development course. It gave me plenty to reflect on in regards to how I communicate with myself and in turn, others. I realized that I had created a world of ultimatums and limitations (both personally and in parenting), using just one common word; ‘but‘.
For example, I might say to Ayden: “I love you, but you cannot stay up all night”.
This statement creates limits and also implies that one thing is mutually exclusive of the other. And in this instance, it unintentionally puts a condition on my love for my child. Obviously the latter is far from the truth, but our words are oh-so powerful, and being the word-nerd that I am, I like to be very clear with my kiddo in my parenting communications.
Instead, if I said: “I love you, and you cannot stay up all night”, the entire meaning of that statement changes in to something more loving. I have now created a dialogue that expresses that my love is unconditional to her behavior, and desire to stay up all night. For me, this realization was a ‘light-bulb’, a-ha moment.
Here’s an example of how you might try applying it in the way you speak to yourself:
“I want to go to the gym, but I am tired”.
In this statement, I have pretty much decided I am not going to the gym, because I am tired. (At least that would most likely be my reality.) 😉 Let’s try it as an ‘and statement’;
‘I want to go to the gym, and I am tired”.
To me, this statement feels more empowering. It leaves space to go to the gym despite being tired.
If you allow yourself to be a non-judgmental observer of your own life and dialogue, you might uncover ways and places that you can replace ‘but’, with ‘and’. The way we speak to others always starts with the way we speak to ourselves, so the best place to practice this is with yourself.
As for parenting, I know it sounds a bit subliminal, but it is my belief that our children are subliminal creatures, always reading between the lines and always drawing their own conclusions when they don’t fully understand things. When I use ‘and statements’ with my daughter, I feel better about what I am saying and how I am saying it. I typically gauge my own behavior on how it makes me feel.
I hope you will give this a try and let me know if it had the powerful impact on you, that it had on me. I am all about easy and simple ways to improve my relationships, and I love when I can pass these little gems along.
Thank you for reading, AND please feel free to share it if it spoke to you.