Or: How is Positivity like Ironing?
My friend Becky says I was hard on myself last week when I discussed my own parenting. To put it into perspective, Tiddler and Toddler are generally happy-enough little buggers so we’re probably doing OK.
When I criticise the slack, wobbly aspects of my body there is often someone who says that I ought to be kinder to myself about that, too.
But I know that I would undoubtedly feel, look and perform better if I ate a lower-fat, lower-carb diet and if I did my core exercises. And my kids would undoubtedly be happier and more confident if I was more positive.
Still. It’s been a long day, I’m tired and stressed and at the supermarket. It turns out that cream-cakes are on special. Naturally, I am thinking, ‘Ah Well. I’ll eat sensibly tomorrow.’
And that same supermarket trip, Toddler is whining. It’s as though she hasn’t noticed the cream-cakes in the trolly. She’s hungry, she wants to buy jelly and Tiddler is poking her. But remember: I’m stressed and busy and also cross with myself about the cream-cakes. So I tell her to be quiet.
And now I am stressed, busy, cross with myself about the cream-cakes and about snapping at my child. I swear to do better tomorrow, when I’m less stressed. Honestly, I will…..
And before I know it, tomorrow has arrived. And have positive parenting, exercise and healthy eating got any easier while I was asleep?
…. How can i say this positively? ….
Perhaps they will do tomorrow.
I answered an advert for a free 30-minute try-out with Bea Marshall, a parenting coach (www.beamarshall.com/blog). I think this woman is super. Apparently, she doesn’t ever say ‘no’ to her kids – and we’re talking in a ‘guide-the-children-positively-to-make-confident-effective-decisions-for-themselves’ sort of a way, rather than a ‘letting-them-walk-all-over-you’ sort of a one.
It’s not a policy I can see myself adopting, but I do find her inspirational. Not so much her lack of negativity with her children or even her articulate speaking on the subject (U-tube), but the fact that she didn’t say anything negative to me. We had maybe five interactions. During this time I inarticulately criticised her blog, took a coaching session, admitted that it was extremely helpful, wavered a lot, found what I perceived to be a problem with the booking form on her website, questioned her prices and then announced that I was not prepared to pay them.
(Yes, I know that you can’t put a price on improving interactions with your children, but everyone has a budget).
What did she say to that? Of course, she thanked me for my feedback, said that she ‘honoured’ my decision and added:-
I also deeply admire and appreciate your honesty ….. that honesty and ability to ‘own’ your choice is powerful. Thank you.
So. Bea says everything that the buisness communication books would reccommend. And she says it with genuine warmth. It is the very skill that I’d like to get better at.
But when I thought about it, I started to worry. Is such studied warm communication healthy? How would I ever know if someone like Bea liked me or not? And if I was so disarmingly nice to everyone myself, how would I be myself? How would I distinguish my friends? By insulting them (even) more?
And then I realised: I am having these thoughts under the assumption that Bea is a negative person hiding beneath a mask of postivie speaking. Maybe this doesn’t have to be.
Maybe Bea is actually genuinely always positive; maybe it’s not a mask. I’m not saying that she got my e-mail and her very first thought was: ‘Wow! Look at Liz; see how she’s owning that decision!’
But I certainly believe that she would walk around the supermarket thinking not ‘how tired and hungry I am’ but something like: ‘I can’t wait to get home and enjoy all this food.’
And not ‘What a horrid noise my Toddler is making’ but ‘How good it is that my children are communicating their needs to me!’
Perhaps she’d discover which of her children’s needs were most pressing and find time to deal with one or two. I’ll bet you she would have found a way to make the cream-cakes on a offer a good thing, without eating too many.
Do you know, I think extreme positivity might be a little bit like the anceint craze of extreme ironing. It seems faintly ridiculous from the outside but when you start doing it, perhaps it makes you happier; leads to great things; makes you stand out.
In fact, I’m going to try.
I have a good relationship with my children and my post was just me being strong enough to identify where this needs to be improved. I would also like to bring my diet into balance and obtain a stronger core…..
But most of all, this week I am going to try to be positive for a week.
I’m sure that I have the potential to be excellent.