Permission to Speak Freely
“Life does not need to be changed; only intent and actions do.”
Have you ever thought about the way you talk to family versus friends, co-workers and general outsiders/strangers? What tone do you use? What is your body language? Are you as considerate with ‘insiders’ as you are with ‘outsiders?’ What makes it alright to ‘go off’ on a family member when it’s not okay with anyone else? Can you imagine what life would be like if we talked to the checkout lady at the market the way we talk to our teenagers? Or, how friendly would the guy at the post office be if we addressed him the way we address our spouses after a long workday? Whoa, it boggles the mind to even think about how volcanic the world would be if we treated each other with the same familiarity we use ‘at home.’ Why do we change when we get home and can we change the fact that we change?
When my first born was at the stage where little ones get into everything and out of a sense of utter frustration I began to feel myself yelling or wanting to yell at everything, I called the pediatrician for help. He gave me the following advice. “Speak to your child as though he was from a foreign country. You would not raise your voice to someone who didn’t speak your language – would you?” Very sage words!
One of the big reasons we ‘lash out’ at those we are closest to, is that they are family. In our hearts we are pretty darned sure that they will not turn their backs on us if we raise our voice. Most likely, they will yell back. We give ourselves permission to be less than thoughtful with ‘insiders’ because we believe, no matter what, they will accept us for who we are, and if their feelings get hurt, or they get mad, they will get glad, eventually. No big deal, right?
If that is the case, how do we actually get what we want? How do we find the peace and contentment we are looking for at home? How do we establish the relationship of romance, or respect, or fun, or equality? We do so by examining what it is that ignites our reactions and where the root of each reaction is within ourselves. Do you get what you need from your mate or your children by demanding (not a good idea) or, commanding as would a good leader? Rather than pointing out their negatives because ‘your button’ has been pushed, are you able to respond in the positive? You might try explaining how you feel with “I messages.”
“I” messages always begin with the word “I.” For example, (1)”I feel sad when I come home from work and see a sink full of dirty dishes,” rather than, (2)“Look at all these dirty dishes, if you were not so lazy and inconsiderate you would have done them.” The first reaction commands respect by treating those with whom you are upset with dignity, while avoiding the old finger pointing that causes defensive walls to go up. Those on the receiving end of such a statement will think, ‘I should have helped out here.’ On the other hand, when you demand a response with a statement resembling the second, the rejoinder you get will most likely fall into the category of quarrelsome or whiney.
Take the time to figure out how you wish to be spoken to, or what reaction you would respond to best, and then dissect your own responses; design ‘ready to use’ reactions and practice them. When the time comes for you to react, respond or request, you will be happily prepared and those around you will be delighted.