Photography courtesy of Maria Bowling , “who inspired this blog.”
Keep these photos in your wallet. Every time you feel yourself seizing up in frustration, anger or overwhelm; crumbling in hurt, disappointment or rejection, pause. Allow your eyes to scan and rest on the photos.
Notice your breath deepening and your heart slowing down. Feel your butt on the seat under you. Simply experience this moment of peace. Five seconds or five minutes, it is time well spent. (get more relaxation secrets HERE)
Forget that hackneyed dance with your beloved in which you move towards her and she withdraws. Or your teen screams at you while you lash out, criticize or freeze. Allow space for a new experience. Experience the power of spacious silence.
Each of you is conditioned for knee jerk responses to one another. We learned those behaviors or overreacted to them at the knee of parents, teachers and care-givers, the media, books and culture.
Family systems psychiatrist, Murray Bowen calls those knee jerk responses to one another, The Bowen Two Step. Joe moves in to be affectionate, Jane moves out and says, “I have too much work to do. Joe moves in with, “You never have time for me.” Jane moves out with, “I have to get dinner.” Joe angrily grabs his paper and proceeds to read it, ignoring Jane. End of dance.
Your daughter, Ellie comes home from school and rushes up to her room. You move towards her, go to her room and say, “Did you have a hard day?” “Mom please leave me alone.” “Some kids wish their mother cared,” you mutter. Ellie slams the door. You get angry or hurt and say, I’m only trying to help” or…
The dance goes on; you move in and I move out, then you move in and I move out; I move in and you move out. The dance ends when one of you withdraws from this dance of conditioning, for the moment or forever.
As science and the above photos demonstrate, change is the one constant in life. Every second, each interaction, all relationships fluctuate, flow and change from moment to moment. Unless we fearfully stiffen, freeze time and endlessly repeat the same frustrating dance.
Some couples get embroiled in this rabbit hole of behavior that always ends unchanged: doors slammed; puddles of tears; threats. Parents and children create their own frustrating rabbit hole of a dance.
Consider those photos your red stop sign. In time you may think of them as a yellow caution light warning you to slow down. You are going full speed forward and headed for a collision with your partner or spouse, child or colleague.
I guarantee if you stop, take the photos from your wallet or see them in your mind’s eye. Scan them gently. Notice what happens in your body as you return to this present moment.
Observe your breath deepen, sense the floor under your feet or your butt on the seat. Feel your neck and your belly, your clenched fists. Allow space for you, your needs, and your experience. It only takes five seconds. Try it next time you want to lash out or stonewall your partner or kid. Be a contemporary! Stop the dated dance of conditioning.
Focus on yourself, not your partner or child. Allow space to sense what is going on inside you. Like the bird, the tree or the cloud just be. Experience the pleasure of being rather than always doing. The busier you are, the more you need the photo pause.
Send some love and kindness to yourself. Take empty spacious time, Show compassion towards you. Truly listen to yourself and what you need at this moment. Once you stop, look and listen to validate yourself, choice is possible.
Instead of the usual conditioned and frustrating dance, be a bird sitting on a branch or a leaf blowing in the breeze. Be solid like a mountain or soft as a cloud. Choose a more satisfying way to meet your needs.
You are changing conditioned behavior. You are helping your children to evolve, leaving behind outdated behaviors that worked for your parents at a different time in history. This is the twentieth century and your needs are very different.
As a member of a two career family, you are a trailblazer, a pioneer for the contemporary family. Stop using dated conditioned responses from the twentieth century. I will mentor you through the dramatic changes your life and your children’s life will encounter. (Click here to find out more)
It is easier for my married two career kids than it was for my husband and me. We had it easier than my two career parents. And so it goes. It won’t be perfect. Sometimes it is a rocky road. The pleasure comes the day you watch your two career children doing it so easily. They learned from you.
Hopefully they’ll discover how to take a minute of space for themselves rather than reacting to frustrating or hurtful behavior. Cut out the above photos, place them in your wallet. Your kids will imprint it in their wiring.
Look at them the next time you start to lash out, criticize, demand, whine or withdraw from your loved ones, Stop the deadly dance of conditioning. Allow space, be compassionate to yourself. Choose your next response. This is the twentieth first century. Change is the secret.
Stay tuned, join our tribe and we’ll mentor one another through this confusing but exciting new world. Click HERE to learn more about what works and what bombs for successful two career families.