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Challenging learned behaviour in a gentle way

You will not be broken, Jojo Fraser, author and speaker

I love writing about my mistakes and lessons. But sometimes I worry that I can come across as ‘preachy’ with my content.  I want to be grounded and measured about topics I feel passionate about.  I’ll be straight, the word feminist used to scare me because of the connotations associated with it.  Whilst I think it’s amazing to feel a sense of passion and energy, I don’t want to be too extreme, judgemental and scary.  I want to be kind and approach the topics I feel strongly about in a gentle way.  But I want to make some noise, and my intention on the blog has always been to show up fully with no mask and challenge, inspire or entertain.  So on that note, here goes.  Fasten your seat belt, it’s lovely to have you back.

I was driving the kids across town yesterday.  It was the last day of their almost 3 week festive break.  I had woken up with the intention to keep calm, despite the very many challenges that can crop up in day to day life.  The kids didn’t want to leave the house, I really didn’t want to shout and force them.  Either way, we were leaving.  I was tempted to shout but I took myself back to my intention.  I took 3 deep breathes and thought to myself: keep calm.  In that moment I was present in my body and I found clarity.  I approached the kids and explained that I really didn’t want to have to shout and get angry, because that makes me feel sad.  Surprisingly, they listened and getting out the door wasn’t too stressful.  I used to be that Mum that would get stressed when leaving the house often and it made me sad.  It was learned behaviour that I needed to ditch.  I had a light bulb moment in 2018 when recording this utterly brilliant podcast with coach Jill Richie.  If you struggle when leaving the house, listen to it.  

There were a couple of hairy moments whilst driving.  Bonnie was challenging my driving in a seriously annoying backseat driver mode: ‘Mum, stay focused’.  Her words were in reference to me enjoying the odd sip of my takeaway coffee at the traffic lights.  I limit myself to one coffee a day (and not every single day) so I was frustrated I couldn’t enjoy this simple pleasure in peace.  I wanted to shout and tell her to stop being so bossy.  Instead, I remembered my intention and focused on breathing and feeling present as opposed to getting lost in anger.  There were similar scenarios throughout the day.  Overall, I was slaying my intention and feeling accomplished, because sometimes it is the small things.  As we drove home later that day, a driver made a bit of a silly move, forcing me to use my breaks quickly.  Again, I took a deep breath and kept grounded in my body.  Bonnie, who is currently 7, then challenged me:

‘Mummy, you should have peeped your horn and shouted at that silly driver, that’s what Dad would have done’.

She looked annoyed. Again, I took a deep breath and explained that the driver may be having a bad day.  I then went on to remind her that getting angry only makes me feel worse.  Because that is the truth.  I explained that sometimes it is important to try and stay calm and to pick our battles.  Now in my heart, I believe that this advice I gave is right.  You may disagree.  Anger is something I have been very open about.  Some wrote to say they were surprised I confessed the throwing of the cup incident last year in this article.  I am not proud of the times I get angry.  But I don’t see the point in beating myself up about it.  I want to learn and then trouble shoot.  I want to be open to new tools.  Hint – mindfulness tools come up pretty strongly here don’t they?  Based on the times I have exploded, I have been able to build the triggers into a model that I use in my next book to help us avoid such explosive drama.

The other day I got it right.  Some days, I fail and screw up.  I will continue to write about both.  I hope you will stay with me for this journey, because I want you here.  But one thing I know is that whilst anger is a natural signal for us to listen to, it’s what we do with this signal that truly matters.  Not all learned behaviour is good.  My kids might think it is normal to copy bad habits from myself, their Dad and other role models.  It takes a village to raise a child and we all have our good and bad days.  The key word I want you to take with you from this blog is gentle.  What a soothing adjective.  I like gentle.  I need more gentle in my life.  I’m going to add a line to the article I wrote about love.

Love is fun and free.  Love plays.  It doesn’t cling.  Love is non controlling.  It is equal. Love is gentle.  It feels warm and light.  Love can’t be forced.  Love flows, it gives.  Love cooperates.  It brings joy.  Love smiles.  Love supports the passions that bring you to life.

Love is admiration.  It’s moments of intimacy.  Love is looking a little closer and paying attention to someone.  Love listens.  Love is present.  It is being interested and there, all in.  Love is connection.  An energy and force that can be felt.  Sometimes strong, deep and intense, other times calm and rejuvenating.  Love is being real with no mask or agenda.  Love is open and doesn’t punish honesty.  Love welcomes and accepts differences.  Love is the opposite of small talk.  Love is a liberating adventure.  Love is affection and touch. It’s abundantly delicious. Love is the greatest power that we have.

I’m addicted to love and I want more of it.

Use your anger and frustration in a gentle way and you will have a much greater impact.  Act on your anger in an explosive way and the impact will only make yourself and others feel worse.  I choose gentle.  I’m trying.  Set an intention at the start of the day and see what happens.  Also, if you are a parent or carer, try your best to set aside some time for you to be away on your own or with friends.  For me, this is essential.  Keep filling up that cup so it pushes out all the drama and stress that you take on from the day.

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