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October 14, 2014

Learning to Do What You Believe

Kelvin headshot Oct2013 HDRI have a lot of beliefs.

I believe that one day we will have a female President. Not saying it’ll be Hillary, but one day a woman will sit in the big chair in the Oval Office.

I believe in the value of honesty as well as justice for all mankind. Kind of like Superman.

I believe love is more action than emotion.

I believe the 1988 Detroit Pistons got robbed by the referees in Game 6 of the NBA Finals. I also believe I am still very bitter about that.

I’ve grown to believe that screaming at my kids isn’t an effective tool in trying to raise respectful and self-sufficient adults.

What I’ve learned about that last one is that even though I believe it, I still occasionally scream, one way or another. When I do, I feel horrible.

Sometimes I don’t do what I believe.

I know that I’m not alone in this for it is a statement that is made by many of the parents that I meet on a weekly basis.

So what do we do when we lose it and feel bad afterward? I have discovered three practices that may help. Putting these three items into the flow of my life hasn’t made me a perfect parent, but they help me to consistently do what I believe most—parent out of my calm rather than my reactivity.

1. Understand that “Losing It” is Supposed to Feel Bad

The reason we feel so horrible when we lose it is because our integrity is thrown out of alignment when we act in a way that is opposite of our beliefs. That horrendous feeling is a signal that all is not right in our world. The good thing is that we have the power to do something about it.

2. Learn the Virtue of Forgiveness and Teach it Well

One of the most negative emotions that we can carry within our lives is guilt. It is negative because it prevents us from moving forward. It constantly pushes us back into the past—the preceding period of screaming, yelling and reactivity. The only way to move forward is to address the past by forgiving yourself and then asking for forgiveness.

Don’t worry, asking forgiveness from your child doesn’t make you appear weak in their eyes. It teaches them how to be strong enough to admit when they make a mistake and the humility it takes to ask for forgiveness.

3. Move Forward in Mindfulness

After you allow the past to be the past and you address the guilt of the present you can move forward to the future. Allow that future to be filled with the practice of mindfulness. Keep an emotional eye on how and what you are feeling in any given moment. When you feel the pressures or emotions that usually lead to you screaming at your kids, it’s time to chill. Call your own timeout and disconnect for a moment until those emotions pass.

Sometimes you do need to respond in the moment, but you don’t have to react. Keeping track of your emotions can make all the difference in the world in preventing a major meltdown.

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