I am sure you have all read at least one, if not more, articles based on the recent study about the negative impacts yelling has on children. I know I have! Understandably, everyone I know who knows about my blog has sent them to me!
I am always grateful at first to be sent these articles. I like knowing what is being said about a subject so near and dear to my heart and I love knowing that people in big places like The Wall Street Journal are talking about such a taboo subject making it a more popular topic at playgroups, adult get-togethers, and water cooler chats. In my eyes, the more people that talk about yelling and the study, the increased chances that people will (a) feel comfortable sharing their desire to yell less, (b) find out that they are not alone (the most horrific feeling), and (c) finally get the support they have craved to make a change. Sure these chats might reveal that there are some naysayers out there who think the study is bogus or don’t care about yelling but my gut tells me that they are the minority. So yeah, I am grateful to writers who published these articles and started some necessary conversations about yelling.
Eventually though, my gratitude and idealism about the power of these articles takes a back seat and I feel frustration. In my opinion, while the tone and content of these articles is well intended as sharing useful information, they often create shame and guilt for the reader instead of compassion, understanding and necessary guidance and support to change. My frustration quickly settles though as my brain gets all excited and hopeful that I could share my experience and let people know that they are human, that yelling happens but that if they want to change, not only is it possible, but there is a community ready and waiting to support them. With every yelling article that is sent to me lately, my mind kicks into “seize the opportunity to spread hope and support while the subject is hot” mode.
And then, the excitement stops.
The feelings of gratitude turned frustrated turned inspired turn disappointed.
Lately it seems that every time I read one of these recent articles about yelling, I always end up feeling disappointed because while my heart would love nothing more than to seize the opportunity to write something in response to all these articles, my mind knows that right now I just have to say, “not now.” I know – I could write the response now instead of this post, but for me to write the article to my liking, I need more time and energy than I have right now. And so, much to my disappointment, I haven’t written a response.
I, Sheila McCraith, haven’t seized the opportunity. Let me tell you, this has been incredibly hard for me, like wicked, incredibly hard because saying no to an opportunity is just not in my DNA.
Seizing opportunities, however, well that is in my DNA. It is just what I do; it’s who I am and always have been. I kid you not; I have been an “over-seizer” since Elementary School! I love to tell (sell?) myself that, “Oh this opportunity will never come again” and “Oh the timing isn’t right but you just have to say yes,” and “Why would you pass this up?” I love to push myself to the limit, to see just how much I can do, how much I can pack into a day. I love to find five hundred and one reasons why I should seize the opportunity even though I know deep down inside that really, I should pass. And to be totally honest, I love to over-seize not only because it lets me do more of what I love but also because I feel good about myself from doing so much.
Yes, I love to over-seize.
But, I do not love to over-yell.
And apparently for me, over-seizing leads to over-yelling.
You see, when I became an Orange Rhino and promised my boys that I wouldn’t yell for a year, I forced myself to find out what triggered me to yell. How else can you solve a problem if you don’t know what is really causing it, right?! Well, wouldn’t you know, over-seizing was at the top of my list!
Over-seizing pulled my mind and body in a thousand different places at once leaving me stressed and unable to be in the one place I need to be to not yell – the calm place.
Over-seizing physically tired me out by keeping me up into the late hours of the night trying to get it all done and then getting me up in the wee hours of the morning to finish what I didn’t get done.
Over-seizing mentally tired me out because I constantly thought, “Ugh, I am doing too much and yet do nothing as well as I would hope,” and constantly feeling, “I am just not a good mother…wife…friend.”
Over-seizing put me in such a tense and tired state that yelling simply became a natural go-to. I always knew that my tendency to over-seize would catch up to me one day and that I would need to manage the tendency better. And I always assumed that it would catch up to me just by physically wearing me out; one can only run on overdrive for so long! But I never, ever, expected that my tendency to over-seize would catch up to me and totally bite me in the ass not from exhaustion, but from the harsh realization that over-seizing was negatively impacting my relationship with my kiddos. And that is exactly what it was doing.
Since becoming aware two years ago that over-seizing led to over-yelling, I have actively tried to not over-seize opportunities, writing a response to the yelling study included. It is hard, so hard for me to go against a habit that I have cultivated for years and love to indulge. And yes, sometimes saying “no” leaves me feeling disappointed. But, but, I know that I must continue to actively work hard to say “no” more often and let more opportunities pass me by so that I can keep from yelling unnecessarily
But wait. Wait.
Am I really letting opportunities pass me by?
Am I really not seizing opportunities in order to cease the yelling?
Yes and no.
Well shit, I think I have just had a thought that will negate this entire post, especially the title.
That thought? I am still seizing opportunities – the right ones, the ones that mean the most to me. I am seizing the opportunity to live a healthier life – both physically and emotionally. I am seizing the opportunity to enjoy more calm time with my kids. I am seizing the opportunity to laugh more with my family because I am more present, more relaxed. I am seizing moments filled with more love and less yelling.
So, I guess a more appropriate title for the post should be: Seizing the Right Opportunities to Cease the Yelling.
Yes, yes that is definitely more appropriate.
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“Yell Less, Love More: How The Orange Rhino Mom Stopped Yelling at Her Kids and How You Can Too” will be released September 2014 but is now available for pre-order here.