As you all know, this past summer I found myself yelling at my kids way more than I liked and as a result, I found myself re-reading my book, “Yell Less, Love More: How The Orange Rhino Mom Stopped Yelling at Her Kids–and How You Can Too!” (I also found myself feeling embarrassed, but more on that later!)
And you all also know that as a result of following the 30-day plan in my book, it became abundantly clear to me that the reason I was yelling so much was because I wasn’t taking care of me. At all. I shared with you all that once I did start taking care of myself again, that I became an Orange Rhino, again. This was a totally true statement. But there was a big piece I didn’t share; the whole “how I really started taking care of me” bit. I just didn’t feel brave enough to share that truth; it was too raw, too brutally honest, too potentially damaging, too well, lots of things. But I have decided that it is too powerful of a truth to not share, so here goes.
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One day this past summer as I tracked my triggers and tried to figure out why the heck I was yelling so much, I found myself aimlessly surfing the Internet (no doubt trying to self-soothe my frustrations by getting lost in the world of celebrity gossip and hysterical e-cards.) While surfing, I stumbled upon a quote that struck a nerve and made me really think. Like, really, REALLY think. The quote more or less read,
“We give to others what we feel within.”
“We give to others what we feel within.”
YES! YES! YES! Finally all my struggling to Yell Less and Love More made sense! Maybe, just maybe, the reason I was yelling so much was because I didn’t feel love within so therefore I couldn’t give it to my boys?
“Could that really be true?” I thought to myself. “Did I really have no love within?”
Based on the pit in my stomach, I knew that I had found the truth I sought; I knew that there wasn’t enough love within me. Or more appropriately, I knew that I had love for my kiddos and my life, but that the love I had for myself was so lacking that it was overpowering all the positive feelings within me.
And more painfully, I knew that because I didn’t have much love within to share, I was instead giving out what I did have within: an abundance of anger, frustration, shame, disappointment, concern, and strong dislike.
Fortunately I didn’t have to look hard to figure out where all these intense not-so-loving feelings were coming from. I couldn’t stand the fact that I was (am!) the author of a book about not yelling, a book with alternatives to yelling, simple steps to follow to yell less, and stories to inspire and yet here I was spending my summer not doing any of what I knew to do to keep yelling at bay and being anything but inspirational. Yep, here I was a mere seven months after my book published and I had to turn to it for advice. This reality was crushing me. Crushing me. I couldn’t stop saying things to myself like,
“What is wrong with you, why can’t you just get it together?”
“I feel like such an imposter, writing one thing and doing another.”
“I am so disappointed in myself and I bet people will be disappointed in me.”
“I am so ashamed of myself; I am so angry that I have slipped.”
Nor could I stop saying not-so-nice things to myself about other aspects of my life for just as loving thoughts and actions are contagious, so are negative thoughts and actions. As my negativity about my “yelling too much, and I should know better” grew, so did my negativity towards myself about my relationships, my work in general, and my body.
My goodness, I was yelling at myself, berating myself, seemingly all the time. I wasn’t just giving out what I felt within, I was giving out what I was doing within! Of course I was yelling at my kids when I was with them; it was just a natural, instinctual extension of what I had done moments prior!
Thank goodness this wasn’t entirely a new trigger that I didn’t know how to manage. Thank goodness I knew exactly what I needed to do to yell less!
I needed to love myself more so that I could yell at my kids less.
I needed to love myself more by allowing myself to be proud of my successes (520 days straight without yelling and a book) instead of letting myself magnify my misses.
I needed to love myself more by forgiving myself for past yells while reminding myself that while I might be an Orange Rhino, I am still an imperfect human and that is more than okay.
I needed to love myself more by giving myself compassion. Of course I was struggling to yell less, I had just had knee surgery, followed by a blood clot, all with four kids home for summer vacation!
I needed to love myself more by letting go of what I hadn’t done to focus on what I could do.
I needed to love myself more by accepting my body as more than a number on the scale; it was the home to four children for thirty-six months in five years.
I needed to love myself more by telling myself that I am doing the best I can in this moment and that counts for a heck of a lot.
I needed to love myself more by nurturing myself with quiet time and “doing what I love” time.
I needed to love myself more by stopping all negative thoughts before they have a chance to grow and fester.
And I needed to do one other thing. I needed to learn how to do and say all of the above on a daily basis, not just every once in a while! I needed to learn how to make loving myself an unwavering and natural part of my life so that I wouldn’t once again find myself sliding into old yelling habits.
Loving myself more and yelling at myself less is arguably one of the biggest and most important triggers to manage. Loving myself more and yelling at myself less is arguably one of the biggest and most important triggers to manage.
Loving myself more and yelling at myself less is arguably one of the biggest and most important triggers to manage.
I am yet to get even close to mastering this trigger, but just knowing that I need to really work at it has made a difference. Thought-by-thought, hour-by-hour, day-by-day, I am working to be kinder to myself. I am reminding myself of all of the promises above. I am reminding myself that if I want to give out love, and I so very much do, then I need to foster love within. And ironically, I am reminding myself that I must be patient and kind to myself, that I must love myself as I learn to fully love myself, for steady change will not happen instantly.
I know I have a lot more learning to do to make this new habit of loving myself a prevailing part of my life, but I can tell you this much so far: loving myself more since this discovery this summer, has already resulted in yelling less, a lot less. It hasn’t been easy, that’s for sure, but it has been entirely worth it. I am no longer giving out a variety of negative feelings but am once again giving out pride, enthusiasm, kindness, support, encouragement, laughter and love. I am giving out the best of me instead of the worst and am getting back the best of my kids instead of their worst. Yelling at myself less, loving myself more, well it’s a win-win for everyone.
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Yesterday was my birthday. As I found myself grateful for all the presents I received, I decided I would gift myself the commitment of really, really learning to love myself more. Yes I have been working on it the last five months, but I know that I need to, ehem WANT TO, make a deeper commitment. I look forward to my continued learning over the next twelve months and I hope I share it with you all as frequently as I wish. I will, however, love myself and be kind to myself when I “fall short” of my goals 😉