I Yelled At My Kids…Again!

On January 20, 2012, I promised my kids I would go 365 days straight without yelling at my four boys, then ages five-ish and under. It took me a few starts and re-starts but finally…

On February 6, 2013 I celebrated one year of not yelling! I didn’t stop there though, I kept going. Not yelling had become so easy, okay, so much easier, and the calmer, quieter, home and the calmer and happier mommy and kids made me naturally want to never yell again. So I didn’t.

That is until July 12, 2013 when I lost my cool and screamed bloody murder at my sweet kiddos.  The stress of my life had simply gotten to me and instead of unleashing my growing anger into a freezer or a toilet as I had taught myself to do, and instead of calling a friend to share and unload, I unleashed my anger and unloaded complete unnecessarily at my kids. But alas, I had made it 520 days straight without yelling and found solace in that accomplishment. So I picked up myself, determined to not yell for 520 days or more, and started again.

Kind of.

I started again, but my determination kept on getting defeated by the stress of life.

Sadly, I haven’t been able to get that 520-day streak going again. I go a month or so and then break the streak. Then I go another month, maybe a few weeks, or even a few days, and I yell. Big time. And every time I yell I feel like a failure, one gigantic, big, ugly, loud failure. And I feel like a sham, one gigantic, big, ugly, orange sham.

I think it is time for this sign to become a staple in our house again!

You see, every time I yell, every time I don’t take any of my writing to heart and instead slowly re-wound my kids hearts with my words, and re-wound my own heart with intense criticism, I feel that all I am doing is eroding the truth behind everything I have written. Every time I yell, I feel that I bring into question the validity of all the lessons I have learned on my “no yelling” journey. Every time I yell, I feel that I really didn’t figure out how to “yell less and love more” at all because if I did, then I wouldn’t be yelling!

And every time I yell, I feel like I want to run and hide from you all because I feel like the biggest farce.

That was, until recently.

On Sunday, December 22nd I completed my first spin workout in four months. As expected (and hoped), forty-five minutes of sweating sweat away everything that had been clouding and weighing down my mind for months, freeing my mind to do what it loves to do: ponder challenges until a revelation has been made. That Sunday morning, one song pushed me to ponder if I was indeed a “sham” or if everything I wrote was indeed “genuine.” As I pushed the wheels around and around, literally and figuratively, one thought became clearer and clearer. Okay two.

First, I was wicked out of shape, like holy smokes out of shape.

And second, and way more importantly, I, The Orange Rhino, wasn’t a wicked liar and my writing wasn’t a sham! In fact, it was the opposite. That Sunday morning it donned on me that my problem wasn’t that all the insights, lessons, and steps to not yell that I wrote about were wrong, but rather, that they were all indeed right and I just wasn’t embracing any of them! I wasn’t yelling at my kids because I didn’t actually know how to “Yell Less and Love More,”

I was yelling at my kids because I wasn’t…taking care of me to keep me in a good place to avoid growing anger, resentment and frustration.

I was yelling at my kids because I wasn’t…asking for help and instead trying to do everything by myself despite my physical and mental limitations, which only set me up to be fried and unable to stay cool.

I was yelling at my kids because I wasn’t…talking positively to myself and saying that I can yell less, but instead I saying that I am a failure and a sham. (Um yeah, such negative talk is a sure way to not succeed!)

I was yelling at my kids because I also wasn’t…talking positively to my kids to inspire positive behavior. I spoke critically, forgetting that they respond better, like much better, to kind words and a calm voice.

I was yelling at my kids because I wasn’t…tracking my triggers to discover new ones. Kids change, life changes, triggers change. I knew that. I knew I needed to re-evaluate and come up with new solutions to manage my triggers, but I didn’t want to take the time. So instead I started “paying time” vis-à-vis increased frustrating behavior from my kids as a result of my increased yelling. (The more I yell, the worse their behavior is.)

I was yelling at my kids because I wasn’t…forgiving myself on days I yelled, but dwelling instead. The more I dwell, the more I yell. It’s that simple.

I was yelling at my kids because I wasn’t…celebrating any moment I did succeed, but rather just reminding myself that I had more to achieve.

I was yelling at my kids because I wasn’t…focusing on a goal because well, I didn’t set a new, meaningful goal to motivate me.

And I was yelling at my kids because I wasn’t…being modest. I had “succeeded” so I assumed I had the “not yelling” thing in the bag and I let my guard down. And while I did have the tools down, I still needed to be mindful to keep them top of mind; I didn’t need to get over confident that I could just succeed.

So yeah, I wasn’t yelling at my kids because I didn’t know how, I was yelling at them because I wasn’t doing what I needed to do in order to yell less and love more. How can I be sure of this? Because the last two weeks since this realization I have re-embraced some of these lessons and the yelling has already gone down which is really good news. Not yelling at my boys is just too important to me to let it continue! In these last few months of more yelling than I like, but significantly less than before I took the Challenge, I can sense the decreased calmness, joy, and cooperation in the house as a result of my yelling. And I don’t like it. And I don’t like myself for it! Life not yelling felt better, in so many ways. So for the first time ever in my life, I am making a New Year’s Resolution…on New Year’s Eve!

2014 will be the year I return to being an Orange Rhino. Full stop. Period.

Hoping to see one of these after I kick tomorrow’s day in the a..

I will achieve this by doing all of the above that I have lost sight of, most importantly, by forgiving myself, and not yelling at myself, if I slip up. Yelling at my kids less has to, and does, start with yelling at myself less. And likewise, loving my kids more starts with loving myself more. Full stop. Period.

Changing is hard.
Not yelling is hard.
Making a promise to do the above, is hard.
Mistakes will happen.
Moving forward and achieving my goal will only be harder if I don’t forgive myself along the way; if I don’t love myself along the way.

So love myself more, forgive myself more, I will.

Will you?
Are you with me?
Please say yes because I am going to need as much support as I can find!

If you want to Yell Less and Love More with me, here are a few other resources that might help you get started.

* NEW! “Yell Less, Love More” the book! The book was published one year after this post. Notice the title…Yell LESS, not never 🙂 I am an Orange Rhino, but I am also human and as this post alludes to, life happens and so do yells. It’s okay! The key is to forgiving yourself and getting as many loving more moments as you can. It’s a 30-day guide to help you create your own motivational goal filled with honest stories to inspire, simple steps to follow, and 100 alternatives to yelling.

* Forget 365 Days (Create your own goal and remember that any moment not yelling, no matter how big or small, is a success!), click here
* 12 steps I roughly followed to stop yelling, click here
* Top alternatives to yelling, click here
* Top things I learned about yelling, click here


* Click here to join the community ready and willing to support you!

6 Orange Rhino “No-Yelling” Lessons That Stopped Tears

I sat in my therapist’s office last Thursday and cried.
And cried.
And cried.

I had just admitted that I felt completely lost and unsure how I was going to keep managing all the intense feelings of stress, sadness, frustration and anger that I had been coping with the last couple of months. I had just admitted that I was completely and utterly wiped from keeping it together. I had just admitted that I was so tired of so many hits coming my way these last few months and that I just needed a break; that I just needed something good to happen.

I finally took a breath and stopped talking but the tears, oh the tears didn’t stop. The tears just kept falling and falling and falling silently down my cheeks. I did everything I could to try and keep myself from going into a full on crying meltdown. I bit my lip in hopes that it would keep my mouth shut; I knew if I talked anymore I would just lose it. I rubbed my fingers together to distract me; to help me not focus on all the pain I felt at the moment. I stared at the ceiling, desperately hoping that if I didn’t make eye contact I wouldn’t have to start talking about all the “real” emotions that had pushed me to start crying in the first place. Yes, I did everything but talk to my therapist.

“Orange Rhino, where are you?” my therapist asked.
“I’m here.” I mumbled.
“I know, but where is your mind, what are you thinking? You look like you have gone somewhere else,” she stated.

And she was right. I had gone somewhere else. I was no longer engaged and present in the conversation she and I were having. I was no longer willing to openly share about how I just didn’t know if I could keep handling all the hard shit in my life. I was no longer listening to any of her questions or empathetic, encouraging words. Nope, instead I was fully withdrawn into my own mind, listening and sharing only with myself the same thought over and over and over again: “I am so overwhelmed. I just don’t know how to move forward. I just can’t do it. I can’t. I can’t.”

I would think these thoughts and then counteract them with, “Stop. Stop thinking like this it isn’t productive.”

I would then of course counteract with, “Blech, I know that but I can’t help it. I am so overwhelmed. I just don’t know how to move forward. I just can’t do it. I can’t. I can’t.”

This inner dialogue went on for a good while. And then out of the blue (or should I say out of the orange?) a new, WAY more productive thought came into my mind. Suddenly, I thought,

“Enough already. You CAN move forward. You CAN manage all that is overwhelming you. You DO know how to do both already: just go one moment at a time. Just like you did on your Orange Rhino Challenge!”

And voila! The negative conversation and my tears finally stopped. (And yes, in the middle of my therapy session I thought about The Orange Rhino Challenge. It was just that impactful of an experience for me!) A smirk crept onto my face because I just couldn’t believe that yet again, one of the many lessons I learned on The Orange Rhino Challenge had become applicable to yet another “non-yelling” area of my life.

When I started The Orange Rhino Challenge I was certain that I would learn about how to not yell, how to better discipline my children, and how to keep cool, calm, and collected. I never expected though that all the lessons I would learn to keep me from yelling would also apply to so many other challenges in my life. The realization of the profound impact of taking The Orange Rhino Challenge and the realization that all my hard work and soul searching was so incredibly worthwhile, hit me so hard and so beautifully at that moment that my smirk immediately became a smile.

“You seem better now,” my therapist stated.

And I was better. Much better.

She then continued on and on with some advice and thoughts for me to ponder. The thing is, I didn’t take in any of what she said! All I heard was, “blah, blah, blah” because while I was more present, I was still quite preoccupied with my own thoughts. This time, however, I wasn’t thinking about how I couldn’t manage, but instead I was thinking about how I could manage; how I could draw upon even more lessons from The Orange Rhino Challenge to move forward and feel better instead of giving up and losing hope! 

Anywho, I thought more about how I did indeed already know how to move forward when phenomenally stressed; that just like getting through tough days when I wanted to scream at every one and anything, I needed to just go one moment at a time. I needed to not think about every stressor and challenging situation at once, but instead focus on one at a time and move forward slowly.

I thought about how I proved to myself on my no yelling journey that if I believe in myself that I could do hard things, even if I felt a little unsure, that I could actually do hard things! The same lesson applies to this time in my life. Things are hard right now. I can easily say this has been my hardest year out of my 36! But, I know I can persevere and keep going, that I can keep my head up and not quit on myself or my kids, even when I feel like running for the hills if I focus on believing in myself instead of tearing myself down with negativity. The Orange Rhino Challenge taught me that.

I thought about how I needed to make sure that I was taking care of me so that I had enough energy to handle the “hard shit,” just like I had learned that taking care of me kept me from yelling during trying moments with my darling kiddos. If I don’t take care of me, I explode. It is that simple. It applies to yelling moments and trying life moments. Taking care of me isn’t selfish, it’s necessary!

I thought about how I needed to adjust my expectations of what “feeling better” really meant; how I needed to stop expecting perfect feelings without any frustration, sadness, or anger. That just isn’t realistic in my life right now. Instead, I needed to embrace what I realized The Orange Rhino Challenge was all about, progress, not perfection. My stressors will subside over time. It won’t happen quickly, and it won’t happen perfectly as I envision, but it will happen. Every day I progress forward and that matters way more than perfect days!

I thought about how as I progressed forward and embraced an imperfect path, that the more positive actions and statements (and thoughts) I could make, no matter how difficult, the more positive results I would receive, just as I learned on my Orange Rhino journey. Positive attracts positive. My son taught me that; I learned that when I am more positive towards him, he behaves better and my desire to yell greatly reduces.

And I thought about how I simply can not control what is going on in my life, but that I can always control how I respond, just like I can not control my children’s personalities or behaviors but that I can always control how I respond to them. I can choose to yell or stay calm. I can choose to have negative, totally unproductive thoughts in my head about how I can’t do things, or I can tell myself I can. This was one of biggest lessons learned on my Orange Rhino Challenge; one of the biggest aha’s…and one of the hardest to fully embrace. Then and now.

As I sat on the couch in my therapist’s office, all these totally applicable “yelling management” lessons swirling around in my mind, I felt a sense of confidence and calm that I lacked when I walked in. I knew that I had a path forward that would keep me from my crying meltdown. That path? The Orange Rhino journey. I knew that whenever I felt the stressors getting to me that I could think of my journey and what I learned and rely on those lessons for strength and inspiration. And while I also knew it would be REALLY hard sometimes to embrace the lessons, I likewise knew that I could, because again, I am an Orange Rhino. I can do hard things!