Proactive V Reactive – The ‘Contrast’ prompt…

So, today I thought I’d try getting two jobs done at once.  I thought my proactive V reactive challenge would work nicely for the ‘Contrast’ prompt from writing 101.  Will try to get some dialogue in here too!

Day 2

Today is going to be an emotional day for me.  MLS’ s first day at nursery.  Unfortunately I am unable to be there and I worry how he will get on.  MLS has quite a big speech and language delay.  He seems so much littler than the other kids!  I know I’m just worrying over nothing and he will probably be fine.

Daddy has a hangover this morning!  He completely forgot the kids were back to school and left the car at the pub (there is a silver lining in their somewhere).  So not only is it MLS’s first day, he is now going to have a half hour walk to get there – poor lad will be completely shattered.  I am very cross about this.

My usual reactive reaction to this would of gone something like this:

‘Are you joking?  Did you leave the car at the pub?  You knew the kids were back at school today’ she said angrily.

‘I didn’t know’ he said, with a confused look on his face.

‘It’s MLS’s first day – he’s going to be shattered.  She screamed.

(Blank look)

‘Do you ever think of anybody but yourself?  She questioned, accusingly.

(Storms out door)

Not good, right?  So this is how I dealt with it today.  I decided to choose my response.  I realised that there was actually nothing I could do.  So I chose to keep quiet.  I said goodbye to the kids, wished MLS luck and went to work. I felt that him having to get the kids ready for school much quicker than usual (due to having to walk) with a hangover was punishment enough.  Other positives I thought of on the way to work were that he wouldn’t of been driving our kids to school under the influence of alcohol.

Very little to report at work today.  I was office bound and didn’t see a lot of people.  A bit sad though as my best friend at work told me she may be leaving in a couple of months.  Again, I chose my response and kept positive.  She is moving on to brighter and better things – and will do very well for herself.  Unfortunately she is moving away so I don’t think I will get to see her very often.

Day 3

Today is my day off.  I hadn’t really been looking forward to it as I messed up the childcare arrangements and Daddy is also off today (which never happens).  That’s bad, right?  I hate that I feel this way, but I rarely get a day to myself and it’s like he’s encroaching on my time (I realise how bad that sounds).  What usually happens when we have the day off together is that I do everything while he has a lie in, sits on the couch all morning then disappears off to the pub for the afternoon, and possibly evening!  But I realise I am being negative so I will stop.

This is what actually happened.  He had a bit of a lie in and then got up to help with the kids!  We took them to school together!  I am now dreading going home because I know what he’ll be after when we get there – with there being no kids home and all.  Again I know making excuses will cause an argument so I decide to go with the flow.  Anyways, I’m glad I did.  We connected!  I think we needed to actually.  I sometimes forget how much I love him.  I forget how much I like him when he’s sober.  He’s just a normal, fun guy to be around and it reminds me of the person I fell in love with.  It reminds me that this is the man I want back one day – on a full time basis.

We watched a funny movie and then picked up MLS from nursery (he’s getting on great by the way!).  We chilled out in the afternoon and then picked up DLP from school together.  He did then go to the pub – but only for an hour and a half and he was back in plenty of time for bath time, bedtime stories and bed.  He also stayed in all evening.  So today has been a good day.  I’m actually still in shock!

Advertisements

Proactive V Reactive

I decided to set myself the challenge of listening to my language and the language of others for seven days.  I wanted to see how much people use reactive language or proactive language and what the result of this was.

Stephen Covey gives us the following examples of reactive languge:

  • There’s nothing I can do.
  • That’s just the way I am.
  • He makes me so mad.
  • They won’t allow that.
  • I have to do that.
  • I can’t.
  • I must.
  • If only.

He gives us the following examples of proactive language:

  • Let’s look at our alternatives.
  • I can choose a different approach.
  • I control my own feelings.
  • I can create an effective presentation.
  • I will choose an appropriate response.
  • I choose.
  • I prefer.
  • I will.

Day 1

A little background.  Daddy as been at the pub all day watching football and drinking so I will be sleeping on the sofa tonight – just so I get a decent sleep.  MLS is currently sleeping in Mummy and Daddy’s bed as he says he is a big boy now and is refusing to sleep in his cot bed (as it’s for babies)!  The sofa is very comfy by the way!

So Day 1 I find myself awake at 2 am!  MLS has woken up and is full of beans.  He climbs under the blanket with me and proceeds to fidget for the next three hours, finally falling asleep at 5am.  So, lucky me gets approximately half hour sleep before my alarm goes off at 5.30!  During the three hours DLP woke up also so I sent her in with her Daddy (it really is ‘musical beds’ in our house).  So, not the best start to the day, but I try to remember that the kids were probably wakeful due to me letting them play on their Leap pads before bed and being over-stimulated, so I can’t blame anyone but myself!

Everyone else in the house is up by about 6.  I try to remain mindful that I am tired and not to snap at anyone.  Then, of course the kids start arguing – I admit, I could of handled it better!  But, I realise and apologise to them for shouting and explain that I didn’t get much sleep, and all is well again.  Daddy managed to go unscathed and I left for work.

It is my first day back at work after a week off so I’m feeling a little ‘meh’ anyway.  On my way to work I decide to think positively about going back and all the good things it entails such as seeing the people I support, my colleagues who are also friends, and all the cake which might be left over from last week as there were four birthdays going on!  I try to remember that I am tired and to pace myself today.

I buy fruit and a healthy lunch on the way (this will make me feel better about eating cake).  I arrive at work on time with a smile on my face and pleased to see everyone (which I am).  We sit around the table for (green) tea and breakfast.  My friend asks about my week off and if I’m glad to be back, I tell her about my week and say that I am.  She then goes on to talk about what’s going on with her.  She has had a fall out with a friend (a work colleague), and it is causing tension for her at work.  I hear slot of ‘she did this’ and ‘she did that’.  I try to offer helpful comments but realise I’m just getting sucked into the negativity.  So I decide to keep quiet and just listen.  And as people always do (given half the chance), she came round to her own solution while my integrity remained intact.

Anyway, so much for pacing myself today.  It turns out to be very busy!  I support my residents to get out of bed, have breakfast etc.  I check on their finances and realise no one did their banking while I was off last week, so none of the residents have any money.  I huff about it a bit to myself and then use it as an opportunity to take one of the residents out to town in the lovely sunshine!  I remember to put my problems in perspective and think about what the people I support have been through.  It really is humbling.

I arrive back at the house after some fresh air and sunshine and have lunch (and cake). After lunch I sort out the rest of the finances.  My boss is in today and requests to see me in the office.  I know already what he wants – he knows that I am on  an office day tomorrow so he will give me some of his work load to complete!  Currently he has me writing staff appraisals (really should be his job – how would you feel if your colleague wrote your appraisal and not your boss?)!  I remember that his job involves crazy amounts of work which he just hasn’t got time to do and that he thinks highly of me and spent the last seven years fighting to get me a pay rise and promotion (achieved last month!).  He also knows I spend far more time with the staff team and know them better than he does so will probably do a better job.  He also knows I’m a paperwork geek and I like to have some days when I do office work.  So he talks me round again.  Which is fine!

I arrive home shattered.  I get the washing done, make the beds and finish the paperwork needed for MLS to start nursery tomorrow.  The grocery order arrives and then the children arrive home from nannies.

MLS is shattered and asleep by 6.15, DLP by 7.30.  Daddy calls to say he’s working late so to eat without him.I eat, write this post and am now off for an early night!  Sorry Writing 101 prompt, you will have to wait!

Considering how tired I was today I think I did pretty well!

Stimulus – Response…

th-26When I decided to give up smoking, I set myself a date and organised all the things I needed to get off to a good start, e.g. patches, quitting info, downloading an app.  I was all set.  As the time drew nearer, I started to find myself beginning to make excuses, ‘I can’t do this, my life is too stressful right now’, ‘as soon as my partner upsets me, I’ll give up – what’s the point?’, ‘the kids are stressing me out’.  I seriously started to talk myself out of it.

When dealing with my children’s behaviour, I notice that sometimes I don’t deal with it particularly well, saying things like ‘you’re stressing me out’, ‘Don’t make me shout’, ‘you’re upsetting me’.

When I argue with my partner we end up rallying with each other over who is the least responsive. ‘You never talk to me’, ‘you never listen to me’, ‘you’re not interested in what I have to say’, ‘you never show any affection’.

All of these scenarios have one thing in common.  They all are reactive ways of behaving.  Reactive people believe they are not responsible for what they say – they believe they have no choice.  I used to be this way, and still can be on occasion.  Reactive people blame things on their circumstances, their conditions and there conditioning.  They blame other people for their situation, they blame the weather for their lack of motivation.  They do not realise that they have a choice about the way they react to things.

Every moment that we have in our lives provides us with a new choice.  We can choose to make it a positive one or we can choose to make it negative.  We determine what happens in our lives by the choices we make.  When circumstances are beyond our control, we choose how we react to them.

Everyone should take responsibility for their life and stop blaming others.  We all have the freedom to choose. Proactive people understand this.

“Between stimulus and response, you have the freedom to choose.”  Stephen Covey

As a human being we have four qualities which allow this- self awareness, imagination, conscience and independent Will.  Covey says this is what separates us from the rest of the animal kingdom.

 I did manage to give up smoking.  I told myself I could do it regardless of what my circumstances were.  I wrote a post about it, you can read it here. https://patchworkrainbows.wordpress.com/2015/03/17/habits/

I’m beginning to deal with my children much better too.  I lose my temper much less now.  I remind myself that I need to be a role model and their behaviours are a direct response to what is going on around them.  They are not at fault for our situation, so I remember to take it easier on them.  I learnt about child development stages and they are no longer reprimanded for what is ‘normal’ for their age.  I no longer sweat the small stuff.

As for our relationship, it is steadily getting there.  I admit there is a long way to go and much resentment that needs forgiveness.  I try to remember he can’t help the drinking – he has an addiction.  I need to read more about this to help me understand.  I need to be more supportive.  I need to remember that I can choose my response when things go wrong instead of flying off the handle.  I’m getting there slowly… but I will get there.

Family planning…

th-24I have been giving a lot of thought recently into what kind of family culture I would like my own family to have.  What am I hoping for?  I came up with the following ideas:

  • I would like my children to be brought up in a stable family unit.  I want them to see what a healthy relationship looks like.  I want them to know that relationships should be loving, respectful and supportive.  I want them to understand that their parents are also separate beings who allow each other space to grow as individuals.  I want my children to understand that their will be conflict and that there are mature, respectful ways to settle such differences.  I want this kind of relationship with my partner.
  • I want my children to feel loved, safe and secure.  I want them to know that I will encourage their development and interests without being overbearing.  I want them to have faith that I will notice what ‘sparks’ them and fills them with passion and I will do everything in my power to support these things.  I want my children to gradually gain independence when they are ready with no pressure.  I want my children to be the best version of themselves they can be and to have solid values and live by their principles.

This is the place I wish to get to.  Reading it back to myself it seems achievable but it will take a lot of hard work and commitment as it is still very far from the place I am currently in.

Stephen Covey compares our plans about the future of our families to the flight of an aeroplane.  The pilot starts off with a flight plan to get to his destination, but along the way their is wind, rain, turbulence and air traffic which makes us deviate from our flight plan.  So most of the time the plane is not even on track at all.  What we have to remember is that barring any major incidences the flight will always arrive at it’s destination.  During the flight the pilot receives feedback which allows him to make adjustments along the way.

Stephen Covey says “The hope lies not in the deviations but in the vision, the plan, and the ability to get back on track.

I look forward to developing my vision for an improved family culture and hope to come up with my very own family mission statement.

So, how am I going to get there?  What will my particular flight plan be?  Stephen Covey says you always need to start with self.  Therefore:

  • I will strive to create a stable family unit and a healthy relationship.  I will be more loving.  I will be more respectful.  I will be more supportive.  I will allow my partner space to grow as an individual.  I will find mature, respectful ways to deal with our differences and I will create this kind of relationship with my partner.
  • I will love my children unconditionally. I will keep my children safe and secure.  I will encourage their development and interests.  I will not be overbearing.  I will notice their ‘sparks’ and passions and I will support them.  I will let my children gain independence when they are ready.  I will not be a pushy parent.  I will allow my children to be the best they can be and I will teach them to live by their values and principles.

They will learn as I learn and I will be a good role model.  I think it is important to involve the children in the process from the start as the habits will then become part of their lives.  I am not ready to involve my partner just yet, but hopefully with time I can become what Covey calls an ‘agent of change’.  I will use the principles in the 7 habits to help me along the way.

Other things I would like to add to my flight plan include:

  • Having a weekly family meeting to plan, communicate, teach values and have fun together.
  • Having regular one to one bonding times with each member of the family doing something they choose to do.

th-15I know I need to be patient.  Stephen Covey tells the story of the Chinese Bamboo tree to reflect this.  The seed is planted and then you see nothing except a tiny shoot for the next four years, all the growth is occurring underground.  In the fifth year the Chinese Bamboo tree grows up to eighty feet!

Winston Churchill once quoted we must “never, never,NEVER give up!”

I completely agree, no matter how far we have deviated from our flight plan, we can always adjust and arrive at our destination.

Inside Out…

th-10As we progress through the ‘Seven Habits’, Stephen Covey takes us on a journey from dependence to independence and then on to interdependence.  Covey calls this the ‘Maturity Continuum’.  Dependence deals with the paradigm of ‘You take care of me’.  Independence deals with the paradigm of ‘I take care of myself’.  Interdependence deals with the paradigm of ‘We take care of each other’.  Stephen Covey calls this the ‘inside-out’ approach.  Starting with self.

Habits 1,2 and 3 take us from dependence to independence.

1.  Be Proactive deals with taking control of your life, focusing on the things you can do something about not those things beyond your control and taking responsibility rather than blaming others or your circumstances.

2.  Begin with the end in mind deals with knowing what you want to accomplish in life, organising and preparing in a way that reduces the need to work in crisis mode and beginning each week with a clear plan of what you want to achieve.

3.  Put first things first deals with being disciplined in carrying out plans, not allowing the important activities to be lost in the busy activities of your days and doing things which are meaningful and allow you to accomplish your overall goals.

Congratulations!  If you have managed all that you can officially call yourself independent.

I always thought that on the maturity continuum that I was at the very least independent and perhaps even interdependent in my work environment.  Looking back at the details of the first three habits, I see that I am wrong!

I have somewhat taken control of my life in that I have found myself again and I’m doing the things I enjoy.  I am no longer dependent on my partner and am doing most of the upbringing of the children.  However I do still occasionally worry about things I can do nothing about such as my partner’s alcohol dependency.  It took me a long time to realise that I could do nothing about it so old habits die hard.  I am getting much better at this though.  I do feel like I take more responsibility now but I do still hold quite a lot of resentment towards my partner and how his drinking has affected our lives but I’m trying to be more understanding.

I have real trouble with habit 2.  I just don’t know what I want to accomplish in life.  I never had a dream career and my interests and hobbies are constantly changing.  I can’t seem to settle on one thing for long.  I think about this too much and I think the answer is simple because all I want really is a happy, healthy family.  There, I just answered my own question!  I’m pretty good at organising and planning at work but at home I often feel swamped.  I have a general idea what I want to get done each week but it doesn’t always happen.

Habit 3 – well I procrastinate a lot.  Even my five year old tells me not to ‘crastinate!  Sometimes I’m so busy at home that I never stop and sit and play with the kids.  We definitely don’t spend enough time together as a couple.

Habits 4,5 and 6 take us from independence to interdependence.

4.  Think win – win deals with caring about the success of others as well as your own, cooperating with others and dealing with conflicts by finding solutions which benefit all.

5.  Seek first to understand, then to be understood deals with being sensitive to the needs of others, seeking to understand the viewpoint of others and when listening, seeing things from the other person’s point of view, not your own.

6.  Synergize deals with valuing and seeking out the insights of others, searching for new and better ideas and solutions and encouraging others to express their opinions.

Congratulations!  If you can do all that you are officially interdependent!

I do quite well at these in my work environment which is the area of my life that is most successful.  I work hard and I’m very well thought of by my manager and colleagues.  I generally train up the new staff who come in and as they get younger and younger and I get older I feel myself getting a slight twinge of jealousy when they start performing well.  I guess it is inevitable that someone may overtake my accomplishments one day.  They are so keen and motivated and I seem to have lost that as time has gone on.  At home I’m not so good at resolving conflicts so they benefit all.

Habit 5 is tricky.  I’m quite a quiet person so I’m a very good listener.  I can be very sensitive to other people’s needs e.g. the people with PMLD that I support at work but I am not always emphatic towards everyone.  I guess I see it that if you really are in need like the people I support then you are worthy of sensitivity but it is based on my judgement of your situation.  That sounds terrible now that I have written it down, must change that!  I guess it’s because I see the people I support surviving and thriving everyday when their needs are so high, that I think other people should be thankful that they are able-bodied, happy and healthy (in lots of cases).  People sometimes live in a bubble and sometimes don’t think about the hardships of others compared to their own.  But, I guess I’m forgetting we don’t always see the truth or real situation behind other people’s pain.

I am quite good at listening to other people’s opinions and coming up with ideas, but here again I need to improve on this at home.

Habit 7  is Sharpen the Saw and deals with renewal in the four areas of life, physical, social/emotional, mental and spiritual.  Doing this increases our capacity to live all of the other habits of effectiveness.

This is probably where I’m going wrong!  I do not really do any physical form of exercise, although my diet isn’t too bad.  Although I have a habit of skipping meals if my partner’s not about for dinner (quite a lot).

I don’t have many close friends and my work relationships are mostly professional.  I don’t really go out much as I don’t like to leave the kids in case my partner drinks. So socially I’m not doing so well

I am doing activities I enjoy now and I’m reading about spirituality but I guess I could always be doing more.

Habits…

This post was inspired by the following Daily Prompt:

https://dailypost.wordpress.com/dp_prompt/too-big-to-fail/
th-8According to Stephen Covey a habit is the ‘intersection of knowledge, skill and desire’.  Knowledge is what you know and why, skill is how to do and desire is the want to do.  You must have all of these three things in order to form a habit.  It is also necessary to have these same things to break a habit.  Habits are extremely difficult to break and often people need to make major changes in order to do so.

I started smoking when I was seventeen.  I had quite a difficult home life (both of my parents went through periods of depression and they had a volatile relationship), so I used it as a way to de-stress.  I can’t even blame it on peer pressure as I was at college training to be a nursery nurse so smoking was frowned upon!  Later on at 18, I started going out with a guy that smoked and most of my friends in my local pub smoked too (back when you could smoke in a pub).  So at this point I was hooked.  I never worried too much about it and always thought that I would be able to give up whenever I wanted.

Of course, as time goes by this statement becomes less true.  So fast forward a few bad relationships, and finally getting to a point where I could be happy to be single, I decided it was time to try… and failed miserably, several times over the next few years actually.

Eventually I’m with my current partner (which regular readers will know came with a whole new set of problems and stresses).  We talked about trying to get pregnant.  So again I didn’t worry and felt absolutely sure that I would be able to give up if I became pregnant.  How wrong could I have been?  I cut down hugely but I could not give up.  It’s still to this day the one thing I will never forgive myself for.  In fact it took until my youngest was two and a half before I gave up completely.  It was thanks to Stephen Covey actually.

I started by looking at the knowledge:

  •  Smoking was starting to effect my health.
  • I wanted to stop before the children noticed.
  • I wanted to be around to see my children get married and have children of their own.
  • I didn’t want to effect the children’s health.
  • I didn’t want to pass the habit on to them.
  • I didn’t want to go through smoking-related diseases.
  • I didn’t want to die.
  • I could spend the money on something worthwhile.

I then looked at the skill:

  • Look for information online about quitting.  NHS Choices website.  Look into ‘Stoptober’.
  • Read books on the subject.
  • Speak to friends and family who had quit.
  • Gather as much support as possible.  Make myself accountable.
  • Speak to Gp about quitting options, patches, gum etc.

I looked over my desires:

  • To be healthier.
  • To have healthy children.
  • To be a part of their lives as long as possible.
  • To save money.

I then came up with an action plan.  I used patches, initially these were brilliant and completely stopped my cravings, after a while they brought me out in big red welts on my body (an allergic reaction). It was very painful but because they stopped the cravings so well I continued with them until it was unbearable.  Then I went cold turkey.  The welts took months to disappear!  So ‘Stoptober’ 2013 I gave up smoking for good.  A few months later my partner gave up too.

5 Principles…

th-7Stephen Covey writes a great deal about the principles on which the seven habits are based.  Here are the five principles which most effect my life daily.

The principle of service, of giving oneself to others, of helping to facilitate other people in their endeavours.

I seem to do this all day long, everyday!  I work in a residential home for adults with profound, multiple learning disabilities.  I provide full support with every aspect of their lives from personal care to helping them to live as independently as possible.  I have even helped some achieve their goals and their dreams.  Service is my job and one that I love.  I count myself very lucky.

In my personal life I take the majority of responsibility for the children.  Service is yet again the order of the day!  I don’t mind this anymore, it seems to have become easier as the children have got older and I have found ways of coping.  I love the time I spend with my children and I don’t feel the loss of identity that I once felt.  I’m beginning to get some of ‘me’ back.

I need to practise this principle more with my partner, I know deep down that he is a good person and I believe that this person will come back to me one day.  In the meantime I will do my up most to support him.

The Principle of staying positive and optimistic, radiating positive energy, and avoiding the four emotional cancers (criticizing, complaining, comparing and competing).

Well, staying positive and optimistic can be a battle when times are bad, but I try to remember that there is nothing I can do to change his drinking.  He needs to do this himself.  So, I just carry on with my life and try to help the kids understand.  (I would like to make it clear here that there have been very few incidences where he has been drinking around the kids.)  He now knows that when he is drinking, I will just stay out of the way.  I have managed to carve out a little life for myself, I started writing, learnt a new craft skill and started doing the things I loved as a child like drawing and singing.  This has helped so much and I am much happier for it.

During the day to day grind when I was unhappy and depressed I did a lot of the four emotional cancers.  I criticized the way he looked after our children, (sometimes rightly so, like when their outing with daddy was to the pub), but a lot of the time it was just nit picking because of my resentment towards him. This is probably partly responsible for why he helps so little now.  He felt like he could do no right.

I complained from the moment I got up in the morning till the moment I went to sleep.  I didn’t realise how negative I had become.  I compared our relationship to others, and wondered why we couldn’t be like a ‘normal’ couple.  I now know there is no such thing.  Everyone has their own problems.

I still have negative days, but I tend to just bite my tongue now.  Then I guess bottling up my feelings will do no good either.

The Principle of integrity – The quality of being honest and having strong moral principles.

I try not to speak about others when they are not present, but I admit this is quite difficult as I work in a female dominated environment.  There is a lot of gossiping and bitching and it’s easy to get sucked in.  I try to avoid these conversations and walk away and get on with my work.  If I am part of the conversation, I try to make sure that I don’t say anything that I wouldn’t say to the person’s face.

In these types of situations I try to remember that we never know what other people are going through.  My colleagues really have very little clue of the extent of the problems in my family, I hide it well.  I’m actually one of the few staff who doesn’t take their issues into work, I would never want to – it’s the one place I can get away from it all.

The Principle of patience – The capacity to accept or tolerate delay, problems, or suffering without becoming annoyed or anxious.

I am very patient in my work life.  A lot of the adults I support have challenging behaviour and mental health issues.  I can be in some pretty dangerous situations, sometimes on a daily basis.  I cope with this well.  I am good at it.  So, why do I find it so hard to apply at home?

I am much better with the children now, when I was very stressed out I would lose patience quickly and feel like I couldn’t cope but I manage this well now.  I have had to set up my life so that I no longer depend on daddy, e.g. I have back-up childcare, informed my manager so he’s aware.  The minute I put these things into place my life became easier.  It is just sad that it has come to that.

With my partner things need to change.  Staying out of the way helps but it does not address the problem.

The Principle of balance – Identifying our roles and spending appropriate times in each one.

All good with work and children here but definitely need to spend more time on our relationship.  I also need to look at developing friendships as I am feeling isolated at times.

It’s just knowing where to start…