Stephen 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…