So, you are faced with another issue. Yours, theirs, whoevers. Stop whining, blaming and complaining immediately with 1 simple tactic.
Dee Dee Artner said, “Blaming others is an act of refusing to take responsibility. When a person can’t accept the fact or the reality, they blamed another person or the situation instead of taking accountability. If you have time to whine then you have time to find a solution.”
I love that. But, I take it one step further with all my critical relationships (my children, husband, employees, volunteers, etc.). My simple tactic drastically reduces and in many cases, stops whining and complaining in its tracks. The tactic? Insist that if a problem exists and they must “tell” you about it, then they must also bring to the table 3 solutions to fix it. Perhaps those 3 solutions aren’t applicable or realistic (especially in the case of a young child, story below) but what it does is shift the thinking to solution mode rather than stay in complaint mode. The other benefit to this trick is eventually the person will learn that they have to come to you with 3 solutions and they a): either don’t bring it to you or (even better) b): they figure out the solution and the problem is solved and done! Added benefit is children (and adults) start thinking strategically about problem-solving rather than having a reactive approach to problem solve.
Why do you have to keep children’s solutions in perspective? I’ll tell you a story to illustrate. When I was a little girl of 6, I received a kitten as a gift by my beloved grandmother. I loved that kitten. I called her Furful, because she was full of fur. Well, after some time, it became evident that my older brother was allergic to her. My parents had to tell me the tragic news that Furful couldn’t live with us anymore and had to go to the local animal shelter. I was heart-broken and in my wails I howled, “There must be another way!” My dad in his infinite wisdom asked, “What would you have us do?” Sitting there looking up at my parents, I thought long and hard about my big brother (who I really didn’t like very much then) and how much I loved Furful. I said in complete seriousness for my 6-year-old brain and broken heart, “Well, give HIM away!” Furful you were never forgotten. 🙂
Do you know the reason you acted or spoke the way you did? Take a moment of Reflection. Think strongly about what may have caused you do react that way. What was your intent when you did this?
When harshly confronted, when listening to another’s malice or spite about others (think heated opinions about traffic or politics or…), or when someone unexpectedly fesses up about some transgression, human’s typically counter 1 of 3 ways: Flight, Fight or Freeze. My personal modus operandi? I freeze. I am stunned when someone lashes out at me, is spiteful about something or someone (who isn’t there to defend themselves) or is even mildly surly.
To combat this, I internalize 1 question, “What is/was your intent?” At worst, they huff and puff and storm off. At best, someone may reflect on their reaction and rephrase their statement. My children, while growing up, heard me ask this question all the time. It was and still is powerful.
LOOK IN THE MIRROR: Think of the last time you overreacted. What was your intent? To vent, to hurt, to dominate? None of these add value and causes ill-will with your partner (spouse, co-worker, parent, child, boss, or friend).
Is His Apology Real?
Your husband just apologized, but you’re unsettled by your mental gymnastics that doubt his sincerity. Perhaps these sound familiar, “He sounds sorry. Can I trust his apology? But, I’ve heard this before. I wish he had just said, (fill in the blanks). What if he does it, again?” and on and on your monkey mind travels. The answer may seem complex and difficult due to personal expectations, and personal and relationship history. To avoid more mind-twisting ruminations and to finally get some peace, ask yourself these 7 reflective questions:
- Is he empathetic to your emotional pain? Will he listen to your pain until you get closure? If so, it’s worth considering accepting the apology and moving on, together. But, if he just wants to move on, stop talking about it, or tells you to, “…get over it. I said I was sorry.” Then, yes, you may need to get over it and fast. “It” being the relationship and him.
- Is he remorseful? I’m not talking about he’s sorry he got “caught.” I’m talking about real regret for making a decision that wounded another human being.
- Is he accepting full responsibility for his actions? Or is there blame involved such as, “If you hadn’t/had, I wouldn’t have (fill in the blank)?” If blame is part of the apology, his apology isn’t sincere.
- Will he do what it takes to repair it? I’m not talking giving you flowers or calling/texting you incessantly to ask how you’re doing. I’m talking about voluntarily giving you the information you need to feel safe with him, again.
- Was restitution given freely? If physical compensation or restoration is needed to make it right, was it freely offered and completed on a timely basis without your involvement?
- Is there true repentance? Now, before you turn from this thinking it’s a religious term, give me a moment. Repent literally means to turn from. So in this case, it means the “event” never happens, again. It’s actually a great way to live: do something wrong/hurtful, acknowledge it, apologize and never do it, again.
- The over-riding factor you must consider regardless of the sincerity of the apology is this: was the transgression a 1-time event or was this a repeat offense? if the latter, then you’re dealing with a character issue and you need to seriously consider moving on. This also applies if the offenses are different. Poor choices in multiple areas signify a serious character flaw. This is not an opportunity to “love him through it.” It’s time for you to have enough self-respect to be only with people that cherish, honor and support you. This includes family, friends, and co-workers. But, more importantly, you need to be with someone who has enough self-respect that he wouldn’t put himself in situations that could hurt himself or wound others.
If your husband meets all the above criteria for a sincere apology, then it is time to put it to rest and rebuild together. And refrain from revisiting it. It’s tiresome to keep hearing about something that happened years ago. This is especially true if it never happened again. We ALL make mistakes. His mistake isn’t worse than your transgressions. They are all the same when it comes to a hurting heart.
A look in the mirror:
Have you hurt someone? Reflect on the questions. Be brutally honest. If you need to sincerely and honor someone’s pain due to a bad decision/action on your part, ask for forgiveness. Then be completely accountable. Please read my other related blog post, “How to Help Those You Hurt”
Disclaimer: the above is a compilation of blog posts, transcripts, columns, etc… often titled the “The 4 R’s of an Apology.” Because I’ve been on both the ends of apologies and wrong-doing, please read my other related blog posts, “How to Help Those You Hurt” and “7 Ways to Mess Up an Apology.”
What a loaded subject. But, it really is simple. Bad or wrong behavior needs effective consequences. What is bad or wrong behavior? Simply defined it is when a person’s actions, words or behavior hurt themselves and/or others. Obvious examples are, but not limited to, lying, cheating, stealing, bullying, abuse (all kinds), breaking laws/the rules, and disrespectful conduct. If Bobby is caught cheating on his 3rd-grade spelling test he is mostly hurting himself. If Susan, a wife and mom, is in an adulterous affair, she’s hurting herself, her husband, their children (even if they don’t know about it), her affair partner’s wife and children. The ripple effects could last generations. If Tom hangs up on a customer he hurt not only the customer, but the company culture, the employees and himself. So, what are appropriate consequences? I have a simple definition: whatever gets the perpetrator’s attention so they won’t do it, again. This is different for each person and each situation.
The hard part about consequences? There are three parts, actually.
- Confronting the offender. Many people, I would venture to say that most, are afraid of conflict. But, you need to find a way to get over that discomfort and vexation. Not confronting someone over slight or egregious misconduct will cause you tremendous frustration and aggravation which eventually leads to unresolved anger. As much as we’d like it, people can’t read our minds and often don’t even know they upset you. Some may even think they got away with something. Even if they could read your mind, they would probably bungle “fixing” it because they don’t know what you need. So, accept it that you need to talk to the perpetrator. If the idea of confronting them sends you to an apoplectic state, then you need to find a thoughtful intermediary (pastor, rabbi, priest, wise friend, boss, therapist, co-worker, etc) to help you bring this issue to the forefront. If a conversation, even with help, is still overwhelming, consider writing a letter. Or draw a picture. Or write a screenplay. Anything that will get your point across in a respectful way so they can hear you. If they don’t respond or get defensive you have a bigger problem than the recent behavior issue. And yes, that needs to be addressed, too.
- The punishment needs to fit the crime. An appropriate consequence for Bobby cheating on his test is to have him print or write in cursive his misspelled words 100 times each. An inappropriate consequence is not allowing him to go over to his best buddies’ house for his birthday party. There’s no relation between the offense and the punishment. That’s what we call in my house, “taking away Christmas.” Also known as a knee-jerk, punitive reaction. Not smart, thoughtful or effective. SIDEBAR: Taking away a friend’s birthday party invitation is appropriate if the offense included hurting another through words or physicality. If your employee hangs up on a customer, then the employee is either fired or no longer talks to customers for an established period of time. Yes, it is probably burdensome to the other employees, and to you, but that caustic conduct cannot be tolerated. You’re defining the culture and the expectations you have of your employees. In the long run, your company and your customers will appreciate it.
- Sticking to your guns after meting out a consequence. If you say, “No sleepovers till next month.” Then no sleepovers till next month. If you say, “You will not answer the phone for 30 days.” Then make it 30 days. No exceptions. That’s why it is very important to be thoughtful about the punishment. Make sure you can carry it out. It is OK to say to the offender, “I need to think about this. Give me X hours and I’ll get back to you.” Then get back to them with the appropriate consequence.
Hopefully, the situation with an adult is an “event” rather than a character defect (more than once). If the latter, you need to seriously consider severing ties with that person. Children are not little adults. Please take age development phases into account. For example, most children go through a phase where they lie/embellish. You must call them on it, each time, so they learn lying isn’t acceptable behavior. But, just because they lie more than once doesn’t mean they’ll end up in state prison. Relax.
Live, Love and Serve,
Annette de Lancey Giacomazzi
We all make mistakes. Even my totally cute, perfect friend, Jan. I don’t know when she did, but she’s a human being so I’m sure she forgot to put the butter away some time and her dog got into it. Love ya, Jan! <3 But, the other 99.999% of us have made many mistakes and some of them are big, hairy, icky, makes-you-want-to-shake-the-memory-out-of-your-head mistake. How do you get that out of your head? How do you shake that guilt, embarrassment, and yes, shame? How do you know you won’t do it, again?
As a woman of faith, I am thankful Christianity gives me the gift of grace. It’s God’s “do-over” plan. But, here’s where the rubber meets the road. Just because I was forgiven by my creator doesn’t mean I can take a pass and commit the offense over and over. I need to be remorseful and turn from committing the same crimes/sins/mistakes. Christian or not, that’s a great way to live a life. Only when we are released from that guilt and shame can we be and do our best.
If you made a BIG mistake, which sadly means usually hurting those we love, there is a formula to move on:
- Quickly ask for forgiveness from those you hurt.
- Never, never say, “because you did “y,” I did x.” That is deflecting. Also known as blaming. That’s what children do. Take responsibility for your actions, own up to your faults. This is not giving in, it’s growing up.
- Repeat your mistake, and how you hurt them, in your words. You may not have the exact words, but it shows you’re trying to understand their pain.
- Let them speak their pain regardless of how uncomfortable it makes you feel. Sit with it. Your discomfort is fairly low on the “we care” scale, at the moment. It’s part of the process.
- Empathize with them. You must feel their pain for you to grow. If you don’t feel their pain, seek counseling.
- Give those that you hurt time to heal on their time-frame, not yours. If that means getting fired, put on administrative leave, losing someone or something, or any kind of separation, accept it.
- Let those you hurt re-hash the “event” for awhile. It’s part of their recovery. But, after some time, they and you need to move on if healing is going to occur.
- Make restitution when necessary. Even if it takes the rest of your life.
- Recognize some mistakes and hurts can’t be overcome. Be prepared to lose the one(s) you hurt. This may be the lesson you need to grow and learn.
- Get help if you need it. Don’t wait for a court-mandated order or your loved one insisting on it. Take the initiative and seek professional help. This is taking action. Action is always esteemed over words.
- If the relationship continues, recognize it will be different.
- Don’t do it, again. Actions speak louder than words and memories fade more quickly if not repeated.
Blessings and Joy,
- It isn’t about complaining or whining. Because complainers want 1 of 2 things: to have someone to fix “it” (because it is easier to complain than find a solution) or they want validation for their feelings or beliefs. Neither promotes growth and learning. If your husband is a chronic complainer, don’t complain about him. If you complain about your husband, stop. When we’re hurting and confused about anything or anyone, the knee-jerk reaction is to complain because it gives the perception we’re doing something. But, in reality, it keeps us from taking action. Let’s not forget, that complaining is a drain and boring. Who wants to be that?
- It isn’t about husband bashing. No matter how difficult your situation is or you perceive it to be, do NOT lower your responses to his level. You may not recognize it, but he is still a human being and has value. Rise above it and when you do, do it well and with all the respect you can muster.
Please consider this your safe, happy place where you can get answers to questions you didn’t even know you had. Have faith knowing TBDUP is the place to find clarity, direction, support, and encouragement.
I’ve been there. Breathe. We’ll get there, together.
Valentine’s Day was yesterday. Remember the first few months of being in love? All you could do is think of HIM. Talk about HIM. Dream about HIM. Give HIM your best. Be your best for HIM. Think about out-of-the-box creative plans for HIM. Spend a lot of time with HIM even to the point of forgetting you had a life outside of HIM. And boy, did HE respond. It was thrilling, exhilarating, even seductive. You’re smiling, aren’t you?
Now, let’s replace HIM with YB, aka Your Business. All you could do is think of YB. Talk about YB. Dream about YB. Give YB your best. Be your best for YB. Think about out-of-the-box creative plans for YB. Spend a lot of time with YB even to the point of forgetting you had a life outside of YB. And boy, did YB respond. It was thrilling, exhilarating, even seductive. Are you smiling? Or squirming? Listen to that.
If you’re like me, you love to go to work, you love to work in your work and you love to work on your work. It’s the place where the amount of effort you put in is often rewarded by a factor of X. For me, work is my happy place. I invest in my employees, my customers, my systems, and my product/services. And by invest, I don’t mean just money. I mean I invest all my resources, including my most valuable of resources, my time and energy. But the real seduction? I can create the environment and a culture. Talk about an ego boost! I’ve been described as a workaholic. The term has even been hurled at me, repeatedly. It’s something I wear as a badge. A big badge. And I’m proud of it.
But, that’s the problem. When pride enters the picture, love leaves. The devotion I have to my business may be a source of provision, a creative outlet, and in my case, a safe and happy place (read: an escape from the hurt at home). But, denying those that love me, and sacrificing my most important relationships can have devastating consequences. Give to your business. But, save the best for those that love you and those you love.