Do Better December 2nd 2014

2 Dec

The Stories We Tell Ourselves and How to Change Them

To listen to the audio version click here:

One of the things that helps my life run smoothly is scheduling at least one day per week at home with no commitments. It helps my re-boot my home and my life and allows me to focus inside my four walls. Usually that day is Tuesday, like today, but sometimes things pop up that thwart that noble intention, and this week it was a blood draw for my son that had to happen before 9am by doctors’ orders. When you’re taking levels of some things, timing is very important, so at 6:30 this morning we took off for the hospital. Understand that I could have taken him on Sunday morning when he didn’t have school, but I forgot until about 10pm last night. That’s what happens in this house when mama doesn’t write it on the calendar. I wasn’t thrilled about taking off at that time of the morning, and neither was my son. We chatted a bit on the way to hospital, but he wasn’t really in the mood to talk. In the quiet of the car, I felt a dark mood start to creep in, in the form of a pity party.

I felt resentful that we had to do this blood draw before 9am. I was unhappy about driving in rush hour traffic. I was disappointed that my son didn’t want to chat. You know how it goes and the more you think about it, the worse you feel. Fortunately for me, I’ve trained myself to see at least something good in every situation, so while I was unhappy about driving in rush hour, I felt grateful that I didn’t have to do it every day. Although my son was tired, he still chatted a bit, and much more than his brothers probably would have, and most importantly, while we were walking into the building on this cold, dark, windy morning, we were walking in for a blood draw, while others were coming in for emergencies, surgeries and cancer diagnoses. I have said since my son was born that if you ever need a serious attitude adjustment, go visit a children’s hospital for an hour. Better yet, volunteer in one and you will see how very blessed you are.

After the blood draw, I told my son I would buy him a drive through breakfast. This is a rare thing for my children, so he was pretty excited. We drove to the golden arches place near the hospital, but it was under renovation. We drove to the next exit and decided to try the Mexican place that now serves breakfast. After waiting for over five minutes in line as the only customer and not being waited on, we left there. We finally found a golden arches place and got him something to eat. I was a bit aggravated then and I’m a bit bemused now. Nothing we have gone through today was life threatening. Nothing was so important that it couldn’t wait. The drama was only as big as I let it get in my head, and that is something I forget now and then.

Every day we tell ourselves stories. One of the stories I love to tell over and over is that when I “have to” leave my house in the morning, I cannot get anything done. How crappy is that for a story? Yes, that has traditionally happened, but why do I keep reinforcing it? I’ve let myself get away with that for years, and although I tend to have better energy in the morning for housework, I can do better. I have a list of daily and special tasks. I know what to do, and if I choose to, I can do it. Today I choose to be better. Today I choose to be more of the wife, mother and human being I aspire to be. Today, I choose to focus on what I can accomplish rather than what I can’t. I refuse to blame others for anything because everything we do is a choice. We cannot always choose our circumstances, but we can always choose how we behave through them. Lately, I’ve been frustrated with people who whine about the condition of their homes, how their children behave and/or lack of money and then announce they are adding another member to their household. There is a part of me that just wants to shake them, and this morning I realized it is the part of me that sabotages myself that wants to shake the self-sabotaging part of them. It’s the part of me that whines that has no patience for their whine. It’s the part of me that wants to be a victim that cannot put up with their wanting to be one, and it really makes me mad when they’re better at it than me because they get the sympathy I want when I’m hurting and don’t ask for it. They get the validation I crave when I can’t see my own brilliance or so it seems to me. They get to choose badly and be rescued when I choose better and still feel like I’m drowning and overwhelmed. It generally doesn’t occur to me that I could make the same choices because I think too much about the consequences, so why should they get to make them and be ok? It’s a truly self-defeating activity and one I decided to stop participating in a while ago. Some days I do better than others, but seeing it as clearly as I do today, I think that will get easier and easier.

So on this second day of December and the second day of Do Better December, I encourage you to do a few things. First, think carefully about the story you tell yourself and dedicate yourself to telling a better story. Encourage yourself like you would a dear friend. Forgive yourself like you would that dear friend, and love yourself like you would that dear friend. Next, when you listen to someone else’s story and it strikes a nerve in you, pray for them and pray for yourself because whatever is bugging you about them is almost assuredly something that you need to work on at some level yourself. Also, make a list of five things, that if you completed them this week, would help you move toward Christmas and the New Year in a positive way. If you haven’t written a gift list, get on it. If you need to clean up an area so that you can set up your tree, dedicate 5, 10 or 15 minutes per day to doing that. If you need to catch up on your laundry, commit to doing one load per day Monday through Friday. Doing a load of laundry consists of sorting, washing, drying, folding and putting away. Did you get that? You have completed a load when it is folded and put away. Unless you have to take your laundry to a Laundromat, try it for one week and see what happens. I promise you’ll be thrilled and will probably find out that you have too many clothes and there is no better time to donate your over abundance than right now. Finally, I want you to look at yourself in the mirror at some point today and smile at yourself. I want you to look at yourself and say, “I know you’re doing your best. Every day you’re getting better, and that’s a good thing, and what you do and who you are today is enough.” It may be difficult to do, but I believe it’s true. You are enough and you can be better tomorrow than you are today, and the journey can even be fun along the way. I hope you have a terrific Tuesday and leave today better than you began it. Thanks for being you and have a great day.


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