Well, it happened again.
Last night, in fact.
Reaching to open the sliding glass door, I feel my eyes widen with frustration and my heart rate increase as I see her there. She’s just...standing there.
“What are you doing?!” I snap out, in a sharp and deep tone.
My eight year old daughter immediately begins to cry.
Rather than pausing to reflect, I doubled down with “why are you crying?”
Looking back at this interaction, the second question was ridiculous. But, I definitely said it.
And then just five minutes later, I felt the full weight of my mistake.
Do you know what she was doing? Coming out of her room for a hug because she was struggling to go to sleep. Yes, there is a little more history behind it, but that about sums it up.
Which leads to your next question - why was I such a dick?
The answer is simple. That’s something I’m working on. It’s an opportunity for growth.
I was frustrated about something else that had nothing to do with her. I then took her mildly frustrating action as an invitation to unload all of my unrelated issues onto her.
After realizing I was wrong to do so, I apologized. But the damage was done.
Later in the evening when reviewing the situation with my wife, I realized how I need to view the situation. I will not say - I struggle to control my temper. I fly off the hook way too easily when I’m frustrated about unrelated things.
That is not who I want to be, so telling that story to myself or others will not help. Awareness is important - but repeating the message is not.
Instead, this is how I view it: This is an opportunity for growth. In the past, I’ve had a short temper and let it get the best of me. Now, when I feel my blood pressure shoot up and my eyes widen, I stop. I take a second and think - what is the appropriate response to this situation.
Be careful what messages you tell yourself. You are not bad at something. You have an opportunity for growth.
You can say this is all bullshit, woo woo, or whatever. But I know this - Saying that you are bad at something tells yourself you are bad at it, and you will act that way. If you’re going to tell yourself a story anyway, you might as well make it one that gives you an opportunity to improve.
The next level is visualizing the event where you went wrong, but seeing yourself act the appropriate way. But that’s for another time.
Your homework this week: What is something you often talk about being “bad” at. Now, next time you hear yourself say that stop. Rephrase it to - it’s an opportunity for growth.
And if you’re as lucky as I am, you won’t have to think too hard because your spouse will help point out ALL of your “opportunities for growth.”