The blog speaks to our deepest humanity - and many of you will feel relieved at the message that we need to be more gentle with each other - because most people are walking around with deep pain.
There is so much judgement in our society right now, and so little curiosity. People are so quick to make decisions on people's intentions when they don't have the whole story.
12 years ago, I lost my dad and a good friend Mimi in an accident. It was surreal experience - one that shook me to my core, but, irregardless of MY emotions, the world just kept spinning.
I know I tried hard to keep things together in public. I wasn't the person who was going to lash out - but, I was someone who might break down. I remember one day, after a fleeting memory of a moment I shared with my dad and friend Mimi, I fell to the side of a sidewalk and just wept. People walked by me... and I cried and cried. I'm sure some of those people walking by judged my meltdown - they likely rolled their eyes - and then got on with their day.
Had they known the story, they might have helped, or said a kind word, or scooped me up in a hug.
So many of you can resonate with that kind of moment - the moment that you snap, or flip, or crumble. And YES, sometimes those things happen in public.
What this article reminds us is that we need to be gentle with each other. We need to remember that most people have significant challenges - and, instead of making judgements on other's when they show big emotions, we could lean forward with compassion instead.
Please, read this article. And, when you do, ask yourself who you are judging... Think about what information you are missing. Decide whether your judgements are fair, and if they are not, or not informed, please drop them.
Instead, you could consider opening your heart - try saying a kind word or give a gentle hug. Isn't that what we all deserve in those moments?
A friend of mine from camp showed me this years ago. Since then, it s been on my mind quite a bit... It helps me to decide whether I need to share something or not. (Or, helps me see why I feel badly about sharing something I just shouldn't have, and, gives me some guidelines on what to apologize for!)
This is an excellent tool to show with your older children and teens so that they learn another method to stay kind even though they are in conflict.
Remember though, if you want them to live this, you need to emulate it too. Our best (or worst!) lessons in conflict management are from those closest to us.
Before you share this with them, think about whether YOU are following these rules. (And, if you want to be super vulnerable, show this to them AND share with them what YOU want to work on too!)
Tell me how it goes
I spoke at the Ontario School Counsellor's Association conference a week ago. My husband Joel has presented there too for years, so, many of my participants have gotten to know us well.
After my presentation on conflict skills, a man approached me. He said "Can I ask kind of a personal question? Do you and Joel ever, like YELL at each other? Or, when you are solving problems, do you just hold hands and gaze lovingly in each others eyes?"
"Oh no, we yell sometimes."
The man laughed "Darn! You crushed my vision of you two!"
"No, I said, you just learned that we were humans."
I know that I teach this stuff - to parents, to targets of bullying, and to people bullying... I know that I have SO many answers, but, you need to know that I am far from perfect.
Staying calm in a storm of feelings is HARD WORK. It takes practice, and messing up, and then more practice.
What I do know is that the only way I can do my work AND try to stay curious and kind in conflict with my family is to look after myself too.
This is a picture of the end of my run today.
I started to run in the summer, and have continued to do so for 20 minutes almost every day. It gives me a chance to let off steam, to think, to breathe, and to let go of the day's tension.
The result? I am about 700% calmer with my family.
So, if you are like me and want to do conflict better, but, are ALSO a human with real-deal emotions, what daily practice can you start? Think of an activity that shifts your emotions for about 24 hour hours.
Got it? Now go do it!!!
This is my eldest reading Carol McCloud's book: Have You Filled a Bucket Today?
If anyone out there is looking for an exceptional book to teach the core concept of kindness and why we shouldn't bully, look no further!
I'm sure you're not surprised to hear that we try to teach kindness in our family. But, this book solidified the concept completely... even with this little guy who is only 4!
Friends recommended this book to me this week. It teaches us that when we are kind (bucket fillers) we fill other people's buckets and our own too. But, the flip side is if we are unkind (bucket dippers) we empty others' buckets along with our own.
The book is simple, joyful, and brilliant. It led to about 4 different conversations today alone - and helped him see the impact of his actions (both positive and negative) in every situation.
The friends who recommended it work with people of all ages - from primary school to top C execs in multinational corporations - and find it useful everywhere!
So, my guess is that you'll love it too!
I wish you could be there to watch what happens when I coach a person who has been targeted in a bullying incident. It would change your view of humanity.
My Third Way process allows the person targeted to choose a solution to their problem.
Why? Well, most importantly, because their solutions work to stop the bullying.
You also need to understand that these people feel powerless. Giving them choice gives them back their power.
Try to imagine: I am sitting and talking to a child, or teen, or adult. They have been verbally harassed, or sexually assaulted, or physically beaten, or their reputations ruined online. Scary stories.
It comes time to pick a solutions. Do you know what they choose time and time again?
It is beautiful, and awe inspiring, and humbling.
They use their heart to reach someone who seems heartless…. Because they know - their abuser’s is just hurting, and all they needs is to be seen and to connect to someone else.
In that moment of connection, you wouldn’t believe what happens:
The person bullying backs down, chooses to end the harassing, cries, asks for forgiveness…
And the person targeted?
A new leader is born. One with a big heart and strong voice. The kind of leader that this world needs.
Kathleen is an anti-bullying specialist, a conflict coach, a teacher, mom, wife, daughter, sister, friend...