Thursday Thought: How Do I Want To Spend My Minutes?

To keep going with last week’s thought….

I have a spin toothbrush that has a timer on it. The recommendation is to brush your teeth for 2 minutes, but I usually shoot for a minute and a half. It’s interesting how sometimes I brush for a minute and 15 seconds and feel like I’ve been brushing for a long time. Other times I’m surprised to hear the 4 beeps telling me I’ve been brushing for 2 minutes. How is it that sometimes a minute can feel so long, and sometimes it can feel so short? It just depends how absorbed I am in my thoughts.

A few minutes absorbed in positive thoughts really energizes me, while a few minutes in purely negative thoughts can really drains me. I can’t always be in the present moment, but whenever I am it orients me to more positive thoughts, which in turn energize me.

Of course I need to correct our children. But if I’m going to use some of the minutes of my day to correct them, would I rather spend those minutes correcting in anger or in love?

Of course I have to have difficult conversations with my spouse. But would I rather spend those minutes of conversation in frustration or in understanding?

Would I rather spend minutes angry about the “spilled milk” or crying about the “spilled milk” or laughing about the “spilled milk”?

When I think of it that way, I realize I don’t really want to spend so many minutes angry and upset. I’d rather just let it go and use those minutes for love, peace, understanding, sympathy, empowerment. It’s also more productive because those emotions are energizing whereas the other ones are draining.

Observing vs. Interpreting

This Summer, my boys and I were in Utah visiting family and I was taking care of my sister’s kids while she was at work. While we were away, my husband had to put our dog down. She was old and not doing well. The boys and I were sad and we talked a lot about it the first couple of weeks, but then a month or so went by and we didn’t talk about it much, and I thought about it even less. Honestly, I was more sad for my husband and my kids than really sad myself when we put her down. (I’m sorry to all of those dog lovers out there.)

One morning over a month later, it was very far from my mind, when I was crying over something very different. My son, Donovan, came into the bathroom and asked my why I had been crying (I thought he had been asleep). I told him I was just having a hard morning. He looked at a magazine, with a dog on the cover, sitting on the chair in the bathroom and said, “I thought maybe you looked at this magazine and you were sad thinking about Ellie (our dog) dying.”

That was probably the furthest thing from my mind that morning. But he was curious to what would cause me to cry, so he looked around and thought of something that would make him sad. There’s no way, with his experience, that he would have been able to know or understand what I was crying about. All he could figure out was from his experience.

How often do we observe people and make interpretations from our experiences what they must be thinking and feeling? Even if we are going through the exact same situation, there’s no way, from our point of view, to know exactly how they are thinking and feeling. It’s possible we think and feel similarly to them, but it’s also just as possible that we think and feel completely differently because we all have different life experiences. How helpful would it be to observe and ask, rather than to just observe and interpret?

Thursday Thought: Everyone Uses Every Minute Of Every Day

I remember a phone call from a woman repeatedly telling me how busy she was so she couldn’t help with a church assignment. Somewhat exasperated I said, “Yes, we’re all busy.” But don’t we all feel that way sometimes? “I’m so busy!” or “There’s not enough time.”

I heard Jody Moore say this, “Everyone uses every minute of every day.” Isn’t that so interesting? How do you use your minutes? Not your chunks of minutes, but each individual minute. If this thought stresses you out, then by all means drop it. For me, it has been very fascinating to think about how I use my minutes, and how I want to use them.

How do I use the minutes I have with my husband? Do I use them to argue and disapprove, or to appreciate and enjoy and love?

How do I use the minutes I have with my kids? Do I use them to yell and scold, or to teach and enjoy and love?

Of course, I like to use a lot of my minutes sleeping. 🙂 The thing I don’t like using my minutes on is worrying. Worrying about the future, worrying about the past. Did you know that worrying thoughts use your time? They distract you from the present. I don’t want to use any more minutes worrying about not having enough minutes.

Today I was sitting at the beach thinking about this, and it totally brought me to the present. “What am I using these minutes right now for?” At first, I was using my minutes to be on my phone looking at places to stay for an upcoming reunion. But then I decided I had used enough minutes on that, and that really I could use endless minutes on that, so I decided to use some on noticing what my kids and nieces and nephews were doing…right then…in that moment. I decided to notice the peace I felt inside watching them, and just stay in it for a few minutes. I decided that I like using my minutes to notice the present moment. I want to spend more of my minutes in the present.

How do you want to spend your minutes?

It’s Okay For Your Child To Be Upset

Somewhere along the way, we got the idea that our children are never supposed to be upset, lonely, sad, angry, etc… We think about times we felt those emotions and our protective instinct is to try to protect them from those uncomfortable feelings, by either keeping them out of situations where they may feel them, or helping them buffer the emotions with food or screens or something else.

Emotions are just sensations created by chemicals released by our brains because of thoughts we have. I like to imagine little chemicals running through my body. They don’t do any harm as long as I just let them run around. After awhile they just disappear. It’s not dangerous.

Later it can be helpful to get curious as to what thoughts are creating the emotions, especially if it’s common for them to feel a certain way. But in the moment it’s just enough to know that when our kids feel “bad” it’s not dangerous and it’s not an emergency. There are just chemicals running through their body making uncomfortable sensations.

Thursday Thought: What if there weren’t any ___________?

I decided to stop putting my son in pull-ups at night because he kept peeing in it before he even got in bed, instead of using the toilet. Of course there were other options, but this was the option I chose. I have a mat on his bed, so when he wets the bed, I just have to wash the mat instead of having to change the sheets. After a couple of weeks of this, I was surprised that it was so easy for me to do. We had taken him out of pull-ups at night before, but it seemed like such a chore. I got curious as to what I was thinking that was making it feel so easy.

I have no idea where this thought came from, but I noticed when I needed to get him up to go pee, or when I needed to wash the mat I kept thinking, “What if there weren’t any pull-ups available? They’d never even been invented, or there weren’t any his size? This would just be normal and expected. No big deal.” And it just felt normal and expected instead of “so much harder” than putting him in a pull-up.

I noticed I also think a thought like this when I feel like I’m too attached to my phone. My brain offers me lots of thoughts such as, “What if someone needs to get a hold of me? I better have notifications on, or have it really close to me.” Then I think, “What if there were no cell phones? I would get the message when I got home. I would miss whatever it was that someone was inviting me to. But I’d also get to focus on what was happening in the moment without wondering if someone was trying to get a hold of me.”

What would you insert into the space?

Being A Mess

Sometimes I feel a little insecure when I tell people I’m studying to become a life coach. Thoughts like, “Who am I to think I can help people?” “They can see I’m a mess, they’d never come to me for help.”

Then I think of where I was. For a few years, I struggled to even be nice to my husband and kids. Sometimes it was a struggle to even get out of bed in the morning. I felt like I had black tar on my heart that I couldn’t get to go away. I still feel some of those emotions, but it’s not very often, and I feel secure that I have tools to help me through those emotions. I’m not scared to feel them anymore because I know there is a way through them.

I am a mess sometimes. But I’m committed to being brave and going forward anyway. I’m committed to keep trying to improve, and help others who can benefit from what I’m learning. Be brave with me! The world needs you!

Thursday Thought: There’s Always Going To Be A Dish In The Sink

I heard this thought at a conference I went to, and I love the analogy to self-improvement.

You know those times when you clean all of the kitchen and start the dishwasher, and then someone comes along from another part of the house with their cereal bowl they were using, and set it in the sink. Or, if you’re like me, you like to clean up the kitchen before you start making something, so the dishwasher is still running when you’re done cooking, so all of those dishes are in the sink (or on the counter, in my case) waiting for the dishwasher to finish.

We can get frustrated that the kitchen doesn’t just stay clean…even for just a little while. Or we can just accept that there’s always going to be a dish in the sink.

The same is true with self-improvement. Sometimes we think, “If I could just figure this one thing out, then I can relax.” But there will always be something to figure out. So why not relax while you’re figuring things out? It would be a lot more enjoyable.

How would it look for you to be relaxed while you’re figuring your life out?

We See What We Look For

Sometimes I like to just play with my thoughts. When I notice I am having a specific thought that is causing me problems, I like to play with thinking the opposite and see what happens. A lot of times I start to see ways that the opposite is just as true as the thought I’m currently having.

Here are some examples:

My husband doesn’t love me as much as I love him. –> My husband adores me.

I’m not a very nice person.—->I’m a nice person.

I’m so awkward with people. —-> I’m comfortable to be around.

My child talking to me incessantly is so annoying. —–> It’s so fun when my child wants to talk and talk and talk to me.

My brain doesn’t always want to accept the new thought, but sometimes just suggesting a new thought to myself and asking, “How is this thought just as true?” turns things right around.

What thoughts would you like to try on?

Thursday Thought: If I Were Teaching This For The First Time, How Would I Do It?

I’ve been watching my sister’s kids for the Summer. We were leaving their house one afternoon, and my niece brought out a craft that my nephew had made for my son. My son said he didn’t want it. I was so annoyed that he didn’t just accept it graciously, like I had taught him. In my annoyance, I prompted him what to say and do. He fought me on it, saying he didn’t want it, until finally he took it. I was left feeling annoyed and realizing I hadn’t handled that the way I would have liked. I tried to figure out what thought was making me feel so annoyed. It was, “He should know better.” I realized that I’ve been thinking that thought a lot, and it’s always really annoying.

“They should know better than to wipe their dirty hands on the table.” “They should know better than to gloat when they’re playing a game.” “They should know to not run into the street.” “They should just know!”

Maybe they’ve been taught it before, but obviously it hasn’t sunk in or become very important to them. Usually this feels like a big problem, because it’s followed by a thought like, “People are going to think I haven’t taught my children ____________.” So then we’re worried about what other people think. Or it’s like when we clean the house and we just want it to stay clean. “How many times do I have to teach them this??” So then it becomes all about us. We want them to change so we can feel better.

When I start feeling annoyance from this thought, I like to think about teaching them for the first time. “When our hands are dirty, and we want to clean them, we go get a paper towel, or wash them at the sink.” “It’s great to be excited when you win a game. A good sport congratulates others on playing their best.” “It’s very dangerous to run into the street, because a car might not see you, or might not be able to stop.”

How many times does it take you hearing something for you to really learn it? How about if you’re not very interested in it? A lot of times! Also, we can’t control how good of a student our child is. We can only control how we teach. I decided to just drop all of the drama about how I’ve already taught this to them, and think, “If I were teaching this for the first time, how would I do it?” This thought helps me feel a lot more patient, and patience feels so much better than annoyance. I’m a way better teacher when I’m patient than when I’m annoyed.

What thoughts help you to feel less annoyed with your kids?