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That pesky moral compass.
There’s tension in the air. You’ve been snapping at the kids for the most minor infractions, the not-for-profits who ring the doorbell at tidy-up time, the grocery store clerk who can’t find the organic applesauce, and your spouse for, well, everything. You blame it on the rain, the moon, and your unpredictable alarm clock, but you know who’s really at fault. And you know it’s not okay.
Practice the ‘S’ word.
Ever get the feeling you overreacted, underreacted, or just did not respond well, period? But everyone makes mistakes, so you ignore it and distract yourself by focusing on any one of the millions of distractions calling your name every day. Problem solved, right?
Not so much. Your conscience remembers, which is why you feel like that ‘S’ word, which is why you need to practice the other one: Sorry. First step: recognize that ball of guilt bouncing around your body. Second: once you’ve admitted it’s there, don’t turn your mind to something else hoping it’ll go away. It will – consciously – but it’ll also linger subconsciously and make a dramatic entrance at an inopportune moment. Anyone else ever lost it on their hubby because he wasn’t hanging party streamers properly only to turn around and discover guests arriving? Yeah… there was a little more going on there. Third: figure out who you wronged and how to make it right. Fourth: do it!
So let’s say you spent a good chunk of time and money creating a nutritious meal that tastes like… donkey. If you’re in a good mood you might let them off the hook: admit it’s ew and whip up PB&J’s all around. But suppose you’re kinda cranky and insist your terrified family finish without any more complaints or no more Star Wars Angry Birds. So they eat relatively well – you can be scary, remember? But you feel that hindsight pang during bedtime cuddles and think maybe you should say something. That’s when you apologize, hug, and snap, you all go to bed happy. But what if your mealtime madness was met with defiance, your partner sided with the kids and pulled out cereal bowls, and you totally lost it – successfully teaching your toddler the art of tantrumming. Hmmm… not so easy to apologize now. So you feel guilty, peek in on them sleeping, and then go to bed sad. The next day, after your own self-imposed timeout, you need to make a plan, suck it up, and make it right. Cater to the injured party when deciding if you should: offer a massage/pull out a new toy from the last birthday party/take your first trip to the Beer Store/stop at the flower shop on the way home/buy that Darth Vadar PEZ dispenser. We’ve been known to throw a bad mood party for three: cupcakes, balloons, tail-pinning games and all. And even though actions speak louder than words, a genuine “I’m sorry” really is the most important part.
You can’t expect your children to admit when they’re wrong if you don’t set an example. Besides, admitting your mistakes will improve your relationships, lower your stress levels, help you sleep more soundly, lengthen your lifespan, and solve world peace. No? Any world leaders ever tried?
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