We were at a pool over the weekend and a child was getting a private swimming lesson from one of the lifeguards. The kid was working to pass the deep end test but couldn’t quite get his backstroke right. The lifeguard told the boy, “Point your toes, when you kick.” The boy yelled, “That’s what I was doing!” That is the point when the boy stopped learning and improving. He was insistent that he was doing everything right, despite not getting the results he wanted.
How many times do we do that as adults? Whether it is from a boss, spouse, friend or co-worker, how many times has someone given us a positive critic but we took it as criticism. Sometimes it hurts to say that we aren’t doing something right. Sometimes it is hard to admit that we need to do better. Growth is hard but we can do it. Sometimes all we have to do is listen.
Ever try to break a habit? It isn’t as easy as simply not doing the habit. It is incredibly difficult to “just stop” but why is that? Habits are actually hardwired into our brains. According to Ann Graybiel and Kyle Smith in Good Habits, Bad Habits explain how the brain builds a closed loop. Simply choosing to NOT do the task is actually you working against your brain. Even motivation isn’t that helpful.
To stop doing a habit, it is important to understand the environmental triggers and create work arounds. First, try to minimize triggers. Second, start with the easier to eliminate habits first. Third, build strategies to distract yourself. Even making a habit 20 seconds harder to do can make a big difference. Fourth, measure your actions and the results. Fifth, be realistic. It probably took you years to build a habit. It will take time to eliminate it. You will have setbacks. That’s ok. Just restart the process and keep moving forward.
I was flipping through radio stations this morning and Glenn Beck was on PBS. That was an interesting enough of a pairing that stayed and listened. The interview made a comment that was powerful enough that I wanted to share it with you. “Anger is what fear and pain look like in public.” It felt like she was quoting someone else but I couldn’t find who may have said it first. Please share if anyone knows who may have said it first.
When someone is angry, when someone is resisting, when someone is offensive is it that they are afraid? It is because they are in pain? Could the situation be putting them in a place where all they know to do is to be angry and defensive? If you are able to understand the source of their pain and fear, you may be able to work around it. I’m not saying that you should try to be their councilor but work to find a way around their pain and fear.
Are you acting out of pain or fear and hurting those around you? Are you treating those around you with the love and respect they deserve?