Butterflies are proof that change is possible… and beautiful!
As you know, I not only have a contact form on Self Help Daily but an “Open Invitation” to e-mail me at my personal address. So, I have the pleasure or hearing from many people about many subjects. I like to keep an eye on the subject trends. It helps me know what subjects to approach. As I often say, I don’t want Self Help Daily to be what I want to write about – I want Self Help Daily to be what you want (and need) to read. If I ever just want to hear my own thoughts, I’ll sit in the front yard and talk to myself about animals, coffee, birds, chocolate, cooking, handbags, old movies, and cats.
Not long ago – toward the end of a crazy winter – many e-mails and contact forms centered around feeling blue, sad, and down. Many people were wondering if what they were feeling was depression. As the weather warmed up, moods seemed to do the same.
There are two trends that I’m seeing now:
- People are feeling overwhelmed by having entirely too much on their proverbial plate
- People want to get in shape and lose weight but seem to be fighting an uphill battle
Both of these areas require an immediate commitment to change. The bad news is that making changes can be hard. The good news is that changes happen every day.
REAL LIFE EXAMPLE :
A man who contacted me through e-mail not long ago told me to feel perfectly free to use his information. However, I will leave out the names and state. No proper nouns allowed!
This man, who is only in his 50s, was recently widowed. His wife was killed in a car accident 2 years ago. He is now raising their 4 boys by himself. They range in ages from 12 to 19. After the accident, he said that he and the kids “let the house go to pieces” – as in neglected housework, a forgotten garage, undone chores, etc. He didn’t give the kids any chores and didn’t even ask them to pick up after themselves.
On the anniversary of their loss, however, he took a good look around (what must have been a disaster zone – 5 males left unsupervised?! ). He said that he thought of his wife’s reaction if she’d walked into the house she once loved so much. He said she wouldn’t have yelled because she wasn’t a “screamer,” instead she would have gotten very quiet – right before starting in on the mess with tears in her eyes.
That image made him want to change the path he and their boys were on. Problem is, people generally don’t change directions overnight, especially if it’s a direction they aren’t interested in headed. When the father tries to reason with his sons and point out how upset their mother would be, he says that he gets through to the younger ones, but only for about a week. He says that he doesn’t want to argue or fight with them and hates to hear himself sounding “like a nag.”
I told him that I would give my thoughts, here on the blog, in case there were any others in a similar boat. Sometimes, when you see someone else maneuvering their boat over troubled waters, you gain insight into your own navigation.
First of all, this father has done what is very hard to undo: He set a precedent. The definition of precedent is “any act, decision, or case that serves as a guide or justification for subsequent situations” and the ramifications of precedents are extremely far reaching. When he allowed the boys to go for months, even years, without any chores or expectations – he allowed the precedent to be set that they didn’t have to do anything but breath. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not throwing blame on the dad. He was going through his own private hell and the visibility there is never good.
I’m just saying that right now he has his work cut out for him because he has to pretty much start all over. It would probably be best if he had someone come in and clean the house really good for the first time. Then, all he and the sons would have to do is maintain it. He’d have to set a new precedent: Clean up after yourself, do your chores, and create a home that’s a pleasure to live in.
Change always comes bearing gifts. – Price Pritchett
As parents (or spouses, co-workers, employers, etc..) – when we set a precedent, we set an accepted course of action. We create a standard. Once that has “taken root,” it is darned hard to change it. However, change can most certainly happen, but you have to be consistent. If change weren’t possible, no one would ever lose weight, broken hearts would never heal, troubled marriages would never be saved, and wars would never end.
One of the biggest mistakes people make, however, is inconsistency. They’ll put their foot down only to raise it up again when the going gets tough…. or when someone steps on it. We’ll have an exercise routine in place and we’ll actually see a few pounds drop. Then we’ll get discouraged and give up. We often give up right before really big changes happen.
In a perfect world, our kids would help around the house simply because they care and don’t want to see us doing all of the work. But think back to when you were their age. Is that how you felt then? Probably not. In a perfect world, doughnuts wouldn’t have any calories but… well, as Shakira said, “Hips Don’t Lie.”
If, like this example, your family isn’t helping you around the house or you feel that they’re taking you for granted (without meaning to, of course), it’s time to realize that you are, more likely than not, reaping what you sowed. You set a precedent (or standard) which said that nothing was expected from them. They grew into that precedent nicely and found that it was a comfortable fit. But now you find yourself overwhelmed, trying to do everything yourself, and would like to go back and set a new precedent – one to the tune of everyone pitch in and help! It’s only right – everyone should help. I mean, if everyone lives in a particular home and enjoys its comfort and its warmth – everyone should pitch in and do their part to help. If they eat your meals, they should help clean up. (Unless, of course, you’re one of those rare birds – like me – who wants the kitchen all to themselves. No one ever seems to put things where they go and my husband? Are you kidding me, he’d just break everything. A 6’2″ male in the kitchen isn’t always gracefulness in action!)
Here are a few steps to keep in mind:
- Don’t come across as angry and bitter. Your family will respond to you better if they don’t feel as though they’re being looked down upon or attacked.
- Let everyone know that changes are afoot! Tell them they may or may not like the changes at first, but that they’re coming irregardless. Let them know that the changes are in everyone’s best interest, not just your’s. Remind them that they’ll LOVE living in a tidier environment and that, after all, it’s not just your house – it’s theirs as well.
- Rather than point to each member of the family and say, “This is YOUR chore, do it daily from here on out…,” write the chores that need to be done and tell each individual to sign up for the one(s) they want to take on.
- Don’t reward chores when they’re completed – they aren’t doing you a favor, after all. They’re doing what’s right!
- If your home has gotten completely out of hand, you may need to hire someone to come in and give it a good cleaning. After that, your family will probably WANT to help keep it this way. Especially if they have to pitch in to pay for the cleaning.
- Some parents don’t know how to approach their children about making changes such as this. Many say they’re afraid of starting a fight. Hopefully your own kids aren’t that touchy, but if they are – stand firm. Remember, there won’t be a fight if you refuse to argue. I would do this: I’d go to the kids and tell them that I need their help. Then I’d tell them that I simply felt overwhelmed and would like to try a new system. That’s when I’d ask them which particular chore or chores they’d like to sign up for. Then I’d take them shopping for the cleaning supplies they’ll need (believe it or not, they may actually think it’s fun – my oldest daughter has always thought laundry was equivalent to recess).
- Be consistent. If someone slacks off on a chore, point it out. It isn’t fair if everyone else is doing their part and one or two people aren’t pulling their weight.
- Realize that you aren’t a bully. Part of parenting is teaching our kids responsibilities. When they enter the workplace, their boss isn’t going to think it’s cute if they don’t give their all. We set a long-term precedent for them as well as a short-term precedent. Teach them the life skills they’ll need for the rest of their life while they’re under your roof: Respect others, help whenever you can, never make imposing upon someone else a way of life, take care of your things, be neat, and be considerate of other people.
The only difference between a rut and a grave is their dimensions. – Ellen Glasgow
CH- CH- CH- CHANGES!
The code word for our nation recently has been change. It should be the code word for many of us as individuals and families as well. If something isn’t working, change is called for. You owe it to yourself and your family to get the most enjoyment and happiness out of life that you can.
If anything in your life has gotten out of hand (your weight, housework, relationships, job), make today the day that you implement change. Say it out loud, Everything changes today! Just don’t make the mistake of expecting a “quick fix” – quick fixes only happen at Starbucks. One of the things that all types of change have in common is movement. You have to get moving. If you need to lose weight, change your routine to include time for a long walk each day.
If you need to get your house in order – move and make it happen. Tackle one room at a time. If,even after you appeal to your family, they still aren’t cool or kind enough to help you – forge ahead without them! As Victor Frankl said, “When we are no longer able to change a situation, we are challenged to change ourselves.” Don’t wait on others to make improvements in your own world. Take one room at a time and whip it into shape. Just remember their lack of help next time they want their favorite dessert, a ride to work, help with a school project, a button sewed on, a new pair of jeans, a $20 bill….
If, by the way, you’re also wanting to lose weight, you’re in luck. Cleaning house burns all sorts of unwanted calories!
Change happens every single minute. You just have to want it badly enough and you have to be willing to fight for it. Don’t fall into the trap of becoming discouraged, though, because that always leads to quitting. Quitters never win OR change. We live in a society that wants quick answers and instant solutions. Change doesn’t happen at the end of a magic wand – it happens at the end of work.
Being overwhelmed, feeling anxious, and being stressed are horrible for your health. These feelings are kind of like sipping poison – you’re doing your body and mind a great deal of harm. Stop waiting for a quick solution and realize that you need to roll up your sleeves and MAKE things better.
Another trend I’ve noticed is that many young people are living at home longer than ever before. As a mother who is convinced that her daughters hung the moon and stars, I loudly applaud this trend! The economy is one factor – plus another is the fact that no one wants their young daughters living on their own. Since people are waiting longer to get married, that means that young people are living with their parents longer. It can be, and should be, a wonderful and rewarding experience for everyone. You get to know your kids so much better when they’re a little older. They can, literally, become your best friends and you can be their’s as well.
One thing to keep in mind, however, is that everyone needs to love and respect one another. If you’re a young person living with your family, do you help your mother around the house? Do you do laundry (and not just your own?!)? Do you stop and pick up necessities at the store without being asked? Do you help carry in groceries, put dishes away (applicable only to those families where children and husbands are allowed in the sacred kitchen!)? Do you sweep? Vacuum? Do you ever just “hang” out with your mom – watching one of her favorite shows with her or taking a walk with her?
Being a considerate and kind person just makes you a cooler person. No one wears selfishness well, so make certain you never fall into that ugly trap. Every now and then ask yourself, “If I were my mom and I were in her situation, what would I want my family to do to help?” If change is called for… call for change.
He who rejects change is the architect of decay. The only human institution which rejects progress is the cemetery. – Harold Wilson