This past weekend, the southeast coast of our country experienced Hurricane Matthew. If you were directly impacted by the storm, did it cause you to stop and think twice about relationships and how you interact with one another? Even if you were not directly impacted, did it cause you to reach out and check on family and friends? Did you call someone and ask, “How are you and your family? Is everyone and everything around you okay?”
Being that I live in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, and have family who live on the northern coast of Florida, Hurricane Matthew directly impacted us. Now, as I reflect on these past few days while weathering the storm, I can’t help but also think on how the storm connected people. Interactions changed.
Leading up to and during the storm as well as the following day, I witnessed neighbors coming together and sharing supplies. Individuals were interacting about ways to make life in this moment better. “You are welcome to stay here, no need to be alone”; “We have plenty of food, water, as well as flashlights and radios, do you need anything?”; “Come over for breakfast, I have a gas stove”; “I will drive to my church and get ice for us”; “I hear you have coffee, may I have some?” I received and sent numerous texts, emails, and phone calls: “Thinking about you … How are you and your family?”
During storms, people intentionally connect and express patience, gratitude, and hope with one another – loving interactions seem to appear in particular while weathering a storm. The messages being communicated tend to be about being in this together. Each person intentionally relaying messages like, “I am here for you”; “I care about you”; “You matter to me”; “We can get through this together”; “Let me know how can I help.”
These messages t.e.l.l. how we all can help and experience a better life in any given moment.
How can we help one another weather a storm? How do you weather a storm?
Maybe we can learn from this physical storm and realize how so many people are weathering personal, emotional storms every day. Everyone’s life has storms – major and minor. How can we do better at helping each other weather storms?
How can we show and t.e.l.l. each other, “I am here for you”; “I care about you”; “You matter to me.”
How do you show and t.e.l.l. yourself, “Where are the skills and tools I need right now?”; “Who can enlighten and empower me right now?”; “Where is that cup of coffee I need to help me wake up and get moving?”
When weathering a storm, helpful interactions definitely make life better in the moment.
In closing, prayers for those who are still weathering the impact of Hurricane Matthew. May you find strength, patience, and hope as you go through this difficult period. May you have individuals around you who are there to help you weather the storm and make this moment at least a little better.
In the previous Show & TELL post, 137, “The apple doesn’t fall far from the tree?”, I brought up how children learn from their primary caregivers throughout childhood. They learn how to communicate and relate to others, as well as form many character traits during these precious years. Life stories are being created, for better or worse. Your relationship with that child is being strengthened, or weakened. It matters how you and a child consistently interact. It matters what you say; what you hear; how you feel; how they feel.
There is power in what we do … and what we don’t do.
Something I have noticed in my life is a tendency to ignore rather than discuss difficult situations. I worry about saying the right thing because I don’t want to cause conflict or drama. I don’t want the other person to be upset with me, or reject me because of what I have to say. It’s difficult to interact when you’re in a disagreement. So, for the time being, my thought is to avoid, do nothing about the situation.
The more I reflect on the tell message, the more I realize avoidance is a false logic. Bringing up a difficult situation with someone I care about does not have to imply conflict and drama. Neither does it imply rejection or always cause another person to be upset. Actually, not bringing up important, difficult disagreements with those closest to you is what will eventually cause conflict and drama in life. If it is a behavior that is not benefiting their life story or your relationship, it is better to talk about it. I’m learning to tell better in such moments.
I’m learning how to express disagreement with people and situations in loving ways. I ask:
How can I be firm, accurate, and honest?
How can I affirm the good points; what are the good points?
What are the facts; do I have the facts; is the disagreement factual?
Then something I’ve realized is how important it is to follow up after the confrontation. Always be gentle after being firm. Like a friend of mine said the other day, “I learn the most from those who don’t take my crap and can talk to me about it in kind ways!”
Confront others by being firm and bold; affirm all you see that is good; be accurate and honest; know the facts; follow up after the confrontation; and be gentle after being firm.
Children, and many adults, can benefit when confronted with limiting behavior. We all benefit when someone talks through confrontations with us. Show & TELL Blog #003 started with:
When you think better, you know and live better.
To think better means you consider possibilities that allow the moment to be better. You don’t just react in the moment with the first thoughts that come to mind.
It shares a story about an interaction between a father and son, the Jason story. The father confronts his son about telling a lie. The father wanted to discipline right away; however, instead he chose to be firm and bold, affirm the good in his son, be accurate and honest, and know the facts. I don’t know whether the father followed up after the confrontation. I do know it was a conversation that benefited both the father and son.
The way you treat people and communicate today is how you learned to do so during your childhood years, for the most part. Depending on how people interacted with you day by day, your life story was being lived and created. That’s all you can know.
As early as elementary school, I hear educators say, “Well, the apple doesn’t fall from the tree,” meaning this child speaks and acts much like the behavior learned at home. I’ve also heard neighbors say this about the “trouble child” down the street. Now, usually this phrase implies a negative stance, not something you would want said about you and the child in your life!
What if we considered the flip side of this phrase – “the apple doesn’t fall from the tree” – meaning instead of negative behavior, a child speaks and acts in honest, truthful, respectful ways just like they experience at home. This is the positive perception of “the apple doesn’t far from the tree.”
In the newly completed blog series on telling better stories, we talked about how loving interactions are key to TELL (Teach, Encourage, Listen, and Love) a better life story. This was the focus of posts #120 – #132, and it was summarized in Post #134. When children consistently experience unloving interactions at home, well, the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree. Meaning since they are experiencing unloving interactions at home, they will interact in unloving ways outside of the home.
However, when children consistently experience loving interactions at home, that too becomes how they relate and communicate with others. That apple doesn’t fall far from the tree, either.
The interactions we have with children matter. They are learning about communicating and relationships in this critical time in childhood. They are also learning about other character traits depending on the messages they hear from caregivers in childhood.
In one of the first posts, #102, I shared how we must give it in order for the youth to get it. In particular, if we want children to become hardworking, trusting, kind, someone who doesn’t give up, confident, joyful, and other positive traits, we can do them a big favor and allow these ideas to be part of their life story in childhood. Interacting in loving ways allows them to learn that it matters how you communicate and relate to others. In childhood, a mindset and skillset is developed based on the interactions experienced, the stories we live by. The apple doesn’t fall far from the tree — but you can choose whether the “apple” interacts in loving or unloving ways.
This summer, the Show & TELL blog has been about TELLing better life stories – Teaching, Encouraging, Listening, and Loving yourself and others better (Posts #102 – Post #135). I pray these posts have allowed you to learn more about the power of words spoken to yourself and others.
As I think about telling interactions in my personal and professional life, it surprises me daily how interactions impact the mood of the day and the relationships with those around you. With just one interaction, life stories can change – for better and/or worse – just because of the thoughts and feelings being communicated.
I hope you try and tell yourself better, and try and tell others better.
We at Tell Our Children also hope you try and tell the children in your life better. Children are the builders of future generations, and adults show them the way – just as the adults in your life showed you.
Today, the world is much more complex and overstimulating in so many ways. It’s easy for children to lose their sense of direction. They need adults leading and telling them in the right directions. One day, a child becomes an adult and will begin leading his or her own way. In childhood, they need you to share, give, and care messages that give them the building blocks for their future.
In the next posts, I am going to revisit some of the earlier Show & TELL blogs on telling children. I will build on previous ideas to talk more deeply about the child’s story and why adults are needed to lead children. How can adults tell the youth a better story?
P.S.: The Show & TELL posts are returning to the regular schedule again: every Tuesday and Friday.
Every day, our interactions impact the story we live in this moment and possibly future moments. Through our interactions, we send and give messages about the current situation as well as how we view our relationships with one another. The ideas being communicated become a part of our story, whether we realize it or not. We all come to know about life by our life experiences – by our interactions with ourselves and others.
This summer, the goal for the Show & TELL posts has been to clarify how you tell through interactions. That is, how you Teach, Encourage, Listen, and Love the messages being communicated in your interactions. How well do you tell yourself? How well do you allow others to tell you? And how do you tell others?
Since Post 102, the intent has been to reflect on these questions. Are you better able to decide how your interactions tell your story? Have you thought about how every day you Teach, Encourage, Listen, and Love your story to some degree? Have you thought about how you can make the story better? Or how you might be able to help make another person create a better life story? If you are willing, you can have a great impact on your story, and other people’s story (Post 103).
This week, I am highlighting the big ideas discussed throughout the Show & TELL posts this summer. In the last post, I summarized telling love-full messages (Post 134). Love never fails; however, your message also can Teach, Encourage, and Listen. Have you thought more intently about how you Teach, Encourage, and Listen?
Teach…. What ideas do you consistently promote? Are these ideas helpful in allowing you and others to become their best selves? How do your messages influence others’ thinking? Do your interactions hinder or promote the message you desire in your story? How do you teach people your thoughts and feelings? Love-full or love-less? How can you teach a better message to yourself and others? Who teaches you better?
Encourage…. What encouragement (emotion) accompanies your messages? Do your messages influence others to feel better or worse about the human relationships and situation? How do you communicate empowerment? How do you communicate and promote the courage needed to try, live, and learn? How do you offer encouragement? Do you offer encouragement when others need it? Where do you go for encouragement when you need it? Where do you seek courage?
Listen…. Who is paying attention and processing the ideas in your interactions? Is the listening two-way or one-way? Do you ignore, pretend to listen, selectively listen, attentively listen, or listen empathetically? Similarly, do others ignore, pretend to listen, selectively listen, attentively listen, or listen empathetically to you? How well is everyone listening? How do you know?
The painful truth is that the majority of us do not pause and seriously think about the message we tell. More painful is the message that is being communicated in most relationships and situations is “we can’t” or “whatever,” or “you better think and act the way I want you to, or else.” There is not a strong message that promotes perseverance, the belief that everyone can become their best selves, and “let’s work on this together.” Do you communicate messages that mean “do it, or else” or “I am here for you, just as you are”?
By recognizing you tell every day, you open up the possibility to tell more powerful messages. To many, these ideas make sense. Yet it isn’t until you practice telling others and yourself that you begin to fully comprehend the power in creating telling interactions. Or, telling better stories!
Bottom line: it isn’t until you give the time to reflect on your interactions that you will be able to impact the messages you give and receive. Every day you Teach, Encourage, Listen and Love by your words and actions. For better, or worse? How well do you Teach, Encourage, Listen and Love?
This week, I am summarizing the big ideas from the Show & TELL blog posts from this summer.
In the most recent post, the first big idea was realizing that EVERY interaction tells to some degree. That is, every interaction embeds a message that Teaches, Encourages, Listens, and Loves to some degree. If you missed reading this post, click here for Post 133.
The second big idea from the summer posts is how important it is to have love-full interactions. Even though your messages have elements of Teaching, Encouraging, and Listening, it isn’t until an interaction is Loving that it impacts our story.
Throughout the summer, while writing the Show & TELL blog, a diagram has been created to distinguish loving and unloving interactions. Inside the circle, the blue space, defines characteristics of loving interactions. The green space points to the more unloving characteristics.
If you think about it, we all give and receive both loving and unloving interactions. It’s human to be irritated by demands placed on us and other people’s behavior because we don’t feel well, or other reasons that limit our thoughts, feelings, and communication. How we feel can have a major impact on how we communicate with ourselves and others. When you are feeling irritated, aggravated, annoyed, spiteful, or irked, at times it can be difficult to compose yourself and not to take it out on those around you. How you respond in these moments becomes a scene in your story.
Similarly, when you are talking with someone who seems to understand, accept, and tolerate you just as you are, as well as interact in respectful and selfless ways, doesn’t this also impact how you think and feel? And aren’t those interactions much more pleasant?
There are three truths here.
The first truth is throughout life, we all experience both love-full interactions and love-less interactions. We are on the receiving and giving end of love-full and love-less moments. The stronger relationships, the more positive relationships, are built on more love-full interactions. Weaker relationships are set in more love-less relationships. A very love-less interaction can ruin a relationship.
Another truth is that we learn from both kinds of interactions. We can choose to grow stronger and wiser from love-less interactions as much as we can from love-full ones. Actually, we tend to learn greatly from love-less interactions because these seem to get our attention more. There is research that says human beings tend to think in more depth about extremely good moments, extremely bad moments, or moments when something unexpected happens. Otherwise, we do not tend to think much about what is happening around us. There are many successful stories because people refuse to allow a negative situation or relationship to impact their story.
Finally, the third truth here is that even though we learn greatly from love-less interactions, it isn’t until you return to love that the better version of yourself can show up. It isn’t until you have an interaction based in love that will you be level-headed enough to take steps forward and grow stronger. You create the better life story – at least a better scene for your story – when you become understanding, compassionate, peace-making, etc. The loving interaction may be with yourself or it may be with another person who is there for you to grow stronger and wiser, but it isn’t until you are in a love-full state of mind that you can grow wiser and stronger.
Ultimately, we create better life stories from love-full interactions, and many of these interactions are with ourselves.
It isn’t until your thoughts focus on being understanding, accepting, compassionate, etc., that you will be able to think about the next steps. While you remain annoyed, irked, aggravated, etc., you will stand still or digress in that moment. I hope you take a minute to really think about this. I have yet to experience a moment where I have grown while entertaining unloving thoughts. It’s that simple, yet it’s also complex.
I have to forgive and forget the love-less ideas in order to design better scenarios for my story. I have realized this is one of the hardest ideas to comprehend because it still feels like we should just ignore what other people are saying and just let the situation and relationship to continue. “Forgive and forget” does not mean to ignore (Post #130).
Interacting in love-full or love-less ways is our choice every day. We fall short some days and we are successful other days.
Where are you consistently? Love-full? Or love-less? Where are you consistently with the interactions you have with yourself? Where are you consistently in your interactions with others? Where are you consistently in your personal relationships? Where are you consistently in your professional work? Love-full? Love-less?
When you realize love never fails, your story drastically changes.