family

Family Rules

I found myself in the kitchen. Taking some deep breaths, trying to center + calm myself before I had to diffuse yet another spat between my family members. It might've been the 41st one of the day and we weren't even at 11 am yet.

Note: 41 might be an exaggeration.

"That's a very unkind thing to say to your sister."

"Do you two have to assume the other one is trying to intentionally hurt you every time?"

family rules

"In this family we love one another well, and loving one another well doesn't include antagonizing, taking things & making fun of another's musical tastes."

Deep breath in. Note: My thoughts are noted by italics. 'Why do I keep having to say the same things over + over? Where did they learn this behavior from? Was it me? Was it my wife? Maybe from friends? Maybe it's just natural? Does it really matter where it came from?' Deep breath out.

Deep breath in. 'What can we do about this? I'm tired of it. I can't stand the meanness towards one another. This is not the kind of kids I want to put out in the world. Constantly combatting the negative energy in the world is hard enough, I can't keep this up all the time in my own house. Solars don't act this way. We're joyful + fun loving.' Deep breath out. 

"Family meeting in the kitchen right now!" I shouted, probably a bit on the too harsh side. 'Maybe they ARE picking these tonal inflections + mean ways of interacting with one another up from me? I need to be a better leader in modeling behaviors I want to cultivate in them.'

Deep breath in as my wife + kids trickle into the kitchen.  'OK, I got them here, now what. If I was to make a list of rules that I wanted us to live by, what would be on the list? Where's some paper, where's a sharpie.' Deep breath out. 

Deep breath in. 'They're all looking at me. Stay calm. What do I want our family to stand for? First we must be better at assuming the best in one another. We're not perfect humans. No one is. But when you approach interactions assuming the other is intentionally trying to be mean/hurtful, you're starting from a negative mindset. We must assume the best in one another + know sometimes we're going to get hurt, but it's not intentional. Assume the best in each other has to be #1.' Deep breath out.

Deep breath in. 'Ok, what's next? Kindness comes to mind. Kindness matters. We should be kind humans anyway, but especially to those we have to spend the most time with. Kindness is #2.' Deep breath out.

Deep breath in. 'We got assuming the best + kindness on there, what else is there? Connection. We need to connect in healthy ways with one another. Hugs. Hugs are great at that. A good hug builds trust + safety, boosts happy chemicals, teaches us to give + receive + is a natural way to relax + ease tension. More hugs. Got it. We need more hugs.' Deep breath out.

Deep breath in. 'Got the connection + kindness rules out of the way, what else would I like to see more of in our family? My kids are getting older. Hormones + puberty are here. As they get older I want them to know that all feelings can be teachers. All feelings are ok. We need to be comfortable to talk openly about our feelings + to sit with our feelings even if they're negative. We need to have healthy outlets + be good listening ears for one another. All feelings are OK is going on there next.' Deep breath out.

Deep breath in. 'Anything else? They're all looking at me + I haven't said anything yet. I'm just over here writing stuff down. Ok, keep going. I think a lot about love + the power that comes from within when we know that we are loved unconditionally. That we don't have to act a certain way or be a certain way to be loved, we just are, no matter what. I'm writing down we're loved unconditionally so that we have a visual reminder for the times when we inevitably forget.' Deep breath out.

I tape our new Family Rules list up on our kitchen wall in a place where we'll see it repeatedly + go over it with them. It only takes 5 minutes before someone said something unkind to another and we went over rule #2: Kindness matters again. It's a work in progress. But aren't we all works in progress?

Two takeaways came to me as I thought about this ordeal. 

  1. Staying calm through deep breathing helped me approach this situation from a peaceful + relaxed state. I was upset at how we've been treating one another. It would've been easy for me to just yell + lecture everyone + raise my voice. But that would do nothing but leave us all feeling hopeless + negative + that we're bad people. I want my kids to know they're loved...they're fundamentally good but sometimes make poor choices (as we all do)...and that nothing they do can take that goodness + love away from them. Staying relaxed helped me communicate in a way that told them those things were true. That even though I was disappointed in how things had been going in our house that they were GOOD people.
  2. Visual reminders in high traffic areas are huge. I actually rewrote the list this morning in nicer handwriting because the first iteration was so rushed. Having the visual hanging in a space where we spend a lot of time will lead us to take the rules in daily. It keeps them on the top of our mind so they'll sink in. And having a set of rules like this will give us all a chance to stop each other when we're breaking the rules.

What does this have to do with energy work, you might ask? Well, I'm big on paying attention to the energy around me, in people, places + things (Side note: Did you know that trees have a visual aura that you can see? It's pretty dope.) When the energy in a space I spend a lot of time in feels off, I work hard to bring a more calm + loving energy to that space. Maybe it's smudging. Maybe it's getting myself right + relaxed so I can interact with everything from a coherent state. Positive energy attracts more positive energy while negative energy just butts against more negative energy. Being aware of the ways I can influence my environment + actually doing the hard work of grounding myself, staying present + calm has helped me approach stressful situations with a clear head + a love in my heart.

Hence the deep breaths + list of family rules. Positive ways to influence the energy around me to shift us all into living from a more positive state. We all benefit when there's more love in the air.

Namasté,
Josh