I don't really know where this post is going, stay with me, hop on if you want, but I have had these thoughts twirling around in my head and I need to sleep, so hence the viral word urp.
I use this phrase a lot, "Were you Choosing the Good, More than the Bad?"....I mean a lota lota lota lot, with my kids, along with "so tell me 'How did that work for you?"
I can use both of these phrases with Empathy, without shame, and taking myself out of the situation, they are used for pure reflection and not for shaming.If I or they are incapable of this conversation going well, we wait.(I wait a lot, mostly for me, and my empathy to replace the oozing sarcasm before I open my trap.)
'Most' people/kids "get" that our choices create the reality we live in. Sure some are circumstantial, but our choices say a lot about the life that we live/want/have.Even then we all sometimes forget that, and fall into victim mode.
But we can, and will snap out of it, with the strength, perspective (a really good therapist) and past experience that says "good can be just around the corner", and majority of the time we can be the creators of that good.
My kids can't.
They are learning to, but this thought process, this "good around the corner", or simple "if I do good, good things will happen, if I do bad...ect....
You see we all have this even keel place inside us that let's us know, "this is good', "this is safe', "this is my normal", it looks different for all of us, for example my "normal" would be HELL for say Paris Hilton, but Heaven for a woman living in a tent in a third world country.
I have to remember that when I look at my kids.
For me my experience is, "occasionally showered, solid 5ish hours of sleep, dishes done, and chocolate in my fridge, and no one smearing pooh on the wall as a damn near perfect day."
I have things that I know will make me feel better, like exercise, a shower and dressing in something other than my yoga pants, eating whole foods instead of junk ect, can bump that day on up. Those are my "Good" for me choices"...and the days I choose to not do that, and eat Doritos and Ice Cream 3 square meals in a row, and veg in front of some screen 15 hours a day,BUT, at some point I am capable of pull myself up by the boot straps and begin again.
My kids can't, yet.
Because their "even keel" their experience and gauge for normal is NOT mine.
Their normal (just because they have lived with me for what feels like FOR-EV-ER) is not what is sitting in front of them, their experience of what "normal " is, being hungry, no one caring about them as an individual, having to take care of themselves by any means possible, getting hurt, being used, not being seen.
So I must make them feel uncomfortable, every single day. Crap.
I am screwing with their "normal",and though we will all say "GOOD, cuz their normal is MESSED UP."
It is their foundation of what they can trust , they are alive after all right?
"Why do abused women go back to their abuser?"
"Why do alcoholics take that first drink after being sober?"
"Why do we gain the weight back?"
My Children are not liars, they do not steal, hurt, act out, sabotage special days, destroy or urinate on everything (and I mean everything) because they 'like to', just like my toddler Baby Faith uses Singing the Sunshine Song to sucker me out of my M&M's, these behaviors too is how they learned to get what they needed to survive. It is not a character flaw, their behaviors are instinctive HABITS.
Like biting nails, popping zits, over eating, over of viewing pornography, alcoholism, prescription drug abuse,....oh wait, did I JUST take habits and turn them into addictions. Yep, I think she did.
My kids naturally lean toward what is not healthy for them, NATURALLY. It is their first instinct when a choice comes up for them to make, "should I hand my brother his special paper I am holding and make sure he receives it a non-crumpled way, so he feels good about it", or "Should I crumple it up, spit on it and goad him to beating the tar out of me?....Ding-ding-ding wina-winna-WINNER....In fact the first thought wasn't even there, not until we stop, process what happened and I give an example of the two , do they even recognize there was another choice. In evaluation (while applying a wet towel to scratch inflicted when said brother acted like a rabid mountain lion) "how did that work for you buddy?" "Not good", "Which choice do you think might have worked better? Were you choosing the Good more than the Bad? "
That is what we work on everyday. Seeking that second choice, there always is one....and sometimes it is a devil to find. I too struggle, what is the second choice when deciding to eat that 2nd ( or 3rd) piece of cake? Or buying that something I really want but cannot afford...
None of us are capable of always choosing the Good, or the Better over the Not-so-good- or bad. We work on it.
With my babies I have to respect that tendency towards Chaos, It is not simply just "choosing the Good", the bad and chaos is ALWAYS going to be there, much like a built in addiction such as Alcoholism, they are going to tend toward that Chaos first and there is NOTHING I can do to rewire that for them, but, I can give them tools, the power to use them and help remind, process and revamp when and if they will let me.
I have lost specific children permanently to the addiction to chaos that trauma creates, I routinely have children get stuck and have to sober them up again. Most of the choice is truly theirs, they just have to know that there is more than one choice.
It seems so simple. Doesn't it?
But, if you know someone struggling with a "Behavior/Habit/Addiction", we all know how simple it is to say "STOP IT"...and where they can't even begin to know HOW, instead we might try, "Try choosing this instead." It is choosing something else MORE, choosing Good, more, because we are human and automatically what is Bad for us is just sitting there waiting.
This is a tool I can use with my Oldest Daughter not healthy enough to live in my home over drug use, or unprotected sex. What that Choosing the Good more than the Bad? How did that work for you?
or my three year old:
Bummer you peed on your pillow, and now you don't have a pillow to sleep on.
Was that Choosing the Good more than Bad? How did that work for you?
(ugh, ugh, and ugggg)
....and husbands, it really works on husbands, with no trauma at all. ;0)
"Oh you took a nap instead of helping with the dishes".... (yuk, yuk, yuk...)
Anywho, that is what I have been thinking about lately. Habits and Behaviors really being different words for possibly what Addiction is, and how to help my children break down and process their very own cycles, and recognizing the choices that lie there within themselves.