I’m always ready to learn, although I do not always like being taught.
— Winston Churchill
I had a talk with my stepdaughter, Libi, who has a 3-year-old and a 6-month-old. She asked, “How did you do it with so many kids?” (There was Libi and her brother, who were 11 and 9, and then my four kids, making six kids under the age of 11!)
I said, “When I felt like I was going to lose control, I tried to remove myself from the situation.”
My friend, Maggie, always used to say, “Emotional control is more important than situational control.”
Meaning, it’s more important staying in control of your own emotions—being stable and not losing control of yourself—than winning the argument or wresting control of the situation. (You WILL take a bath. NO, I won’t. YES, you will. NO, I won’t, and so on.)
But it doesn’t matter if you’re dealing with three-year-olds and 33-year-olds.
If you lose it, you lose it.
If you lose control of yourself, all bets are off. If you don’t think you can maintain control in a tense situation, bring it down a notch and fast. Three tips:
- Take your feet and go. Get out of the room. If you’re the Mom of small kids, get to the bathroom even for two minutes to take deep breaths and close your eyes and get back in control. If you can’t do that, close your eyes even for ten seconds and pray up. Remember if you lose control, your kids will lose even more control and the situation will spiral even further out of control.
- If you’re having an argument with an adult, you can say:
Let’s talk about this another time.
Or, I need your help on this. Let’s talk about it another time.
Or, I hear what you’re saying. Let me think about this.
3. Agree with the other person. If you’re charming, you’re disarming. Then talk about the situation when it isn’t a crisis.
Use neutral phrases to give yourself some space between your spinning mind and your mouth.
Remember, try, try, try to take a deep breath and then get control of yourself. Keep your voice neutral.
That’s why I like what Churchill said. If we really do want to learn, we have to be willing and open to be taught.
Tool For Tuesday: If You Lose It, You Lose It.