Recently I was driving out to work and my two toddlers asked to ride with us to the gate. I warned them before they boarded the car that they were to be careful since I had put some slices of cake in the back seat where they were to seat. My two year old being her usual fidgety self, accidentally threw her legs on top of the cake. This truly annoyed me and I lost it. After venting off for a few seconds, I realized her silence meant hurt and pain from the stern face and voice, I stopped talking at once but the damage had already been done. Oops, I had done it again – shouted! This started my self-introspection on how I could have handled the situation better. Fortunately (or unfortunately for the reflection was going to become even deeper and painful but worthwhile!) I had an hour and a half session with my life coach and this example stood out for me as a reflection for this writing and to share as a moment of growth.
Becoming aware of ones behavior is very critical in the self-leadership development process. As a person that seeks to grow with each passing moment, I have taken it upon myself to learn to become more present to the now. There are habits I have developed over this life journey and held so dear to, only to realize that they are not REALLY a part of me but merely bad habits that I have embraced. It is the unlearning that I find very difficult. As they say that bad habits are like a comfortable bed, easy to jump onto and very difficult to get off from. I had never realized that my emotions (with all their intensity) are so present in by verbal expressions. Now that I am aware of my patterns, I do know when I have messed up with a much deeper sense of clarity that are alive to me and obviously those around me. So why am I sharing this? Firstly because I have learnt that being present to the now is the best thing I can ever do for my environment and me because it helps me to be totally aware of the different happenings. Secondly by being present, I can actually feel my body and be able to understand what I will be going through so that I coin a relevant response to my environment. Responding too abruptly like I did with my daughter means that I make more mistakes than I do when I am more present. I preserve the cake and damage the relationship. If I had only taken a moment to process the leg on the cake, am sure the reaction would have been very different. Thirdly, I am sharing this because I learnt the greatest lesson of all- self-compassion. Being aware and conscious is half the battle. Even though I lost it with my daughter and reacted in a harsh manner, realizing what I did was a critical moment. I could have chosen to beat myself over it and remain in that moment of error but I noticed my mistake, said, “oops, here I go again” and forgave myself for faltering in the hope that tomorrow I will respond in a “better” way. That in its sense is self-compassion. Being able to talk to myself and realize that this life is a very long journey and that its not the number of times I fall that count but the number of times I get up to try and live better next time. I walk away from this cake, leg and daughter experience an even more conscious sister who understands that being aware of the mistakes I make is half the battle won!
Having learnt the above, I also had a profound aha!moment. That when I do realize my pattern and act on it, I need to be grateful that I actually realized that to aire is human and to apologize is almost divine. I shared with my husband how I should not have used that tone of voice with my daughter and was so grateful I had realized my mistake and sought to make amends with the little girl although she was too upset to even embrace my apology. I am however grateful that I did manage to get to a point of knowing plus reflecting so that tomorrow I can respond in a better way. It is critical that as I walk through life, I am grateful for every small progress made towards positivity and that I celebrate those small acts of victory no matter how small they may seem. I will forever hold dear the cake, leg and daughter moment for out of it came very deep leadership lessons. Come and walk with me as we chart new paths forward…