I've never been big on New Year's Resolutions. I don't find anything magical about the flipping of the calendar over to a new year to start new habits or get rid of old bad habits. However, that doesn't mean that I don't end up thinking about what I want to change in my life. Over the past couple of months I've taken a hard look at how much I react with yelling to my kids. In retrospect I can always see that the yelling did not help the situation in reaching the conclusion I hoped to achieve. It does make me feel badly about resorting to yelling, and likely damages my relationship with my kids in some shape or form though. I can also see that at least one of my kids has learned how to yell from me - and that is an ugly mirror to view yourself through.
While I do not typically do resolutions, this month my goal is to stop yelling. For me this would be harder if I hadn't already been doing a good deal of self reflection about why I yell and why yelling doesn't actually work. Although like any worthy goal we set for ourselves, we can expect to be immediately challenged when we set upon the path of achieving it. When we ask the universe or god or others in our lives to help us in achieving a goal we can be assured that the first thing that will happen is that you will be presented with scenarios in which you would normally do the thing you are trying not to do. For me, not yelling has been given a good test already on day one. The crazy thing is that rather than being annoyed at the tests that have been presented to me, when I expect them and know that they are there to help me, I can see them as gifts rather than tests.
I read Marianne Williamson's Return to Love a few months ago, and as a result I have been praying more. I don't mean I am reciting prayers from the Bible, or that I've suddenly begun going to church. I haven't even given much thought about my lack of religious affiliation, but I have been praying more. When I feel challenged by something I ask God to help me with it. Within a few months of doing this I can see that it works, but not in the way of making wishes to magic genie would. It works because when we ask God for help with something, we are given opportunities to do what we asked for. It makes complete sense to me that when I asked God to help me stop yelling in response to my kids, that my kids would give me opportunities to practice new responses. After asking for help I also started seeing new articles about the effects of yelling, and articles about ways to respond instead of yelling. Seeing the new tests and the new resources as a miracle is the gift I got from reading Return to Love.
My hard wired response to almost everything is that I can handle it on my own. I want to control everything, and I don't want to ask for help. This has made me successful, but it comes at a cost. The more reflection I do, the more I see that while I can do everything on my own, it is better when I ask for help. Actually scratch that - the more I try asking for help, the more I see that it is better when I ask for help than it is when I try to do everything on my own. When someone asks me what my New Year's Resolution is I might respond that I'm going to stop yelling, but the truth is that I will be praying for many more miracles this year, and I'm going to expect to be tested so that I can grow.