I felt like I was quite old (I was a new Mum and in a relationship with my partner) before I realised that if you can brainstorm solutions and think laterally there is always a win:win solution….there will always be a way through if you just look hard enough!
I was fascinated with the recent Life at 9 series on ABC IView when the narrator said:
“Navigating life depends on our ability to solve problems, a skill scientists understand as creativity” and “Creativity is a greater predictor of success in life than IQ”.
David Cropley, a creativity expert on the show, then said : “The basis of creativity is all about starting with divergent thinking and that means if we hope to get a good solution we first of all have to go through as many solutions as we can”
And this got me thinking of one of the best Positive Discipline Tools from www.positivediscipline.com which I use at home and teach other parents all the time….the idea that as parents, once we understand the child’s underlying feelings and needs behind a behaviour we can then brainstorm solutions and in the brainstorming phase we need to write down all possible solutions, there is no right or wrong!
It’s so true we often need to brainstorm left field ‘way out there’ solutions to be able to come up with solutions that will work! Something I especially love is the idea of involving our own kids from the age of 4 in brainstorming the solutions for particular issues / behaviours. The kids always come up with the most crazy solutions but also the most simple and best solutions too! (e.g. in resolving shared bedroom issues: first suggesting their brother could sleep with the chooks or in the hallway cupboard but eventually deciding duct tape down the middle of the bedroom will do!)
How great is it that we can involve our kids in helping to brainstorm solutions but also help boost their creativity skills at the same time! It is certainly something we want for all our kids once they become adults isn’t it? To be creative problem solvers who are able to resolve conflicts by finding win:win solutions…mindfully…
(At www.positivediscipline.com there are podcasts on Focusing On Solutions and one of their books is called Positive Discipline A-Z, 1001 Solutions To Everyday Parenting Problems)
I’ve had a long break from writing this blog….but it hasn’t been far from my thoughts so here goes again….maybe this will help me to internalise some of my more mindful thoughts and learning!
I’ve just had a bit of a revelation, after moving house, moving states, busily unpacking, setting up house, applying for work etc and feeling REALLY stressed and overwrought… that I can choose to enjoy my life right now OR choose to be caught up in the obligations, expectations and pressure that I place on myself (more than anyone else does)! This revelation came after a friend in the desert texted ‘ you must be enjoying the beach!’ And I realised no….I wasn’t enjoying my new lush coastal surroundings…..instead my head was caught up in a whirl of jobs to be done, stresses to endure! I started to question WHY wasn’t I enjoying this new life and it came to me ( so simple! but so hard to realise!) that I really CAN choose to take some time out each day to enjoy the beach….to clear my thoughts, to nurture myself, to find inner joy…..and most of the jobs still get done!! Most of the stresses and pressures were self created – I don’t need to be a slave to my thoughts/unrealistic expectations…I can take a break from them….they’ll still be there when I want to face them! It is as easy and as hard as that! And as I began to open up more to allowing myself to take time out…..I realised that it had been a long time since I had cherished myself and that Buddhist saying ‘that to cherish others you must first cherish yourself’ rang true as I began to enjoy hanging out with the kids again. It felt transforming to realise it was all a matter of choosing to change my thinking….yet all week I have still struggled to make that choice! The guilt / worry / concern about what others will think and if I am being selfish or self indulgent means that it is very easy to put pressure on to DO more….rather than taking some time to BE! I’ll keep you posted as to how that learning goes……how to cherish yourself in order to cherish others?
I was in a lot of pain recently, waiting for the pain relief to kick in when I realised I was fighting it with my mind ( ‘oh no what if I can’t…..I don’t want to feel like this…..this is so unfair…..why me?…..will this make it go away? ‘ Etc). Suddenly I remembered mindfulness so I allowed myself to label the pain ‘I am in pain’ and to sit with it, accept it and it was amazing to feel the shift, to really feel the space around the pain widen and expand, to feel that there was more to the situation than just the pain, to feel that it was impermanent and that it would be OK! Of course I couldn’t be so zen about it all of the time….my mind would kick in and resist but just to have a few moments of peace, of going back into thinking ‘it is as it is’ made it more manageable!
I also remembered something a friend once told me re: childbirth which was the pain will always ebb and flow so that you can follow the peaks and troughs….manage the peak of pain and then allow yourself to relax in the trough….and keep this cycle of manage and relax! This worked really well in my daughter’s birth but also this morning too….watching for the peak, relaxing when it ebbed even though the pain is continuous….
Fortunately I didn’t have to wait long for the pain relief to work so my suffering was short….and I am not sure I could do any of this in severe pain…..but it was good to see some of those mindfulness strategies at work? Are there other strategies that you have used?
I’ve been very lucky to have supervision at work with Sue G. who also teaches / practices mindfulness. Together we have come up with some great ideas on how to be a little more mindful at work:
- Mindfulness Bell clock on the computer (download for free and create your own timing). This is a great little reminder to breathe and scan your body for tension
- Take your shoes off, feel the carpet with your feet, walk to printer feeling the floor beneath you
- 10 minute meditation at lunchtime
- Breathe in your tea / coffee and do a quick body scan
I’m amazed at how UNAWARE I can still be of my body / tension at work but at least these strategies are helping me tune in occasionally!! I’d love to know some other strategies…
Phew….it’s tricky getting back into getting everyone (including me!) to work and school on time! Something I have found so useful….especially when we are running late and I want to deliver that all-time lecture to the kids!….is to breathe out to the very last bit of air I have at least 3 times! For a more effective calming (&funnier) effect I will even buzz like a bee for 3 full breaths out! The effect of this is amazing….I feel calmer and the whole car atmosphere is alot calmer too (generally kids are laughing)!
These strategies come from an amazing parenting programme called Bringing Up Great Kids where they use the research from Dan Siegel that reflects that just 3 breaths can calm us down enough to begin to respond creatively and calmly to our kids rather than from our usual fight / flight / freeze highly charged response!
Google Flipping the Lid or Brain in the Hand for some great short video explanations of how our brains work and how we can calm them down! It really works! My aim this year is to teach my kids more about how their brain works so they too can learn how to calm them selves down! I’ll keep you posted!