07 May 2014

The Power of "I'm Sorry" & "Maybe We Can Reboot"


Let me introduce you to our very first home grown lemon. It's been five years in the making and we just picked it yesterday. I felt like we needed to have a ceremony when I picked it, but no one else in the family was quite as  excited it as I was. But once I cut that baby open I couldn't keep them away.

The scent was amazing. Hours later I could still smell its sweetness on my hands. We were all inhaling the scent from the rind after I has squeezed all the juice into our lemonade drinks. There was not a seed to be seen in either lemon, nothing but delicious, sweet, tart juice. It was amazing. I thought that lemons would also be a great visual for the today's post. It's all about keeping things from going sour in the home.

I've had some interesting family interactions recently I thought I would share that have been pretty impactful. It's amazing how little things can have a big power over situations staying relatively calm or escalating into worse situations. Sometimes it takes just a little thing to turn a bad start in a much better direction.

First I have to say that I have really seen the power a simple "I'm sorry" can have a big impact in our family. It's human nature for us all to want to be defensive and stand our ground even if it's over something totally not important. Yesterday I got a couple of very simple, "I'm sorry" comments that I really appreciated and that were very meaningful to me. They were over pretty small things but they still meant a lot to me.

It meant that we could slow down a conversation that might be leading to frustration and hurt feelings which could bring actions that would only make things worse. It reminded me just using the phrase "I'm sorry" can be so powerful in so many ways in our home and we probably don't say it enough.

It doesn't mean we're weak or bad or that we should feel awful. Sometimes it means, "Hey I regret what I just said" or "Ooops, that wasn't how I wanted that to go." Little sorry statements said early in a situation can easily make larger, more dramatic "I'm sorry" situations obsolete.

Other times a sorry can just mean, "Man, I'm really sorry that happened to you. You don't deserve that." So often when people are frustrated and complaining I find that the best thing to say it, "I'm sorry that happened to you. I know you're hurting/frustrated/upset, etc." It helps to curb the complaining once they feel they are heard and that someone understands what seems so unfair to them. It reminds them that we all experience frustrations and somehow sets them free to move forward.

Another really power line I somehow magically came up with that worked wonders last week was "Can we reboot?" The morning has started out poorly and I was disappointed in how things were going after high hopes that it was going to be a really good day together. So I decided to step out for a while and before I left I expressed my disappointment in how the day was going so far, the nice things I had hoped for the day and then I asked, "Maybe we can reboot when I get back?"

That stopped the situation in its tracks and turned it around completely. Everyone realized the day wasn't what they wanted either and that they had wanted what I had wanted. Within minutes apologies had been made and we were on our way out to lunch, happy as clams. We all knew what we wanted wasn't what we were having and we realized we could reboot and change it completely. It turned out to be a really lovely day full of all the exact things I had wanted, but without a reboot it wouldn't have been possible.

Sometimes holding the power button down for ten seconds to shut the family machine off is exactly what's needed to reboot the day to a better path. The metaphor of a reboot is something this computer generation can understand. It is non-confrontational and within minutes things can be up and running in a much better way. I am going to keep using that as a term for our family when we need to stop and restart situation. It seems to work wonders.

Managing the emotional temperature of our homes (not to mention ourselves) is a daily, ongoing work. Finding a few little tips and tricks to keep the temperature calm and communication and family interactions positive can make a world of difference. When we create a language that speaks to the way our family works we make life easier for everyone in the family and home a much more pleasant way to be.

Do you have buzz phrases that work wonders at your house? Are there situations you want to try to diffuse?

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