Tuesday, March 16, 2010

A Rotten LIstener

Yesterday I was told more than once by more than one person that I'm a rotten listener. And I don't disagree. For me when something is very obvious to me I need to hurry up and say it and people talk slow. Seriously. People take a long time to explain themselves and if I already know what they are going to say, having to listen to them take forever to tell me what I know they are going to say anyway gets annoying. But I can imagine that this doesn't make me the best listener.

I also have a tendency to get frustrated with my children when they want to cry, whine and complain about the situations that they have gotten themselves into, especially if I have spent a long time trying to keep them from getting into those very situations. But I thought about an analogy last night that might help me with this.

John was talking to me about how he just wanted to start over and to have a new start. He has said this many times in his life -- when he is at the end of his rope and receiving the consequences he has earned. I explained to him that there was no choice but for him to pay the consequences and take one day at a time. I told him that I was really angry with myself for gaining 53 pounds after I had lost 43. I told him I wanted a do-over, a fresh start where those 43 pounds were gone like they were 18 months ago. But I told him that there was nothing that I could do except for lose it again. And I had no one to blame but myself.

Now my 53 pounds aren't as life-altering as a return to jail or having a pregnant girlfriend, but I do understand to a minor extent how he feels. But I also got to thinking about how it would feel if every time I mentioned working out or my weight -- or every time I picked up a bag of chips -- someone felt the need to remind me that my fat was my own fault. I probably wouldn't respond so well even though they were telling me the truth.

And so maybe, in the midst of trying to be a better listener, I should talk less too. Maybe if I say things once it's enough -- or more than enough. Maybe I could figure out a way to be more supportive even if people do deserve what they get.

I thought about those things on the exercise bike this morning, tired from not sleeping much again, and realized that yes, we all have natural consequences and maybe my kids do realize things are their own fault, even if they pretend like they don't. I am sure that I won't be able to change over night. I'm perfunctory. I tell the truth. The filter from my brain to my mouth isn't always engaged and sometimes it doesn't work well. But little by little maybe I can become a better listener, day by day, as I attempt to lose this weight AGAIN, pound by pound.


GB's Mom said...

Neat analogy!

Kat said...

I tell ya, you and I are so alike it's scary some days...

Have you ever been to a Heather Forbes /Beyond Consequences event, or read her material? I actually didn't care for her first book when I read it, but I went to one of her free events and have started using her methods with off-the-charts-wonderful results. Your attempt to talk logic and use "me" statements to John brought her to mind... as of course she wisely advocates the opposite, as you yourself have done after thinking about it. First step is to do what you can in the exact moment to streghten the relationship - which means validate the feelings even though you don't approve the behavior, and save the logic for later!