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Keeping it Real by Staying Consistent

First, my apologies. It’s been a shamefully long time since we’ve had a post on here, and I take full responsibility. Oddly enough, in choosing a topic for this post, I thought “consistency” would somehow be appropriate. Do I see the irony? Yes. It only means we all can work on it.

Snow has been everywhere this winter- even in odd places.

This winter has been really wild for just about everyone, at least here in the U.S. Record-breaking (or close enough) snows, unusual snows, unusual ice (notably in places that normally see little of this), and bizarre cold snaps combined with warmer weather. It’s led to every inconvenience from flight cancellations to lots of sinus infections. The flu is going around, too. On the up side, there’s snow days for some, and those end up being a lot of fun.
Regardless, our schedules and busy lives have been put on hold or changed at the last minute due to uncontrollable weather problems. This can be very stressful for anyone, and especially people who prefer to plan ahead. Sometimes we may feel like we have no idea what’s going on. And if isn’t the weather, it’s probably something else.

How do we deal with that? The weather is not always cooperative. People can be annoying, frustrating, and sometimes just not make sense, much like the weather. How can we keep our grip and reduce stress?

How do we cope with the stress and frustration?

Well, there’s very little we can do about the weather, except the best we can. You can’t control it, so try to prepare if you can. Stay safe. Stay warm. Try to stay flexible (this is easier for some than others.)

With people, there’s still little we can do. We cannot control other people more than we control the weather. Trying to control another person is a blatant boundary violation, and is usually met with fighting, aggression, yelling, anger, withdrawing, or even abandonment. So what do we do with people who are difficult? Stay consistent. In the end, we can only control our own behavior, right? But, if you dance differently, so will the other person.

If your boss wants to pick a fight, you stand to lose a lot (like your job). They have set out to win a conflict, and you’re caught in the middle. Your kids seem to fight you every step of the way when it comes to eating dinner or going to bed on time. In each case, you can fight with them. Certainly, it’s your choice. However, this fight takes so much energy that we just don’t have. As I said, it’s your choice. Don’t fight. You don’t have to. There is no universal rule that says you must.

Prevent fighting by refusing to participate

With your boss, you’re on the lower end of the hierarchy. Fighting can become “insubordination” that has really bad consequences for you, all because your boss decided to be irrational today. Instead, refuse to fight. You hear what they say. Ask what they would like from you. Repeat it. Be clear. If their requests conflict, ask which you should make the priority. See if you can get help from someone else (divide and conquer). Regardless, you didn’t fight, and you can’t lose. The only person who looks irrational is your boss. You don’t have to worry about that.

With your children, you are on the higher end of the hierarchy. That’s reality, so acknowledge it. It’s bedtime. That’s reality. TV is off. Lights are off. Go to bed yourself, if you can (relaxation- remember when that was possible?). The kids can get angry, throw a tantrum, whatever. Don’t indulge them by yelling. It’s still bedtime. Yelling only validates their point- and that doesn’t fit your reality. They can be upset- let them. There is no reason for you to be upset, because it’s bedtime, is there? They will be upset, and you will be fine- and it’s still bedtime.

These techniques work when we choose to be consistent. What we say is what we mean (we have to know what we mean to do this, so this will take some thinking on the front-end). We do what we say we will do. What is okay really is okay, and what isn’t, isn’t. You aren’t being stubborn- more information (okay, it actually is raining, so maybe I should take that umbrella I had planned to leave at home) can change your mind, but only if that leads to to a new logical conclusion. Manipulations, screaming at you, threatening you, jumping up and down, are all simply a waste of the other person’s energy- and they have every right to use them. Your law is only the law of the world: behaviors have consequences, and things will go as they will go, even if you don’t particularly like them. If you let yourself obey that rule, you will always know where you are, where you stand, and you won’t have to move just because someone did something weird or frustrating. End result: you don’t have to be as worried or frustrated.

It will snow when and where it wants to snow- so, let it snow.

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