By Jamee Tenzer, PCC
My 6 year old daughter called me in a panic from school a few weeks ago, the day before St. Patrick’s Day. She had learned that the home-made Leprechaun Catcher she had labored over for days, was due at school THAT morning. We were under the impression that it was due on St. Patricks’ Day since that’s apparently when the mischievous little leprechauns show up, right? Yes, except that the traps have to be SET the day before! Who knew? I don’t have any training in leprechaun etiquette and my background as a professional coach, writer and trainer is absolutely no help in situations such as these.
When she called, I was at the office in a meeting and my schedule that day was a roomy as the old shoebox my daughter had used to make her leprechaun catcher. In other words, there was no way that she was going to have her leprechaun catcher at school, in time. A rush of emotion came over me.
Guilt. How could I have gotten confused about the due date for this project? Anger! Did the teachers communicate the due date with us? Sadness. My heart broke for my daughter, thinking about the effort she had put into the project. Frustration. How can I convey to her that in the grand scheme of things this situation will be easily forgotten? I could have reacted by getting upset, making the situation worse and disempowering all involved. But, there was another choice.
My choice was to react in such a way that the situation was moved forward positively! Easy right? Not really. In fact I’ve been working on this concept for awhile, because I see myself and my clients struggle with occasionally reacting in ways that we are not happy about and result in making things worse, not better. We are busy working moms, multi-tasking with the best of them. But at times, if we juggle too many balls, we find ourselves reacting impulsively. We are so caught up the circus, we’re not actually present.
With this in mind, I developed a strategy that begins with bringing ourselves to the present when we feel that a negative reaction might be emerging. Once we are present we can employ T.A.L.K.
Thought. When we are thinking, we are able to create a context for what is happening – where does this fit into the big picture right now? What is reasonable based on the people involved and circumstances? What is the thoughtful reaction?
Alignment. Who do we want to be in this situation? What are our values in this moment? How can we align with our commitments and values as we react?
Levity. What is potentially funny about this? The things we get upset about are often hilarious in hindsight. Where is the humor in this moment?
Kindness. How can we be kind right now? How can we show compassion to the very people who we feel are causing our reaction? How can we place ourselves in their shoes? How can we be compassionate towards ourselves?
This is how I applied T.A.L.K. to my daughter’s Leprechaun Catcher problem:
As I listened to my daughter, I felt those emotions welling up inside me. I knew I was in danger of reacting, so I took a breath and brought myself to the present. This required that I stop thinking about who was at fault and start focusing on solutions. I put T.A.L.K. into action:
Thought: Talking to my 6 year old about this was going to get me nowhere and be upsetting for us both.
Alignment: What was important here? My daughter getting her needs met and me being responsible towards my associates and clients.
Levity: We were fretting over a Leprechaun catcher! Need I say more?
Kindness: The teachers were doing a great job. My daughter is 6. I am a committed mother. We all deserve compassion and kindness.
I calmly asked my daughter to let me talk to the teacher. We worked out another opportunity for my daughter to share and set her catcher later in the day when my husband could deliver it to school on his break– crisis averted.
It worked! Does this mean that we should deny or avoid expressing feelings? Heck no! In fact, it has been my experience that if we let go of our need to react negatively in the moment, we are better able to express our feelings in such a way that they are heard, allowing us to move on.
Next time, I’ll tell you how I used this strategy when my son informed me he was required to wear a toga to school. Here’s the kicker – we had 7 minutes to pull it together. T.A.L.K. came in handy!
About The Author
Jamee Tenzer, PCC, is a Certified Professional Coach, published writer and Trainer for the International Coach Academy. She specializes in coaching working mothers who are facing the challenges of overwhelm, time management and lack of life/balance in order to have a more joyful life that truly works for them and their families. For more information, please visit www.lifeworks4ucoaching.com. To schedule a complimentary phone consultation, please email Jamee at firstname.lastname@example.org.