[Featured on Kris Carr, October 28th, 2011]
Everyone who doesn’t know me well is a bit shocked by the fact that I have a bad temper, and everyone that does know me, knows that side of me well. I’m not proud; in fact, I’ve spent so much time being angry about my anger that the “feeling bad” has become its own brand of narcissism. The whole conversation around “I feel so bad, I’m so sorry, so sorry, oh so sorry” is just a way for me to get attention, again. I’m telling on myself again so the buck stops here.
Working with the life coaches at the Handel Group has brought all of this to the surface; more accurately, it was already at the surface, the coaches make me deal with it. At first, we designed a consequence of money: each episode of my temper with my kid cost five bucks, then fifty bucks.Then we chose the consequence of a can of Red Bull for each incidence of temper (I eat kale twice a day, so Red Bull, with all due respect to the Red Bull lovers, is straight-up punitive). Each of these consequences did slow me down, to be sure, but the anger wasn’t gone.
Laurie Gerber, one of the coaches with whom I often lead seminars, pointed out that my trend of punitive consequences needed to end, and be replaced with some humor. That gave me an idea.
Every time I have a strong outburst with my son, I have to explain what I’m about to do, and then sing the below song to the nearest adult stranger, with him present. It’s happened twice in a few weeks, and yes, it’s funny, but more importantly, my temper is losing steam because I know as soon as I feel the burn that I’m going to have to sing to a stranger.
However, the consequence is genius for other reasons. We make the sweetest human connections very time. For one, Jonah sees me forgiving myself and truly reaching into myself to get the impulse out. Then we get to bond with other caring humans who truly appreciate the intent behind the moment, and finally, we can look each other in the eyes with no artifice or wall between us, and feel the healing happening.
The most important part of the singing consequence is the silliness. The silliness is bringing me back to the real work of building trust and acceptance in myself, rather than the “Woe is me, I feel so bad” dialogue, which just distracts me from the real work of releasing the temper once and for all.
I’ll leave you with a little Mad Libs, to keep the silly going. For those of you who weren’t raised on Mad Libs, you simply fill in the blanks as instructed.
Then write this down and hang it everywhere:
My (insert your bad habit here)______________ was here to show me how to (any virtues, what you’d like to have in place of your habit) __________, ___________ and ___________.
Thank you, my (insert your bad habit here) _________________ for being my healing.
“My temper was here to show me how to love, be patient and teach about honesty. Thank you, my temper, for being my healing.”