I’m a yeller.
It’s not something I’m proud of, and it’s not something I will readily admit most days. But I am. I grew up with yellers. And it’s how I’ve learned to get someone’s attention, whether it’s my husband, my kids, or someone caught in the crossfire.
I don’t yell at everyone. I rarely yell at strangers. I rarely yell in public. (I do write a sharp letter every so often though laying my feelings out on the line.) Those I am most likely to yell at are those closest to me.
Last spring I received a phone call that opened my eyes to the destruction yelling was doing to my family. I own a web design and development company, and this client wanted a blog about her challenge, the Orange Rhino Challenge she called it, to stop yelling at her FOUR kids… for a whole year. I admittedly thought she was crazy. In some ways I admired this challenge. In other ways, I thought it was… well, wrong isn’t the right word. It’s not that I admired yelling, it’s just that I looked at it as my parenting tool. I don’t spank my kids, so I still needed a way to let them know they were in trouble.
The thing is, yelling wasn’t really all that effective. I’ve always said that I felt like spanking didn’t really teach my kids anything and teaching was the ultimate goal of discipline… and the biggest tool in the parenting toolbox. Spanking to me was about release of anger for the parents. When I considered it, yelling didn’t really teach anything either and was more about me than my kids. Sure, it made me feel better for about half a second, at which point I got even angrier about whatever I was yelling about.The more I thought about it though, I realized that yelling was my spanking. And that didn’t make me feel very good.
My goal was to try to avoid yelling for the entire 25 day challenge; if our client could do it for a year, surely I could make it 25 days. And then Sunday happened (a whole day and a half – go me!). Family drama ensued. And we all raised our voices. And we all ended up feeling really badly. A day, surely I could do it for a day. I set myself up today, prepared mentally to not yell. And yet, I woke up this morning and my day started off like it always does: I’m awake, my husband isn’t, the four year old comes into our room and immediately hurts himself and starts crying for a band-aid for the cut the size of a poppy seed and then the baby starts crying and needs to be held and changed, and it’s already 7:20 and my son needs to be at school by 8:30, and the dogs still need to be let out and fed, and the kids need to be dressed and fed, and… well, my mornings are really challenging. I felt myself getting worked up. I had been awake for twenty minutes and already had forgotten about the challenge. I was starting to raise my voice. I caught myself. I breathed and remembered and calmed down and didn’t yell.
It’s ok, Brooke.
I found this quote yesterday and it has been playing through my head all day: “Raise your words, not your voice. It’s rain that grows flowers, not thunder.” Raise your words. Raise your thoughts.
It’s so easy, I think, for us to get caught up in our chaos, and even as we slow down and do for others, we forget about the smallest (and yet the most powerful) part of our day: our thoughts. Kind thoughts breed kind words that make kind actions. Kindness starts with our thoughts. Today, think kind thoughts. Speak kind words. Grow flowers.