Meet my friend, Charlotte. I love her to pieces for so many reasons. And this guest post is one of them because…raise your hand if you’ve ever had a similar experience.
A few days ago while “happily” cleaning up the day’s mess, my oldest daughter came downstairs with a look of panic and fear on her face about to cry. Before I could ask her what was wrong she said, “Mommy, I did something and you are going to be really mad.” I braced myself for what she was about to say. Before she said anything I asked, “Did you hurt yourself?” “Did you hurt someone?” She said, “No, Ma’am”. I told her that whatever she did couldn’t be that bad and I wasn’t going to be mad. No matter what I said, she was not convinced.
To make a long story short, I went upstairs in my bathroom to see what was causing my daughter to have such distress. As walked in the door, I braced myself for what I was going to see. I looked around. When I came out of my bathroom, she stood there bracing herself for my response. In what seemed like a big run on sentence she said, “Did you see it?” “I am so sorry!” “Please don’t be mad.” I told her that I had no idea what she was talking about. She took me back into the bathroom and showed me what she did.
While looking for something in my bathroom, my daughter accidently dropped another object that hit my eyebrow brush and broke it. After I saw it I said, “Is that why you are about to cry?” “Is this what is causing you such anxiety and distress?” She said, “Yes, Ma’am.” I told her that it was not big deal and could be replaced. She said, “Is that all you are going to say?” I said, “It’s just an eyebrow brush…Why would I be mad about that?” Then she said the thing that hit me like a rock…
“Mommy, even though you haven’t yelled in a while, I thought you were going to going to raise your voice and be very angry.”
I hugged her. I told her that although she had been in my bathroom without permission, no “thing” was more important to me than she is. She then told me that she was proud of me and thanked me for not yelling at her.
The unfortunate part about this incident was not that my daughter was in my bathroom without my permission or that she broke something that belonged to me. The tragedy was that over a course of time, my failure to control my tone of voice created an atmosphere in my home that caused the people the I love the most to constantly brace themselves for what I might say or how I was going to say it.
Yes, I am a recovering yeller. I am not proud of that, but that is my truth. I exposed that dirty little secret about myself a few years ago in order to help myself and help others. Yes, I have yelled and used a tone of voice that has damaged the people who I love and love me the most. And while I am blessed that my daughter and loved ones acknowledge that I have not yelled in a long time, the fact still remains that damage was done and we are still dealing with the residue that still lingers because of my inappropriate behavior.
If this is an area that you struggle with and want to conquer, then I want to encourage you to implement the B.R.A.C.E. Yourself Strategy. You do this daily by:
B-Being careful of what you say and how you say it.
R-Recognize that there will be a consequence to yelling and having a negative tone of voice. Those consequences can and will come at the expense of your relationships.
A-Acknowledge when you fail, apologize quickly, and accept that you are a work in progress.
C-Celebrate the big and small victories.
E-Examine yourself daily.
The reality is that people will say and do things that will upset you. While you may not be able to control what others do or say, you can control what you say and how you respond. Don’t just think before you speak…B.R.A.C.E. yourself.
Charlotte E. Avery is the author of No One Ever Told Me…Witty Practical and Spiritual Truths about Motherhood, a Speaker, and Family Systems Strategist ™. She is a perfectly imperfect wife and mom of seven incredible children. You can follow her on Facebook, Instagram, on Twitter and BeingCharlotteAvery.com.