- Improve your relationship with your inner critic. Unlike our spouses, we can't divorce our inner critics; can't kick them out or leave them. But we can improve our relationships with them. Here's my favorite strategy for doing so:
- Don't should on yourself. That's right. Remove the word "should" from your chats with yourself. Feel free to decide whether you "want" or "prefer" or "believe it best" to do or say something. But more often than not, when we should on ourselves, we're being our own bullies and making commands based on fear or judgment. Then, do unto others as you've started doing unto yourself:
- Don't should on others. When I encourage clients to pay attention to their "shoulds", 9 times out of 10 they use them to cajole or criticize others. "Shoulding" can sound innocent — you really should get a haircut — except for that whole judging thing that happens: not innocent at all!
- Stop phrasing requests as demands. As a mom, I disguise demands as requests more often than I like to admit. Did I really mean to ask: "Are you going to finish what's on your plate?" Nope! What I meant was: "Finish what's on your plate!" If you genuinely make a request of your kids or partner, they get to respond to you with: a no, yes, maybe, or I'll think about it. Here's the kicker: If it's really a request, you won't get pissed, impatient, or punishing if you don't get the response you want. If you do find yourself harboring resentment, you were making a demand … so cop to it and move on.
As parents, we work hard to teach our children a lot — and in addition to putting a stop to bullying, one of the most important lessons we'll impart is to accept no one is perfect. So if you've found yourself shrinking up with shame over the realization that you might sometimes be a bit of a bully, don't be too hard on yourself (after all, that would just make you more of a self-bully!). Instead, take a long, honest look at the behaviors you'd like to work on, and enjoy the process of shifting them, knowing that you're modeling healthy, positive change for your family.
And if you, or your spouse, or the two of you together need a little help being the role models you want to be, do your best to get some help from a Life Coach, counselor, pastor or other advisor who can help you shift patterns from a place of love and compassion.