I like the phase “lean in”, but not in the business-Sheryl Sandburg use of the term. I am working on leaning inward and leaning into. Leaning inward to me is really working on connecting, focusing and being accountable. I am starting to work on creating a habit of leaning inward for me and into my family at home (and a little at work) right now based on where I feel I need to make some adjustments.
Something happened recently that made me really reevaluate how I response to everything. We moved recently and with change has come some struggles. Even before the move, my youngest son has been testing us. There have been more moments of frustration, long battles of will, meltdowns that can last hours and some lost patience on the part of just about everyone involved. I haven’t been reading as much as normal lately, but I started reading this book Listen: Five Simple Tools to Meet Your Everyday Parenting Challenges on my tablet and even though I didn’t finish it yet, the “aha” moments came flying out at me.
That afternoon, I foresaw a meltdown coming with my youngest and gave ourselves plenty of time to handle it, starting 2 hours before we had to leave the house. It gave me time to stay calm and help him work through it rather than yelling and just forcing him to go somewhere because we were in a rush and I didn’t have time to hear him out. Remarkably, after he worked through the meltdown, he eased back into my arms on the couch and we just sat quietly together. Instead of me being mad and frustrated with him for his behavior, I allowed him to work through it. I stayed calm. I reminded him I loved him and was ready with a hug. It was not easy, because it was super annoying. But once I leaned in, I felt his frustration and pain rather than feeling that he was just being an a**hole for no reason. OMG. What a moment! (I’m not saying I’ve never tried to connect with my kids or help them through tough moments, but when life is a little stressful, it is harder to pause and focus your entire being on connecting rather than just trying to end the meltdown your way).
The leaning inward has been coming in flashes to me now. At work, we’re having conversations about mentoring, navigating change, trying to change culture or build networks for employees to help advance their careers. All of the conversations come back to the complaints and critiques about what is currently wrong with the environment or structure, etc. When I took a step back and really leaned inward, I could hear the real true issues (not in the words but what was behind them) and could see where we need to be accountable and where we need to put more thought, understanding and compassion and less judgment and frustration.
I am working on my leaning at the moment. I am challenging myself to lean inward and lean into from today for the next 100 days.
I am leaning inward on who I am, checking myself and acknowledging where the real feelings are sprouting from. I am holding myself accountable for the rash decisions, excuses for not going to the gym or making healthy choices and especially when I react to bad drivers or nasty people. I am not going to let the stress or experience of my day determine how I react to something or someone outside of myself. I will lean in and try to focus on what that person may be seeing or feeling.
I am leaning into my kids and my family. I acknowledge our bumps in the road with change and how we are all working through it differently. When the 7 year old has a meltdown or the 10 year old acts snarky and obnoxious, I am going to lean in and listen, not react with frustration or annoyance about how they are supposed to act. I will pause and connect, keep my role as the safe place for them and let them know they can lean inward themselves.
I am leaning in with my wife, hearing and feeling more than I have been in awhile.
I am leaning in by having the difficult conversations instead of avoiding them, by dropping defenses and taking responsibility.
I am leaning into the people around me by putting the phone down or putting aside the wandering brain and actually listening, wholly and completely.
I am leaning into life a little more, taking time to pause, meditate, practice gratitude, use some downtime for reading, knitting or just relaxing.
This isn’t new stuff. I’ve been able to do this all before but sometimes I need to recommit out load to really lean inward.
I’m going to consciously work on this for the next 100 days and see where this goes, if it becomes the habit I hope it does. Hopefully, in the process, it will help me be what my family needs me to be for them to lean into their own lives.