So I have a child that suffers from a lot of anxiety. I have to be super clever how I approach things so she feels safe about the whole thing. Even when I tell her things as small as we stop at read lights. To her it just seems like we are stuck in something. But the other day when she was feeling anxiety about us being stopped at the red light... I took a deep breath. I said a silent prayer for clarity. And I felt brilliant! Brilliant because what I said helped her understand and be filled with hope and empowerment. And It led me to the Hack of all Hacks!
So what did I tell her??
I simply told her that long ago people made the first cars and streets. At an intersection people would have to all stop and try and decide who could go so they would be safe. Then a smart person figured out a system so we could take turns and all be safe. My focus was on the brilliants of coming up with this system. My attitude was awe and gratefulness for this efficiency and safety we have because of the traffic lights. Now she may not fully comprehend the history of what I was telling her, but I assure you that she did feel something uplifting in the story, and without understanding why she has an appreciation for a system that moments earlier caused her to feel trapped and without any options.
So I have realized that this was an incredible useful strategy when teaching children. Like the kids pounding on that table that is made of super soft wood. Instead of saying, "No" or "We don't pound on that!" ... I fill my self with this hope because I know the "secret" or the "hack" and I go over and explain that this is a soft table and is dents easy but I have a couple of secrets. I show them really enthusiastically how I can play gently at the table and it doesn't leave any marks.... "Wow! Look at that!" and then I go over to the tile floor and show them how strong the tile is and talk about how neat it is that the tile is so strong. And that they can play roughly on this floor and it stays strong. "Wow! Someone really smart created this tile so it would stay safe through all the jumping, and dancing and even a child pounding blocks on it!"
Again instead of feeling constricted by my limits and a lack of freedom with all my redirecting, We were filled with excitement because we all knew the secret! And we felt graduated for people we don't even know making a difference for us.
Another application was when a little boy on the Autism spectrum was getting a little close to my anxious child, I just told him that sometimes she gets a little nervous, but I know the secret to know how to tell. I said when she is getting nervous, she just pulls her arms and head in closer to her body like this. Then as she did it I excitingly said, "Oh, there it was again! Did you see that?! You were over there and she was sitting up straight and then you ran over close to her and she pulled her body in just like this. Then we knew! You stepped back and her body sat tall and relaxed again! It is really neat to know this secret"
So as this strategy worked over and over with children... I hit me why all these hacks are so popular. Perhaps children aren't the only ones that don't like feeling stupid because they never knew the "right" way to do something. Perhaps we all deserve the respect that comes from an attitude of acceptance. Perhaps it is exciting to think that we know the secret. Perhaps the Hack of all Hacks is to act like every skill you have is a Hack. Even if you are not going to teach someone your hack, you look at them with love and know they are not "stupid", they just don't know the hack.
A great example of this sort of teaching comes from when I was at my in-laws. Now I married into a family that knows a lot of "hacks" to keep an clean and orderly home! I remember one time my mother in law had emptied a package of something in the bathroom and told me her clever idea. Instead of just putting the bag in the garbage and filling it up, or just taking it out to the big garbage, she empties the garbage into the package and takes it out. Two birds with one stone! Some may have looked at it as it was stupid to do A or B, but C works. That just fills us with a since of not having a choice. But looking at it as A or B is fine, but C is brilliant fills us with acceptance and excitement!
I love this quote by Dr. Becky A. Bailey (a brain researcher and person behind Conscious Discipline). "What you offer to others, you strengthen within yourself... When we see what is lacking in others, what they are not doing, and what is wrong with the world, we simultaneously feel lacking. You cannot go through your day seeing what is wrong and go to bed happy."
I know it is not always our nature to look at things with acceptance. But just think... Think of how pleasant the world can be if we all strive to use the Hack of all Hacks. We accept things and people as they are and we feel graduated for all the hacks. I hope this thought is as encouraging to you as it is to me. I hope it helps you teach those around you all the brilliant ideas that make life better. I hope it helps you feel connected to people all over the world and throughout history because they contributed to the world.
I'd love to hear about some of the hacks you are grateful for. ;)