Appreciating The Best In Us
The greatest thing to come out of the last year is a deeper understanding of my family members. We were already tight knit, but we’ve grown closer being home together all the time. We see all sides of one another, for better (mostly) or worse (mostly quirks). There is honesty, and beauty in all of it. Our family rhythm isn’t always smooth, but I’m working to fully understand and support the people close to me and the larger world around us. Through this, I’m working to create a hopeful home and trusting environment for my family.
My oldest child has always been thoughtful, boundlessly imaginative and cautious. Her active mind is rarely at rest and has become anxious. For the first time she is aware of a threat to her future. The global health crisis has confronted her with questions about personal health, and as a person of color, she has questions about her right to be alive in this country. She worries and asks thoughtful, pleading questions to which I sometimes have no good answer. I am hyper-aware of what I say as everything from our conversations is retained, complete with pointing out connections and inconsistencies. My choice of words and perspective have directly affected her sense of well-being in a way I wasn’t conscious of. I’ve learned to move away from reporting facts and towards moving in hope, grace, and gratitude as a way to soothe anxiety. It’s not clinical, but it is helping. Creating a positive, hopeful home is something that we work on every day and is becoming habit.
“Looking bad need some hope like the words ‘maybe’, ‘if’, or ‘probably’”- Andre 3000 Aquemini
‘Hope’ is a powerful word that most of us use pretty casually. Every day we use it when we desire a better outcome in a situation. President Barack Obama built his brilliant campaign on the idea of being hopeful about the future in spite of what was happening in the present or what had taken place in the past. Hope was his tool.
I communicate with my family in hopeful tones and twists to encourage security. When we speak about the pandemic and racial injustices I speak in a way that illustrates that I am hopeful that things will get better. I encourage my children to imagine and hope for the world to be as it should be for them. When presented with negative stimuli, we can imagine the worst outcome, or hope for the best outcome. We use hopeful visualization to create a positive mindset similar to how meditation is used to relax.
“God is all mercy and grace- not quick to anger, is rich in love.” –Psalm 145:8
Affording grace to my family in our interactions has become more important than ever. I also teach my children about grace and what it means to show it. I’ve found grace to be helpful in calming anxiety that stems from feeling they must be perfect or do and say things ‘right’ all the time.
I won’t always like or agree with the actions or choice of words of my family members. What I’ve realized is that when I disagree with something it’s not necessarily wrong. More often than not it’s simply not the choice I would make in the same situation. I am a reactor – quick to express my opinions, especially if what has occurred has upset me. Pausing and giving grace allows me to appreciate people/situations for who/what they are. The pause gives me time to decide if the upset to my ego or feelings is worth bringing up. It allows me to move past small upsets or disagreements that could or should be forgotten in minutes, instead of holding on to negative feelings or trying to rationalize others’ decisions vis-à-vis my own. So now my reactions may be a smile, chuckle or quiet, instead of eye rolling, grimacing or a smart quip. It’s a small action but I believe in the good of my loved ones and trust that they aren’t trying to be hurtful. It’s my way of confirming that I believe in and favor them.
“‘Thank you’ is the best prayer that anyone could say.” -Alice Walker
Gratitude is my first stop to managing my own anxious thoughts. I write down things that I’m grateful for. I look out my window and give thanks for every beautiful and unique things I see. When negative thoughts do come up I acknowledge them and then like whack-a-mole I knock them down with thoughts of gratitude and visions of what I am thankful for. The positive thoughts and visions create a vibration, which transforms my mood. It may take some practice but for me, it works like magic.
A Hopeful Home
Creating a positive, hopeful home is something that we work on every day and is becoming habit. Sometimes we fall off. Other times it takes deeper work and outside help to mange anxiety and worries. But as a family we are all committed to seeing the bright side and it is holding us together in a deep, soulful way.