Tone Control

We all know our own flaws, and recognize them in our children, if we have any self-perception.

I was struck by this paragraph in Eat, Pray, Love: One Woman’s Search for Everything Across Italy, India and Indonesiaby Elizabeth Gilbert, I’m never going to be a wallflower, but that doesn’t mean I can’t take a serious look at my talking habits and alter some aspects for the better – working within my personality.

Yes, I like talking, but perhaps I don’t have to curse so much, and perhaps I don’t always have to go for the cheap laugh, and maybe I don’t need to talk about myself quite so constantly. Or here’s a radical concept – maybe I can stop interrupting others when they are speaking.

Wow, she must have really harnessed the Divine if she can control all that. I would add to that tone. I want to be able to say that I can control the tone of my voice. And that my daughter can control hers.

I know I’ve written about my tone before. My tone turtle idea, making us pay a quarter for every time we use a tone, didn’t work out because she has no quarters and no concept of money. Many of you find my tone amusing – as do I, which is the core of the problem. It gets laughs – I like making people laugh. I find it instantly gratifying and validating.

I often refer to my tone as Angry Turrets Syndrome. Because it feels like something out of my control. The key here is that it feels like Angry Turrets Syndrome – in reality it is something that I need to learn to control. I’ve recently discovered that with much effort and a lot of meditation, praying and practice I can control anything, even the way I feel.Did everyone else already know you can control your feelings? It’s a bit of a 2006-2007 Revelation for me.

It doesn’t matter how I got my tone – let me just say, I come by it honestly. My tone is justified most of the time. My ego needs to know that. I have every right to be upset when I am upset. My ego needs to know that too. But, I choose to give up the tone anyway.

It’s time to give it up. It’s not getting me what I want. When something is ineffective then it’s time to try something else. But, what if I’m not funny anymore?

I’ve got a lot of incentive to change this aspect of my self. My daughter has taken up my tone – for laughs – to be a disobedient little hooligan – to get her way – to push Mommy’s buttons. The other day her friend went home because she didn’t enjoy being treated so rudely. It won’t be long before she becomes brazen enough to use it with teachers and other authority figures.

In 2008 I WILL get control of my tone and I will insist Ainsley get control of hers. I will not beat myself about the head with self-loathing or punishment when I fail. This is an emotional habit. Habits are terribly difficult and painful to break. But, if I can break the habit of smoking, I can break this habitual tone. I will give myself the whole year to do it and I will cut myself some slack in the midst of it. I will be kind to myself and I will expect kindness from others.

I’m going to start with How to Talk So Kids Will Listen & Listen So Kids Will Talkby Adele Faber and Elaine Mazlish. I find my tone increases the more frustrated I become with my children and my husband. Perhaps if I have better communication tools I won’t become as frustrated. Does anyone else wonder how you make the OTHER communication partner actually respond the way they’re supposed to when using these books?

Most recently we’ve developed a pattern where I kindly ask her to do something four times and then the fifth time I get angry and raise my voice. Only after I yell does she respond.

You don’t have to yell at me!
Oh, Really? When I asked nicely 4 times you ignored me! Apparently I DO have to yell at you!

This must stop.

Tone is my parenting and personal New Year’s Resolution – what’s yours?

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