6 Bad Morning Brighteners (with the power to turn things around)
1. Be the person who thinks of one kind thing to say. Rather than being quick to criticize or complain, notice the positives: your loved one’s unique sense of style … the way his or her hair looks … or how much you love hearing their feet come down the stairs. Be the one who sees the bright side of things: “At least you remembered before we left the house,” or “At least the whole box didn’t spill.” Challenge the members in your family to be the person who thinks of one nice thing and then celebrate when they do.
2. If the morning has gotten so negative and so stressful, just stop everything—stop the scurrying. Stop the demanding. Stop the noise. Stop the clock. Just stop for one minute and let everyone catch their breath. And if there is a willing participant, open your arms to him or her. When your breathing has slowed say, “Let’s start over, okay? I don’t want to begin our day on bad terms.”
3. If it's not even 7am and you find yourself completely fed up with your beloved people, fix your eyes on their shoes for a moment. Whether they’re lined up by the door, scattered across the floor, or actually on their feet, acknowledge what your loved ones might face when they walk out the door. Perhaps someone will speak unkindly to them or make them feel unwelcome. Perhaps they will experience a stressful moment in their workday or school day. They might feel nervous, embarrassed, or worried about something. So while they are in your house, love them the way you want to be loved—with understanding, kindness, and grace. Love them with the kind of love that comes from walking in their shoes.
4. Listen to yourself. If you are like me, the gruff manager voice tends to come out in the morning. The manager voice makes everyone grumpy, including me. The Voice of Understanding is the voice our loved ones hear best. It is also the voice that feels best coming out of our mouths. When you are met with opposition, resist the urge to yell and try using the Voice of Understanding to validate your loved one’s feelings. Hearing a soft voice say, “I know it’s hard to get up so early,” somehow breaks down a wall and puts you on the same team.
5. Surrender control. Morning battles tend to resolve more quickly and more peacefully if we allow the other person to take the lead. Try: “How would you do your hair?” or “We have ten minutes before we have to be out the door. What can we do to beat the clock?” or my personal favorite: “I notice you’re upset. How can I help?”
6. When a situation is quickly deteriorating, say this powerful word to yourself: “soften.” Think: softer voice, softer posture, softer touch, softer words, and softer timetable. By softening toward the hostile, tired, or grumpy loved one in front of you, you have a better chance at salvaging the morning. Don’t be surprised that as you soften, the person glaring or crying in front of you will soften too.
One final note: There will be mornings that cannot be brightened. There will be mornings that you say things you regret or do things you wish you could take back. Instead of replaying those not-so-stellar moments over and over in your head, think about the many times you chose love. Maybe it was a kiss on the forehead or a packed lunch or an “I’m sorry.” Even if you offered love just once, that is worthy of celebration—because now it’s theirs forever. Choose love again tomorrow.
© Rachel Macy Stafford 2016
Thank you for being part of The Hands Free Revolution. Feel free to share your bad morning brighteners in the comments. We can learn so much from each other. #onlylovetoday #chooselove
* For more strategies to bring peace, presence, and love into your heart & home despite daily distractions & societal pressures, please check out my books:
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