A part of having three boys close in age is witnessing sibling spats. Despite my desire for them to always love each other, I know it’s just not practical to expect them to get along perfectly.
I grew up with sisters. Our spats usually involved someone wearing someone else’s really cool shirt to school and not asking permission to do so (I was the one wearing the shirt. In my defense, my older sisters had the best clothes…). The spats were over quickly and rarely escalated into anything significant. Only once do I remember a minor hair-pulling incident which I recall I may have had coming.
Boy are things different in my home; my three little men love each other, I do know that, but that doesn’t mean they always get along. Their spats are nothing like what I experienced growing up. They physically fight; wrestle, hit, kick, punch, claw and sometimes give wet willies (gross, I know).
I’m told this is all very normal. Thankfully, no one ends up getting really hurt, but I’m well aware that could be the outcome. The consequences for their heated, in-the-moment actions, could be bigger, especially as they get bigger. For this reason, I’ve been trying to teach them awareness.
My ears perked up when I heard a speaker say, ‘Be outcome-focused as often as you possibly can.’ That means to think of the outcome before you choose to think certain thoughts or do certain things or say certain words.
Even adults don’t often pause long enough to think of where their actions, words or thoughts could lead. Emotions can hijack our prefrontal cortex; the part of the brain responsible for ration and thought processing, and you guessed it, weighing consequences.
He went on to say, “How do you want to feel at the end of this day? Now reverse engineer your day so you feel the way you wish to. This is a skill we can all acquire.”
I immediately thought of how else I could help my clients think of the outcome before they choose to have the second helping of ice cream or additional bowl of chips, or sleep in and skip their workout.
If we woke up and asked ourselves, ‘How do I want to feel at the end of this day?’ I have no doubt we would all want to feel good about the choices we made and good physically as well. We wouldn’t want to miss the workout or feel yucky for eating more than our body can healthily tolerate.
Considering the outcome is a valuable tool when making choices that will impact our health for the better or worse. It also flows into every area of our life.
The more I thought about just how important outcome-focused thinking really is, the more I thought of my sons and their spats. I want to teach them to consider the outcome before they throw a punch or do or say something they will regret.
I’ve recently been taking courses in trauma-informed yoga and what I’ve been learning is how important it is to pause. Pausing is what we need to do in order to consider the outcome.
Your pause can look different than mine and we can all have many different ways to do it. It may be prayer, breath works, gratitude, a hot bath, or a walk in nature to name a few.
Regardless of the method, the point is the more we can learn to pause, the more we will have that skill ready and available when we need it most. Practicing the pause is like sharpening the battle sword. You’ll be ready.
Pausing isn’t something we even have to be good at initially. When we first start, we probably won’t be good at it at all. Many clients tell me their thoughts race, they list to-dos, or they just can’t fully relax.
Pushing through all that hard stuff is where the prize is. If we can push through all that, we will be ready when we need to push through heated emotions or sugar cravings or rolling over when the alarm goes off.
Persevering through the hard stuff gets us ready.
So, how can we get better at considering the outcome? We can learn to pause. Repetition leads to mastery. We need to put more pausing reps in, in order to get better at this amazing skill.
It may not prevent every sibling spat, it may not prevent all the unhealthy food choices, it may not prevent every missed workout either, but it may very well improve our ability to be outcome-focused, and if you ask me, any improvement in that area in this world today is worth the effort.
Pause and consider the outcome. You won’t regret it.
This is a monthly opinion piece; Alison Brown is a local business owner, mother and published author.