I just read The Anatomy of Peace by The Arbinger Institute. It’s a great book, which focuses on nurturing a Heart of Peace in ourselves and others. It talks about various “boxes” we may get emotionally stuck in during the course of our interactions with others, and how those boxes effect how we see ourselves, the world, and others, and thus affect our attitudes and behavior. Stephen Covey talks about hitting the “pause” button in our interactions, enlarging the space between stimulus and response, so that we are making conscious choices in our responses, rather than reacting to circumstances. Wayne Dyer points out that our thoughts and feelings are entirely of our own making, and thus we have the power to choose them. The Anatomy of Peace takes it one step further, giving us a clear model of the “boxes” which lead to certain thoughts and behaviors, and explaining the processes behind getting into the boxes, as well as getting out of the boxes.
So, I’ve been working on my boxes. Or, rather, identifying which box or boxes I am operating from at any given moment. Just the fact of being aware has made a difference in how I see myself, my family and our various interactions. Simply asking myself “which box am I in” each time I am feeling frustration or resistance or irritation, lightens my heart, changes my stance, and soothes the interaction. As Dyer says, “When you change the way you look at things, the things you look at change.”
My most obvious challenge today is my “Must-Be-Seen-As’ box. Like most women, I often equate the relative condition of my home with my relative worthiness as a homemaker, and by extension, my worthiness as a person. We have guests coming this afternoon for a little BBQ. Some homeschooling friends, a family we’ve known and spent time with pretty regularly for over a year. We’ve been to their home several times, and Amy always keeps her home very tidy and comfortable. And this is the part where my box kicks into high gear. My “Must-Be-Seen-As-A-Good-Homemaker” box. This is the part where I start getting tense and anxious, and start pressuring the kids to help me clean up the house, and start getting grumpy and grouchy and snappy because everyone else is not as obsessed with this as I am. This is the part where I start picking away at my relationships with my family, and we start having a less than pleasant day.
So, my challenge today is to stay out of this one particular box. Or, to move out of it as soon as I have realized I’ve moved into it. To enjoy the day and my family and our friends. Here I go.