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04/06/2010

It's Whether You Get Up

Fall “Whether you fall means nothing at all. It's whether you get up,” sings Tracy Bonham. To me, there are no truer words than in these song lyrics.

Take yesterday at my house, for instance.

An onslaught of ants were finding any open container or crumb in my kitchen cabinets and on the counter tops.

I am a peace-loving woman, but when it comes to ants crawling around where my family and I store, prepare and eat food, my pacifism goes out the window.

My kids (11 and 15 years old) were treated to my expletive-filled ravings as I squished ants and cleaned everything with vinegar-- for the umpteenth time that morning.

I'll admit it. My tween and teen have heard swearing before (they even use many of these words themselves occasionally). What I felt bad about was that they witnessed my tirade which bordered on out of control!
How many times have I behaved in a particular way in front of or toward my kids and then regretted it? Way too many times to count.

This is why I so appreciate the wisdom in Bonham's lyrics.

Whether or not we “fall,” lose it, fail or make mistakes is really a moot point. We are all human and we all do these things whether or not we want to admit it.

Where I have run into trouble in the past is after the “fall.”

Sometimes I spend hours-- even days-- re-counting my self-proclaimed sins and affirming to myself how badly I've messed up. Can I ever make this right? Have I scarred my children for life (yet again)?

Another popular tactic is to attempt to hide away any so-called faults. A person might call this shielding the kids, but more often than not, it's an attempt to preserve some claim to perfectionism.

Who doesn't want to cover over-- what seems to the individual to be-- glaring imperfections?

Both of these reactions to making a mistake are dangerous. Neither are beneficial to either me or my kids.

Instead, I'm trying to stay in better touch with me and make deliberate choices about what I do next.

After a “fall,” I take responsibility for my share in whatever happened. This isn't always easy! And it doesn't always happen right away. But even if it's the day after I snap at one of my sons or wrongly accuse him, I own up.

There's always a share that the other person has in a tense or conflictual dynamic, but my share is also there. That's what I take responsibility for and attend to.

If there is problem-solving or amending that needs to happen, that's the next step. This is all part of allowing that mis-step to release so that we can all just move on.

When I feel sad, inadequate or blunder in some other area of my life, I apply this same very simple process. I am open and honest with my kids without dumping on them more than they want to know.

We really all do fall from time to time. Sometimes this happens more frequently than others.

What is vitally important, is that we get back up again. It's probably one of the most important lessons that I think a kid can learn from the example of his or her parent/s.

You dust yourself off, apologize, make amends and get back to living the life you've intended.

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Photo by Sara.Nel

Amy Phillips-Gary, who is very grateful to Karl at Envirocare for tending to her home's ant problems, is a personal growth coach and she writes relationship and self improvement articles for various websites including Personal Growth Planet. You can read her weekly blog at the Personal Growth Planet Blog.

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