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How I’m Kicking My Worst Behavior to the Curb

I Am Affirmation

How performing simple daily affirmations helped one leader kick her worst habit to the curb, improving her relationships at home and at work.

Today’s post is by Glain Roberts-McCabe, author of Did I REALLY Sign Up for This?! (CLICK HERE to get your copy).

In October of this year, it will be seven years since my dad passed away. He was a larger than life personality. As a rugby coach, dad was tough as nails, didn’t suffer fools gladly and was quick to give people around him a strong tongue lashing if he was tired, stressed, or just generally miserable… which seemed to be fairly frequently.

Growing up, I couldn’t wait to get out from under his domineering, authoritarian approach to parenting and ran away from home at 17. I always swore I would never be like my dad and would never speak to the people I loved in the tone of voice that he spoke to my mother, brothers and myself.

Fast forward into adulthood and marriage and where do I find myself? You guessed it… throwing around a “what are you, stupid?” tone of voice with accompanying eye rolling and impatient body language… just like dear old dad. I was actively embracing my father’s emotional bullying tactics! Of course, by my view, nowhere near to the same degree and certainly not all the time.

It’s interesting how we will excuse or dismiss bad behavior as something that we “can’t help” but always seem to be able to manage it when it counts. Feedback at work came along the lines of… you can be intimidating; people may be afraid to disappoint/approach/disagree with you; you’re a bit of a hothead; I think (person X) is afraid of you.

Spouses are a little more direct… stop speaking to me like I’m an idiot! Why are you looking at me with that face?

I truly believe you tend to behave the worst with the people you love the most. It’s not surprising that my husband and, to a lesser extent, my daughter, bore the brunt of my sarcastic comments, dismissive tone and impatient body language. And it all started to take a toll on our relationships.

With my marriage going into a negative emotional spiral, it was time for me to truly “woman up” and let go of the tape that I’d been hanging onto for years that allowed me to justify my bad behavior: I can’t help speaking this way… this is how my dad spoke to my mum… they know I don’t mean it… I can’t help myself… it’s because I’m tired/stressed/upset.

What I wanted was a happy, supportive marriage. What I was creating was anything but that.

Then, in March 2014, I was introduced to a tool called The Five Minute Journal. A component of the journal is to write a daily affirmation. How do you want to show up each day? As I thought about how I wanted to be (patient, loving, kind) versus how I tend to be when stressed, tired or angry which is sarcastic, impatient and rude, I wrote this affirmation: I am patient. I am kind. I am loving.

I wrote this affirmation regularly and, after a few weeks, I noticed something started to happen. I was becoming more patient. More kind. More loving. After about three months, my husband said You’ve been nicer to me in the last few weeks than you’ve been in years.”

You know what else? I actually feel more patient, loving and kind. When I feel myself getting triggered, these words come into my consciousness and I find myself more equipped to defuse myself in whatever situation I’m in.

Of course, I’m not perfect. After all, I’m reworking over 45 years of repeated behavior. But I’m making progress; and, when it comes to changing old tapes, I believe our aim needs to continuously be progress… not perfection.

For anyone else out there that has a behavior that you believe is affecting your relationships (both at home and at work), diminishing your happiness, or that you would like to generally just kick to the curb, try making a daily affirmation. By setting your intention for the day, you’ll be planting seeds in your subconscious mind that will help support and guide your actions in a direction you want to take. No more excuses.

Did I Really Sign Up for ThisGlain Roberts-McCabe is Founder of the Roundtable, a place where leaders cultivate their leadership, together through group and team coaching. She is the author of Did I REALLY Sign Up for This?! #leadership Truths on How to Drive, Survive and Thrive (CLICK HERE to get your copy). The Roundtable was named the top External HR Advisory/Consultancy of the Year in 2016 by the Canadian HR Awards. Visit their website at www.goroundtable.com.

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Photo: Daily Affirmation by Jason Taellious

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