We all make promises and some of us break them more than others.
The tricky thing is when those promises are made to children or have an impact on children. That’s when things get a bit shifty.
Recently our kids have been dealing with disappointment over broken promises and at first I side-stepped and shielded them from it. At first I made excuses for it and danced around what was so.
The most recent incidence tossed a couple of the kids out of orbit for a couple days and I figured it was about time to discuss with them how to take their personal power back.
Keep in mind, our kids are ages 1 3/4, almost 4, 5 and almost 7. They’re not philosophy scholars or Landmark Forum graduates. They don’t even read. But still, some seeds need to be sown early and so, I’ve moved toward a personal responsibility of emotions talk and I’m not really sure how they’re processing it yet.
When people disappoint us, it’s not the other person that is doing a thing TO us. It’s our deal. It’s our interpretation of the thing. It’s our problem. That can be a hard pill to swallow. But, it is what it is.
Our attachment to the expectation of the other person keeping their word is what has us in an upset when they break it. Expectation is a thief of joy (I say that so much but don’t know who to credit with the quote).
People change their minds.
People break promises.
It happens. And we are left with a great opportunity to decide how we want to allow another person’s actions (or inaction) to impact us.
When my five year old was stuck in a loop of “call them, call them, call them…” I waited for his upset to calm and finally talked to him about it.
“I’m not going to call them. They did what they did and they didn’t do what they didn’t do. That is what happened. It’s ok to be sad about not getting what you wanted. It’s ok to be mad that you expected something that you didn’t get. But we’re not going to camp out with our hurt feelings and have a pout pout party about it. It doesn’t make them wrong or bad, it just makes them human and we’re human too. We all do things that end up impacting others. We all do things that might cause hurt feelings. It happens. But we also get to choose how we move through the sad and mad feelings. We decide.”
He sat quietly for a long time. Then he told me that he chooses to be sad for the rest of the day. Because, he was quite disappointed. Then, maybe tomorrow he’ll decide to clean up sad camp.
I catch myself wallowing in my own hurt feelings all the time. I catch myself disappointed and annoyed and inconvenienced. The power comes from owning that I have say in my disappointment and the attachment and expectation I add to other people’s words.
Promises get broken. It happens.
Letting word be words without added meaning is when there becomes an opening to create something bigger and less average than disappointment and expectation.