Tag Archives: waking up

Report The News – Don’t Act It Out


This is the fifth article in a year-long series about the “12-most-important-relationship-skills-no-one-ever-taught-me-in-school-but-I-sure-wish-they-did.”

Click the box for the full list →    →    →Top 12 Relationship Skills

January’s tip was to Recognize (and get to know) the many “yous.

See January 7th14th, 21st & 28th).

The next important skill I wish I’d learned builds upon these ideas: I wish I’d learned how to be pro-active and choose how I show up in my relationships.

Put another way, who is really in charge of all these inner parts? Do they duke it out and the Part with the meanest emotions gets to win? It can certainly feel like that. What happens when I swear up and down I’m going to be ~

  • A calm good listener when my teenager has a melt down – but I end up screaming too;
  • Trusting as my spouse goes through job interviews – but I end up offering advice and we fight;
  • Open to feedback at my annual review – but I’m defensive and whiny;
  • Patient with my aged parents – but frustration totally takes over.

Not that I’m comparing or anything, but it seems to me that some folks can actually stay on script. If they decide to be good listeners, or trusting or open minded or patient – astonishingly they are. They have “a decider” and they listen to him or her.

They seem to have some on-board leadership.

This month I’ll help you discover and strengthen your own self-leadership.



Being self-led is in the same area of self-mastery as ~

  • self-control
  • being conscious
  • having the lights on in the attic
  • being awake
  • being enlightened.

They are big ideas and can seem too grand or unattainable.

But, when you bite off one small ability at a time, this is a very do-able skill. Brings to mind my motto for this year which is on my favorite mug .Cup & PotThe goal (or “aim” since this is not a goal-oriented journey) of self-leadership is that you become increasingly aware of what you ~

  • Feel
  • Think
  • Believe
  • Say
  • Do

This idea underpins every self-improvement journey – emotional, cognitive, spiritual, narrative & behavioral  – that you undertake. What we are looking for here is a way to take a meta position in our day to day experience. This means we are able to cultivate a little distance between the ~

  • one who feels, and the one who notices that you have certain feelings
  • one who thinks, and the one who notices that you have certain thoughts
  • one who believes, and the one who notices that you have certain beliefs
  • one who speaks, and the one who notices that you are saying certain things
  • one who acts, and the one who notices that you are acting in a certain way.

Do you see it?

You are already more than one person. You are the one feeling, thinking, believing, speaking and acting, as well as the one who notices your self doing all of this.

Of all the 12 relationship skills I’m exploring this year, getting your heart and mind around this one point will probably pay the biggest dividends.

The best metaphor I can come up with today is . . . the weather report.

Yup – the weather report on TV. It’s not meant to be entertaining. It’s meant to give you useful news-you-can-use as you go about your day. It’s usually delivered in a similar format you come to count on, and it’s not too hyped up or prone to exaggeration.

Here’s one from the BBC describing the weather expected on June 12, 2011. You don’t need to watch much to get the idea. The reporter calmly observes what is happening and what might soon be happening. There’s not too much drama and this allows you to take it all in.

Now watch the one below and notice the difference.


The second one is goofy and fun, I know. But here’s how to use this contrast to think about the first step in becoming more conscious about your own emotional, Parts-driven process.

There is a BIG difference between reporting the weather with some perspective of the big picture, and reporting the weather by acting out each possible meteorological event. The first method gives a reassuring sense that the BBC and its reporters will prevail – no matter what the weather. The second one has us feeling buffeted and concerned that the studios themselves will be knocked off-kilter by the storms they are reporting on.

Same for how you report on your inner Parts. If you can cultivate that bit of distance from their emotional content, and report on them from a distance, the listener will have the sense that there is someone in charge. But if you get pulled into any particular Parts storm (screaming, crying, arguing, playing victim, etc) the listener gets buffeted about and will be reacting to just that Part. Instead, you want them to be in relationship to you. The all of you. When that one who notices does the reporting, he or she can see the big picture and take the lead.

Here is what it looks like to report FOR your Parts versus FROM your Parts.

A) FOR YOUR PARTS – “You know, Part of me feels a bit skeptical about this explanation and another Part is frustrated since finding just the right metaphor is tough. But I gotta tell you this is playful and fun and there are Parts of me really hoping you like this.”


B) FROM YOUR PARTS – “You might hate this and I’m having a really hard time figuring out how to describe my main point. But I really hope you like it.”

What do you notice about your reaction to these two ways I’ve just communicated with you?

What I notice is that when I speak FOR my parts (example A), I am able to hold my ideas and agenda more lightly. I’m able to see which Parts of me are showing up. Noticing and reporting lets me slow things down. And as I name the Parts I don’t feel so overtaken by them. In fact, just the act of reporting on them give me some perspective and distance.

When I speak FROM my parts, I feel less resourceful, more wedded to an agenda (that you like my work) and somehow I feel more needy. Like my happiness is dependent upon your response to me. Yuk!

OK, let’s go back to the 4 examples at the start of this bog written in blue type. These are examples of how I want to behave in one way, but end up behaving quite differently. Here’s how these situations could be transformed by this one skill: The skill of Reporting FOR instead of speaking FROM your Parts.


 You want to be ~

1)            A calm good listener when your teenager has a melt down, but you end up screaming too;

  • Think S.O.S.
  • STOP                    and take a deep breath.
  • OBSERVE             your impulses. What Parts are up?
  • SPEAK UP            Report on your inner Parts situation, like the weather person does.

e.g.; “Oh boy Molly. When you end up screaming at me, Part of me wants to scream right back at you. I’m a whole mix of emotions. Part is just plain mad for sure. But Part of me is frightened – I always worry when you are out in the car late. Part of me is disappointed since I thought we’d been through this last week and made a plan. And Part of me totally empathizes with you. I did things like this when I was your age.”

2)            Trusting, as your spouse goes through job interviews, but you end up offering advice and  having a fight;

  • Think S.O.S.
  • STOP                    and take a deep breath.
  • OBSERVE             your impulses. What Parts are up?
  • SPEAK UP            Report on your inner Parts situation, like the weather person does.

e.g., “You know Bill, when you tell me about your interviews I have all these mixed responses. Part of me wants to help by giving advice but I know that bugs you and makes you think I don’t trust you. Part of me feels so proud of you – that you keep on going even after several rejections. Part of me wants to rescue you and say to give up – it’s too hard! What do you need from me right now?”

For the above examples, you could give your Parts report out loud.

These next two are more subtle because you’ll be better off giving yourself your own inner Parts Report before you say anything. You want to be ~

3)             Open to feedback in your annual review – but you are defensive and whiny

  • Think S.O.S.
  • STOP                    and take a deep breath.
  • OBSERVE            your impulses. What Parts are up?
  • SPEAK UP           Report to yourself on what is happening for you.

e.g., “Humm I can feel my cheeks reddening and I’m mad this guy hasn’t noticed all the great things I’ve done. I want to defend myself but don’t want to come off as defensive and whiny. Let me think of what to say that keeps me respectful but powerful.”

 4)            Patient with your aged parents – but frustration totally takes over.

  • Think S.O.S.
  • STOP                    and take a deep breath.
  • OBSERVE            your impulses. What Parts are up?
  • SPEAK UP           Report to yourself on what is happening for you.

e.g., “Ok deep breath time. I know Dad is lonesome and loves to tell his tales. But I’ve heard that story what — 1,000 times now? Part of me is about to hit the walls and another Part wants to interrupt and head him off at the pass. Can I think of a story that I might actually enjoy hearing again?”


See if you can report on your inner Parts – like the BBC reporter. You can try saying what you notice out loud to someone “You know, Part of me wants to go to that movie with you, and Part of me really wants to stay home with a good book.”


Once you know how to notice and report on your inner Parts activity, you’ll be ready to know how to make decisions, based upon this information. Like the “go-to-movie-or-stay-home” dilemma above. Now you notice the varying points of view, how does your decider decide?

HINT – it has a great deal to do with the wisdom of your inner “one who notices.”


Prince Charles reading the Scottish weather forecast on the BBC, back on May 10th 2012.

Back-to-School Problems . . .

. . . . and how to solve them.

After six weeks of fun, sun, boredom, beaches, lazy mornings and stress-free evenings it’s back-to-school time for the southern hemisphere.

I’ve been enjoying the mixed reactions of clients, some of whom have been counting the days until their kids are out from under-foot, some of whom have been dreading the discipline and scheduling that schooling demands.

Whether you’re delighted or daunted by the rhythms of school, here are the five most common problems families face and some tips for how to deal with them.


How do you get the sleepy heads out of bed with enough time for dressing, basic hygiene, breakfast and the commute to school?

  1. First, figure out who needs to be where and when so you know what you are shooting for.
  2. Involve  the kids in figuring out how much time each person needs to be at the right place at the time. How much time does each kid estimate he or she needs for actually getting out of bed once they are awoken? For dressing, teeth and hair, breakfast, puttering about?  If you involve the child in this sort of planning they begin to get a sense for how they operate and, they have no one to blame but themselves if they are late. Even Year 1 children can start to take responsibility for their morning habits and how long each project will take.
  3. Make a contract. Once you’ve established that Sarah needs to be at the bus stop at 7:50am and she needs 50 minutes for all her morning tasks, then her feet need to hit the floor at 7:00am. If she buys into this she is less likely to blame you or rebel when 7:00am rolls around each morning.
  4. Don’t BE the alarm, BUY one. The last thing parents need to be is their child’s wake up call. Painful as it is to be tossed from a warm bed you don’t want your child associating this rude start to a day with you! Kids love to get their own alarm, learn how to set it, and take responsibility to their morning routine.
  5. Make mornings calm. Once you have a routine for these morning tasks, keep to them. Kids love the world to be predictable so the more you remind them of how their mornings will go and the more they indeed see mornings unfolding this way, the more the world will seem to be a safer place.
  6. Make mornings fun.  One family I know invested in some stop watches and encouraged their kids to time themselves from wake up to leaving the house. Then, each day they got to see if they could beat that time and establish a “personal best” .  Don’t encourage siblings to race one another – that leads to tears and fights. But with personal bests – everybody wins.


How do you get everyone up and out with something nutritious on board?

  1. First, figure out your family’s priorities. Some families love to gather together for breakfast before they all set off. These can be simple meals like cereal and fruit, or scrambled eggs and toast. But if this is what your family loves to do – build in time for this. If you’ve got a bunch of non-morning people who prefer to nibble on a bagel and cream cheese on their own schedule – then so be it.
  2. Shop accordingly. The last thing you want on a Monday morning is to be scouring the fridge for the loaf you thought was there and finding nothing. Provision the fridge for easy to find and serve breakfast items.
  3. Delegate as much as possible. Even small children can be set up to reach the mini cereals, bowls, spoons and small milk jug on a low shelf in the fridge so they can be independent  – if this is how your family likes to operate.
  4. Keep food choices simple. Even if you feel strongly that you’d like to prepare a cooked breakfast for your family, avoid too many choices. Offering toast or muffins, white bread or brown, eggs fried or scrambled, hot chocolate, tea or coffee is all too much. Just put a plate of something you know your child likes in front of them. If you get the “Yuk I don’t want scrambled eggs today” you’d be wise to stay firm. “This is today’s menu my darling. Lunch time will come around and I expect you’ll be ready for your sandwich by then!” Unless you want to be a highly stressed short order cook each morning – be careful how you handle this one!
  5. If you’ve opted for the “everybody can graze on their own” breakfast option, be sure to have nutritious things on hand:  yogurt, hard boiled eggs, peanut butter, sliced fruits, bagels with cream cheese and smoked salmon.


How to avoid the “Mum! Dad! Have you seen my . . [choose one or more..] backpack, library book, science project, note for the teacher, violin, lunch box, water bottle, PE clothes, homework, text book?”

  1. Create a place for everything. Think “What comes home needs a home.”
  2. Let me say that again – everything needs a place to go so that everyone knows what goes where and puts it there: well, mostly.  Think about how you want to sort things.
  3. Sort by owner: This can be a large wicker basket for each child for everything of theirs – anything of Joe’s gets tossed in the brown basket. Everything of Mary’s goes in the tan basket.
  4. Sort by use: water bottles and lunch tubs go on the kitchen counter; musical instruments go carefully in the study by the piano; homework goes in the study on the desk.
  5. Sort by need: dirty uniforms and PE clothes go in the laundry hamper; teacher notes that Mum or Dad need to read go on the office space in the kitchen.
  6. At the end of the evening, each child should be responsible for reassembling their pack. Is homework done and back in the pack? Has the violin been practiced and is it back by the door? Fresh PE clothes packed? Notes for teacher signed and back in the pack?
  7. Important: Mum and Dad, ask yourselves, “who’s problem is it if something gets lost or left behind?”  Is this your problem or your child’s problem? There’s many a parent who stresses over a lost homework assignment much more than the child who stands to loose the grade. The consequences for not tracking his or her stuff will never be as light as they are now for your child in school. Setting up systems is the parents’ job. Teaching your children how to use these systems is the parents’ job. Actually participating in the systems successfully – that’s your child’s job.


How to master the fine art of the school lunch box without fuss, muss or stress?

  1. Start off with the conversation – “What do you like for lunch at school?” Not that you have to produce everything junior wants, but as your child lists off, “salt and vinegar chips, chewy sweets, a fizzy drink and a banana” – make a note of the one or two things you might be wiling to include!
  2. Think in terms of the 3 main food groups: protein, vegetable, and grain or starch.
  3. Brainstorm with your child his or her 5 favourite forms of protein: hard boiled eggs, slices of cheese, sliced meats, smoked fish or meat, small tins of tuna, smoked tofu, peanut butter, salted almonds, or?
  4. Brainstorm with your child his or her 5 favourite forms of vegetable: carrot sticks, celery sticks, a small cole slaw, mini tomatoes, avocado, snap peas, seaweed salad, or?
  5. Brainstorm with your child his or her 5 favourite forms of grain or starch: crisps, crackers, bagels, bread, pasta, rice or?
  6. Make a generic shopping list of all these favourite items and be sure to keep these items on hand during school times.
  7. Delegate. Even if you have a young child you can work together the night before (or in the morning if this works better for you) to put a helping of each of the main food categories into a lunch box. Tuck in a small bottle of water and a piece of fruit and you’ve worked with your child to establish a healthy food habit for life.
  8. Don’t forget left-overs. In our family we deliberately make twice as much dinner as we know we’ll eat so everyone takes a plastic container of left-overs for lunch, along with some nuts and a piece of fruit.
  9. If you are running out of ideas, ask your kids what their friends eat? Check out web sites for simple but tasty lunch ideas.


Or, why is this not called “Home Fun”?

  1. For each child, look into what the homework expectations are. Some schools try to minimize the amount of work brought home. Some schools expect there to be from 2 to 4 hours more study each night.
  2. See if your child’s understanding of the amount of work brought home is the same as the teacher’s… if not clarify!
  3. Before jumping in to help, see if your child actually needs your help. Might be they enjoy being self-motivated in which case you only need to step in if their work is not getting done or it is not up to snuff.
  4. Everyone talks about making a special place for homework – so I might as well too. Make a place! It really is key to establish where your young scholar can spread out and do some writing, reading and thinking with minimal distractions. Will it be the kitchen table, counter, office, or den? When my daughter inherited our lovely old double bed – which feels huge to her – she declared it her office and that’s where she sets up her homework center.
  5. What about those distractions? The inevitable presence of the TV, radio, iPod, cell phone and social network opportunities? In terms of how much parents need to get involved in helping minimize these distractions, the key here is to know your child. Ask yourself and them about their ability to work while distracted. Watch them – can they handle five things at once and still produce quality work?  If they can, you job is easy – just keep your low profile monitoring radar on. If they clearly can’t you’ll need to have a conversation about this.
  6. This is potentially such a big topic! Let me know if you want a whole blog dedicated to kids and today’s electronic distractions. I’d be happy to produce one!

                                    GOOD LUCK

As I  always say – if you have a conversation that heads south, you can always try again. And if things really are not working – send me a note. I always respond, gemma@gemmautting.com