If we recognize that the six inches between your ears (mindset) is the most important factor for success, and we also realize that our mindset is often influenced by our emotions. Then we need to admit that emotions are something we must understand in order to truly improve our mindset and chances of success.

Having kids really brought up some intense emotions for me. All the way from deciding to have kids, to expecting a kid, to anticipating becoming a dad, and then actually being a dad.

But day to day emotions as well are more intense. My stress levels can go up and then make reacting impulsively to situations more easy instead of responding reasonably.

It can wear you down to have to watch after kids running around, changing diapers, preventing accidents, listening to crying, grabbing this that and the other… And then trying to live a life on top of it.

And when you’re worn down, emotions tend to fly. And usually not classically positive ones.

So I’ve spent years trying to figure this out.

And right up front, I’m going to say that no one has this figured out.

But I’ve gotten closer than I’ve ever been before. And I think what I found can benefit not only you, but your kids, and general family as well. (Probably friends and business relationships too.)

Because practicing this can teach your kids to deal with emotions from a super early age. And it can help them not blame themselves for problems that naturally arise, and eliminate some of that chronic self blame that tends to crop up and get buried deep down later in life. (Only to cause problems later.)

Anyhow, here it is in a nutshell.

People are only essentially saying one of two things ever.

1.) Please.
2.) Thank you.

That’s it.

When your kid is angry and crying, they’re essentially saying “Please!!! Give me something, help me, please listen to me!” Etc.

When they give you a hug, or a smile, or snuggle up next to you, they’re saying “Thank you.”

You can really apply this to almost all human interactions.

And thinking of a really angry toddler meltdown through the lens of “Oh they’re essentially saying please.” Can help you calm down on the inside and deal with the situation more clearly. Basically by asking yourself “What are they asking please about?”

The next layer to this is…

People feel emotions. Duh.

But most people turn them into judgements instead of acknowledging their emotions. This judgement activity is largely dysfunctional and usually leads to feelings of blame and guilt and shame.

Example: Kid gets into a bunch of pens and draws on the walls.

Then the parent says “Ahh! That’s bad! Stop that. We do not draw on the walls! Go to your room!”

Judgement.

Bad.

You’re punished.

So now the kid just knows that drawing on walls is bad. OK, so behavior change might happen. But they don’t know why it’s bad. And even if you explain it a million different ways, they may get it on an intellectual level, but they still think THEY did a bad thing. And they are “bad” by association. They feel bad too.

The best you’ll get out of this situation is that they want to avoid feeling bad, or getting punished and they know that the wall isn’t something they should draw on.

But this is mostly an intellectual calculation at this point. And it’s selfish, because they want to avoid feeling bad, and being punished. But they don’t care about much else.

So they probably would still draw on the wall if they were sure they wouldn’t get caught.

They don’t get the bigger picture.

The bigger picture is as follows:

Mom and dad get really frustrated, and angry when the walls get dirty and they have to clean them up.

So… Say it like it is. Don’t hide it behind a judgement.

Better example of the previous one:

Kid draws on wall.

Parent says: “Ahhh! I’m so mad and frustrated right now because the walls are all dirty! Now I have to clean them up and that makes me even more frustrated! Please stop drawing on the walls.”

Now the kid understands that their actions made the parent mad and frustrated.

The kid isn’t BAD now. And the kid also understands what impact their actions had on people outside of themselves.

Now they’re getting a bigger picture. Now maybe they will be motivated to help the parents feel happier instead of being focused on not doing “bad things.”

Plus, framing it as “I’m mad because you drew on the wall” shares responsibility more fairly. Because the parent owns the feelings and admits responsibility for them, and the kid did the drawing. You’re both in this together.

This is also super helpful for the parents to understand their own emotions. Because they have to feel them, then process them, then label them, and say them out loud. No more hiding. No more guessing.

Take ownership.

Then bonus points for not punishing, but instead protecting. This is a big mental shift that can help out a lot in avoiding the guilt and shame associated with being “BAD”.

How’s that work?

Well instead of sending them to their room as a punishment.

Frame it as a protection. Big difference.

This is what it looks like.

Punishment: “Go to your room!”

Protection: “Give me those pens, now I need you away from those walls, I need to protect them from you right now while I clean them up. You sit on that chair in the corner until you feel like you don’t need to draw on them anymore. I just need to keep my walls clean right now. It’s OK, you’re cool, do whatever. Do you want crayons and some paper while you sit there for awhile? But you can’t get up until I clean these walls, or unless you want to help me. I like my walls, and I need to keep them clean, and you weren’t helping with that so I’d like you to be away from them right now unless you can help.”

But the biggie is the “Please” “Thank you” framing.

And acknowledging your emotions out loud.

This works great for when kids are crying, or even happy to help them through things.

Like they’re crying…

Now you get to do the reverse thing and tease the emotions out of them so they can process and feel connected with you.

“Are you feeling sad because you didn’t get the toy you wanted?”

“Mmmm hmmm yea…”

“Yea, I know you’re sad. That’s OK to be sad I understand.”

You’d be surprised how many issues resolve themselves almost instantly when a kid (or an adult) just feels like they’ve been heard and not judged.

So instead of judging by saying “Why are you crying? It’s just a toy, we can get you another one.”

Ask them if they’re feeling sad. And then let them know that’s OK.

Bonus points for doing this on yourself.

How are you feeling right now?

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I’m sure by now you’ve heard that eating every 2-3 hours helps keep your metabolism burning strong. On the other hand, I bet you’ve heard someone say that’s a myth.

You may have even seen some scientific studies saying there’s no proof eating more frequently helps with your metabolism, or fat loss.

And if there is no “proof” then why do so many people keep you to eat every 2-3 hours? Why is there even a debate over the issue?

Well, here’s something interesting that might change the way you think about meal frequency.

If you are on a diet, and you are eating less calories than you’re used to, then you’re probably going to have periods of time throughout the day where your blood sugar is low.

And making decisions that involve willpower, like avoiding certain foods, and making yourself eat specific foods, require enough mental effort to drive your blood sugar down further. This process is called “Ego Depletion.”

When your blood sugar is low, your self-control is typically impaired. That means, if you need willpower to stick with your diet, and your blood sugar is low, then there’s a good chance you’ll “cheat” on your diet. Or you will be fighting much harder to stay on track, and probably feeling miserable. (Using willpower constantly is tough work.)

To me, this means that eating every 2-3 hours is probably not as much about burning fat, or keeping your metabolism fired up. It’s probably more about keeping your blood sugar up, and fortifying your ability to use willpower.

When you have more willpower, you make better decisions. And better decisions lead to better results, in diet and life.

For more info on ego depletion here’s a Wiki on it: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ego_depletion

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