Thoughts Overflowing


Talking to my kids about impulse control…I thought to myself, wow, this is relevant for all of us. So, here it goes…

I summarize the conversation as follows:
When we have thoughts, they are analogous to water in a cup. Our cup is our capacity to handle our water (thoughts). When our water is below the lip of the cup, all is good, we are generally happy, we are in flow, all that… I asked the kids, “When we are yelling, imagine the moment just before that, what were you feeling”. They responded, “Hurt, angry, sad…” the usual suspects. Then, when the cup is overfilled with water, what happens? “Explosions, yelling, it feels like we can’t control it!”

So, we discussed impulse control…yes with a 7 and 9 year old. We said, at that moment when you are welling up with anger, you have a few choices including three big ones: silence, conversation or yelling. Each response has its place. If we can pause, then we can decide our response. When we are angry, we should assess the situation…if we are wrong, which will be hard to accept if we are angry, we should consider apologies or productive solutions. The key is the ability to assess how to get to a productive solution with reasonable people.

Certainly, with unreasonable people, there are other communication strategies to be employed, possibly in the moment or in some sequence over time.

My children took the analogy further. They said “Papa, what if our thoughts are a soda and we have a Mentos we add to the soda. Then there is an explosion!!” (for those of you who have not watched YouTube, adding Mentos to a new soda causes the soda to overflow…). We concluded, it is our job to hold our Mentos as long as we can. And use the Mentos sparingly and with purpose...

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