January 15, 2014

Who's the Boss of You?

My work affords me endless encounters with families that are in differing stages of disrepair. I enjoy this part of my job - not because these families are hurting, but because God allows me to take part in the mending of broken units. 

Oft-times, the kids are identified as the "problem" in these families. Many of the kids I work with have backgrounds of trauma and abuse. And since these children have grown up with so much chaos, they tend to find chaotic situations to be their safe place - their "normal," if you will. Kids like these often seek to create chaos wherever they go, and they readily prey upon the loopholes in their parents' reasoning in order to split them and manipulate situations. These are learned behaviors, survival skills to help them get what they need. So it's no wonder that the "normal" styles of parenting rarely work with these fragile souls.

I was working with a kiddo the other day that is a classic example of the above, and I was clarifying for her parents that they seem to be her favorite "toys." For she is able to merely push a button, and they react...thus giving chaos the upper hand. This comes from a place of control - in essence, the child wants to be the "boss of" the parents. And she is able to become that boss in a matter of seconds! If she can control the situation to play out as she sees fit, then she feels more comfortable...no matter what it does to the rest of the family.  The parenting method I am teaching them is called Nurtured Heart, and (among other things) it seeks to starve out the negative attention from these chaos-inducing attempts and instead to build up the desire for the positive attention that comes with being cooperative.

Lest I digress into a lecture-style class on the finer points of social work...allow me to share the connection I made from the above scenario to my own life.

As I was reviewing the events of my family session above, it got me thinking about my goal this year to finally become healthier and more physically fit. How did my brain make that jump? Well, thank you for asking!

I realized that my "old self" (the one who devours large bowls of creamy pasta in a single bound) continues to push the buttons of my "new self" (the one who is seeking to maintain a healthy, balanced diet). My desire for lazy mornings in bed and lazy evenings on the couch wants to manipulate and reroute my hunger for a gym-going routine. An age-old honed thirst for my beloved Dr. Pepper is creating chaos in my mind so that I forget to reach for my water bottle.

Are you pickin' up what I'm puttin' down?

It's like I have traumatized and abused the body God blessed me with by cultivating such bad eating and exercising habits that it is now fighting with itself in order to keep the cycle of chaos going!

Wowza. That is a rough realization to make.

So now, I have to decide who my boss is. Is it the immature body that has learned to crave gluttony and sloth? Or is it the maturing body that deep down knows the new, healthy habits will feed her in a way the old ways can't?

And now to y'all: who's the boss of you? Does one of your 2014 goals involve health and fitness? Can you relate? What about any other goals that you have for yourself...is your "old self" battling the "new self" in an attempt to hang on for dear life?

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