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Stop, Look & Listen
Stop, Look & Listen
When I first starting driving, I remember one of the things I learned was to stop look and listen before I crossed the railroad tracks. Now so many years later, I find these simple three words to be full of wisdom. For in every moment of every now, we can stop look and listen.
Let’s imagine a typical life scene involving a mother and her son, Tommy. Tommy comes home from school with his 5th grade report card. As Tommy gives his report card to his mom for her to open, he holds his head down low not wanting to meet his mom’s eyes. Tommy’s mom anticipates the worse after a year of disappoints in Tommy’s grades. As Tommy’s mom stares at the opened report card, she asks herself with disbelief, “How can my son be such a failure! How can he be so stupid to get an F in math and an F in science?”
Are you feeling it? Are you feeling the myriad of potential scenes that can unfold from here? We can easily imagine what can happen next for this scene has played out for centuries, over and over again with lots of trauma and drama.
But let’s imagine Tommy’s mom receives a stroke of genius. She remembers to “stop, look and listen”. Here is how she does it:
Stop: Before reacting in fear, Tommy’s mom closes her eyes and counts to ten, taking some deep breaths.
Tommy meanwhile shuffles his feet fearing the worse. 1,2,3,4,5,6,7,8,9 &10—nothing. No reaction yet. Tommy lifts his head and looks at his mom in disbelief. “Why hasn’t she starting yelling at me?” he wonders.
Look: Tommy’s mom starts to observe what is around her. She looks at Tommy for the first time since opening up his report card. She observes her beautiful son and feels his anguish and self disgust. She observes herself through Tommy’s eyes as another authority figure towering over him. She knows the look on her face is not pleasant.
Listen: Tommy’s mom starts to listen. Really listen. Because she stopped and looked first, she is now in a position to listen. At that moment, Tommy’s mom hears her inner voice: “You can react in fear or you can act in love. It is your choice. If you react in fear, you can choose to yell at Tommy, send him to his room and punish him. If you act in love, you can give Tommy a hug and let him know you love him no matter what happens or what he does. You can give him the support that he needs.”
What would you do?