Wednesday, January 1, 2014

A Year Without Yelling

2014. Resolutions and new beginnings and all that. I don't typically bother with resolutions. Major life changes undertaken after weeks of holiday exhaustion and starting with a hangover aren’t likely to stick. But here I am, committing publicly to a doomed resolution: I will go a year without yelling.

If you know me you will laugh. I yell all the time. I come from a family of yellers. But as my kids get older I hear the anger reflected back in their small, sweet voices. I hear how it sounds. And I want it to stop.

I was struck recently by this simple thought: Nothing is improved by yelling at someone. Yelling makes everything worse. Tempers flare, and they subside leaving guilt and hurt.

I’m not talking about shouting. “Look out! A car is coming!” has solid utility. I’m also not referring to the sublime cathartic scream, which combined with a well-crafted string of profanities can relieve tension after slicing your finger instead of a carrot or sloshing red wine on your white carpet. No, these are merely the raising of voice. I’m talking about using loud angry words to address someone else. It never helps. Never. And I’m going to learn to stop.

“Learn to” is a key part of this little experiment. I’m not undertaking some vow and expecting my strong will (ha!) to enforce it. I’m going to look at the situations that lead me to lose my cool and figure out what needs to change. Food, sleep, boredom. Unrealistic expectations. Defensiveness. Overcommitment.

A lot to take on. Doomed to failure, but as the title of this blog reminds me, failure is a lot more fun.

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