I have a feeling that the post I wrote for Mr. P.'s blog, The Attitude of Gratitude", is not up to par. Something is off. Maybe, I should try once more!
OREO COOKIES, ANYONE?
Did you ever have a feeling that the answers to your most pressing questions or problems are just out of sight? I had that feeling all my life. I searched to fill the void in my heart and in my life; I joined movements, prayed and fasted and did my best to create a life full of purpose and love, but the void was still there. I strived to be a humble, serving person, yet that didn't help me to have a fulfilling relationship with my husband and children. To tell the truth, I still couldn't control even my own bursts of temper and mood swings!
Recently, I began to, finally, take care of myself. I am not just talking of the physical body. I began counselling and started to attend Al Anon meetings. I realized that I was being a fake! While on the outside I spoke soft words or swallowed my indignation at something that my loved ones did or say, on the inside I was seething. Yet, I didn't let them see my real emotions.
How can I have authentic connections with people if I only show them a false front? It took a while, but with the help of my counselor and Al Anon, I understood that, not only was I entitled to speaking my mind, but that without it I can not hope to build real trust and intimacy!
A couple of weeks ago I shared with my counselor that, although my son, Sonny, sometimes helps me, he ignores my requests for help most of the time. My counsellor, the worthy innkeeper of this blog whom I call Mr. P., addressed the problem with enthusiasm. He suggested an oreo cookie approach.
No, he did not tell me to bribe Sonny with cookies in order to get his help! Sonny is 19, and he lives in our house for free, so, it would be only reasonable to expect him to do some chores!
The oreo cookie. It consists of three parts: two thin cookie layers and vanilla cream on the inside. The method of communication that Mr. P. proposed also consists of three parts.
Since I used that method to talk to Sonny, I will show you how it goes on his example.
First, you say something very nice. I told Sonny: "You know, I am so happy that you live with us! I would miss you terribly if you moved out!"
That was the top layer of the "cookie sandwich".
Then you get to the essence of the conversation - the "cream" inside the cookie.
One thing is very important: you don't start that part with a "but". The "but" would negate all the nice words that you just said. Instead, you say "a-n-d"!
And so, I told Sonny: "A-n-d, I feel that I lack balance in our relationship. I always try to hear you out and help you, and, I think, you should also pay attention to my requests and help out in the house. After all, you are a grown man, who should have some responsibilities!"
There! I had this kind of conversation with both of my children, and the expressions on their faces told me that, they, finally, heard me and were shaken by my telling them the truth of what I was really thinking - without accusing or trying to change them.
The third part of "the cookie" is strengthening up the new intimacy that you achieved with someone by speaking the truth.
I said: "Perhaps, after you finish your chores, we can go for some ice-cream!"
Who can resist that kind of promise?