We get to decide who touches us. We get to decide how we allow others to treat us. We get to decide how we allow others to make us feel. Yet, how we are socialized to respond and react to each of these is remarkably different. Not a single person has the same experience in how we were taught to handle our reaction, or how we handle “consent.”
“Consent: giving permission for something to happen.”
Have you ever thought about how even the littlest of babies have the right to decide (give consent) to whether a stranger touches them? As a parent, are strangers allowed to touch a small baby or do we protect them until they are capable of communicating their consent? What we teach children at an early age matters, because it is the beginning of their education on consent.
Consent in some ways is similar to telling kids there is a Santa, and they believe you, then one day you tell them there is no such thing as Santa. Have we not then taught them a lie? Should they trust us after finding out we have told a fib all those years?
The below video “4 Ways Parents Teach Kids that Consent Doesn’t Matter” really opened my eyes about the topic of consent and shares the following four points:
1. Tickling and Roughhouse Play
2. Contradicting their Feelings
3. Forced Affection
4. Respect your elders
We teach politeness over feeling comfortable. We make kids hug their elders, or individuals they may not feel comfortable around. We tell them that they cannot think or feel how they feel or think. We do not stop tickling them when they ask us to stop. All of these ideas mentioned in the video are ways we continually teach children not to think for themselves and rather do what they are told. Of course, I am not proposing that kids be rude, but we often force them to do things they do not want to do. We need to listen for when they are not comfortable instead of only when they are just grumpy or do not want to participate or interact with others. There is a balance between being a bratty or disrespectful kid and allowing them to make choices that are most comfortable to them.
Eye opening ideas for me. Teach them that their “no” matters. Teach them to trust their instincts. Teach them to have a voice and to know when to give consent.
For those of you that know me, I am a multi-tasker.
While in a meeting in a different building at work, I found two treadmill desks. How much I would love to have a treadmill desk at work. I could walk a ton and get so much done. A colleague said he had read an article about how standing at work is like running 10 marathons a year. I had to find it online.
Lately I have been struggling with sleeping on my side and my shoulders hurting in the middle of the night. The only way I have been able to get back to sleep was to stay on my back, or try sleeping on my stomach (a new feat for me)! It has made me start to think about how much I let my shoulders slump forward, or generally how I sit at my desk during the day. I have a high desk, so I can definitely work all day standing up, and yet I often do not. It is easier to sit, and then over time I realize that I am not sitting up straight, I am hunched over, and at the end of the day my shoulders, neck, and back hurt.
I am a competitive one, so if I started tracking how long I stood at my desk each day, and if the article is right, then I would be on track. Maybe not like truly running 10 marathons, but better for my health, better for my back, shoulders, and neck, and hopefully more focused on what I am working on. My problem? I am often not at my desk and usually in meetings throughout the day, so what does that mean for me? That whenever I am at my desk, I should stand? Maybe I should move my chair out of the way, so I know if I have given into the comfort of the hunch.
We are also on a mission for finally getting a king sized bed, so maybe a new mattress will help with the side sleeping dilemma, and standing all day will help my shoulders – and heck, as the article says burn 8 pounds of fat in a year.
I am as transparent as they come. I have mentioned before that a colleague calls me “TMI” instead of Tami. Well jokingly at least. If you know me you know that I have few filters and I have no problem telling you what is on my mind. It might mean I offend folks at times, but honestly at least you know where you stand with me. Right? Part of being transparent means you have to be open. The funny thing is that is not always the easiest thing for me.
Why? I am a planner. I like to think things through, have backup plans, and ensure that I will be prepared for whatever might occur. My childhood of disconnected utilities, no food on the table, and no money in the bank probably made me overzealous about ensuring that I would never have to worry about the lack of electricity, food on the table, and to make sure my family never lacked the basic necessities. Those moments were integral to my development and extremely poignant as to who and how I am today.
So when I found this Daily Om: “Softening and Expanding” it resonated with me. I think often about being open and how Chris and I talk about it extensively, but that does not make it easy to do in our day-to-day life. Whether you believe in God, a higher power, or the universe, I do believe that there is something at play in our daily life that directs our thoughts. Being open allows us to let go of what we really want, and gives us the space to ask, “How can I best bless? What do I need to do today to be present and listen for which conversations to take part in, and when should I speak up?” I truly believe there is something (whatever you may call it) guiding us for what we need to know. Here is the excerpt I wanted to share from the Daily Om:
“In order to get what we want in life, we have to be willing to receive it when it appears, and in order to do that we have to be open. Often we go through life with defenses we developed early on in order to protect ourselves. These defenses act as barriers, walls we needed at one time to feel safe, but that now serve to shut out desired influences, like intimacy or love. So an essential part of being receptive to what we want is to soften these barriers enough to let those things in when they show up.”
How do you react or allow yourself to be open? Are you receptive to the voices that tell us not to react, not to respond, or to jump for joy at an opportunity?
An hour of my day yesterday has inspired and led me to a few aha moments. I had the opportunity to spend an hour learning more about listening. Zalika Gardner, from Portland recently gave a talk at TEDxPortland. There are a few ideas that continue to cycle through my head since yesterday from her talk:
1. A baby cries because they want attention. Our social norm is that we do not continue to express those cries as we grow up, but the desire to want attention does not go away just because we get older.
2. How we listen to someone else shows them whether we think they matter or not.
3. Not feeling heard = not feeling loved. Feeling heard = feeling loved.
One of my biggest pet peeves is not feeling heard. Chris knows how much it matters to me. My not so nice side comes out when I do not feel heard. When I do not feel heard it is like opening a box of memories of all the times growing up when my father would tell me that children should be seen and not heard. Today I have two reactions to not feeling heard. I grow quiet, or I lash out. It really depends on who makes me feel that way. Usually if it is someone I am very close to (my sister or Chris) I lash out. I feel comfortable being my true self. When it is someone who is not as close to me, I grow quiet. I wonder if feeling safe and feeling heard equate to how someone reacts.
Her talk also made me think about how much we are consumed with our smartphones. How often they distract us. That text message that popped up on your phone may just be more important and more urgent than the person sitting right in front of you. I know I can do better to make sure I am completely focused on the individual who has my time and attention. I can listen more, I can focus more. While it definitely takes more of my time and energy, it is worth it to me to give others what I so strongly want for myself. Hopefully it means more of us (adults and children) feel more valued, heard, and loved.
Please watch the entire twenty minutes. I promise it is worth your time.
A colleague of mine always says: “You have two ears and one mouth. Listen more, talk less.” I agree.
Yesterday I had a dentist appointment. It was a rough day in all ways. We got some not so fun news this week, Chris was traveling, a not so fun day at work, the list goes on. I will not bore you with the details. I am in the dentist chair getting my teeth cleaned, exhausted and almost falling asleep. I keep smelling something that feels familiar and realize it is my hygienist. I told her I was having a rough day and she was great, just kept quiet and did not talk too much. In turn it allowed me to be quiet.
Behind the big green glasses they give you to block their bright light, I felt tears come to my eyes. I had just spoken to my sister on my drive over to the dentist office. The smell reminded me of something from my past which in turn made me think of my mom, thus the tears. I was having one of those “I miss my mom moments” while my head was lower than my feet in the dentist chair. “Seriously?” I am thinking. “I have tears in my eyes at the dentist?” Most likely the emotions surrounding all the events of the past few days are bringing the water works, but did it have to be at the dentist?
No one noticed. Funny how I truly hate going to the dentist, and yet at this moment of cleansing, when they scrape, floss the crap out of your gums, and prod in your mouth, that it was the hour in my day that I needed to just let go, and hide behind the green glasses under the bright light. It always amazes me how the littlest smell can set off emotions in your body, bring back memories from childhood, and make you miss someone who has been gone for 20 years. I was having a day where I wanted to curl in a ball, scream and yell, throw a tantrum, and have my mom tell me it was all going to be alright.
My sister consoled me, Chris later consoled me, but sometimes all you want is your mom. Life is real and raw and painful sometimes. People let us down. We move on, we grow thicker skin, and somehow we make it through it all. Sometimes though we just want our mom to tell us that we did all we could do, and that we are going to be alright. I am looking forward to a new day full of opportunities to be quiet and listen, dance and run, and snuggle and hold those that are dear close to me.