Following the right directions

May 1, 2020 by Rabbi Michoel Gourarie
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A question for Rabbi Michoel Gourarie.

Question

Things were going well but now this isolation period is starting to get to us.

With all of us at home (including younger children), we are beginning to get on each other’s nerves. We are beginning to argue a fair bit, be unkind to each other and experience a bit of chaos. Any advice?

Answer

You are not alone. It might be comforting to know that this issue is now common. It is a complicated topic to cover in a few lines but here are some brief ideas to consider.

One device that is being used much less now is the GPS (or Google Maps and Waze). However, it is specifically now that the GPS is critical – not the one that you put in the car but the one you place in your mind.

Here are the instructions:

  1. Identify your current location – Growing tension often coming from rigidity, desire for control, fatigue, inflexibility, and disrespect.
  2. Know your destination – calmness, an atmosphere of respect, and a culture of kindness to one another
  3. Turn on the GPS and follow the route:

G – Give up control.

Let G-d run the world and stop falling apart every time things do not go exactly the way you expect. If G-d (or even someone in your family) derails your plan for the day, it was meant to be and has a good reason. Take a deep breath, stay calm and find a way to make the new circumstances meaningful.

P – Pause.

This is probably the most critical and foundational tool of effective human function. To prevent impulsive and ‘off the cuff’ responses, practice the skill of “pausing”. Whenever something happens just stop and think for a few seconds.  When you pause, you put your emotions on hold and give your mind a chance to process information, hopefully choosing an effective path.

S – Speak respectfully.

You do not all have to agree all the time, but you do need to communicate. You do not have to suppress your opinions but remember that the other persons opinion is just as important as yours. Whenever you talk (even when it might be necessary to be firm), say it respectfully. Value other people (young and old), never put them down and treat them with dignity.

However, like all gadgets, it might be possible that your GPS is a bit old and rusty and needs a service or an upgrade. Make sure you eat in a healthy way, give yourself some space, exercise and make sure to get enough rest.

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