I used to give a STOP, THINK, ACT handout to parents. Initially it was so they could remind kids to STOP, THINK then ACT before rushing into things inevitably got them into trouble.
Later, I tweaked it a little to incorporate feelings. I learnt that before any child can think clearly, they need to be able to acknowledge what they’re feeling.
Many of the dads came up to me several weeks after their handout made it onto the fridge in their home.
‘You know that “STOP. FEEL & THINK. ACT” thing you gave us for the kids? It works for me too. It reminds me to stop before I yell or smack. Thanks!’
The more I deal with parents, the more I discover that parenting kids involves learning about ourselves in the process.
So, here’s the adultified version of the ABC’s of Stop, Think, Act.
The ABC’s of STOP, THINK, ACT.
How do we continue with life when so many things around us are too horrible to contemplate – but they don’t actually affect us?
When dozens are massacred in a place we know of; When shots are fired at a house on the next block; When lives have been shattered through motor vehicle accidents; When someone else is diagnosed with cancer; When arbitrary decisions made by people who should know better affect families who deserve better; When jobs and the economy are unstable.
We can climb into our shells and pretend the world doesn’t exist.
Or we can:
FEEL, ACKNOWLEDGE, THINK.
Before you do anything else, especially if it’s going to lead you or someone else into trouble, STOP – long enough to take a breath.
FEEL & ACKNOWLEDGE. THINK & PLAN
What are your feelings?
Are they coming from now? Are they protecting you and telling you to run for your life or to seek shelter or care for others?
Then fight or flee, or tend and find others to be with.
Or are they coming from the past? Are they protecting you – or are they paralysing you in panic, causing the child in you to fear something you have never been helped to deal with? Then make an appointment with yourself to sort through them when you’re out of the current situation. But NOT right now.
But What to do now? Think and PLAN
Identify what is outside of your control. Be aware of it, but hand it over to someone bigger, stronger, wiser or kind for the moment. Pray. Dig down deep and dump it in a place where you can pick it up and be helped to deal with it later.
Worrying about something outside of your control cripples you from doing what you CAN do.
Concentrate on what is within YOUR control?
What CAN you do?
ABCs of what you CAN do:
- A – Acknowledge – ‘All I can do is all I can do, and all I can do is enough’
- B – Breathe
- C – Create something beautiful or useful
- D – Donate your time, talent or treasure
- E – Encourage others with your words, your presence, your attitude, your actions
- F – Find help to deal with those emotions from the past
You may not make a big difference in the whole scheme of things,
But you can make an enormous difference in the life of another.
Put your plans into action. Take tiny steps forward into doing something positive. And you’ll take your thoughts under control in the process.
Volunteer in a local op-shop; or Meals-on-Wheels; in a hospital or nursing home; mow a lawn or weed a garden; take immigrants/students for driving practice; sell sausages for charities at your local hardware store; take a dog for a walk; hang up washing or sort clothes for an overwhelmed mum or dad; hold a baby; bake a cake with a teenager; cook a meal for a neighbour; listen to kids reading in school; sweep up in a Men’s Shed; grow fruit & vegetables for a Grow Free cart; work in a community garden; join a choir; teach a child to play an instrument; make costumes or props for a school concert; edit a newsletter; write to your politician or newspaper; join a quilting group …
Please add your ideas in the comments section below.
As adults we have the ability to determine what is within and outside of our control. Stop. Feel & Acknowledge, Think & Plan helps us to remember that we CAN take control of the next moment.
Inspired by: Ephesians 5:15-17
‘Live life then, with a due sense of responsibilitiy, not as people who do not know the meaning of life but as those who do.
Make the best use of your time, despite the evils of these days. Don’t be vague, but firmly grasp what you know to be the will of the Lord.’ Phillips