A few weeks back, I was offered the opportunity to review The Charge: Activating the 10 Human Drives That Make You Feel Alive by Brendon Burchard. Honestly, reading this book was a bit of a stretch for me because I’m not normally someone who reads motivational or self-help books. It’s not that I have anything against them — they’re just not on my radar. I do love setting goals though and I frequently issue challenges for myself so I knew I could approach this book with an open mind.
The premise of the book is pretty interesting. Burchard starts by asking this question: if most people in the developed world have their basic needs met (food, clothing, shelter, etc.), why are so many of us dissatisfied with our lives? His theory is that we’ve evolved beyond the point where satisfying our basic needs makes us happy and now we need to develop other areas of our lives that are less critical to our survival to feel engaged and satisfied. Those areas, which Burchard labels “drives”, include our desires for more control, competence, change, connection, challenge and creative expression (along with a few other words that start with the letter “C”).
While I’m not sure I’m behind this idea 100%, I do feel like this book has a lot to offer. Burchard devotes a chapter to each of these drives which start off with an anecdote about a person who neglected this area of his or her life and the negative (sometimes dire) consequences that occurred as a result. He then goes on to suggest specific ways one can focus on those areas to improve her life. For example in the “caring” section, he suggests the reader should more attentive to the people who are closest to them by listening closely to the things they say and then gives some specific things she can say to show she’s listening. In the “creative expression” chapter he runs through a quick exercise where the reader rates how much creative expression she has in different areas of her life and then prompts her to come up with some ideas to express herself more fully.
I was inspired to make some changes in my life as I read and I decided to start with the very first “C”-word addressed in the book: Control. Lately I’ve felt like I’m not completely in control of my emotions — particularly my temper — and I know this is a bad thing. I’ve been slamming a lot of doors and yelling at my kids too much. The door slamming is bad enough — I broke our washing machine latch with an overzealous smack and we’re having trouble getting it repaired — but the yelling at the kids is way worse. I don’t want to be a yelling mom. And what’s even worse is that at least one of my boys seems to have picked up my yelling habit. Ugh.
I think much of this temper stuff boils down to control issues. When I can’t control a situation I get frustrated and my temper flares up. While I don’t thing it’s possible — or healthy — to completely eliminate these negative emotions, I do think it’s possible to control myself and my reactions to the situations that make me angry or upset. I need to do this so the atmosphere in our house is more pleasant, but I also think it’s important for me to model self-control for my kids. My number one goal: no slamming doors. Next up: acknowledge my frustrations and then consciously work to put a positive spin on the situation when things go wrong.
A few weeks ago, my friend Whitney wrote an excellent post about taking a frustrating situation and forcing yourself to come up with an answer to the question “What’s great about this?” Shortly after that, I had the morning from hell cleaning up one ridiculous mess after another. I dealt with pen scribbles on the wall, an ink pad mess all over my desk, a Pull-up that went through the washer and then the grand finale: a bottle of root beer fell off the top of the fridge and exploded all over our kitchen. It hit the floor, the lid flew off and then the bottle spun around in a circle while sticky brown soda shot everywhere. By the time this happened I was pretty peeved — justifiably so, I think — and I could tell I was on the cusp of completely losing it. When the kids started laughing about the root beer I was furious and I wanted to yell at them for being so inconsiderate. Instead, I took a deep breath and asked them to please stop laughing because I was really frustrated and it was making me angry (acknowledging my feelings). Then I put my hands on my hips and said, “You know what’s great about this? That bottle didn’t break. If it had broken, one of us could have gotten hurt and it would be much harder to clean up the mess.” Then I tossed each kid a sponge and asked them to help clean up the mess which they happily (!!!) did. What could have been a terrible scene with me yelling and slamming doors ended up being a mildly unpleasant one with three people working together. Yay for self-contol! Yay me!
Can I keep it up? I don’t know! But I’m looking forward to trying and I’m happy enough with the results so far that I’m planning to try out some of the other ideas in The Charge.
If you’re interested in checking this book out for yourself, you can order a free copy of The Charge today!
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