We own a very old and scrawny pre-lit Christmas tree. Every year I seem to grow less and less fond of this little Charlie Brown tree. My children, however, think it is the most magical and beautiful tree they have ever seen! They sing songs, dance around, and behold its beauty like a new mother laying eyes on her baby for the first time. So, last week when we were decorating for Christmas, you can imagine how I had to bite my tongue continually so the children wouldn’t know that their beloved tree was scarcely more than a fuzzy twig.
The most peculiar thing happened as I was pretending to love our little tree: I came to love it.
As the realization sunk in that I had successfully acted my way to finding this tree endearing, I thought about marriage. I began to imagine the difference our marriage could have if I would bite my tongue and act excited about the mundane. Would I genuinely develop a new ability to adapt if I would pretend to be flexible with the things I can’t control?
For example, my husband just informed me that a mandatory meeting came up at his work during our only family day this week. The visions and plans I had for that day came crashing down. My body language and facial expressions clearly communicated my frustration and dismay. And if that wasn’t enough, I asked him multiple times to play hooky and then sourly and sarcastically spit out, “Well, that will make for a terrific family day.”
A mentor once shared with me the phrase “Feelings follow actions.” I have always limited that motto to the times when I have been frustrated or angry with Jason himself. Yet I have experienced firsthand that it can apply to Christmas trees! Might it also work for any other situation?
- What if I choose, from this moment on, to bite my tongue and act like I am thrilled that my husband has a work meeting in the middle of his day off?
- What if I pretend to be excited about having the children all to myself on a day I envisioned having some alone time?
- What if I celebrate in front of my children the provider that my husband is rather than complain about his work schedule to him privately?
I don’t know the outcome, but I hypothesize that if I act upbeat about his work meeting, I may enjoy the day after all. Despite my feelings, I don’t have to pout or become a passive-aggressive wife who stews all day on the situation. What a blessing that would be to my husband and my children! Wish me luck as I test out this theory!
Have you ever experienced feelings following actions?