I recently read my first ever parenting book. Good Inside by Dr. Becky Kennedy.
It has been an absolute game-changer for me.
Quick aside: If you're a parent reading this, read a parenting book please. Any parenting book. My silly ego prevented me from doing it for so long. Too long. Children (read: human beings) are the most complicated beings on the planet. If someone randomly dropped a piece of ultra-complicated machinery at your doorstop with a label that read, "This machine will change your life," wouldn't you be curious if there was a manual? Read a parenting book. They are manuals.
What I'd like to share in this post is my take on a particular insight from the book, which has far broader applicability that just parenting.
I'm going to break the insight down into two parts, and I will use the example of children in each part, but hopefully you'll see the broader applicability.
Part One: Two Columns
Imagine two columns.
The column on the left is the number of possible feelings that a child can have.
Happy, angry, sad, jealous, lonely, afraid, hungry, resentful, envious, frustrated, cheeky ... it's a long list.
The column on the right is the number of behaviours that a child displays.
Tantrum, kindness, crying, screaming, laughing, words in general, being quiet. It's a much shorter list.
Summary of part one: If behaviours are tools we use to express how we feel, then you can clearly see that children (read: human beings) have a very limited set of tools.
Part Two: The Iceberg
Imagine an iceberg.
What you see on the surface are the behaviours.
What you don't see are the feelings.
Summary of part two: If you simply respond to what's on the surface (e.g. you get frustrated because your child is having a tantrum), you're missing a large part of the picture.
Where do we go from here?
When you interact with anyone and you find yourself responding to/judging their behaviour, don't forget about the feelings column.
This post pairs well with Intent and Impact (a one-minute read).