I have been very challenged by Raizel recently. Her behavior at home has been very difficult. This past Shabbat, it reached a crescendo.
Briefly, as a family, we have experienced many changes and stressors in the past year. I think anyone of them would be objectively difficult for anyone.
As I have shared, recently we made the difficult decision to place Raizel in public school. Now, Raizel no longer attends a yeshiva, like all of the other children in our community.
Thankfully, she is doing better and more resources are available to meet her needs. But, it is a terrible feeling of rejection — no appropriate local yeshiva even accepted Raizel for high school.
My husband’s health status has changed significantly in the past year as well. He is not the same person with the same capabilities. I remind myself daily that I am grateful he is alive.
Due to my husband’s health, we made the difficult decision to sell our house. We are now in the process of downsizing to a smaller and more manageable home. There are lots of moving parts involved, and everything is in a state of transition and flux.
Raizel is not fully aware of herself and how her behavior affects others. What did emerge is that Raizel is clearly suffering from all the changes we are experiencing as a family. It doesn’t excuse her behavior, but I see her as the canary in the coal mine. This was a cry for help.
So, we decided that every night, we would write down our 5 G’s.
The 5 G’s is my daily writing exercise that I have developed over the years. I practice it personally and use professionally with my patients. Since I have started using it, it has made a big difference for me. I have seen a big change with my patients as well. Over time, I have learned how to change my negative thoughts into positive thoughts. And, I can find something good and positive in all people and in every situation. Raizel has agreed to do this exercise with me before bed. So, we are experimenting.
Here are each of the 5 G’s. There are several variations that I have created, but this is what we are doing right now:
We write down 3-5 gratitudes every day.
Next, we list 1 or 2 things that we did that we are proud of, or that make us feel good about something we accomplished.
Sometimes, I find that my patients sadly struggle to find anything to feel proud of. So, I ask them to list something that they did that day that demonstrates a good or positive quality about themselves.
Oddly, it is difficult for Raizel to come up with something that she did well or that she is proud of too. So, I am glad that we are doing this together.
The next 2 pictures are variations of the same thing of looking for the good and appreciating the kindness of other people.
This version is a little simpler for some people to understand:
This one has more of a direct connection to the idea of goodness:
We do not answer all of the questions. Just one or two. I try to write down 2 things that Raizel did that day that I really like and appreciate. Raizel has to do the same for me.
In the past, I would not tell her that I was doing that. However, I noticed that on her own, she started to do more and more often the very things that I wrote down on my “good eye journal.” It really changed my relationship with her.
I had stopped focusing on including her in my “good eye journal” so I am happy we are doing this together.
I think that looking for the good is very reinforcing, even when the other person doesn’t know what you are doing. When we notice the good, we see more and more good. When we notice the negative, we see more and more negatives. This is a very simple technique with very powerful outcomes.
This is also very effective. Rather than focusing on my daily petty annoyances, I try to see and appreciate what is good about even the things that bother me.
With my patients and myself, I try to list daily S.M.A.R.T. goals.
S.M.A.R.T. Goals are: Simple, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic and Timely.
I feel that this creates realistic expectations and sets me up for success. Every day that I feel like I have accomplished my goals helps me to appreciate and validate my successes.
So far we have been doing it for 3 days. Incredibly, Raizel already notices the difference. Raizel said, “I feel happier.”
So, I am hopeful.
Here is a PDF of just the pictures: