Welcome to our ADULT LIFE DECISIONS Series. These posts are about the adults in the lives of children because children deserve caring, healthy adults taking care of them. It is designed to help adults become more aware of their own potential as they strive to make the best lives possible for themselves and their children. Each posting will explore life decisions adults are faced with and how they can update those decisions to be sure they are helpful to them in their current life circumstances. 
To get the most from this post …
READ FIRST the earlier posts:  

Understanding Communication

You can support yourself and others in making helpful, satisfying life decisions with the communication you use, you seek, you give, and you accept.
What you need to know about helpful communication …
  1. How to construct messages – both verbal and non-verbal – what makes a message helpful or not helpful 
  1. How to give messages – guidelines for giving supportive messages
  1. How to receive messages – encouragement to seek supportive messages 
  1. How to accept messages – encouragement to believe and embrace supportive messages 
 How to construct helpful messages:
There are three types of supportive messages – those that invite you and others to build a strong, healthy, helpful belief system which can dictate positive life decisions.
  1. Being messages – those that say, “I like you, enjoy you, want to be with you.” These are about just being you. You don’t have to earn them by what you do; instead you are entitled to them because you are a human being.
  2. Doing messages – those that say, “I like what you do; you do many things well.” These are messages that you earn by what you do.
  3. Do Better messages – those that teach by saying, “Don’t do that … because … do this instead.”
Unhelpful Messages to Avoid:
These are messages that undermine a helpful belief system that can dictate positive life decisions.
  • Plastic messages – those that sound good but blows up in your face because there is a hidden negative message within them. For example, “Congratulations, you finally got your project approved.” (Hidden message: The word “finally” says that most of the time you are not capable of getting a project approved.) 
  • Don’t Be messages – those that say, “I don’t like you; go away; you are not worthwhile.” For example, not inviting a colleague to join you for lunch when you have publicly invited others or letting children hear you say, “If I didn’t have to stay home with the kids, I could have a successful career.”
Why is it important to know about these different types of messages?
  • To be supportive, you need to want to be supportive and construct your messages to accomplish that rather than communicating based on gut level reactions.
  • To construct messages to have a positive intended result, you need to recognize what the type of communication you are giving, receiving, accepting.
  • To surround yourself with and accept helpful messages and reject unhelpful ones, you must be able to recognize which ones are helpful and which ones are not.

Test your understanding of the five types of messages, both helpful and harmful.
Read each message. Which type do you think it is?
Being?  Doing?   Do Better?   Plastic?   Don’t Be?
  1. You are very good at solving problems with computers.
  2. Don’t put off dealing with your cough; I don’t want anything bad to happen to you; call your doctor for an appointment yet today.
  3. You’re a good listener.
  4. If I didn’t have to help you with this report, I would be eating lunch in the park on this beautiful day.
  5. Want to have lunch after our meeting?
  6. Congratulations on your promotion. I was so surprised when I heard about it.
  7. I’m glad I’m getting to know you.

1)Doing (appreciates something you do); 2)Do Better (don’t put  off, because care about you, go to doctor instead); 3)Doing (appreciates something you do); 4)Don’t Be (would rather not be with you); 5)Being (want to be with you, not about anything you did); 6)Plastic (positive congrats but includes a negative [not thinking you would get it]); 7)Being (wants to know you, not about anything you did)


Next week’s post will discuss the giving, receiving, and accepting of messages that support a helpful belief system that can lead to positive life decisions.
This posting is inspired by and adapted from Jean Illsley Clarke’s copyrighted books.
Do not distribute or duplicate without permission.