When was the last time you did something for yourself? This could be the source of your short fuse moms!
Fried, frazzled & freaking out more than you feel proud of? It’s easy to feel this way these days. We’ve had to adapt to a radically new world, there are more responsibilities on parents than ever before & there is stress that comes with the unknown economic & health implications of a pandemic on our families.
When we are at our wits end, frazzled or totally fried we tend to freak out on the ones we love the most, the ones least able to defend themselves, our kids. I am no stranger to this & am not proud to claim many of these moments throughout the years.
The damage in these moments of emotional immaturity & insecurity leaves an indelible imprint on a child’s self esteem, they’re left no option other than to believe that it must be their fault.
We take out our scariest feelings on them because we feel it’s safe, knowing that a child has no means to leave us (our greatest fear!) The risk however is that if they can’t leave us physically, they can leave us emotionally.
While we typically wish to forget these unflattering moments, how we recover from these inevitable events is what will make the difference between our child feeling disconnected or connected to us.
It’s ok to freak out!
It’s NOT ok to pretend it didn’t happen.
Going back to address our own bad behaviour will not only help your child see that your outburst had nothing to do with them, it will also set the example for them to own their behaviour & show them that you are human, not a hero!
Though it can’t undo all the damage, it is a crucial step in repairing some of the disconnect. It is also crucial in helping you understand why it happened in the first place.
If you aren’t able to figure out why the eruption took place on your own, remember that ANGER IS ALWAYS ROOTED IN HURT, FEAR OR FRUSTRATION but here are a few more specific reasons why we lose it!
TOP 10 REASONS MOMS LOSE IT:
1 ~ Our emotional needs have not been met, we feel unheard or devalued.
2 ~ Our physical needs have not been met, we're tired, hungry or not feeling well.
3 ~ We are over-functioning, taking on other peoples business.
4 ~ We are unclear of our wants & needs.
5 ~ We are overwhelmed.
6 ~ We are burned out.
7 ~ We feel out of control.
8 ~ We are stuck in shame, guilt, blame or judgement.
9 ~ We are scared or anxious.
10 ~ We have asked over & over & over & something persists!
If we neglect our most basic needs we will find ourselves at a loss for words to communicate effectively & BOOM! We go off like a grenade! We feel horrible about it & then the guilt & shame lead us back into a vicious cycle that will end up leaving us fried, frazzled & freaking out!
Lindsay Lal C.C.P.C.
As parents we go out of our way to keep our children physically safe & we like to think that we protect our child from the harsh reality of the outside world, but when it comes to their emotional safety & wellbeing, are we helping them or is it possible that in they may not feel safe in their own home?
Our most basic human needs are to feel safe, to belong & to exert competency in some area of our life. As a child that safety is communicated through connection, an unspoken energy that says “I see you, I hear you & you’re not alone in this world.” You’re an essential part of this community or tribe.
A lack of connection almost always manifests in a child as a behavioural issue. As adults, if we continue to experience an ongoing lack of connection, we see the behaviour morph into addictions as a way to numb ourselves & cope with the pain of feeling completely alone in this world.
When it seems as though nobody understands us, or our pain, we begin to hide in a blanket of shame, the mere thought of sharing our true feelings becomes terrifying. We attach & cling onto anything outside of ourselves that we believe might bring us the sense of security that we’re so desperately looking for, even when we know that thing is not serving us.
Imagine the burden of not feeling able to share the pain of feeling rejected with your own parent, your tribe. What can we do to build a connection with our child where they feel safe enough to come to us instead of hiding in shame?
Much disconnection is caused by the damage inflicted when well intended parents discipline their children. We resort to unconscious ways of shaming, blaming, attacking or giving orders as a way to get our child to do what we believe is truly best for them. While it often works, the scars tend to never fully heal. I’m sure most of us can still recall many of these “teachable” moments that continue to hurt us today.
But “I have to discipline my child” you argue, “how will they succeed if I don’t teach them?” The problem is, what are we really teaching them by nagging, barking orders, labeling them, taking sides, or making them feel badly? ~ “Mom & Dad don’t trust me to make my own choices”, “I’m not smart enough”, “I’m not capable”, “It’s always my fault”.
Of course none of us would ever intentionally want our child to feel these thing but the fact remains that we are all guilty of having implied any one of these things at some point in a fit of reaction.
When we lose it, we become ashamed of ourself, as a parent, for not having the ability to communicate our expectations in a mature, reasonable way, so that our child will cooperate. But how could we? What school teaches us, or where is it modelled how to speak to a child in ways that promote a healthy self esteem? This vicious self deprecating cycle of anger, blame & shame eventually infuses into our child.
The greatest gift we can give our kids is a healthy self image. We can do this by learning how to manage our own emotions, trust that our children are capable beings & respond to them in ways that allow them to feel safe around us.
Here are a few suggestions to try out:
~ Instead of jumping in with an answer, leave time to let them solve their own problem.
“I see, you have a test you’re not ready for & a game that you really want to go to, hmm.”
~ Instead of barking orders or threats, try giving them a choice or negotiating.
“Wet towels need to go on hooks or in the hamper, you decide."
~ Instead of running away from scary feelings, model feeling feelings, without having to take them away.
“It feels really bad when a friend pretends that you're not in the room.”
~ Instead of nagging , try writing a quick, note.
“I like to be with my friends in the toy room! Love Peppa Pig”
~ Instead of shaming, try pointing out a way to be helpful.
“It would be really helpful if you could walk the dog, I need to make dinner."
~ Instead of assuming your child knows, describe & state your expectation
“Milk goes sour when left out, I expect it to go back in the fridge when you’re done.”
I got your attention didn’t I? Wouldn’t that be nice, to raise a ‘perfect’ child! The child that you dreamed of in the womb, who was always polite, respectful, happy all the time &, of course, going to be wildly famous for their natural talents & ability, winning ‘us’ an Oscar, Nobel Prize or at the very least an Olympic medal!
Let’s be real, you don’t have a problem with your children, when they’re doing what you asked, when you wanted, the way you think it should be done & with whoever it is you think they should be with! Right?
But what happens when your child is anything less than perfect? How do you respond when they refuse to listen, do what you asked, on time, in a particular way or, god forbid, spend time with people you disapprove of?
We all know that kids don’t come with a manual for these kind of challenges, yet these are the everyday interactions that will result in a healthy, or dysfunctional, relationship with them over time. More importantly, it is these same, seemingly harmless, conversations that will determine the relationship your child forms with themselves over time.
Think about it, who is the voice you hear in your head? Likely it is a combination of your parents, teachers, or other more dominant figures in your life. How you speak to your child communicates more than just the words you are trying to deliver.
In every interaction you have an opportunity to either contribute or, unwittingly, contaminate the relationship.
The energy we bring into a conversation conveys our approval, or disapproval, even if our words say otherwise. Our child learns quickly what they are safe to share with us & what will jeopardize their survival within the family & so they adapt accordingly, often shutting us out, much to our frustration.
Well intended, loving parents are left guilt ridden when they recall the way they’ve spoken to their child, losing their sh*t over spilled milk, humiliating them in front of their friends, or finding themselves taking away rights of passage, when they are no longer able to get through to their teen.
I don’t know one parent who can’t relate, myself included. We are all trying to raise strong independent children, we just don’t want them to exert that strength or independence against us! LOL!
The skills required for the job of raising a human being can seem insurmountable, after all, we’ve never been formally trained in child rearing, so we all just jump in with little more than our past experience, our fantasy of a perfect child, a hope & a prayer for the best! We naïvely believe it will somehow come naturally, in this unnatural, fast paced world.
What I’ve realized is that most disconnected relationships are just misunderstandings. So ... what if we had the ability to communicate effectively so that we could properly understood each other? What if we knew ways of communicating that were respectful of each others needs, sensitive to our emotions & validated each others points of view? Sound like the fairytale you created in the womb? It can be a close reality.
The ‘perfect’ child may not exist however, YOUR child does. If you would like to learn how to speak so your kids to listen, co-operate & are even able to problem solve on their own, like the child of your dreams, you will want to reserve your spot in my upcoming workshop!
This course will empower you to raise a child who is able to problem solve, communicate their needs & feelings & at the end of the day, grow up self regulated, with a healthy self esteem fully intact.
Nobody really wants to change themselves, we’d rather change the OTHER! Lets just admit it, WE are perfect.
“If my child, spouse, parent, boss, co-worker, friend, sibling, would just be different my life would be perfect! (just like me)”
Ok, we know that’s not true but why do we fight so hard, resisting all the ‘others’ in our life?
It’s like we are trapped in an eternal game of tug-of-war, fighting for our life, us against who? On the surface it looks like it’s us against our child, spouse, parent, coworker etc. In reality it’s us versus our conditioning, family, culture, institutions & dogmatism, all doing their best to take down our authentic self.
Our tiny arms clench the rope, grasping & trembling by comparison to the combined strength of the other team. The stakes are high, if they win they dominate & control us. If we win, the prize is freedom!
Just when we feel so close to claiming victory, we get yanked back. We pivot 2 steps forward, 3 steps back & it never crosses our mind to stop the dance. It would be illogical to forfeit now, by dropping the rope.We must fight, we must win to make them hear & see us, & to prove our worth.
This Tug-of-war keeps us from living our fullest life. It's exhausting & I have finally decided to drop the rope!
Facing our internal resistance, the tug-of-war between our thoughts & feelings & our beliefs & fears is what keeps us stuck & makes change so hard. This resistance is the only thing that gets in the way of experiencing true contentment in our life.
Inner peace & personal freedom come when we begin to question everything! Our only job becomes asking whether the story we are telling ourselves is even true, then asking “How do I feel believing it?” & “Who would I be without the thought or the belief?”
When we find the person we want to be in the last question, the answer becomes very clear. The only anxiety free answer is to drop or change the story that is causing us to suffer. This becomes easy to do when we realize that, most of the time, what we’ve clung to so rigidly, believing is true, without ever questioning it, is rarely THE truth.
Once you get really good at inquiry, life becomes a game, one that is fun & easy to play, not terrifying or difficult at all!
Inspired by "The Work" of Byron Katie
Do you ever feel like you’re speaking a foreign language to your children?
Do they reply to your requests with blank stares, deaf ears, rolling eyes or a mystified look implying that you are clearly an alien?!
What do we have to do to get them to them to eat their pea’s, do their homework, or clean up after themselves?!
Speaking to children is both an art & a science
but when you learn their language it’s MAGIC!
Imagine the frustration of trying to understand words that make no sense to you every day. We’d be irritable, emotional, & overwhelmed. Does this sound familiar?
Not only are we feeling these things but so are our kids & then … BOOM! We find ourselves clashing, erupting in anger simply because we didn’t understand what each other was saying. The result, guilt, shame, blame & pain.
When you don’t know how to do something your world feels out of control & when we feel this way it’s natural to try & dominate or manipulate the situation (or our child in this case) in order to regain our sense of safety.
There is no shame in this, in fact, it’s totally natural. Our primal brains are all wired for survival but it's possible to override this instinct by developing a higher functioning part of of our brain, shifting us from reacting to responding.
The only shame is that most of us were never taught how to speak C.H.I.L.D before we had children. It’s like starting a job with absolutely no training! This is why I’m so excited to share with you what I’ve learned, consider it FREE on the job training that you can implement with your kids, at any age!
To speak C.H.I.L.D I use the acronym below, combined with a few other specific tools & techniques, like I said it’s an art AND a science! Once you have learned how to communicate with each other, solving problems will no longer be a problem!
5th ~ C ommunicate & C ollaborate - state your position & come up with solutions together
4th ~ H onour - their perspective, by validating it
3rd ~ I dentify - the difficulty & feeling, repeating it back to clarify
2nd ~ L isten - with full attention, empathizing with sounds
1st ~ D escribe - what you see, in few words
When you master this language, just like assimilating in a foreign country, you will feel empowered, confident & at peace with things that used to be every day annoyances.
If you felt confident in your abilities, can you see how your energy would change when you engage with your kids? When you approach your child in a whole new way & your child responds in a whole new way like … MAGIC!
Don’t be fooled. I have found that each child has their own unique dialect that varies based on personalities, preferences & age but the structure of the language is universal. Give it a try!
One of the reasons I used to have so much anxiety is because I looked outside of myself to solve my problems.
As children we learn to look to our parents to fill our needs & therefore “fix” our problems. Traditional parenting has taught us that the role of a “loving” or “good” parent is to have all the answers & to fill our child’s every need so we, quite naturally, oblige.
The parental ego thrives on ‘being needed’ & ‘knowing what to do’, even when it doesn’t serve the other. Instead of using the opportunity to build a skill & prepare our children for the next level of life, we parents eat up the delicious feelings of superiority & crave the chance to solve “their” problems, filling our insatiable hunger to rescue the child in distress, in order to make us feel better.
I’ve fallen into this trap with my own kids because, of course, I had learned it from my parents, who took my problems on as their own too. We just didn’t know how to “teach” our kids how to problem solve, since we never learned ourselves.
When a child never learn this skill as an adult we will constantly look to others; teachers, family, friends, & finally a spouse or children to solve our problems & fill our needs because we still believe that the answers are outside of our control, or that we are not capable of figuring out things for ourselves. We never learn to trust ourselves& in the end, we give our power away, feel resentment, frustration & out of control of our own life, which leads to anxiety.
Think about this for a minute. If you knew you were totally capable of handling whatever came your way, “good” or “bad”, would you have anxiety about it? Would you worry about something “bad” happening if you knew that, when it did, you would be alright? I doubt it.
When I cultivated the practice of knowing that I’m ok within, no matter the external circumstances, my anxiety lessened. These are skills that we can learn at any age however, kids are so clever & if we teach them the art of problem solving at a young age it will not only develop the brain, regulate emotions, build self-confidence & empower the child, but it will also lessen a child's chance of suffering from anxiety.
In a world that can feel so huge & out of control to our tiny humans, being part of the solution is a wonderful gift!
“My child isn’t GIVING me a hard time, they’re HAVING a hard time.”
~ Avital Schriver
How are you feeling thee days Mama? Are you Irritable… triggered… sad…betrayed… overwhelmed… frustrated… worried… jealous… hurt… disappointed… embarrassed… anxious?
These are just a few of the emotions that may describe our state of being when it comes to our relationship with our kids!
Like me, you may have become so accustomed to socially acceptable descriptions such as “my kids are driving me crazy”, that you may actually believe that your plight in life is your child’s fault!
They do drive me crazy, you may protest, if they didn’t do a,b or c, then I wouldn’t lose my sh*t!
Wouldn’t it be nice to be able to place blame of all our “crazy” on someone else? I assure you I’ve tried but the frustrating reality is that it never stuck to them, it kept coming back at me.
Why was I the one struggling while another Mom was able to shrug off the same annoying behaviour. ~ Infuriating!
The inconvenient truth I’ve learned is that a child can’t drive you crazy, the trigger is in you.
If triggers were universal, then you too would get angry instead of shrugging it off. So what’s the difference, why can one of us remain peaceful while the other struggles?
The only difference is the thought before each of our reactions, or the thoughts that directly follow witnessing the behaviour.
You cannot have a feeling without a thought first!
We act out based on how we are feeling which comes from what we are thinking. Which means , I hate to break it to you but, your child cannot be driving you crazy, you are actually driving yourself crazy!
It sounds so simple I know, just change your thoughts right?! But when we see our child on their device (again)& think “They’re so lazy, their brain is going to fry, they’ll never going to get a job”, a rush of adrenaline sends us straight into panic & it’s impossible to feel zen! Or if their toys are all over the floor & you think, “All I do is clean up messes, they’re so disrespectful, this house is too small!” There’s a good chance you’ll feel anxious.
You’re not alone, most of us would get triggered by all of the above, & since our brains are wired with a negativity bias, this means ANTS, or Automatic Negative Thoughts, run wild through our mind! If we don’t do anything about it pretty soon they've created an anthill of emotions that, not only, don’t serve us, but make us feel badly about things that may not even be true!
Nobody else can get in our minds & control our thoughts (yet) so here’s the “good” & the “bad” news, YOU can feel calm… relaxed… trusting… generous… joyful… happy… peaceful… surprised… empathetic… loving… abundant… & grateful, even when your child is driving you crazy, because you are driving the car!
"You are child of the universe no less than the trees or the stars you have a right to be here"
Did you know that there is no such thing as anxiety In nature?
The tree doesn’t worry about losing all it’s leaves come fall …
The flower doesn’t hoard all it’s pollen …
The stream doesn’t fear the bolder coming at it …
And the momma bird doesn’t panic when the baby leaves the nest … in fact she nudges them off!
It seems ridiculous to even think about an insect hiding in fear of getting stepped on. It has a job to do and it’s only agenda is doing what’s required of it for the greater good, in that moment.
Anxiety is a man-made construct, period. The reason that we feel anxious swimming in this industrialized world (or should I say drowning) is because we have identified with material possessions, titles & expectations that have forced us to separate from who we truly are, a part of nature.
We have lost sight of the fact that we are part of a complex but harmonious symphony. The elements performing an intricate dance with every species, plant & animal, all working together. There is no need for a conductor to orchestrate this music, there is a natural rhythm that each piece is perfectly in tune & in sync with.
Nature is executing an elaborate piece of music, much more powerful than any individual or group will ever be but sadly, it often silenced by the noise of humans who have come to view ourselves as greater than this masterpiece.
When we feel lost, scared, alone, inadequate or anxious we have become disconnected to the most powerful source in the universe, our true nature & essence. It’s a trap cleverly designed to make you feel like you are lacking something, so the industrialized world can sell you something!
Our suffering comes from the belief that we are not sufficient.
If you take time to pay attention, it could bring tears to your eyes when you realize that “you are as significant as the sun & as insignificant as a grain of sand” in this dance of life. It is, not only, humbling but also calming, to be reminded that we are a part of something that intellectual knowledge cannot explain, an intrinsic knowing that is so much greater than can be explained in words.
When you can see yourself, with the humility of the grain of sand, connected to this magnificently, abundant earth, there is no way to be anxious at the same time.
If you find you're struggling to see yourself as a part of this miracle I would urge you to pause & just look down at the complexity of your hand; the individual finger prints, the intersecting lines & veins carrying blood through your body & witness the miracle that is always with you, YOU!
There is a difference between feeling judged & feeling understood & our children are incredibly sensitive to the two.
Let’s face it, when we are in conflict with our child, we are 100% in judgement of what they are saying or doing. Our condemnation of their behaviour triggers a negative reaction & soon we’re fully engaged in an outright battle!
Conversely, when our child’s behaviour is pleasing it arises great pride in us & we feel connected, but did you ever consider that praise is just sugar coated judgement?
Yup! Praise is every bit as much a judgement as condemnation is & they both come from a false sense of superiority.…. Ouch! … I know, that one just hit a nerve didn’t it?
Let me add a little more salt to that wound … that superiority is called our Ego! And, though we’d like to defend our humility as a parent, the Ego enters into most of our interactions with our children, sadly creating much disconnection & conflict.
You may recall from my last newsletter, there is no “good” or “bad”, “right” or “wrong” therefore, our judgement is irrelevant.
Judgement is simply a belief projected onto another to defend our point of view. It’s a rabbit hole that lures us. It’s so seductive, we all get sucked in, but it’s so dangerous because the same part of us that judges another also judges ourselves.
This harsh critic, judge or prosecutor, locks us up & throws away the key. The cell we are confined to leaves no room for mistakes, difference of opinions, or the possibility of having an experience far greater than anything we could have imagined based on our limited history.
It’s counterintuitive I know but, if we shift our outlook to that of a curious detective or reporter, staying neutral, with no judgement of praise or condemnation, we free ourselves.
As we open our hearts to the possibility that our child can be different than our narrow judgement of them, a deep bond will form naturally. We will uncover their true self, seeing them fairly without our own biases interfering.
In short, when you are in judgement of your child (or anyone) you will never be able to see them, hear them & truly understand them for who it is they are & they will feel the difference.
How would it feel if there were no barrier of belief between you & your child?
Who would you discover your child is?
What kind of a judge are you, a kind & loving one, or a cruel & unforgiving tyrant?
One of the ways I set myself free from anxiety & needless suffering in my life was when I fully
understood the concept that there is no “good” or “bad.”
If you immediately feel resistance to this statement, repeat it & sit with it a few minutes longer. I’m sure you will find relief in embracing this practice too.
It’s human nature to like feeling “good” & avoid feeling “bad.” However we also reinforce the idea, that most things in life are “good” or “bad”, in our kids from a young age & did you know that it can be at the root of a lot of anxiety for them?
If something was neither good nor bad how would you feel about it? It would be hard to feel much about it, right?
When we assign a positive meaning to something, we perceive it as “good.” If we assign a negative meaning to it, we now perceive it as “bad” but in actuality, the event or thing doesn't change, it’s just our meaning of it! …. Life changing, I know!
See the event itself is simply neutral. By seeing anything for the neutrality that it is, we can learn to under-react, controlling our anxious feelings & healing the split created at a young age, when we learned that something was good or bad. Essentially we need to “unlearn” what we perceive to be truth or reality in order to release new, less anxious, feelings in our body.
This can be difficult with our kids, you might argue, because obviously there are somethings that will harm them & others that could benefit them.
Adding a positive or negative connotation to the things we experience in life creates a false sense of superiority or condemnation. Praise is just as much of a judgement as criticism, it’s just disguised in a softer package, but either way we unknowingly create a split within our child.
If I’m “good”, I’ll be liked, happy, successful & accepted so, if I’m “bad” I will be unliked, unhappy, unworthy & rejected; a human beings worst fear! This is the beginning of the even bigger division of “them” & “us” that we are seeing played out today.
If you insist on looking for what's “good” or “bad,” I assure you that you will find it! When you see things in the neutrality in which they actually exist, you will feel more empowered, safe & in control knowing that, no matter the outcome, your are able to cope knowing it is neither good nor bad, it just IS, now life becomes so much more enjoyable &, dare I say even, peaceful.
Good or bad? Who’s to say? Try it out this week & see if it makes a difference in every area of your life!