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!
We’ve all been cooped up together for weeks, experiencing a very long summer, & with that we’ve all had to adapt to & accommodate all kinds of change & loss so, needless to say, the energy in some homes is getting a wee bit testy!
Part of the discomfort for parents is the heavy burden of feeling like we need to have all the answers for our kids, we need to fill their days on top of ours & we need to know what will happen next so they can be prepared.
I want to offer you some relief, that’s NOT YOUR JOB! There is not one person on earth who has the answer to everything, & our righteousness in assuming we should is, frankly, annoying!
It’s so alluring to share everything we do know because it makes us feel so good, we are ‘needed’, we are in control & powerful. After all, we’ve been told that “knowledge is power”. So parents take the liberty of bestowing all that power upon our powerless child any chance we get.
This is one of our biggest mistakes as parents. We “think we know” way too much! What we perceive to be ‘helpful’ quickly turns into a lecture, sermonizing all that we have learned in our 40 some years in some kind of teachable moment. Our children soon tune us out, roll their eyes, sigh, or storm off.
While we critique our child for being disrespectful, rude or out of control; of all the ways they could try to silence us, this is actually quite a highly sophisticated way of communicating.
If your child wasn’t terrified of losing their life line what they’d want to tell you is “SHUT UP”! (Perhaps with the addition of a few other choice words in there.)
It is not our job to have the answers & if we intend to preserve our relationships in the weeks to come, we will have to let go of this idea that we must.
Our only job is to make our child FEEL seen, heard, validated & prepared for the next level of life, so that they grow up confident in their abilities & with a healthy self-esteem intact.
How would you interact differently with your child if you didn’t have to ‘know’. If you didn’t have to be right, have an answer or fix their problem, without the “should’s & supposed too’s” expected of you as a parent?
Would you be stressed, anxious, rigid, tired & frustrated? Or might you be more relaxed, calm, co-operative, open & curious? Who would you rather be around?
It takes great courage for our children to speak & it’s our responsibility to meet their courage with the wisdom to listen. As the saying goes, we were given one mouth & two ears to listen twice as much as we talk. Listening is not only a form of communication, it’s the only way to form authentic connection with our child.
Let me share a bit about what I’ve learned to be true about Belief Systems! They’re ALL B.S!! (It’s no coincidence ... BS!)
Cleaning up my shit around what I believe has calmed the anxiety in my life! Let’s see if it can help calm yours too!
A belief is what we “know” to be true based on how we perceive something.
We BELIEVE what we SEE. So how we perceive an event becomes our reality, but that does NOT mean it's TRUE!
Our minds desire to "know" attaches a meaning to what we see because it makes us feel safe.
We then react to what we "see" which stimulates our nervous system to produce very real sensations or feelings in our body. Many of which are unfavourable, causing undo stress, anxiety & dis-ease in our bodies.
What if I challenged you to find 3-5 other possible “Truths” about what you believe to be true about any situation. Would you be able to?
How would this change your perception of events that you currently believe to be true? Would this then question EVERYTHING you know to be true?
Letting go of the need to cling, so desperately, onto our beliefs is what holds us back from living our most fulfilled lives.
So how do we change these deep rooted beliefs, most of which formed at a very young age through our family of origin & culture?
To do this we have to understand how these beliefs formed in the first place.
All that we “know” has been learned by cognitively understanding it or experiencing it, but did you also know that we can learn something by creating it?
This is amazing news! If we can create what we know, then we can create new beliefs.
If we uncover the BS that is keeping us stuck in a loop of habitual patterns & reactions, we can form new connections in our brain that will speak to our nervous system in a whole new way.
When we learn to do this we can stop the anxiety causing us to suffer & transform every aspect of our life, relationships, finances & overall health & wellbeing.
Imagine if you had learned to do this as a child! I highly recommend you learn how to now, it will change your life as it did mine!
Inspired by "The Work" by Katie Byron & The Lefkoe Institute.
Don’t tell anyone (especially my husband) but I’m always wrong!
That’s right, just ask my kids! …. Well, maybe don’t! LOL! … It’s not just because they’re teens, & parents are never right, it’s because I make assumptions! Do you do this too?!
Have you ever called out your child for not doing something you asked them because you didn’t see them do it, only to find out they had done it already?
Have you accused them of being disrespectful when they were actually referring to something else altogether?
Or, have you yelled at them for being on their device when they were using it to do homework?
All assumptions gone wrong! Any time I make an assumption, I’m wrong 99% of the time, even though I believe with great certainty that I’m right!
Assumptions are at the root of most arguments. We can never fully understand another in our need to be right. Assuming we KNOW the answer will usually find us, at best unlikeable & at worst in constant conflict with our child.
As parents we sometimes get in a a bad habit of answering, instead of asking questions. We make assumptions about our child without proper investigation, which can dangerously affect the trust & connection between us.
I have made, & will continue to make, my fair share of mistakes with my children & many relationships in my life, I’m human after all. Learning how to become MORE EFFECTIVE & LESS AFFECTED by asking questions instead of making assumptions is one of the reasons that I became a coach.
“Everyone needs a coach. It doesn’t matter whether you’re a basketball player, a tennis player, a gymnast or a bridge player.” ~ BILL GATES
Getting a coach doesn’t mean that you’re not already doing a great job, on the contrary, it means you want to do an even better job! It means you acknowledge that there are places we all go wrong & skills that could be developed more.
If quarantine has taught us nothing else, it’s that possessions just don’t hold as much value as relationships. How much are you currently investing in learning to relate, communicate & connect with the ones you value the most?
Do a little experiment this weekend. ASK before you ASSUME. You may just be surprised how wrong you’ve been, & in the process experience an authentic moment of connection as you fully understanding your child.
Let me know what you find!