I could fall into a wormhole of worry during my first pregnancy. But my wake up came one day when my husband said to me, “Honey, you know this isn’t over once the baby comes out, don’t you?” And it hit me like bricks. He was right. If I couldn’t find a way to check runaway worry it would rule my days with my children. And more, I risked limiting them and their experience, and their spirit of exploration. I also risked passing onto them (unconsciously and unintentionally) the belief that the world is an unsafe place. Children need boundaries; they need to feel safe; but they also need to feel their sense of internally driven power, authenticity and confidence. I often say parenting has been the most potent path for "waking up", and learning to not let my worry rule their experience has been one of the greatest lessons.
It's little wonder why we struggle to take responsibility for things (or to not feel overly responsible for everything!). Steeped in a blame culture that can wed us to the toxic shame experience, we often focus more on "who did it" and less on "how can we move forward together." This is true for us at the level of culture as much as at the level of interpersonal relationships (like with our partners and kids - not to mention ourselves!). We might wish to teach our kids about responsibility, but we'll struggle to do this in a blame culture that makes taking responsibility feel dangerous. We need to eradicate blame culture and make it safe for people to take responsibility in ways that don't shame them endlessly.
Want to blow your own mind? Want a resource in your toolkit for anxiety? Appreciation is a practice. Your heart wants to be free to love and appreciate. That might sound woo, but it's not. This “want” is biologically wired into you as a member of the human species. It wants to feel free to love the self that you are, and to incorporate others into that love as well (oh so challenging sometimes, I know). So, thoughts and attitudes of judgment and hatred and blame - whether directed towards yourself or another - they feel oppressive to the heart. But thoughts and attitudes of appreciation, well, they’re the antidote to all the ways we’ve shut down and cut ourselves off from our ability to connect with others.
Why do I have to turn into Ursula the sea witch before my kids will listen? Why do I find myself resorting to screaming and yelling all the time? What don't my kids respect me? Why don't other people respect me? Have you ever asked yourself these questions? Well, there's a fascinating link between how we feel in and about ourselves, and how our children respond to us as a consequence. It behooves us to understand this connection, because it can help us reframe those moments we feel disrespected and lose it! It can help us see the link between how we feel and how others respond to us; and why it is we feel disrespected when we do, and how it's more often a reflection of what we're embodying and communicating through the body.
Women often struggle to feel the often contradictory feelings & emotions they have in relationship to their mothers. In a world where mothers are often deified or criminalized, it's hard to just embrace a woman as the complex human being that she is. But honestly, I can't think of a way to honor my own mother more fully than to love myself deeply enough to allow for the full range of my emotions and human experience, as I acknowledge hers. And in that experience, I acknowledge her to not as an angel and not as a demon, but as a complex and dynamic human being. And that's what I deeply want for my own kids. I want them to love themselves enough to never need to deny any part of themselves for me or for anyone else. That means to embrace it all. And in case you need it, you have my full permission to do so.
Did you realize that you have access to a Marvel-level superpower that can alter the course of your life and your children's too? That's precisely how I've come to view the work I do in my life (as a mom, and as a human), and that I now LOVE to teach, because it feels just like that. Carl Jung said, "Until you make the unconscious conscious, it will direct your life and you will call it fate." Making the unconscious conscious isn't something we're taught, but I'll share one small example of how learning to do this creates an entirely new path for us to walk.
I don't believe in bad behavior. In fact, I'd love to strip away from the discussion of behavior all the moralizing we tend to do. And instead, come to see behavior within the broader context of a person's experience. Just as medicine begins to look beyond the symptoms a person's experiencing, and just treating symptoms (the old model), to understand more about the environment of the body and the psychosocial well-being of the individual (the emerging model); doing the same with behavior will shatter the old model of punishment & reward and help us see the child behind the behavior. And no one could welcome this more than me. I was that kid whose behavior was the problem, institutionalized and medicated based on that behavior even, but there was so much more to that story than what the behavior alone could tell. The behavior was only the outward manifestation of what was happening within. And I realize now that my pursuit of a deeper understanding of "self" and experience was an incredible act of self love. Having done this work for myself, this learning becomes a gift I actively give my kids and others around me.
We tend to think about and approach our kids and their behavior in a superficial way in the sense that we don't understand what's motivating that behavior. This can lead to thinking of behavior as a "problem" or a "pathology" and turning to strategies to "fix" behavior instead of understanding the child enacting it. I want to explore this concept and offer another perspective on our kids and their "bad behavior" that's more liberating to them (and to us), and which can help us see behind the scenes to what's really going on in that behavior for them. P.s. our ability to see the kid in those moments of "bad behavior" is greatly helped by our ability to see ourselves in moments of "bad behavior" as well. P.p.s. This is a two-parter!
I'm experiencing a bit of a rebellion lately. And it's not a problem! It's all part of an organic process we can experience as we move through life. Whether or not we're aware of it, we're constantly receiving guidance from the body in the form of a "push or pull"; that, if we learned to listen (not from the mind but through awareness in the body), we'd realize there's a path unfolding before our feet that we can follow. As much as we can appreciate guidance from the outside, ultimately it's all helping us (if we let it) clarify our own path.
An (on my heart) episode riffing more on the topic of parentification and what it means to walk away from that dynamic with a parent. We're thwarted in our development when we stay in this dynamic as adults; doing a disservice to ourselves, but also often to those we seek to rescue (and be responsible for) as well. Speaking for myself, I could never become the mother I wanted to be until I was able to do the work to reclaim myself from that dynamic.