We expect our kids to be resilient. Kind. Express their emotions respectfully. Clean their room without complaining. And the list goes on.
Sometimes I wonder if we expect more from our kids than we do from ourselves. Ouch.
Ever caught yourself YELLING at a child and telling them to “BE MORE RESPECTFUL!”???
I’ve got a bit of a secret. I expect it from my kids, but as a human being, I’m not all that resilient. I’m the lady that wrote a song called “BIG FEELINGS”… cause I FEEL ’EM BIG ALL THE TIME. And it’s hard for me to get out of my un-helpful discouraging thoughts and feelings.
It’s why I write books and songs. It’s all for me. I’M THE ONE WHO NEEDS HELP thinking about life’s ups AND downs, failure and being content being myself.
So the other day I was looking at my kids thinking “Wow. Sometimes it doesn’t take much and they looooooooose it.” Then I thought, “OHHHHHHHHHHHHH… those kids been watching their mama. DANG! I think mama has some growing to do.”
SOOOO I decided to do a bit of work.
Here’s what I mean in real life terms.
We have a son who is 14 who doesn’t live with us. He has autism, ADHD, and a moderate intellectual disability and needs 1 to 1 care 24/7. He is high energy, extremely anxious and struggles to notice and care for others. When we have family visits, it’s a like watching fireworks go off. One after the other.
I’m sad he doesn’t live with us. I’m working on getting help in our home so at least he can call this his home — even if he’s not here all the time. Currently our government doesn’t support this model of care, so I have a lot of work to do in order to get there.
But the point is — I get discouraged when he’s not here. BUT I ALSO get discouraged when he IS here.
Last week we had such a bad visit that it took me almost 2 days to come back to myself. In that time I had decided that his behavior MEANT that I was failing. His words MEANT that I wasn’t enough. I BELIEVED those thoughts and had terrible and UN-HELPFUL FEELINGS for DAAAAYS afterward. I did nothing good for myself, stayed up late, cried, and ate carbs. I was SOOOOO discouraged and my heart was … a bit sick.
Do you ever get like that?
For whatever reason, something or someone really has your number and you start to spiral after an interaction with them.
BUT THEN something REALLY SUPER IMPORTANT happened. I DID THREE THINGS DIFFERENTLY.
1. I GOT CURIOUS.
I kept thinking about my thoughts. I got CURIOUS about my thoughts. What was I actually THINKING? What was going on inside my head that totally knocked me out for those days?
It’s INSANE to me how powerful thoughts and conversations — THAT ARE TOTALLY FAKE AND MADE UP IN MY HEAD- impact how I treat myself, how much energy I have, my emotions, and how I treat others.
BUT HERE IS THE MOST BEAUTIFUL THING.. The AMAZING and MOST WONDERFUL thing about lies, is they are NOT TRUE!!
Once we figure that out, once we figure out the lies that get to us and discourage us… we are half way there.
2. I SEPARATED FACTS from JUDGEMENTS.
I looked up a phrase called “RADICAL ACCEPTANCE.” It just means to acknowledge things as they are without assigning a MEANING to them. I tried it.
Like, “that was a really tough visit.” Done. FACT.
As opposed to “that was a really tough visit and if I was a better mom I would know what to do and I AM NOT A VERY GOOD HUMAN.” JUDGMENT.
Discouragement is NEVER just facts. It always comes with a judgment.
As I listened more to my thoughts — I listened for the JUDGMENTS. I listened for the MEANING I was making. Sometimes I do this by journaling, other times, just by doing something without distraction. Like a bike ride or a walk with no iPod. When I am undistracted or un-entertained, I can HEAR my thoughts better rather than just feel them (and then eat them!).
3. I ASKED MYSELF A QUESTION: Who would I be without those thoughts?
I asked this question: who would I be without those discouraging thoughts, “I’m a terrible mom and I’m constantly failing my son and my family.” **
Um, I’d probably be a happier human who is in a way better mood and who has a lot more energy.
So, I started acknowledging those extra bad-news tidbits and sticking to the facts.
I let the judgments go with a deep breath, acknowledging that I’d actually made it up. Then I rehearsed the facts. They weren’t positive or negative. Just facts. No spin off into implications or meaning. Bare minimum. For me that was, we had a visit. It was hard. No judgment.
It takes a little bit of work and a bit faith, but it’s worth it. It FEEEEELS better, your energy increases, your capacity to love and to be who you are increases.
So get curious. Separate facts from judgments. And as who you’d be without those judgements filling up your heart and mind. If you are feeling discouraged, somewhere in there, lies a judgment, a little bit of something extra that is NOT TRUE. It’s bad math. It doesn’t add up. It’s illegally there AAAaaand it’s poisonous.
YOU ARE NOT ALONE. We are all on this life journey and doing our best with what we have.
Here’s to brighter and better days, brought to you by the work you are doing — from the INSIDE out.
** The question come from Byron Katie’s “THE WORK”. TOTALLY worth your time and interest if you are struggling with thoughts beating you down with discouragement!