Is it love or attachment?

It’s hard to love without attachment!

Why is so hard to love somebody without attachment? Real love is free, simple and easy. “I am wonderful. You are wonderful. We are always connected, even when we aren’t together. I wish the best for you wherever you go.”

Attachment feels needy, clingy and desperate. “I only feel good when you are with me. But when you are with me, I need you to say _______ and do ______, in order to feel good.” Buddhists see attachment as the cause of all suffering so why has it got so tangled up with love?

I remember singing “You are my sunshine” to my first born baby changing the words from “Please don’t take my sunshine away.” to “No one will take my sunshine away.” Even that small amount of vulnerability made me nervous. I was attached to my baby, to the outcome I wanted for his life, and I was trying to get control wherever I could find it.

I think the problem is the initial “falling in love” stage. Whether it’s with a partner, your children, or even your job, we love that rush of feel good hormones that makes us feel alive, adored, and unstoppable. It is a high like no other. Seeing ourselves through the eyes of our beloved gives us a glimpse of heaven. Look at how beautiful we are, how adorable, how charming, smart and funny! When that little baby in our arms gazes up at us we get a glimpse of our own divine perfection. When the sun comes up after the eight-hour conversation with our new sweetheart, we get a glimpse of what it’s like to be connected to and have faith in something bigger than ourselves. It’s amazing and we love it so much we don’t want to it go.

emotional hostage situation?

I don’t think we are meant to live in that constant state of bliss (that’s what heaven is for). But I do think we are meant to have a glimpse of what is possible for us.  Despite what the love songs say, it isn’t that person that makes us feel so good. There are many sources of love, connection and feel-good hormones and we get to continually search for it as long as it also feels free from attachment.

Katelyn and Ryan* were 16 when they fell head over heals in love for the first time. Their love was passionate, intimate, and deep. For the first time, Katelyn felt deeply cared for and adored. All her problems melted away when her new boyfriend was around. But after a few months, Ryan started to get on Katelyn’s nerves. He wasn’t saying or doing the right things and she got scared of losing him. Not only were her old feelings of anger and disappointment creeping back in, but new feelings of abandonment and vulnerability were taking over. She started getting jealous of anything he did without her. She felt desperate, clingy, and out of control. He loved her and tried to do everything she asked but it was never enough. What started out as love was turning into an emotional hostage situation. Katelyn started threatening suicide and even though Ryan loved her deeply, nothing he did ever seemed to be enough. Instead of feeling alive, adored and unstoppable, he felt imprisoned and confined. Ryan realized her emotional neediness was not something he was trained to help her with so together they went to see a counselor. As Katelyn learned to heal the feelings of abandonment she felt when her father moved out, she was free to love without attachment.

Catherine* was overjoyed the day her son was born. Holding him in her arms made her feel fulfilled, connected and absolute joy. As he grew older, the love, adoration and affection he showered on his Mama made her feel like the most beautiful person on the planet. When he turned 12, things started to change. He started rolling his eyes when she spoke and criticized everything she said. Catherine’s thoughts and opinions were discounted and every time she argued with her husband, her son took his side. This deep, long lasting love affair she had with her son was fading away and she had nothing to replace it with. He was the baby of the family! Instead of finding ways to fill that void herself, she started clinging to her son. She wasn’t ready to let go of those feelings of connection and love she enjoyed for all those years. The tighter she held on, the more he pushed away. It wasn’t until she could quiet her own self-critical voice and find other sources of joy, that he was able to come back and love his Mama without feeling her attachment tentacles.

Love is not what we hear in movies, “You complete me.” or in song lyrics, “I can’t live, if living is without you.” Love is expansive and free. Attachment feels needy and desperate.

So if you find yourself in attachment instead of love, try switching from, “I need you to make me happy.” to one of the following statements:

“I feel joyful and full of life, and I love sharing my life with you.”

“I love being with you when you feel like being with me.”

“Our love will always keep us connected, no matter where you are.”

“I see your imperfections and I love you anyway. I see my imperfections and I love and accept myself as I am.”

Want to learn more about loving without attachment? Schedule a free discovery session with Torie by clicking here or purchase a package of sessions and we’ll get to work.

*All names and identifying details have been changed. 

Ten reasons why teens rebel.

Ten reasons why teens rebel against us.

 1. It’s developmentally appropriate – To a teenager, obeying Mom feels like being a child and they are trying to figure out what it means to be grown up. Most kids still want cuddles and nurturing when they are sick, but they’ve got this developing pre-frontal cortex that they want to practice using, and that means lots of arguing, criticizing and pointing out our flaws. Kids rebel in order to separate from parents, develop their brain and find their own, grown up voice.

2. They know what we are going to say before you say it. – Our children have been listening to us talk for over a decade and our voice is well ingrained in their brain. They know what we are going to say before we do!  They know how we want them to dress, walk, talk, study, do their hair and where to put their shoes. Let’s face it, WE’RE BORING! Want your teens attention? Surprise them. Compliment them in a way you never have before. Tell them your opinion on oral sex, the global economy or the new scuba diving class you just signed up for.

3. They need more freedom – Too many rules and expectations, stress, or even just a strong family culture, can make a kid rebel in order to gain freedom and explore their own identity. Teens need time away from parental closeness and the stresses of life so they can relax and learn listen to their own voice.  Once they have some space, they may end up making good decisions that they can own and be proud of, rather than to fulfill someone else’s expectation. Encourage teens to ask for what they want.  If they say, “I just want a break!” help them find healthy ways to chill out and relax (nature, exercise, and music can be great, just make sure it is purely for fun, with no agenda). If they want more opportunity to express themselves, guide teens toward positive challenges they can get excited about (getting a job, redecorating their room, planting a garden) where they can develop their own determination & judgment.teen boy lighting cigarette

4.  They need less freedom – If your toddler acted up to get attention, chances are your teen will, too.  Sometimes rebelling is a cry for help, a teens way of saying, “I’m out of control and I don’t know how to reign myself back in.”  Listen carefully to the words they say and take them as truth, “I can’t do this anymore.” or “Everybody hates me” are not just hormones talking, they are telling you what they believe.  When your teen needs help, so do you.  Even if you have your PhD in adolescent development, you still are too close to the situation and you need an outsider’s perspective and expertise.

5.  Blame it on the hormones – Raging hormones during the adolescent years cause teenagers to make rash decisions and act impulsively.  Not only are their brains incapable of predicting the consequences of their actions but the hormones cause them to act in surprising ways. If you or anyone in your family struggled with post partum depression or anxiety, hypoglycemia, PMS, adrenal fatigue, thyroid issues, be on the lookout for hormonal issues in your teen. To get help, see an endocrinologist, naturopath or read books by Dr. Shames to understand more about hormonal fluctuations.

6.  You worry too much – Nothing will make a teenager ignore you more than listening to you “express your concerns”.   Worry teaches teens that we are impossible to please, we don’t know what we are talking about and they should stop listening to us. With sensitive kids, worrying teaches them that the world is a scary place and they should be afraid.  As parents, we don’t get to choose what they grow scared of.  Teens might decide to be afraid of getting fat, or someone not liking them, or getting a B in Science.  Overcoming worry is an inside job.  Asking your child to change their behavior so you can stop worrying is a short term option and won’t really get you what you want, which is to relax and stop worrying.

7.  The social pressures are starting younger – It used to be that sex, drugs and alcohol were issues 17-18 year olds had to deal with.  Now 13-14 year olds are having to develop the ability to resist peer pressure and make healthy choices. It’s a tall order for an age that is wired to want acceptance by their peers.  This is the reason that in my Time for The Talk class for 9-12 year olds and my Girls Leadership Camp for 12-14 year olds, I focus a lot on resisting peer pressure, making good decisions, and critically analyzing media messages.

Why do teenagers rebel?8.  Your teen is an experiential learner – Some kids are great observers.  They love watching other people and gain amazing insights without having to participate. And then there are our experiential learners. These kids aren’t learning unless they are actively participating. Some teens try on personalities, like they try on new outfits, jumping from one trend to the next, figuring out who they are, out loud. If this is your kid, don’t judge a book by his cover and we promise not to judge YOU for what your child looks like! Stay tuned in to the essence of who she is, it might not match the clothes she is wearing.

9.  Your rebellious teen is later-born – Frank Sulloway in his book “Born to Rebel” discovered that later-born children are more likely to rebel than older-born children. The babies of the family probably received fewer expectations, less identity with the parents, and more attention for being cute and funny. When these babies grow into teens they feel more free and want to differentiate themselves, not only from Mom and Dad, but from older siblings as well.

10.  Your teen is too good! – Delayed adolescence can happen at any time for a teen (especially a first-born or only child) who always aims to please and does all the “right” things.  Before going off to college or another pending separation, many teens initiate more dramatic rebellion in order to develop the necessary skills they will need to make it on their own.  When it comes to making changes that are good for us, many of us still rebel against our own internalized authority.  Trying to eat less sugar? How old do you feel when you sneak those cookies late at night? I tried to put together a writing schedule for my blog and heard my own inner rebel saying, “Don’t tell me what to do. I’ll do what I want, when I want!”  Minimize rebellion by owning your choices and decisions.

Do you have a 12-14 year old daughter and live near Walnut Creek, CA?  Registration opens soon for Girls Leadership Day Camp called “Getting What You Want.”  Email Torie (at) LifeCoachingforParents (dot) com, to get on the interest list.  Camps start in July, read more about it here. 

girls summer day camp
“Getting What You Want” Summer Camp

 

 

Are you TOO NICE?

Many parenting classes and books teach parents how to be more empathic but for some of us, that’s the easy part. We love the cuddling, the sympathetic listening, and the intimate bonding that comes with parenting our precious cutie pies. But being too nice isn’t good for anybody. Nice parents will put everyone else’s needs before their own, not even realizing the burdens they are carrying. Here are some of the warning signs that you may be too nice and it’s time to change the way you operate:

-Your kids are acting out. When kids start testing boundaries they are looking for a strong leader and misbehavior means they need you to step into your calm, compassionate power. Not everyone likes this role or has easy access to the energy of leadership.

– Your mood is dependent on your kids: if they are happy, so are you. If they are grumpy, it seems impossible to have a different emotional state.

– You have a hard time taking time to yourself. You hear yourself saying, “I don’t have time for me” or “I don’t like taking care of myself, I’m just fine” or “I can’t afford it”.

– The thought of an empty nest makes you really uncomfortable.

– Your body is showing signs of stress: back pain, digestive issues, weight gain or loss, TMJ, or other health problems that doctors think could have a stress component to them.

– You worry a lot or try to control things. You have a hard time going with the flow.

-Your friends or spouse keep encouraging you to relax, get a massage, or take a break.

Websters defines empathy as “The ability to share another persons feelings.” A wonderful skill and much needed in our competitive world, but too much empathy and you lose touch with yourself.   ESPECIALLY if you also have a job that involves taking care of others, you can get out of balance really quickly and easily. If you are like me and these warning signs sound very familiar, you owe it to yourself and your loved ones to start integrating these steps towards reconnecting to your authentic self and finding balance. If it’s been years since you felt connected to your spirit, it may take a long time to get it back. Be patient with yourself and enjoy the journey of re-discovering your best and highest self (it’s in there, I promise, and it really wants your attention!)

Here are my best steps to any empathic Mom or Dad who thinks they might be too enmeshed with their families needs and has lost touch with their spirit.

  1. Set aside time to do NOTHING. Doing nothing is the best, most healing, most PRODUCTIVE, thing anyone who finds themselves in The Land of Crazy can do. Doing nothing, with nothing being the only agenda, is the fastest, most efficient way to gain access to your inner wisdom and your intuition. But nice parents have a hard time with this one so first, write down all your excuses of why you can’t make time for this. Find amusement in this list, set the timer and DO NOTHING for as long as you can stand it. Take a bath, sit in your car and stare into space, hike up a hill and enjoy the view, just decide that for 15minutes or 60 minutes, you are going to BE and not DO. It’s going to feel strange and unfamiliar because change always does. Just breathe and allow, pretend you are on vacation.
  2. Re-discover your creative side. Drawing, painting, jewelry making, interior design, web design, writing stories, scrapbooking, organizing, this is the perfect time to pursue those creative interests. Dwelling in the right hemisphere of your brain in other areas (besides empathy) is like a road back into your inner wisdom. It’s healing and nurturing, allow it to be more about play than productivity.  If you hear yourself say, “I’m not creative”, do more of step one.
  3. It is very hard for empathic care-takers to access their authentic inner voice with anyone else in the room. Find mental, emotional, and physical solitude so that you learn to differentiate your authentic voice from everyone else’s.

The first time I realized I had to make a change was when my baby was 8 months old. My back pain was unbearable, I’d get a massage and frustrate the masseuse because it seemed I had lost the ability to take a deep breath. My constant worrying was driving my husband so bonkers he begged me to do something, anything, to relax. I had taken up permanent residence in The Land of Crazy.

It was really easy and fun for me to put by baby’s needs before mine. I loved it but I felt “on” all day, not realizing the toll it was taking on me, to have my attention always turned outside myself. If I tried to take a break in the house, it was really hard! I could hear laughing, crying, whining and I couldn’t help but “help” from the other room, I’d shout, “He wants his blanket” or “Don’t forget to feed him”. It was like I was permanently tuned to a station that I couldn’t shut off. When I left him in the care of someone else, the volume turned down, but I was still thinking, wondering, checking in to make sure he was okay. After 8 months of this, my mind was telling me I was fine, but my body was telling me different.

I started with going out to dinner by myself. I relished in the quiet, the taste of the food, the fact that someone else was serving ME and cleaning up after ME, it was fabulous. Then I worked my way over to day spas, starting with an hour massage, eventually enjoying 12 hours of luxurious lounging. I’d bring books, a sketch pad, but often just soaked, swam and soothed. I started teaching yoga and Pilates classes so I had no excuse not to go. Now about twice a year, I go away, by myself, to a hotel for two nights. It is HEAVEN. I get to eat what I want, when I want, stay up as late as I want, sleep in. But most importantly, I get access to my own voice.  I can tune in and listen to myself without distraction, what feels good, what I’m missing, and what’s next for me.  If your days are filled with taking care of others, being alone and receiving care isn’t a luxury, it’s mandatory. It’s like filling up your gas tank, you can’t keep running on empty and expect there not to be consequences.

This was me, doing nothing, on my magical weekend solo-retreat.
This was me, doing nothing, on my magical weekend solo-retreat.

 

 

 

Sometimes you just need to hear it….

I was feeling resentful and under-appreciated.  My husband went out of town and I felt stuck in the daily grind of dishes, laundry, cooking, driving and homework.  Even the holidays just looked like more chores on my to-do list.  I was busy but bored.  Normally I can coach myself out these moods, take some time to myself, go to yoga, etc.  This time I wasn’t snapping out of my bitterness.  I really needed to feel appreciated, valued and considered but I was stuck in my self-righteous anger and I didn’t like it.

I believe that no one can make you feel anything without you believing it first.  If you tell me I’m mean and selfish, it doesn’t affect me because I don’t have that belief about myself.  If I roll out of bed and drive to CVS, sick and feeling awful with my head pounding and nose running, and I see you there and you tell me how great I look, I will not believe you.  If I want to feel appreciated, I have to appreciate me first, in order to receive a compliment from anyone else.  So as dorky as I felt doing it, I wrote myself a thank you note:

Wonderful You,

needing to feel appreciatedI just want to take a minute to thank you for all you have done and continue to do to make our household run smoothly. You do such a great job of raising our children, cooking for our family, keeping them in clean clothes that fit, and maintaining a beautiful home, it’s easy to take you for granted. You manage to stay in good spirits while you juggle all the demands of our family. You encourage your children and husband to pursue their interests, joys, friendships and activities and are happy to “hold down the fort” and help facilitate, plan, drive and arrange financing to make these dreams possible. You always prioritize their needs, remembering their schedules, being on time, purchasing the right shoes, birthday presents, permission slips and all the details of life. You do this because your family’s happiness makes you so happy. Sometimes taking care of your family is a thankless job, but I want you to know that I appreciate and recognize your hard work, thoughtfulness and consistent care. You are a gem of a wife and mother and I am truly proud to walk in your shoes every day. I hope next time you look in the mirror, you recognize what a powerful force for good you truly are and how blessed your family is to have you in their lives.

With gratitude & love,

Me

It took a few drafts to get into the genuine feeling of gratitude (that self-righteous anger held on tight!).  But once I wrote it AND felt it, the rest of the day I felt only love and gratitude.  It was like I had filled up my appreciation tank and didn’t need any external validation. But what happens when you are walking around, vibrating in self-appreciation?  Other people feel it too, and about 5 hours later my husband walked in with a dozen roses AND the two items I asked him to pick up at Costco!

Don’t sit around and wait for someone to give you the feeling you want to feel.  Give it to yourself first. Write a letter telling yourself how proud you are of you, how you deserve a break for all your hard work, how caring and generous you are, how much you admire your patience and self respect.  Then watch and see how your family and your world start to respond to you differently.

How to Help Your Friends & Loved Ones (without losing yourself)

I’m sure you’ve all experienced “help” from your loved ones. Well meaning advice that starts with “What you need to do is……” or the pleading words from parents, “Honey, I’m worried about you….”

Working TogetherIt can be really hard to watch our child, our friend or a loved one suffering unnecessarily. Often, we can see things they can’t see but when we try to offer a new perspective, we get shut down. “If you just changed your attitude, your job wouldn’t be so bad.” “Just because your friend didn’t text you back doesn’t mean she hates you.” There are three ways people “help” that just don’t work.

  1. “Let me tell you what to do.” If you’ll just step aside, I can take over and do a much better job at managing your life than you are. This may be true but it’s not your lesson to learn and this type of “help” leaves both parties feeling frustrated and ignored.
  2. “I feel bad for you.” I’ll jump into suffering with you in hopes it will eliminate and relieve your burden. I will feel sad & scared in solidarity with you so at least you aren’t alone.   As well meaning as this is, this version leaves both parties feeling crappy and unable to see solutions.
  3. I’m worried about you so if you could worry too, I’ll feel better. This version of “helping” is common for parents to do to kids but it’s really about helping “the worrier” feeling more comfortable. Asking someone else to change their behavior so you can feel better, ignores the real problem and real solution.

Learning to help your friends and loved ones in a way that TRULY helps is an art form. If you’ve got “The Helping Tic” like I do, seeing people struggle causes you physical pain and mental anguish. The desire to help others is a good and important trait so learning to do it in a way that helps you BOTH feel better is SO important!

This “How to Help” workshop is right for you if ……

  • Your friends confide in you about their problems.
  • You find yourself thinking more about other people’s problems than your own.
  • You find yourself avoiding certain people because strong emotions come up when you are with them.
  • You hear yourself telling others “What you need to do is…..” or saying “Why doesn’t she just _____________ and then her life will be fine.”
  • Watching your loved ones or friends repeat the same mistakes really bugs you.
  • You worry more than you like and wish you knew how to stop.
  • Your children come to you with their problems and you’d like to help them feel better, without “fixing” it for them.
  • You can’t stand watching your children struggle.

This workshop was inspired by some of the girls in my summer camp who felt burdened by some of the secrets they had been asked to carry by friends who were in a really bad place. Please share this invitation with your daughters age 13 and up and bring them along if they are interested.

Mom’s Mini-Retreat (teenage girls welcome, too.)  Sunday, November 23rd 12pm-3:00pm near Walnut Creek.  $35.00 each, includes lunch, drinks and an interactive workshop. Space is Limited, Sign Up Today. 

If you are interested in the topic but can’t make the live retreat, click here and let me know.   If I get enough interest, I’ll create a webinar version.


How many are coming?