So far, my summer has been filled with family outings, camping trips and vacations. Between the packing, unpacking and laundry my favorite moment was taking my kids and their friends to the waterpark. It felt like Waterworld itself was making me happy but I know that is not the case. There is always a thought inside our minds that makes some experiences better than others. Otherwise, every time I went to Waterworld I would be happy and this has not been true for me (I used to be very nervous with kids around water). If the waterpark itself was causing the happiness, then every person everyday would have the same great experience and I know this doesn’t happen. But for some reason, on this day, I was extremely happy as I plopped down onto a lounge chair in front of the wave pool. I wanted to capture this amazing feeling that suddenly came over me so I dug around to find what the awesome thought was that was causing me to be so ridiculously happy. After a minute of poking around my brain I found it, one of my favorite thoughts ever, “There is nothing I have to do right now.”
If you get the opportunity this summer for fun and relaxation, find out what the thoughts are you are thinking because those are going to be really powerful for you.
You might feel amazing while camping with the kids, but it’s because you are thinking some amazing thoughts. “I’m such a good Mom for giving my kids this experience” or “I just love it here”. “It’s so nice for us all to be together.”
Tuning in to your own moments of joy will help you recognize your values, your priorities and what you might be missing in your life. If my life was empty and boring, the thought “There is nothing I have to do right now” would feel horrible. Instead, it’s an indicator that I’d like more moments of idleness.
I was watching some mushy macho guy crying on The Bachelorette (The Bachelor series is CANDY STORE for a Life Coach!) as he told the story of how he nearly lost his life in a car accident and how grateful he was to be sitting by a romantic fireplace with this amazing woman. My ears perked up as I tuned in to what was sure to be an fabulous thought and he said, “Everything in my life, every challenge I’ve been through, has been leading up to this moment, right here with you.” No wonder he was so moved, that is a beautiful perspective we could all have, every day!
Do you think a glass of wine on the patio relaxes you? Stop and try and catch the thought you are thinking before you even take your first sip….I bet it’s a good one.
If your happiest moments are caused by thoughts of “how beautiful it is here” you might be yearning to notice or create more beauty. If you are most thrilled by the friends, family and togetherness, you might want to bring more connection into your everyday life.
I wish you lots of wonderful and beautiful moments this summer of whatever your heart desires the most. To extend them and make them last, find the thoughts that are creating them and use them even after your vacation is over.
But right now, I’ve got a whole lot of nothing waiting for me on a lounge chair so I’d better go attend to it. Cheers!
I was freaking out. I was about to speak in front of 300 people and I was pacing and sweating in the hotel lobby waiting to go on stage. I had 15 minutes left of this major anxiety and I wasn’t sure I was going to make it. I have talked in front of countless parents over the years and had never been this nervous before. These were nice, hard-working, devoted SuperMoms waiting for an uplifting keynote address, why in the world was I WAY more nervous than ever before?
I took three deep breaths and realized the thought in my head was, “There are three times as many people here as I’m used to and they are paying me three times as much, I have to be three times as good.” Clearly this thought was not helping me but as I used this 15 minutes to work with my brain, I discovered something FASCINATING. Something that has forever changed the way I deal with my own fears and has been massively helpful for my clients. The thing we fear most, is our own tongue-lashing. We are afraid of regret, making mistakes, and being embarrassed, because of how we berate ourselves afterwards!!!
Of course I don’t want anyone to think I’m stupid or ugly but when I think about it objectively, it’s never really about what other people think. Realistically, there is probably 5% of every audience that thinks I’m a stupid lame dork. Maybe 10% of folks think I’m brilliantly amazing, and the other 85% probably don’t think much of me at all. They might say, “that was nice” or “I really liked her talk” and then go back to their lunches and their lives. What I truly feared the most, is what I would say to myself in the car on the way home.
I used to be REALLY mean to myself, (“You are such an idiot! Why did you say something so stupid? You completely blew it!”) and the worst thing I used to say to myself….”You didn’t say everything perfectly.” Yep, this funny little perfectionistic thought used to send me into a shame spiral from hell. And since it was true almost everyday, I was really good at being mean to myself.
Shame feels really heavy and dark but when we shine a light on it, we realize that thing we fear the most is the negative things we say to OURSELVES. Isn’t that so funny!? Why not just stop saying mean things to ourselves?
What if, no matter how ugly we looked, stupid or rude we sounded, what if we could have our own back? What if we could treat ourselves like our best friend would? “You tried your best” “It’s not a big deal” “You’ll get em next time” “Nobody even noticed” “Have a hug and a glass wine and things will be better in the morning.”
That day, seconds before I went on stage, I made myself a promise, that no matter what I said or did, I would have my own back. I would say nice things to myself, about myself, on the drive home. I would allow three things I could improve upon, but everything else would be compliments. When you commit to having your own back, it takes the fear away. You are FREE to try new things, make mistakes, and do things outside your comfort zone!
Answer this….”What would you attempt if you had no fear?” What might you try if you promised to compliment yourself for the effort, not the result? Where do you find yourself being proud or jealous of others? If you did what they were doing, what would you say to yourself?
Once my clients realize that their greatest fear is their own tongue-lashing, they learn how to be supportive of themselves. When you can be nice to yourself, you have nothing to fear. Regrets, failure, embarrassment don’t even exist! With this tool in their back pockets, my clients have taken on many scary and amazing things like moving to another country, going for that promotion, leaving a bad relationship, taking a vacation by themselves, asking for a raise, committing to a new relationship, starting a business, exercising for the joy of it, sometimes, even something as scary as slowing down, stop taking care everyone else, and just remembering how to play.
Commit to having your own back, no matter what, and see where it takes you.
Let’s face it, this might be the ONE day of the year when you get asked the question, “What do you want?” Instead of sticking with traditional flowers & massage, why not use this day as an excuse to genuinely answer the question.
What is it that I really, really, really want?
I believe this is a spiritually profound question that deserves our time and attention.
If there were NO RULES, and NO CONSEQUENCES, what would I do with a whole day just for ME?
If I COULD NOT care what people thought and had NO FEAR, what would I do for MY mother’s day?
I’m sure you could tell me in 5 seconds what your kids want, your husband wants, your mother and your mother-in-law want and what they all want for you. Leave them in the house for a minute, climb up on the roof and dream with me for just a while.
If you could do anything in the whole wide world, what would your heart desire?
Would you wake up in Hawaii and go to bed in Paris?
Would you sing in a Broadway musical? Go shopping in London wearing one of those wacky royal hats? Would you spend the day asleep in bed or re-enact your Vegas bachelorette party?
What do you really, really, really want?
Without judgment or filters or “I could never do that”. Just you, remembering what it’s like to dream again.
Asking this question connects you with your spirit, that part of you that has gotten lost along the responsible parenting journey and taking care of everyone else’s needs. It doesn’t mean you are a bad parent to want what you want, it’s just an exercise to show you where you are out of balance.
It’s okay to admit that you want more alone time or “receiving” time, where other people cook and cater to your needs for a change. Don’t let your dreams scare you, just asking the question will make your spirit feel heard. Maybe you want to hold a baby all day? It doesn’t mean you have to have another, it just means you long for that sweet, connected, nurturing side of your personality. Longing for adventure travel? That might mean you are ready for your next stage of personal growth and learning.
One year, I craved productivity and accomplishment so I painted my dining room. Another year, I spent the day alone in nature. Now I like to spend two nights in a hotel by myself, feel free to get creative. This mother’s day, ask yourself what you really want and then do something that will give you that same feeling. Notice how just thinking about it changes your state of being. You feel more expansive, more relaxed and FREE (and you haven’t even left your computer yet!). I’d LOVE to hear what your heart is desiring, jump on over to my facebook page and share it so we can all enjoy that feeling.
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.
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.
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 ever try to relax but your brain won’t let you? Thoughts keep firing in a dozen different directions, none of them helpful? One of the reasons my clients feel so calm and focused after a coaching session is they learn the process of controlling their mind. Instead of being a passenger in an out of control vehicle, they learn how to step into the drivers seat and CHOOSE the direction they want to steer their brain. While driving your brain along this road of life, there is a huge and very powerful force you need to be aware of. Like gravity, this invisible force can be a huge pain if you don’t respect it. Learning to use scarcity to work for you instead of against you, can give you power & strength and increase your appreciation of the little things in life.
Scarcity simply means, inadequate supply. Although normally an economic term, I discovered the power of scarcity when I eliminated sugar from my house. Sugar does terrible things to my son’s brain and body so when he developed a strong addiction to it, we chose to remove all sugar from the home. Suddenly, I’m like the cookie monster. I’d get so excited when a parent would bring cookies to my Time for The Talk class, I’d eat one and store one for later. At the grocery store, I’d head straight to the bakery for the day old freebies. I’m eating treats I don’t even like out of fear that this is my only chance. My sugar intake probably doubled when I eliminated it from my house, just because I believed in “inadequate supply”.
This is the same reason why diets don’t work. You start pigging out because you know, “starting tomorrow”, you will only allow salads and fish. As soon as you get tired, stressed, sick, or any perceived weakness, scarcity jumps in and takes over and pigs out on all the forbidden food.
I’ve seen clients unable to enjoy this time with their young kids because they are imagining being sad with their future empty nest. “How can I be happy today when someday they’ll be gone and I’ll be sad?” (Scarcity Mindset)
Parents worry about their teens getting good grades and getting into a good college but there are TONS of great Universities out there. “Everyone else is taking AP classes so you should, too!” “A 4.0 isn’t good enough anymore!” (Scarcity Mindset)
With sports, we spend thousands of dollars and years of our lives driving our kids all over the state so they can make the high school team, only to have them burned out or injured by the time they get there. “There are only a few spots available!” “Everyone else is getting private coaching!” “They only take the best of the best!” (Scarcity Mindset)
Scarcity makes people buy houses in hot markets, sit outside Best Buy all night before Black Friday, spend more at school auctions than they normally would and jump on investment bandwagons. Scarcity makes toddlers fight over toys, siblings fight over everything and teens hang with forbidden friends. With such a powerful force, using it to work with you instead of against you is very smart.
My son was nervous about performing well at his track meet. I suggested he change his focus from doing well, to scarcity: “Imagine today is the last day you will ever be able to run. Tomorrow, the icebergs melt, the streets are flooded and you can only swim or float down the streets. Instead of thinking about results, think about running with all the joy & enthusiasm of your last race ever.”
I have a friend who uses scarcity every time she is annoyed with her husband. She imagines he’s being shipped overseas for a year and this is the last time she’s going to spend the night with him. She savors every interaction with full attention and fully enjoys herself and his company.
Not in the mood to exercise? Imagine tomorrow you go in for surgery that will leave you bedridden for 6 months. How can you use that thought to enjoy freely moving your body in the world today?
I had a client with three kids under five and the constant mess was wearing her down. As soon as she realized this was temporary, her outlook changed. She realized that very soon, her kids will be gone six hours out of the day which will significantly reduce the mess. This scarcity mindset helped her relax and enjoy this stage of her life, mess and all.
My kids are at the ages where I’m doing A LOT of driving. As I was complaining about it one day, it dawned on me this is my last year I will ever drive both kids around. My teen is in drivers ed and by this time next year, he won’t need me. Suddenly my complaining stopped and I’m soaking up every precious car ride with him.
Be careful not to use scarcity to make you sad. Use it to savor the moment, appreciate where you are now. Use it to help you take action towards your goals. If you get stuck in sadness, call me. Joy is a vulnerable emotion for many people and it’s worth taking the time to increase your tolerance for it.
Notice where in your life you have that restless feeling because “there isn’t going to be enough”. Make sure you are using scarcity to your advantage, rather than letting it use you. Let it help you save water during a drought, sign up for my next Time for The Talk class with your 9-12 year old and sing and dance with your kids for as long as they will let you.