Don’t forget to give back, TO YOURSELF, this holiday season

You’ve heard the saying “It is in giving, that we receive” and I know you get this.

You live it every day. You work hard so your kids are fed, clothed, clean, kind, warm, educated and happy. At the end of the day, you get to feel satisfied in a job well done and valued by your family. You love buying the perfect gift to see your kids faces light up. Doing for others, gives you joy. Up until a point.

If ALL you do is give, and you don’t do enough receiving in return, you fall out of balance. Falling out of balance shows up differently for different people: resentment, jealousy, overeating, overdrinking, for me, it’s recurring illness and chronic pain.

If you’re waiting for your family, co-workers or mother-in-law, to appreciate all you do for them, you are going to be waiting for an awfully long time.

Instead, follow these holiday hacks to start giving back to yourself this holiday season. They will help you feel appreciated and balanced after a season full of giving.

  1. My favorite Christmas tradition is checking into a hotel room BY MYSELF for two nights after Christmas. There is nothing quite as wonderful as a day where 100% of the decisions are based on what YOU want to do. Where shall you go? What do you feel like eating? What are you in the mood for? How long do you want to stay? LUXURY and a great way to make sure you still remember what your own inner voice sounds like.
  2. If you can’t take an overnight, take a day. Sun up to sundown. Get a good book, explore a new area, check into a day spa. The key is to not DO anything, just to BE, and enjoy being yourself in this beautiful world we live in.
  3. Buy yourself a present. If you are out shopping for others and you find something you really love, BUY IT and wrap it up!  Who says gifts have to come from others? You were very good this year and you deserve something beautiful. Put it under the tree and get creative with the tag. Sign it “Your #1 fan” “Your favorite admirer” write a nice note that says “for all you do”.
  4. Say thank you. If you work and work but never hear ‘thank you’, it’s easy to slip into resentment. Learning to thank yourself for what you do is an incredible life skill. “I thank myself for putting wrapped gifts under the tree for my children .” “I thank myself for upholding our family and religious traditions.” “I thank myself for donating toys and food.” “I thank myself for cleaning my house and cooking a great dinner.”
  5. Make a brag board. Write down all the things you did that you are proud of and post it on the refrigerator for your family to see. “Bought red shirt for the school assembly.”, “contributed to teacher gifts”, “drove on field trip”, “swept the kitchen floor”, “made chili for dinner”, “hung lights”, “folded laundry”. Doesn’t matter how mundane, it just feels good to write down all you’ve done and post it like a trophy on a shelf. Revel in your accomplishments and appreciate yourself.
  6. Celebrate your accomplishments! You made through the crazy holidays! You only lost one present, you didn’t burn the turkey, you remembered to water the tree, so many victories! Get together with your girlfriends and raise a glass to yourselves.

So if you are likely to overdue the giving and doing this time of year, create balance by giving yourself the appreciation, solitude and recuperation time you need.

“Self-care is never a selfish act – it is simply good stewardship of the only gift I have, the gift I was put on earth to offer others. Anytime we can listen to true self and give the care it requires, we do it not only for ourselves, but for the many others whose lives we touch.” 
― Parker J. PalmerLet Your Life Speak: Listening for the Voice of Vocation

 

Have you fallen into the responsible mom trap?

Stay home moms are especially vulnerable of falling into these two traps but working moms can certainly find themselves stuck here too.

I asked a client the other day, “What percentage of your daily tasks are done out of obligation?” She figured about 90%. 90%!!! This is self imposed slavery!

Feeling like you HAVE TO do something traps the spirit and makes you feel powerless. “Shoulding” your way through life will wreck havoc on your energy and rob you of your own power and sense of authority over your life. It’s a mental prison and it takes it’s toll.

The most common reason why you hear moms say obligatory things like “I have to pick up your brother” “I need to start working out” or “I really should get a head start on my Christmas shopping” is because we want to feel important.

Many of us quit our jobs to stay home and raise kids and we need to prove that we are needed, valuable, and that our lives have purpose. The last thing we want is for someone to think we are sitting on the couch, watching reality TV and eating bon-bons. We take our mothering job seriously by filling our lives with obligations. 

If this sounds like you, the question to ask yourself is, “Have I accomplished my goal of feeling needed?

Can I check the box that says “I’m a responsible mom”?

If so, let’s check it and MOVE ON to something more freeing and empowering for the human psyche.

The second trap we can fall into, trying to prove we are hardworking responsible moms, is commiserating with other hardworking, stressed out people.
It took me FOREVER to believe my husband when he told me that he wants to hear how easy and joyful my day was! He would come home from work and talk about how stressed and overwhelmed he was, so I would pick the most stressful part of my day and share back. Solidarity, it’s how women support each other. You tell me what’s bugging you, I tell you what’s bugging me, we vent, we laugh, we feel better.

What he was asking me to do instead felt so rude!
Girlfriend: “My kids are such slobs. They leave their stuff everywhere, complain about having no food to eat yet still manage to make a mess in the kitchen.”
Me: “My kids are delightful in every way. They never make a mess and if they do, they clean it up.”
WHAT!? That is NOT how we support people we care about! But husbands are different than girlfriends.

When we complain to our husbands, he sees our problems as something he needs to fix.  When we share our crises, mishaps and exhaustion of the day, even with good intentions, it makes him feel more depleted and wondering why he’s working so hard in the first place.

Focusing on the negative put us into our own mental prison instead of giving ourselves permission to fully enjoy those moments when everything is going smoothly and easily.

Can you check the box that says, “I’m a hard-working Mom”? If yes, let’s check it and MOVE ON to focusing on those moments in the day when you felt deeply relaxed, present in the moment, and truly grateful. Share THOSE moments with your husband. Then he feels like his hard work is worthwhile because his kids get to be with a happy, balanced mommy all day.

Are you ready to MOVE ON from hardworking, needed and responsible? Start by replacing “I have to” “I need to” and “I should” from your vocabulary and replace it with “I choose to”, “I intend to” and “I will”. You’ve earned your Supermom patch, it’s ok to kick your feet up, relax and do some fun things just for you.

Discover your purpose

Are you too busy taking care of the kids to discover your purpose?

I want to tell you a story about an amazing woman I’ll call Sara. She has poured everything into her role as Mom. She volunteers for the PTA, hosts amazing birthday parties for her kids, makes cupcakes for the soccer team, drives a minivan and loves it. Sara is ALL IN on this Mommy thing. But at night, when the kids go to bed, she drinks a little too much wine and eats a little too many brownie bites. She’s happy with her life, but she knows something is missing. There is a nagging voice inside her head that knows she’s meant for more. Although Sara craves more purpose and meaning, every time she tries to figure out what to do, she gets confused, overwhelmed and filled with doubt. She doesn’t like feeling this way, so she fills her life with more distraction. “Let’s sign Kylie up for basketball and maybe being scout leader won’t be so bad.” The busier she is, the less she has to face this void that seems to be getting louder, despite the wine, kids and carpools.

Parenting our kids can be a really convenient, socially respectable way of avoiding our own calling. What Sara doesn’t realize is that this void, this nagging yearning for more, is her ticket to a really wonderful and exciting life! What keeps her stuck, is she doesn’t have the tools to walk through the doubt, the fears and the confusion. Here’s a typical conversation I have with my life coaching clients.

Client – “I have no idea what I want to do with my life.”

Me – “Ok, well, let’s pretend for a minute that you did know. What do you think it might be if you DID know what you want?”

Client – “Well, this would never happen of course, but if I could do anything, I always thought it would be fun to be a ______________.” (real estate investor, writer, event planner, firefighter, stay-home Mom, travel blogger, photographer, life coach, interior designer, nurse, etc.)

The client already knows what they want, or if they don’t have an exact job title, they can clearly describe exactly what they want. But discovering your calling and admitting it out loud can stir up a lot of fear. Fear of failure, fear of being who you are, fear of what other people will think, just fear. So instead, she talks herself out of it and gets back to focusing on the kids.

Parenting is a convenient decoy because it’s honorable, wonderful, difficult and very consuming. It’s only in those quiet moments, late at night, when we face ourselves, that we know we are hiding from our greatness.

What Sara doesn’t know, is hiding from her true calling, has a cost.  Overtime, she will start to become more negative and cranky. She’ll get frustrated with herself & her family, embarrassed that she can’t stop eating brownies or be happy with her current role. She might even focus in on or create another problem (health, weight, money, relationships, kids) all to avoid dealing with something that would be a such a wonderful part of her if she could allow it in!

If you relate to Sara and countless other Moms who yearn for more than just motherhood, take 10 minutes of quiet time, pull out a journal and ask yourself these questions:

  1. What do I really, really, really, really want?
  2. What is the feeling I’m trying not to feel?
  3. What’s the worst thing that could happen if I followed my dream?
  4. What would I dream if I knew I could not fail?
  5. What would I do if I could not care what people think?

These questions will get you started. But it really does help to have some outside perspective to help you see where you are blocking yourself from your own happiness and success.

Don’t waste time, schedule your free discovery call today. www.LifeCoachingforParents.com/work-with-me

How to transform tragedy into love

My Facebook feed is filled with fears and concerns over the recent mass shooting at a concert in Las Vegas. People are angry, sad, scared and trying how to not feel so vulnerable in this violent world. Venting on Facebook is kind of like yelling at your kids. It releases tension in the moment, you feel heard, but sometimes it creates more problems. When we focus on sadness, fear, anger or blame, we run the risk of spreading more negativity in the world.

To truly transform tragedy into something positive, try this approach before you post.

  1. First, ask yourself. Am I in danger? Are there any immediate threats to me or my loved ones? If you are fine in this moment, tell your brain it’s ok to relax and take some deep breaths.
  2. Ask yourself: What is the feeling I’m trying NOT to feel? Your default might be to worry, blame, get mad or scared, but what is the feeling underneath that you try hard not to feel? Let’s find that one. Vulnerability is sneaky, yet popular feeling to avoid, could that be yours?
  3. Allow yourself to feel this feeling, whatever it is. Name it, drop below the neck and locate where in your body this emotion resides. Emotion means energy in motion so see if you can identify the quality of energy. Does it feel like a solid, liquid or gas? Is it warm or cold? Does it feel heavy or tight? What color is it? Allow this feeling to be there without resistance.
  4. After about 2 minutes, find the emotion of compassion in your body. Where do you feel a sense of love & compassion? What color is it? Is it shiny or dull? Can you get a picture of it?
  5. Then offer the compassion to the part of your body that is experiencing the negative emotion. Infuse the negative emotion with compassion. See if you can transform the quality of the negative energy into a positive one.

Once you have allowed yourself to feel your feelings, your brain is freed up to think logically.

I used to have a thought that “Bad things can happen to my children anywhere, at any time, and I won’t be able to handle it.” These thoughts kept me very diligent, always worrying, watching for the next possible threat, never relaxing or trusting that things were going to be fine. It was an exhausting way to live. I used worry, anxiety and overwhelm as a way to avoid feeling the more authentic emotion of fear. 

The truth is, bad things CAN happen to our children anywhere at any time. That is a fact. We have no idea what the future will bring. But would you recommend I THINK about this scary fact, all day, every day? Probably not a helpful place for my mind to dwell. Plus, my brain will miss other important facts like, WE LIVE IN THE LEAST VIOLENT TIME IN THE HISTORY OF THE WORLD. Don’t believe me? Ask Harvard Psychologist Steven Pinker.

We get to decide what we think and how we want to feel. Don’t you want to enjoy living in the most peaceful time in the history while still accepting the fact that bad things could happen at any time? I do! So I don’t watch the news, I don’t share negative posts on facebook, and I make sure I don’t lie to myself with things like “I won’t be able to handle it if something bad happens.” Total B.S. In a real crisis, I tend to get clear headed and calm. I know how to feel my feelings. I know how to reach out and ask for help. Turns out, I’m actually pretty good in a crisis and I’ll bet you are, too.

Once you have transformed your negative energy into compassion for yourself, it’s time to put it to good use. Who do you know that might be suffering right now that you could reach out to? Could you send flowers to someone who might be lonely? Could you write a card to someone who lost a loved one last year? How about donating to organizations that help mentally ill or people suffering from weather related disasters. Let’s all spend a minute visualizing the gun lobby receiving our compassion and deciding, on their own, “that enough is enough”.

Love casts out all fear. Love is always an option. When you feel lost as to what action to take, ask yourself “What would love do?”

Not feeling it? It’s ok. Just schedule a free discovery call at www.LifeCoachingforParents.com/work-with-me

Why you are not taking action

You know what you want:

a better career, a cleaner house, to set boundaries with the kids or let loose and have more fun. 

So why is change so hard? Before you can make a change, you’ve got to see what’s keeping you stuck. What keeps you from taking action is your thoughts. 

To find out what thoughts are keeping you stuck requires getting quiet and listening to ourselves. This first step, getting quiet and listening, is simple but not easy. There’s a reason you stopped going inward in the first place. Inside your mind can be all sorts of dark and sordid stories about “the one time you made a fool of yourself and promised you would never do that again” or the very common belief, that “you aren’t worthy of good things.” Here are some of the most common characters that keeps us stuck.

Judgmental Janet – Our inner mean girl likes to be in charge. She says things like “you are stupid, fat, ugly, nobody’s going to love you, you’ll never be good enough, etc.” She’s judgmental and critical, “Nobody’s going to like if you _______” or “You know your going to fail so why try.”

Safety Sal  This voice wants us to play small and play it safe. “Just wait a little longer, your family needs you.” “Keep your head down and appreciate what you have.” “I don’t know what to do.” “I’m not sure” “The timings not right, I’ll wait until everything is ready.” “What if I’m wrong?” This voice is more subtle and sounds so innocent but the perfectionism keeps us stuck.

Critical Christine – “If my husband would just help out more” “If we just had more money….” “If my kids would leave me alone and my boss would stop calling, then….…”  Our inner wisdom tells us, “somethings not right, I don’t feel good” but Critical Christine thinks it has identified the problem and wants to fix it. She convinces us that if we could just change the other person, our job, our financial situation, our house, then the problem would go away. Blaming others feels better (temporarily) but keeps us stuck because we never recognize the real issue is our own thinking.

Whenever we try to make lasting change, these characters feel threatened. They know their days are numbered and they pull out all the stops to not lose power. Before we can start changing our actions, we’ve got to change our thinking and tame these inner wild beasts. Having an hour long coaching call each week expedites things and ensures the changes stick. But you can do it yourself by writing in a journal for at least 15 minutes a day.

We’ve got to take inventory of the thoughts in your head so just write them down, every day. Write down every excuse your mind comes up with about why writing in your journal is a stupid waste of time. How there are other more important things to do. How this is selfish and not working. Whatever negativity you hear, write it down and identify who is saying what. Change the names to fit your characters: Inner Mean Girl, Terry the Turtle (who hides in a shell), the drama queen, the inner perfectionist, etc.

In order to take action and make changes in your life, you’ll need to take inventory of who’s in charge and decide if that’s working for you. Every time you go outside your comfort zone, these characters get ready to pounce. Life Coaching is so effective because once you learn to tame these wild beasts, you take charge of your life and can create whatever changes you want to make.

Are you ready to tame your inner critic to make changes in your life?  Try a free discovery call at www.LifeCoachingforParents.com/work-with-me