Welcome to the Land of Crazy

Do you have friends telling you to take a break, relax, get a massage, hire a babysitter?  Do you have a doctor telling you your ailments are related to stress?  Or maybe you relax too much and your friends keep encouraging you to get out more, exercise, do something exciting.  It’s easier to notice other people living in the land of crazy than it is ourselves.  Yvonne just had her first baby and is completely in love and so grateful to be a Mom.  She also is a wreck and feels completely out of sorts.  She can hardly think straight.  She feels stressed and anxious all the time. She is quick to complain or get mad at those around her.  Friends keep telling her she needs to sleep when the baby sleeps, but it’s too hard.  Her husband sends her for a massage but she can’t relax.  She tries to take deep breaths and she just can’t do it.  Something is lost.  Is it her sanity?  Is it her sense of herself?  Sleep?  A feeling of accomplishment?  Social circle?  Support?  Confidence? YES, YES and YES.  She is missing all these things and more.  Even though she wanted to be a Mom SO desperately, she is in a stage I have learned to call, SQUARE ONE.

Square one sucks, even when you it’s a change you really wanted.  It feels like everything you once knew has changed and you are hanging on to sanity by a thin thread. If we were to record Yvonne’s thoughts it would probably look something like this.  “Holy &%*#!”  “What the #%&@ am I doing?”  “Why did I do this?”  “How am I going to do this ?”  It’s what I call “the land of crazy” and my teacher, Dr. Martha Beck calls it, “nobody nowhere with no one and nothing.” If you haven’t been through this stage yourself, I’m sure you’ve witnessed others going through it.  It is a qualitative change in who you are in this world and it’s really normal.  Most people go through about 5 or 6 of these transitions in their lifetime.   Becoming a parent for the first time is a major change in identity and involves grieving the loss of your old, pre-parent self.  If you’ve ever seen anyone who can’t get past an old relationship or keeps recreating the same bad situation over and over, you know what being stuck in square one looks like.  Moving through square one requires patience, kindness and acceptance.

Perhaps you survived new parent crazy land, but you are finding yourself in square one due to economic changes, the housing market, divorce, family illness or death. The best way to get through the crappiness of square one, is to allow yourself to be completely in it.  To grieve the loss of your old self and feel the feelings of sadness, fear, anger, frustration, resentment, or whatever else comes up.  Pour it out in a journal, find a compassionate listener, and stop “shoulding” all over yourself.

“I should be happy”,  “Something’s wrong with me”, “This should be easier”,  “It shouldn’t be this way”, “My husband should be more helpful”, “My Mom should be ____” ,“My kid shouldn’t be so ________.”  “My boss should be ______.”

When you argue with reality, you never win.  If it’s hard, let it be hard.  If you are sad, let yourself be sad.  If you miss that job you couldn’t wait to leave, so be it.  If you are mad, be mad.  Be where you are and feel what you feel.  A forced smile and pile of denial will only keep you stuck in square one longer. Instead, start reclaiming some of your power.  The feeling of helplessness is one of the worst things for the human psyche and we do it ourselves all the time.

Write down a list all the things you feel you “have” to do.  Here is mine:

I have to do the dishes

I have to pick the kids up at school

I have to make dinner

I have to write my newsletter

I have to pay bills

Now change “I have to” to “I intend to”, “I choose to”, or “I will” and see how much better you feel.  In reality, there are very few things we have to do, but when we think that way, we feel trapped & awful.  Realizing you have choices helps to move you into a feeling of personal power.

Here is my revised list:

I will do the dishes because the thought of them piled up for days creates a feeling in me that is worse than doing this repetitive task.

I choose to make dinner because I believe in healthy eating, table manners, and family dinner conversation.

I intend to pay my bills because I don’t like late fees & extra charges and ignoring them will not make them go away.

I will up pick my kids up at school because it is aligned with my values of the kind of Mom I want to be.

I will write my newsletter, oh look at that, it’s done.  Now it’s your turn.

 

Want to give life coaching a try? Schedule a free discovery call at www.LifeCoachingforParents.com/work-with-me

What do you want?

What Do You Want?  A tropical vacation?  A night out on the town?  A new house?  To lose weight?  Flowers from your sweetheart?  $$$?

What do your kids want?  A new toy?  To play with their friend?  A day at the beach?  A puppy?  To play video games all day?  A cell phone?

There is a part inside us all that knows what is best for us.  I call this our inner wisdom.  Learning to understand how this inner wisdom communicates will save us a lot anguish.  Sometimes it’s through the body (My excema flares up when I even think about an old boss). Sometimes it’s through our memory (My inability to remember numbers is my inner wisdom’s way of saying, ‘don’t be an accountant’).  And sometimes it’s through our desires.

Ask yourself, “What do I want?” Then ask yourself, “What is the feeling I imagine this would give me?” When you figure out what the feeling is you long for, you can find many ways to satisfy this yearning? My daughter kept saying she wanted to go back to Hawaii.  She was four years old when she went so I was curious, “What do you remember about Hawaii?” She said she remembered eating donuts every morning.  When I asked her how do imagine you would feel to be in Hawaii again, she sighed a big sigh and said, “relaxed”.  This is her inner wisdom saying first grade is too stressful and she needs a break.  So I gave her a mental health day from school and had her play in the hot tub instead of doing homework.

Everyone is different and I have no idea what your desires are trying to tell you.  Here are some possible ones for adults that might spark your own insights:

  • Tropical vacation = I need psychological and phyiscal rest.
  • To lose weight = I need to feel like me (athletic, attractive, in control).
  • A night on the town = I need to feel carefree, important, socially connected, a break from responsibility.
  • A gift from sweetheart = I need to feel cared for, appreciated, valued.
  • A new house, kitchen, etc.= I want my outer world to reflect my inner world whether it is new, clean, different, modern, good for entertaining, etc.
  • To win the lottery = Freedom from money worries.

Once you realize the feeling you are after, you can think of many ways to get it.  Take a day off, reconnect with a hobby you used to enjoy, clean out a closet, invite friends over, buy yourself flowers, put music on and dance while you clean, go to yoga class, get a massage, or hire a life coach.

Kids are a little easier to read, here are some common ones for them that may or may not ring true for your kiddo:

  • Wanting to play video games for hours can be wanting an escape. Introverts, especially, will escape to this world to feel rested and renergized.
  • Yearning for a new toy can mean I’m ready for new stimulation and excitement.
  • Wanting playdates can be a yearning for more social connections, fun, and, for extroverts, an important part of learning.
  • Babies, puppies, and other cute cuddlies are a yearning for that loving, peaceful feeling. Pull out baby photos and home movies of your child and cuddle them on the couch, unless you have an endless supply of puppies and babies.
  • Wanting a cell phone can be a kids way of saying ‘I want to fit in with my peer group and feel connected to them’.
  • Repeating “I’m hungry” or “I’m bored” all day long, could be true, but it can also be a yearning for attention, excitement, social stimulation, or a change of pace.

Recognizing what kids are REALLY yearning for will save you money, time and frustration when you give them ‘the thing’ and they still aren’t happy.  By asking your kids what feeling they imagine this item will give them, you are helping them connect with their own inner wisdom.  When you can help your kids feel heard and felt, then you are giving them what they REALLY need to be happy.  Learn to listen to your own desires and follow the feelings you are after.  This will lead you towards true happiness for yourself.  And if you decide it’s time to plan a tropical vacation, my daughter and I would be happy to tag along.

 

Want to give life coaching a try? Schedule a free discovery call at www.LifeCoachingforParents.com/work-with-me

New Year’s Resolution

I have a theory that everyone’s New Year’s Resolution are essentially  the same.  Some people say they want to find a new job, lose weight, get organized, be a better parent, keep the house clean, create a better relationship, etc.  Really, I think what we all want is simply to FEEL BETTER.

I decided that teaching my daughter to become a more respectful and polite little girl, would help me feel better.  Although loving and kind to us, my daughter couldn’t muster polite social graces for grandparents, family friends, other parents, and strangers.  Many times, parents expect their children to know how to behave in social situations.  I realized this was something my kids needed to be taught so I embarked on “how to be polite” lessons.  The more I instructed, role played, made suggestions, gave reminders, the more it backfired.  My daughter went from being tolerably shy, to being queen of disrespectful irreverance.

Although an irreverent sense of humor is almost a prerequisite in my house, the poor social graces were making me feel horrible.  I stumbled upon Jennifer Kolari’s fabulous book called Connected Parenting.  She talks about mirroring your child’s thoughts and feelings to help them understand, organize, and regulate their own emotions.  Intuitively, I knew this would work.  What surprised me was how quickly and easily it worked in comparison to the years of effort I had been putting into “teaching” my child how to be polite.  I started saying things to my daughter like, “You felt uncomfortable when he asked you how old you are.”  and “It’s not easy to start talking with someone you don’t know very well.” and  “Always saying ‘thank you for having me’ at the end of a playdate must be really boring”.  This mirroring takes practice but WOW does it ever work!  Suddenly my daughter is able to articulate her inner world so much more clearly!  She now says things like, “I don’t understand what I did that wasn’t polite”.  This invitation to educate my daughter at a time when she is ready and willing to listen, is much more effective!

It turns out having a more respectful daughter did not make me feel any better.  What makes me feel on-top-of-the-world better, is feeling like I am being MY best.  This “mirroring” approach to parenting is perfectly aligned with who I want to be as a parent.  When I “mirror” my kids, I feel tuned in to my child, I trust my intuition, I feel smart, loving, kind and I am being the kind of person I want to be.  The fact that this approach helped me accomplish my goal, only served to validate my instincts.

So go get that job, lose that weight, organize that home.  Just remember that feeling better, is about you, being the person you were meant to be.  Start today by writing down 5 ways in which you were better today than yesterday.   Brag about yourself to your kids.  Do things that make you feel better.  Repeat.  Call me when you reach enlightenment.

 

Want to give life coaching a try? Schedule a free discovery call at www.LifeCoachingforParents.com/work-with-me