Managing the inner critic

Brains are so funny.

My webinar on Thursday (click here if you missed it) talked about how important it is to be nice and supportive to ourselves. Especially for our girls today, who are surrounded by perfectionistic expectations, we Moms need to be very careful not to add fuel to the fire. We’ve got to learn to manage our inner critic who says things like “I ALWAYS say the wrong thing.” or “I NEVER get it right” or whatever mean criticisms are being dished out.

So it was pretty ironic that RIGHT AFTER teaching this lesson, I walked the dog and listened to MY inner critic spew her mean girl criticisms at me. Luckily, over the years, the voice has eased up, but it still offers way more “things I should have done differently” than “things I did well”. The basic theme of my inner critic is “You didn’t do everything perfectly”. Which is handy because, of course, it’s always true. What really made me laugh, was coming home from my walk to see an email from someone who attended the webinar saying….”Torie, that was PERFECT!”  

This is one of the biggest problems of how social media is effecting girl’s mental and emotional well being! It doesn’t matter who tells them they are smart, pretty, talented, kind, etc. The beliefs they have about themselves are WAY more powerful and can drown out any other opinions. Unfortunately, we can’t just STOP thinking a thought, even once we realize it’s bad for us. The first step is to DISBELIEVE the thought. This comes from recognizing we have a choice. 

I remember teaching a workshop at the She’s All That Conference (it’s coming up again soon, come if you can!). The participants were asked to fill out evaluation sheets at the end of each session. I didn’t feel I had done as well as I could and my inner perfectionist was BERATING me. The funny thing was, as I was hearing how terribly I did, I’m also looking at the words “Outstanding” “5 out of 5 rating” on almost every evaluation paper! The contrasting opinions made me stop in my tracks and ask myself, “Who do I want to believe?” 

Surprisingly, I wanted to believe my inner critic!  I knew I could have done better, and I really like doing the best job I can do. I was afraid if I believed the evaluations, I wouldn’t try to improve.

I hear clients doing this all the time. We try and motivate ourselves to take positive action, with NEGATIVE emotion. “I’m so fat” does not actually inspire healthy eating. We tend to take care of things we love, not things we hate. “I’m a terrible mother” does not make us more patient and loving with our kids. It makes us more reactive and inconsistent. “I’m going to die if I get a bad grade” might motivate us to pull out the book, but it makes it harder to actually study.

Managing this inner critic is so important. Don’t let yours run rampant and say whatever she feels like saying. Listen to her, understand her motivation, but manage her so that she isn’t the one in charge. Our daughters are watching and listening and they need us to show them how. 

 

Please join my TWO free webinars this week: 

  1. Is your child always on her phone?  Does your son throw a fit when you take away his video game? This webinar will help parents (and teens!) understand media addiction and how it effects the brain. Tuesday, March 27th at 8:00pmPST

  2. The rates of anxiety & depression in teen girls are skyrocketing and most suffer for 11 years before receiving treatment. Don’t less this happen to you. Join me Thursday, March 29th at 8:00pmPST night to understand what’s happening to girls and to learn how to help. www.LifeCoachingforParents.com/sign-up.                                                  

Where are your kids getting their dopamine?

Our bodies and brains are wired to release a “feel good chemical” called dopamine when we eat, have sex, or exercise. We also get a dopamine release from creating something, accomplishing something or being in the flow state of learning.

Our culture has introduced many more dopamine producing activities to younger and younger children: Sugar, caffeine, TV, movies, porn, youtube, video games, social media, are all designed to flood massive amounts of dopamine into our systems. Our current culture seems to promote fun, excitement, productivity and keeping busy.

The problem is that our brains and bodies aren’t designed for this much dopamine. Some experts theorize this is one of the reasons we are seeing such a huge increase in ADHD, depression, anxiety, addictions and other brain centered differences.

Not everybody reacts the same way. I can’t get out of shopping malls and casinos fast enough but I have family members who come to life and love the dopamine release of shopping and gambling. When my kids were little, my daughter could be in a room with the TV on and barely notice, but the TV had a hypnotizing effect on my son that turned him into a zombie. We tend to gravitate towards things that give us these delicious hits of dopamine. When we get rewarded with dopamine, it motivates us to come back for more….and more….and more.

Can your kid sit in a room with her favorite sugary treat and not be tempted? If you take away the cookie or the ipad, does your son hyperfocus on the object until he gets his dopamine hit? Can your teenager sit with her phone nearby and not be tempted to check it? Every text alert or social media “like” is designed to release dopamine and create addiction.

When we don’t reward our brains with dopamine (by checking our phone or eating sugar, etc.) we can create anxiety and insomnia. But overtime, the flooding of dopamine in our systems creates addiction and increased feelings of depression.

So basically, the world our kids are growing up is a challenge to their mental health.

What can we do?

  1. We need to become really deliberate about where we get our dopamine and not just follow a “If it feels good, do it” mantra.
  2. Observe ourselves and our children closely to see where we might be flooding our systems with too much dopamine.
  3. Re-wire the brain BEFORE we become addicted and show signs of depression and anxiety.

I have a lot to say on this topic and invite you to join me for a FREE Webinar called,

“How Much is Too Much?” Screen time, Dopamine and Mental Well Being.

In the meantime, here are a few life hacks below to help you and your kids conquer this challenging culture.

  1. Establish a Streak – Middle School kids have discovered a dopamine hit from “maintaining streaks”, or seeing how many days in a row they can text friends about silly things. Instead, establish a streak of how many days in a row you made your bed, walked your dog, ate a vegetable. Mark it off on a calendar and celebrate your victory. Check out the app Calm and start a meditation streak.
  2. Create Something – When we can get immersed in a project, creative or not, it can give us a healthy dose of dopamine. Many of us think of art or music but for me, creating webinars, class content and writing blogs count. Encourage your kids to create a Rube Goldberg, a fort, or cooking project.
  3. Seek balance. Don’t let your kid play a video game WHILE also watching TV (choose one!). Turn off ALL alerts on their phones so they don’t hear “So & so posted a new video!” No cell phones while studying, or in the bedroom while sleeping. Buy an old fashioned alarm clock. Try allowing movies and video games only if interspersed with exercise. Save sugar for special occasions.
  4. Music! Turn music OFF on video games but turn it ON while your child is doing an activity you’d like to reward. Playing music shoot hoops outside or while they set or clear the table, might help them linger and want to do it more often.

Is your kid not acting in line with your expectations?

It can happen at any time: 4 weeks, 4 years, or 14 on up.

The child we’re parenting, doesn’t match with the one we expected to be parenting.

Ida’s* story….

Ida thought she had the ADHD thing under control. She adapted her parenting style, adapted his diet, bedroom and after school activities to allow him to be his best self. This Supermom worked with the school teachers and counselors to make sure they understood what his challenges and strengths were. Ida worked hard to help him fit in with the school system and peers, while helping him appreciate his unique gifts. And then he turned 14 and the sh*t hit the fan. Nothing seemed to be working. He was emotionally out of control, stubborn and rebelling against everything she’d worked so hard for. This was NOT what she was expecting. 

Emma’s* story…

Emma was a quiet, gentle, loving mom. She could be content to stay home all day, reading and tinkering in her craft room. Co-sleeping and baby-wearing made her feel closely connected with her daughter. She imagined doing puzzles and art together, quietly co-creating beautiful things. By the time her daughter was 4, Emma was exhausted. Her sweet baby turned into the bully of the playground: pushing, pulling hair, biting, you name it. She would climb anything she could, using furniture to build towers to access higher and higher places. Her art activities lasted about 20 seconds and resulted in huge messes in the house. Emma’s relationship with her daughter was more about keeping her alive than creating beautiful things. 

So what does a Mama do when her expectations are different than her reality?

  1. Take time and recognize that it’s your expectations that are causing you to struggle. When you think thoughts like “She shouldn’t behave this way” or “He should have figured this out by now!” you are making things harder. A better thought to think is “This isn’t what I was expecting and that’s ok.” 
  2. Give yourself permission to grieve the loss of the dream or expectation you had for your kid. Another way to say this is “Be kind to yourself”. Allow yourself to be sad that things aren’t easier and forgive yourself for wanting things to be better. It’s our job to hold a higher vision for our kids but we can do this WHILE accepting they aren’t there yet, and that’s ok.
  3. Hold a higher vision for YOURSELF. What if you’ve got the exact kid you need to help you fulfill your destiny? What if these challenges you are dealing with, are teaching you something you couldn’t learn any other way?  Could it be possible that this crazy kid of yours is growing a side of yourself you didn’t even know you needed to grow?

Ida’s teenage son helped her break out of her belief that “the only path to success is to follow the rules”. Watching him carve his own path through adolescence taught her to let go of expectations and and control and trust in a greater plan. She realigned her values, let go of her people pleasing addiction, and learned to prioritize the things SHE loved doing. By following her son’s example, she made time for mountain biking every weekend, and yoga every day.

Quiet, gentle Emma learned to set clear and consistent boundaries with her daughter. For a long time, she tried to avoid taking the leadership role but once she got the hang of it, she got hooked! She started setting appropriate boundaries in all her relationships, built up so much confidence and self pride that she started selling her art online. She gives herself plenty of breaks from her high energy daughter so she can still be her introverted self. Even though her daughter is still a challenge, she appreciates the lessons she’s learned from her and loves the person she has become because of it.

If you are struggling with a kid who isn’t acting the way you think he/she should be behaving, schedule a free life coaching call. Let’s find out where you can let go, find acceptance, and see if there is a divine lesson in here for you?

 

*names have been changed to protect the exhausted

Why you aren’t taking action

You know what you want: a better career, a cleaner house, to set boundaries with the kids or make more money. 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 stuck is your thoughts. Your thoughts dictate your feelings and your feelings dictate how you act. The first step in making any change is to figure out the thoughts that are preventing you from making a permanent change. This starts with getting quiet and listening to ourselves.

For most of my clients, this is the hardest part. There’s a reason they 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

New Year, New You

Let’s make 2018 your best year yet!

You’ve been pretty growth oriented up until now. All through childhood and your twenties, you learned A LOT, you grew mentally, emotionally and physically. You took risks, tried new things, created, accomplished and focused on creating an exciting future. 

Now your life is very full. Raising kids is exciting, stimulating and constantly changing. 

It’s common for overwhelmed parents to slow down their own growth and enjoy living through their kids. As kids grow into teens, and then out of the house, many parents can find themselves with low-grade dissatisfaction. 

Some Moms and Dads feel guilty because they have the life they wanted, but still feel like something is missing. They didn’t realize that their brain is wired to seek comfort and familiarity, and this habit is an obstacle to creating an exciting and inspiring life.

Life coaching, self reflection, planning and deliberate actions will release the guilt, override the brain’s natural habit, and create the life you are meant to have. 

Doing a year-in-review can help you reflect on what’s working, what isn’t, and what actions steps to take towards building a new comfort zone that serves your goals.

Let’s take a look back to see what 2017 has to teach you.

Grab a journal and write down your answers to the following questions:

 1. What did you create in 2017?  Either by default or on purpose, what were the results of your actions or non-actions when in comes to your health, career, family, community, spiritual life, home, financial, etc. 

2. What accomplishments are you most proud of?   

3. What thoughts did you think in order to make these successes possible?         

4. What areas of your life are running smoothly and easily?   

5. What hard times did you have to go through in order to enjoy these areas of your life?  

6.  What areas of your life aren’t working for you and need to change?

7. Have you tried to accomplish this goal in the past but didn’t get the result you wanted?

 

8. What is different this year, that you are ready to commit to? 

9. How have you grown or evolved as a person in the last year? 

10. Who has helped you and supported you the most in this last year?

11. Which relationships would you like to strengthen and build this year? 

12. What is the biggest, most amazing dream you can imagine for yourself in 2018?  When you think about this dream, what emotions can you feel? What is one small baby step you can take towards that goal and feeling those positive emotions. 

You don’t have to have an exhilarating, exciting life. Nor do you need to have a perfectly balanced and beautiful life. You just need to have a life that is 100% authentically YOU. 

In order to squeeze ourselves into a life that isn’t quite right for us, we do things like over-eat, over-drink, over-work, over-exercise, binge watch netflix, worry, complain, ruminate, etc.  We have to come up with elaborate ways to avoid ourselves. 

If you want to change a habit, get to the root cause, and build positive momentum towards being more authentically, joyfully yourself, schedule a free life coaching session today.

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