Why trying to make your kids happy, will make you miserable.

Seek purpose, not pleasure

As parents, we all seem to want one thing: our kids to be happy. Sure, we want them to have good friends, good grades and a clean room, but the reason we want those things is because we believe it will lead to a happy life. There is a cultural paradigm that says “You can only be as happy as your least happy child.”

I’ve heard clients say to me, “I’m happy if my kids are happy.” or “When all three of my kids are happy, then I can relax.”

THIS IS NOT A GOOD PLAN!

Happiness is not a sustainable emotion. Humans are not wired to be happy all day, every day. In fact, humans normally operate at a 50/50 rate when it comes to positive or negative emotions. Sadness, loss, separation, anger, rejection and illness are all part of the human experience. When we label these things as bad, we cause unnecessary stress, anxiety and depression.

Our brains are wired to feel negative emotion, but we are also wired to seek pleasure. So when Facebook ads tell us that whiter teeth and chocolate truffles will make us happier, our brains think, “I need that.” When TV commercials tell us that there’s a pill to take if you feel uncomfortable in social situations, we believe something is wrong with us. Constantly seeking pleasure and avoiding natural, negative emotions is making Americans miserable. Between us wanting our kids to be happy, and the media implying happy is the only allowable emotion, what do we aim for?

What’s the goal for our lives, if not happiness?

Purpose, meaning and fulfillment is a kind of happiness that is longer lasting. It’s not about seeking pleasure, but about living life according to one’s values. When we engage fully in our activities and take action on the things that matter to us, we feel connected and aligned with our highest selves. Growth, meaning and forward momentum help us believe we are moving in a positive direction which is key to living a fulfilling life.

The sun didn’t shine in Seattle for three months last winter. The collective depression was subtle but it wasn’t until the day the sun came out that everyone noticed the contrast. Suddenly people were smiling, whistling, singing, SO HAPPY! It wasn’t the sunshine that made people happy, if so, Californians would have been giddy after 7 years of drought. It was the contrast. Californians react the same way when it rains! Seeing sunshine, after so many cloudy days, made Seattlelites stop and engage fully in the moment. It helped them be optimistic and think positively about the future months to come.

So think about giving your kids a contrasting experience to increase their ability to engage the moment. Nothing makes you appreciate a hot shower like a camping or backpacking for a few days. Sugar tastes so much sweeter after not eating it for a week.

Instead of indulging every item on your kid’s Christmas list this year, to try to make them happy, appreciate the joy and contrast in yearning for and not having. Anticipation & delayed gratification are human experiences that increase meaning.

You might be disappointed that the kids and teachers at school don’t treat your child they way you’d like, but try using these experiences as an opportunity for growth, purpose and to create a more meaningful future. It’s hard to teach your kids to appreciate good friends until they’ve had some bad experiences. We can help our kids think about how they want to treat people and believe the changes they make will help create a kinder world.

And most importantly parents, we’ve got to live it, to give it. Kids learn by imitation so we can’t expect them to live meaningful, fully engaged lives if we aren’t modeling how to do it. If you would like to feel like you are making positive forward progress and living according to your values, instead of getting stuck in the pleasure seeking cycle, schedule a free life coaching session today.

Do you get tired of being responsible for everything?

Many of my Supermom clients feel the parenting and household responsibilities fall on their shoulders. Without even realizing it, we can create the exact thing we resent, feeling responsible for everything. If you get angry or resentful because it feels like you are doing all the work, watch this video and see if you get an “a-ha” like my client did.

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Are you ready an “a-ha” of your own? Schedule a free discovery call and see if life coaching is right for you. SCHEDULE AN APPOINTMENT

Is it time for a getaway?

How to avoid becoming an exploding doormat

I’m not ready for summer to end. So here I sit, in a redwood grove, listening to birds and nothing else, soaking up one last day with no plans, no agenda, no rushing, no calls, no texts, no shopping, no car pools, aaahhhhhhh. 

My teenagers didn’t want to come camping with me. They are soaking up their last few days of freedom binge watching Grey’s Anatomy and beta testing a new FIFA game (whatever that means). So, for the very first time, I decided to go camping by myself. And you know what? It’s heaven. I am absolutely loving the silence. The chance to be in my happy place and listen to my own thoughts without distractions. I get to hike where I want, when I want, and eat when I feel like eating, without listening to complaints!

But guess what, when I was packing up to go, I could not figure out what foods to pack.

Like, seriously, could not answer the question, “What foods would I like to eat while camping?”

I always think of what my kids will eat. What will my nieces and nephews eat? I am so used to considering everyone else’s preferences before my own, that I could not think about what I want!!!

It’s common for Moms to “lose themselves” through the process of raising children. The first step in my Supermom is Getting Tired coaching programs is reconnecting Moms to their essence. I love helping others rediscover their inner wisdom and reconnect them to the best parts of themselves, I just didn’t know I needed it, too!

I learned a while ago that if I don’t create mental and physical space between me and my family, I quietly build tension, resentment and enter “exploding doormat syndrome”. The exploding doormat syndrome is where you constantly say yes, please others, accommodate everyone but yourself, then finally one day you explode with pent up anger and resentment, often over something small. I don’t do this consciously, it just sneaks out when I’m least expecting it. But when I take time by myself, I’m able to notice what’s missing, and what it feels like to be completely myself.

I decided to go with tomato soup, grilled cheese (with a garnish of fresh, wild clovers.)

This time, I noticed that I could not answer the question, “what foods would I like to eat at the campfire?” I’m so used to thinking about my family and their gluten free/sugar free/dairy free/meat free tendencies, it took me awhile to figure it what I wanted.

Some Moms can be completely themselves, no matter who is around, and I envy them. I have a natural tendency to tune in to others, focusing more on what others want and need than myself. If you find it easy to put your kids’ desires before your own, trying to make them happy so you can relax, then taking time by yourself becomes mandatory. It’s hard to know what you want when other’s voices and opinions are so much louder than your own.

Take a day off, by yourself, to do nothing so you don’t become and “exploding doormat”. Or better yet, a weekend away. You, and your family, deserves a whole and complete version of you. You might not even know what was missing until you get the chance to reconnect with your spirit.

If the thought of being alone with your thoughts scares you, or if you find yourself coming up with excuses of why you can’t do it, it might be time to try life coaching. Save your family from exploding doormat syndrome and schedule a free discovery call at www.LifeCoachingforParents.com/work-with-me

Helping kids set goals

and goal setting for parents, too!

Last month I got to spend 10 days traveling around England with my teenage son. It was so great to have that one on one time with him, exploring castles and cathedrals, seeing historical sights and beautiful architecture, and visiting wonderful friends. This trip was my son’s dream come true and I’m going to use it as an example of how to turn a dream into an accomplishment.

Before you start helping your kids’ accomplish their goals, make sure you are a living example. Do you give yourself permission dream? Are you setting goals that inspire you? When we become parents, sometimes our kids’ dreams become our own. Children need to see us creating lives that inspire us, not just living our lives through them.

Whether it’s your dreams, or your kid’s, follow these 6 steps to setting and achieving your goals.

  1. Make sure it’s YOUR goal, aligned with soul’s calling. If your kid sets a goal to get straight A’s, but he’s doing it for you or for his teacher’s approval, it’s not the right goal. If your kid wants to “be rich”, she’ll need to be more specific about when, why and how much. One way to tell if the goal is coming from your essence and not your ego is to ask yourself, “If nobody knew I accomplished this goal, would I still want it?”
  2. Make sure the goal scares you a little. We have an innate drive to grow and expand who we are. Setting and accomplishing goals are important because it helps us become a different, more expanded version of ourselves through the process. When I first suggested to my son that he start saving up to travel to England, he was full of doubts. “It’s too expensive” “I don’t have enough money”, “My volleyball team needs me”, “Dad and sister don’t like museums or historical tours, they’d rather go to a beach resort.” The doubts are a good sign! It means you have to grow! Write down all of them and question their validity. Are they really true? How could you solve these problems? It is a hugely valuable life lesson to learn that just because you think it, doesn’t make it true.
  3. Believe in your ability to accomplish your goal. In my son’s case, family members started giving him travel books, maps of England, advice on where to stay. They asked him when he was going, encouraged him. I bought him England T-shirts and watched travel shows and documentaries with him. He was so surrounded by positive peer pressure that it became hard for him to believe this goal would not happen.
  4. Get specific. What’s the difference between a dream and a goal? NUMBERS. Put a date on the calendar. Find out how much you’ll need to save. (My son paid for his own plane ticket and some spending money). This will trigger more negative thinking, “I’ll wait” “I don’t know” “Maybe I should save for college instead”. Write down your doubts, notice how it detracts you from your goal, and recommit. Accomplishing goals is about commitment, focus and belief. Instead of wavering, start using the word HOW. How can I make more money before June? How can travel during off season without missing school?
  5. Go to your future self for advice. Imagine you have already accomplished your goal. You are yourself a year into the future and you did it! Ask your future self, “how did you make it happen?” “What steps did you take?” “What did you do when you got side-tracked and lost focus?” Have your future self write your action plan for you. What research do you need to do? How much money do you need to make? Who is a good person to share this goal with and who isn’t?
  6. Stretch yourself. Setting goals helps us discover new things about ourselves and benefit from “strategic byproducts” that we couldn’t have imagined before. Your goal might be to lose weight but in the process you find out you are allergic to dairy and you love doing yoga. I had a client “hire me to help with her career, but ended up saving her marriage.” When we do things outside our comfort zone, that feel aligned with who we are meant to be, all sorts of good things can happen. As little sister watched big brother accomplish his goal, now she is saving up to visit her friend and travel through Costa Rica.

I am working to turn my dream into a goal. Saying it out loud was scary at first (another good sign!) but here it is. My goal is to live in Lake Tahoe for a month next summer. If you know anyone who needs a house sitter, let them know I’m flexible on dates!

Want help setting goals turning your dreams into reality? Schedule a free discovery call at www.lifecoachingforparents.com/work-with-me

Does your child lack confidence?

Kids display a lack of confidence in many ways. Stressing themselves out/panicking, going above and beyond what is necessary to prove one’s worth, requiring peer approval before taking action, overly-apologizing with soft voice and meek posture, and, of course, avoiding activities they would like to do. Some kids will even act overly confident to hide their doubts and fears. If you ask your kid to share their strengths and weaknesses, and they say “I’m awesome and a genius” and cannot claim any weaknesses, they are hiding a lack of confidence.

Sensitive kids seem to be born with a general lack of confidence, others seem to grow more self-conscious and fearful once puberty kicks in. Either way, it can be hard for parents to watch their kids hold themselves back, stress themselves out, and avoid doing things they would really enjoy. Parents, too, lack confidence in certain areas so watching kids struggle can often bring their own insecurities up the the surface.

According to the brilliant Russ Harris in my favorite book on the subject, The Confidence Gap, people lack confidence for the following five reasons:

  1. Excessive expectations
  2. Harsh self-judgement
  3. Preoccupation with fear
  4. Lack of experience
  5. Lack of skill

I was one of those sensitive kids who seemed to be born lacking confidence. At a very young age, I picked up the belief “I have to say everything perfectly” (#1). Avoidance seemed like a better option than stress so I simply didn’t speak until I was about 12 when my extroverted personality couldn’t take the silence any more. Then I just started beating myself up for all the mistakes I made while speaking (#2) and combined that with my generally fearful demeanor (#3). All this first hand experience helps me move clients past the first three obstacles easily until they feel ready to take action. 

We all lack confidence because we all lack experience and skill in some area. If your kid was born naturally athletic, and has spent many hours cultivating her athletic skills, she probably feels confident in this arena. But getting in front of the class to give an oral report might be an area she has yet to cultivate this confidence.

If you’d like to help your child, and yourself, with confidence, here are a few things to remember.

  1. We all lack confidence in some areas and have it in others. Kids like to know they are normal and it’s ok. Think about things that used to scare you (roller coasters, swimming lessons) but are no longer scary. Overcoming fears comes with time and experience.
  2. You do not need to FEEL confident, in order to ACT confident. This is one area where “fake it till you make it” can be very helpful. Watch this TED Talk about body posture for inspiration.
  3. Facing fears is a part of life and courage doesn’t feel good. But the more you feel the fear and do it any way, the easier it will get.
  4. Commit to having your own back. Promise yourself you will say encouraging things no matter what the result. Be your own cheerleader and reward yourself for taking risks.
  5. Recognize perfectionistic thinking. “If I don’t succeed, I’m a failure”, “If I’m not the best, I’m the worst” “Nobody likes me”. Look out for black & white thinking and start creating shades of gray. “I’ll be proud of myself for trying”, “A B- in a class I hate is a victory”, “I’m learning how to make friends with all kinds of people”.
  6. Make friends with fear. It’s going to be with you your whole life. Make room in your body for it. Learn to recognize what it feels like, looks like, sounds like. Allow it to coexist with you and your life will be a great adventure. You get to choose the relationship you want to have with it.
  7. Parents can use their child’s doubts and fears, as an opportunity to recognize their own. What area would you like to have more confidence in?  How would it change things for you? If you’d like to feel more confident in your parenting, try scheduling an appointment today.