We’re Taking a Break!

Exciting changes are in the works for the Vibrant Powerful Moms podcast.

I can’t divulge the secret quite yet, but I can guarantee is will be a wonderful transformation!

Unfortunately this also means I need to delay podcast production for a brief time so if you’ve skipped any, now is a good time to check out what you’ve missed. Thank you for your patience… I guarantee it will be worth the wait!
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Finding the Time for You

Podcast 034 – Finding Time

One of the most challenging tasks for moms of young kids (or even those with older ones involved in a variety of extracurricular activity) is to find time for themselves. It is absolutely essential that you find this time if you want to be vibrant and powerful, yet it remains one of the biggest struggles.

In January I was listening to McLean Masterworks Prediction week – which I absolutely love because she brings on a different psychic, numerologist, channeller or astrologist each day for a week to share information to guide us in 2017.

This year the message was so beautifully consistent (it probably always is, but I don’t always remember from year to year). Every guest talked about the need for all of us to reclaim our personal power and focus our efforts on raising our vibrational energy through self-care, self-love and self-nurturance. Things are changing and it is imperative we change with it.

The idea of focusing our energy on ourselves is an about-face for many of us and requires us to let go of beliefs tied to
laziness, selfishness, decadence and so on… Whether you choose to make this shift at this time or not, at the very least I hope you will tune into the message that has been coming through for quite a while now… carrying around a tonne of stress, pushing yourself too hard, looking after everyone but yourself… is not helping you or the people around you.

If this is you, you are modelling an unhealthy lifestyle to your child that could impact on their own health in the future as well as what they expect from their life partner. I’ve already mentioned in numerous other podcasts that when you look after you first, everyone benefits…so assuming you agree with at least one of these statements…let’s move on to talking about how you can make this happen in your life, starting today.

A minimum of 20 minutes a day is a good starting point if you aren’t practicing this already…but ultimately an hour as a minimum would be ideal. On the other hand, if you can only find a moment here and there to make it work then we’ll take that and call it a successful start.

The goal: Figure out a way to have some alone time and make a point of taking full advantage of this time.

What you’ll do in this time: Whatever brings you pleasure, recharges your battery, helps you feel loved and raises your vibration. Include little things that make an ordinary few minutes special for you: Light a candle, play some music, sip a favorite drink (warning: mind altering substances can eliminate the benefit if included often), walk barefoot on some grass or sand, dance, meditate, journal, paint…

I know alone time can be a real struggle, especially if you are a single parent; married – but often on your own; or dealing with a child who has special needs. So most of these ideas can help when you have kids who need you and you do not have a partner to help. If you do have an active partner you want to start clearly asking for help if you aren’t already and blocking out time for self-care for you.

Two things that are critical to remember when raising kids are;

First (I know I already mentioned this, but it’s worth repeated), everything you do (or don’t do) is being recorded by your child and will later surface as patterns in their own life. This means, if you don’t figure out a way to look after yourself first, they might not be able to either. This is not a great thing to teach as this knowledge resides in the subconscious mind and is not easy to recognize and therefore change as they get older.

Second, part of your job as a parent is to teach your child how to survive when you are not around. If you are always around and always doing for them, you are not really doing your job. I’m not saying this to be mean, but to remind you that teaching your four year old how to play quietly in a room for ten minutes while you are occupied somewhere else is important. I know there are plenty of people who suggest we must constantly watch and protect our children to keep them safe, but I have to respectfully disagree. Yes, we need to be smart about where we are leaving them and how we have helped them prepare to be alone, but beyond that we are doing a disservice when we won’t let them out of our sight.

Ideas to find time for you…

1) Independence time – So, with these two points in mind, a potential way to find time for you is to start training your child today for small amounts of alone time. With a young toddler you might want to use a crib or playpen for containment, then move on to their bedroom, or some other ‘safe’ space.

Sometimes it even works to keep them in the same space as you, but be clear on what you are doing. Here’s a sample conversation with a 3 year old that’s already been told they’re going to start practicing ‘independence time’:

“Honey, it’s time to practice being on your own for a few minutes. You can stay in the room with me if you play quietly by yourself or you can go into your room and play there until I’m done. Which would you like to try?”

I realize this might seem like a stretch if your child is quite clingy or gravitates towards dangerous activity, and it is possible you’ll have to wait until he’s older, but at some point this bridge will need to be crossed so it worth doing it with awareness.

If this feels like punishment to you, then you likely have a negative belief about being alone. It’s worth it to learn how to let that belief go as it is something you’ll want to release in this life time. Just the other day a psychic named Brian Hurst spoke on this idea and channelled how there is a difference between being alone and being lonely.

Confidence, self-love and a balanced ego will allow you to very comfortably be alone without ever feeling left-out, lonely or punished. Recognize this as your own issue (and heal it!) so you can refuse to pass it on to your child.

2) Education time – In line with this, often times older kids are more than willing to help you out with childcare if you would ask, help them create a safe environment and then trust them to do the task. Asking them to help out for little bits like this does not make you a bad or negligent parent. It actually helps them with skills they’ll benefit from throughout their life. Asking your six year old to be on watch and sound the alarm should her four year old sibling decide to fry some eggs by himself is teaching responsibility and might just buy you some of the time you need to recharge.

3) Fix your ‘to do’ list – Take a good look at the things on your daily ‘to do’ list that you insist must get done. Write them down and beside them put what would happen if you didn’t do them. For example, if you didn’t make a meal, your two year old and you would not eat. Obviously this item is truly important.

Interestingly, when you do this and are really honest with yourself, you will likely find at least a few things that are not as important as you might have thought. The cleanliness of your house, laundry, frequency of baths for kids… are often areas that have been internalized by mothers as top priority when in fact, they really are quite flexible.

If you doubt this, try pretending that someone you love very much has become deathly ill. In order to care for him/her you need to strike several things off your already very full day. What could you cut out? It’s sad, but often it takes an exercise like this (too frequently a real life one) to make us sit up and take notice of what’s really important.

Give this a try and see if the world comes to an end because the laundry isn’t done daily or the dishes sit in the sink. If it comes down to being a woman with a clean house or one who practices self-care on a regular basis, the one looking after herself first will win every time.

4) Create a support system – Strike up friendships whenever possible with other adults who seem similar to you in needs and set up an exchange program (“If you help me out once in a while, I will return the favour for you”). This can also be done with neighborhood teenagers who don’t mind doing good deeds for others (some even need to do volunteer hours for school), local seniors, neighbours and people you meet through groups you belong to (church, play groups, community club).

Unfortunately, most of us have been taught that asking for help is a sign of weakness or makes us indebted to that person. The truth is, many people love kids and enjoy being around them. Asking them to help you in exchange for a reference letter, volunteer credit, time away from their lonely apartment, etc, can be exactly what they are looking for. This does not make you a bad parent – but actually models creativity, ingenuity and community development.

Creating a support system you can count on is well worth the effort. Family, friends, neighbors, and other parents you meet at playgroups, etc., can all become part of this system. A good support system doesn’t need to cost money if you can come up with a barter system that works for you both.

5) Change Your Wake Hours – I cringe just saying that one, but only because I know how often parents (moms especially) give up their sleep time to get other tasks done. Sleep is super important and I’m not suggesting you give up even more. On the other hand a well planned out hour before bed can set you up for a better night sleep and create a routine that really feeds your soul.

For others, there is no way they can stay up any later, but they could adjust their wake up time to give themselves an extra 30 minutes for themselves. My sister was just telling me the other day that she chooses to get up at 4:15 a.m. so she has time for herself rather than sleep until 5:00 and get caught in her deepest sleep. The trick with this is to either use an app or consciously tell yourself you want to wake up at the best time for you before your alarm so you feel awake and rested. Then, when your eyes pop open 20 minutes before your alarm (or maybe even an hour!) get out of bed instead of turning over and going back to sleep. We sleep in 90 minute cycles…finding your best wake-up time can make a huge difference in how groggy you feel.

In both of these cases, the secret is to plan the time. What will do during this time to recharge your batteries and help you have the best day/sleep possible.

If it’s an evening routine you are creating you might light a candle or a fire in your fireplace and gaze into it in  meditation with calming music playing in the background. You might write in a gratitude journal during this time

and sip on a herbal (no caffeine) tea. You might do some simple stretches, take a warm bath or read. Whatever you decide is up to you, just make sure it is conducive to sleep and you come up with ideas ahead of time. If you don’t you are quite likely to plop yourself down in front of the TV or, even worse, continue on with your daily tasks.

If it’s a morning routine do your best to wake up naturally (without an alarm) or take some time to move your alarm time around until you find your best wake-up time. Typically you’ll want to schedule in a few things that get you moving and wake you up fully in the first part of your routine.

Washing your face, showering, light exercises, walking outside – can all be great ways to ensure you are fully awake. A cup of hot water with lemon squeezed in is a great way to get your system moving and support your liver. I use a full spectrum light at this time to help strengthen my circadian rhythm and wake me up fully. Because the light is so bright and my eyes have to be open to benefit, I use this time to read 10 pages of a book and complete a short journaling process. I follow that up with a guided meditation – that way if I fall back asleep the ending of the session always wakes me up.

If you can only squeeze in little stolen moments throughout the day, sprinkle in the things that bring you pleasure wherever they can fit. Light a candle if it’s safe to do so when you sit down to supper. Keep your journal in the bathroom and take a few extra minutes there to contemplate. Fully immerse yourself in the shower by living in the moment, hum while you prepare a meal or lose yourself in open eyed meditation while you do dishes.

It’s totally up to you what this time looks like, what’s absolutely critical though, is that you make the time.

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Who ARE You Anyway?

Podcast 033 – Personalities

Today let’s talk about another aspect of you that will influence everything you do every day of your life – your personality.

I’m using chapter 5 from my book Break Free of Parenting Pressures to describe the types because how I describe
them really doesn’t change unless I’m doing a live session where we can do a personality quiz together and dig a little deeper.

With that said…let’s get personal

The nature-related aspects of who you are—those qualities you were born with—stay relatively consistent throughout life. These qualities include your temperament or personality and predispose you to certain behaviours. They influence who or what you gravitate toward and can even determine health risks.

Temperament is genetic and has a large influence on your natural behaviour. When you learn to do something that goes against your natural tendency (for example, organize your desk despite a natural desire to live in clutter), you will find that when you are stressed you revert back to your true nature. This doesn’t mean you can never change aspects of how you behave, but it does mean there are certain behaviours that will resurface throughout your life.

Every personality type has positive traits and challenging traits. Learning which traits apply to the individuals in your family can help guide your expectations and discipline strategies. For example, knowing that your three-year-old thrives on organization can help explain why he has a temper tantrum after you carelessly push his toys to the end of the table at supper time. It can also help you understand that he will not calm down and eat until you let him straighten things back out. As well, being aware of the personality of your teenager can help you decide if taking away her cell phone and making her stay home on a Friday night is going to make a big difference to her.

Where it stops being helpful is when you use this information to limit your loved ones (i.e. not telling them what you’d like) or use it as an excuse for allowing undesirable behaviours. Temperament is only one piece of the puzzle, and it’s important to remember that. Children will always benefit from being taught social and emotional skills AND we can all use regular practice in this area. Knowing possible gaps due to personality, helps us determine which areas to focus on first.

Many personality tests put people into four main categories while recognizing that people will often be a blend of two or three. Although a small percentage of the population is said to share qualities from all four groupings, I typically find one or two categories are dominant. I like to use a model called DISC which William Moulton Marston is credited with originally creating under the title Emotions of Normal People in 1928, but I learned it through osmosis in a program I participated in over 20 years ago so my version is might not match up with the original.

As I share the following summaries, try to think about how you they might apply to your family. Remember – these are the extremes so you don’t need all examples to apply to fit into this category.

The Four Types

The Determined Driver: This person is a very strong, independent, leader type. He likes to be in charge and will often tell people what to do. He is results-oriented and wants to see things done even if it means the quality suffers. Full of energy, he tends to be in a hurry, holds pointed conversations, and is unconcerned about offending others. Empathy does not come naturally to him. A good argument strengthens him, and while he may be quick to get angry, he cools down just as fast. He is not likely to take things personally and rarely believes something is his fault. (For example, “He shouldn’t have made me mad.”) He likes to know what is going to happen and is more focused on goals than on people.

A strong Determined Driver child will need his own space and stuff to really be happy. He will require clear boundaries and will need to be allowed to make choices. Use short, pointed messages with this child that focus on what needs to be done versus whom or how others are affected.

This child may need to be taught how to think of others’ feelings and will likely only engage in those teachings if you briefly explain what it will do for his future. (For example, “To run a company someday, you’ll need to be able to think of others’ feelings.”). These kids like to lead and take command of situations easily and quickly. They enjoy watching people disagree and often need help learning social skills like patience, empathy, and tolerance. Discipline works best when enforced consistently, calmly, and quickly with this child. Taking possessions from this child gets a strong reaction, while lectures do not. Remember, these kids love arguing and will look for any opportunity to get you riled up.

The Flamboyant Expressive: This person also has a very strong personality, but the focus is on people versus the task at hand. She loves fun and despises being controlled by others. She is a social butterfly who flits from group to group entertaining everyone in her flight path. She is imaginative, and while she likes to control others, is not very good at it due to her disorganized nature. She tends to struggle with time management and is notoriously late, even for her own events. She talks a lot and can overwhelm others with her force of character. People with this personality typically have good intentions, but are not great at follow-through which makes them appear scattered and inconsistent. They like to know who is involved rather than what is going to happen.

Kids who are Flamboyant Expressives have lots of friends, and social interaction will be the focus of their existence. They live in a world of disorganization, although will often be able to find what they need within that mess. They require reminders regarding time commitments and will be motivated by who will be involved (for example, “There will be lots of other kids at the daycare to play with.”) versus what fun things they’ll be doing (crafts, reading) once there. They enjoy planning social events, although they often need a helper to assist with organization. They can struggle with commitment as they might sign up for things because of the people involved and then decide they don’t like that activity at all.

A Flamboyant Expressive child is closely connected to her friends and will rebel if you come on too strong when disciplining (i.e., grounding with removal of telephone, computer chatting, etc). A little goes a long way when it comes to this type of discipline for these kids. Time-outs can be effective for the younger child, as long as the parent is calm and consistent.

The Easy-Going Amiable: These people are nice, friendly, and relaxed. They are safety oriented and do not like upsetting people. They like harmony and will work hard to help others get along. They are good listeners and often make good counselors. They like people and tend to have a few close friends. They are accommodating and peace-seeking sometimes over-empathizing or putting other’s needs before their own. They like routine and are uncomfortable with change to their schedules or environment. They like to know how things are going to happen and when.

Amiables like everyone, but are especially attracted to the energy and pep of Drivers and Expressives. They will often pair up for the long term with a Driver because they are the only ones willing to put up with the Driver’s bossy, pointed attitude. Since confrontation leaves them feeling drained, shaky, and concerned about what was said, they often avoid it. As a result, the confrontation-loving Driver will sometimes get bored with the lack of enthusiasm the Amiable puts into a fight. An Amiable who is backed into a corner (especially when defending her young) will respond very strongly, shocking those who know her best.

Children with an Amiable personality are easy to get along with. They are not disruptive and try hard to do what they are asked. The challenge with these children is that they tend to be followers. If they are not taught good decision-making skills while they are young and still idolize their parents, they can easily be led down a wrong path as a teen. They do not like when people argue, and they can get very angry at a parent who publicly stands up for them (for example, calls the school to complain). They thrive on routine as well as predictability and get anxious about changes in their environment. Teaching these kids why it is important to stand up for their beliefs and helping them with the skills to do so is extremely important. They can take all the world’s problems on their shoulders if we don’t stop them.

These kids will benefit from being taught assertiveness, good decision making, flexibility, and anxiety-related coping skills. Most discipline tools work on these kids as they are bothered more by disappointing people than by anything extra we might hand out.

The Careful Analytical: This group is task-oriented like the Drivers; however, they are focused on having the task done correctly—in fact, perfectly. They are very organized and patient (since perfection is a slow process) and will take all the time they need to do something right. They like order and think things through in a logical, critical way. Facts are more important to them than people, and they often enjoy working on their own.

They are not friendly or aggressive and usually have just one or two really close friends. They focus on the big picture and comply with the rules simply because that is the logical thing to do. They do not show their feelings easily and can be judgmental of others. These people can easily become loners and sometimes forget to eat or sleep when involved in a project. The Drivers make them crazy because of their disregard for detail and their rush to finish the task. Analyticals are often attracted to Expressives (sometimes wishing they were more like them) and will often wind up in a relationship with them.

Children in this category will like things set up in a precise fashion. They will organize their dresser, bedroom, and desk to reflect order and logical correctness. Disorganization drives them crazy and they might offer to clean something up as a fun afternoon of activity. Parents are often concerned over their reclusive nature and might try to force them to be more outgoing. Many social skills do not come naturally to this group (except in a very logical way), so some teaching in this area will be important.

These kids will need time to think when asked a question and should not be rushed into answering. They need to know why and how things are done. They will benefit from belonging to clubs (Mad Science, 4-H, Scouts), although be sure it is something they enjoy doing. Tact doesn’t come naturally to them, and they often need help with empathy and compassion. Learning to get dirty and have fun can also be helpful for this child, but not if you force her.

For discipline, consequences work well with this group as long as there is a logical connection to the misbehaviour (a toy removed after throwing it at a sibling). If you try to remove something unrelated (no movie outing because child threw a toy) the child will rebel and not learn anything useful. Because this personality enjoys time alone, grounding and time-outs are rarely effective and can be frustrating for the parent.

Being aware of your dominant personality traits and how they complement or contrast with your
child’s can be very useful
. Two Drivers will argue often and love every minute of it. If you recognize this and ensure the fights don’t get personal, you can sit back and enjoy the competition. On the other hand, if you’re a Driver and you have an Amiable child, these battles will be stressful and possibly scary for your child so you’ll want to be careful. If your child is Analytical and you want to ‘play as a Driver‘ you might get him to debate with you as that is a logical skill he can relate to. If you’re an Expressive parent and your child is an Analytical you may wonder what planet they come from.

In line with this, parents with an Expressive or Driver child will create extra struggle if they use controlling language. If they have two kids one who’s a Driver then sibling rivalry can easily become a big problem in their house if the parents don’t set clear boundaries and enforce them regularly (check out my sibling rivalry podcast for ideas on how to use this annoying practice to your advantate).

On a personal level, once a person is aware of their dominant tendencies it becomes easier to learn how to moderate certain behaviours. A Driver can learn to take other people’s feelings into account and practice patience. An Expressive can learn to be more organized and to arrive on time. Amiables can practice being assertive and accept that some disagreement is healthy and inevitable. Analyticals can learn to be more spontaneous and to strive for good quality instead of perfection. Our personality does not change when we do this but rather becomes educated. Our natural behaviours will still resurface during a crisis, but at least we will be able to understand and grant forgiveness to both ourselves and our family when this happens.

Now it’s your turn. If you haven’t already, take a moment and think about which of these categories describes you best. You might find you are a blend, but even then there will typically be areas that are more dominant in your life. If you find this too hard to do you might jot down some of the main points I shared and ask a friend or two which ones best describe you. Often people on the outside can more clearly see different sides of you.

Once you have an idea of who you are, you are ready to focus on others like your partner or child.  There are actual quizzes you can do, but for today I just wanted to get you thinking about how this information might affect you and your relationships.

If you enjoyed this podcast/article please like/rate/review and subscribe… that’s what keeps us going! Click here now to enjoy our other podcasts.

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Family of Origin

Podcast 032 – FOO

Today I want to talk about your family of origin – or FOO as I like to refer to it.

The family that you were raised in, even if it wasn’t typical or even a family for that matter, has a huge influence on how vibrant and powerful you are today. This is really important to understand because once you are aware of the influence your upbringing has had on you, you can decide if you want to make changes to your behaviour.

As well, your family of origin influences your family of creation. Identify the things that were done in your upbringing that you would prefer not to repeat, and use that information to guide you in making changes with your current family.

Before we jump too deeply into this topic I would like to take you through an exercise designed to help you reflect on who you are right now and where you are headed with your relationships. You might want to do this in a setting where you can take some time to reflect and maybe even have a pen and paper for writing down things that come up.

Exercise: Setting Life Priorities

You are ninety years old, sitting in a rocking chair looking back over your life. Think about the things in your childhood that made you feel safe, secure and happy. Even if you had a difficult childhood, there will be things that helped you feel this way (an older sister who let you sleep in her room; a dog that you cuddled with; a spot in a tree in the backyard you would hide in, etc) so don’t skip this part…really think about what helped you to feel safe, sheltered and able to carry on.   See if you can come up with 3 words to describe you at 7 years old: Shy, Timid, Afraid, Outgoing, Adventurous, Curious, Resilient, Tough, Optimistic. [pause]

Watch your life play out before you like a film highlighting successes, challenges and disappointments. Fast-forward to your late teen/young adult years – especially once you moved away from home.

What were you like in relation to others (roommates, boyfriend/girlfriend, etc)? Are you bossy? Strict? Do you have lots of rules?

Or… Are you the messy, disorganized one – super relaxed with no rules at all? Are you somewhere in between – some rules, but pretty flexible.

Are you consistent in this, or do you waffle back and forth between relaxed and frustrated by the chaos? Just notice without judgment or regret.

Be really honest – you are the only one who can see the film you are watching.

What 3 words describe you now? Decisive, Leader, Controlling, Fun, Flexible, Relaxed, Go-getter, Sarcastic, Damaged

Now, let’s zero in on the moment you find out you are going to be a parent – whether it’s a bio parent, single-parent, teen-parent, step-parent, adoptive parent, etc. Think about the feelings this news creates for you. What are your dreams or wishes for the future?

Continue to move forward in time. Your kids are growing, learning to walk and talk, starting school, maybe joining in extracurricular… now they are 7 years old. If you’re not here yet in real life, use your imagination to see where things are heading.

How do you treat them? What kinds of things do you do to help them feel safe, secure, and loved? How much do you work … play … stop to just enjoy? What 3 words does your 7 year old use to describe you when talking to his/her friends?  Fun, Busy, Mean…

Keep on traveling forward. Your kids are moving out, maybe marrying or having children of their own.

How do they treat you, their partner, and their own kids? Do they like you? Is work dominating their lives? Do they come to visit you? If so, do they do it because they want to or out of obligation? Do they still talk about you? What are they saying now? 

You’ve reached retirement and moved into old age. How important is your job to you now? Do your previously close colleagues still call? Do you feel like a valued member of society? Did you live the kind of life you were hoping to live or did you get caught up in the pressure of it all?

You are ninety looking back. Do you like what you see?

If you could write your whole story, what would you change? While there might be things that seem impossible to adjust in your life, there are little things you can do to guide your life in the direction you would prefer to go.

Sticking to priorities is a tough task for all of us. Life seems so urgent most of the time, but if we don’t live now, when will we?

The idea behind this setting life priorities exercise is to get you thinking about your life from a big picture standpoint. It’s so easy for us to get caught up in the many tasks we have vying for our attention on a daily basis and to put the really important things on hold. Unfortunately, this does not work in our favour… so I strongly encourage you to put your energy into creating the life want, rather than leaving it to chance.

If you came up with your three words each time I asked you to, then those words can help to guide you when it comes to healing past issues, releasing blocks and changing the path you are currently on… so you might want to keep them for future reference.

Remember in the exercise when I asked you to zero in on what your home life was like, and specifically what you were like when you moved away from home. This is the part that is most important for our discussion today, because I want to help you really tune in to the influence your FOO has on who you are and how you behave with your family.

Identifying your family type

Families come in all shapes and sizes and the factors influencing how they will look are pretty much endless. The stressors you face, the support system you have, and the generation you are raised in are just a few of the things that will affect the unique style of your family.

I’m going to describe the extreme case scenario for family types and while I do, think about any little pieces that stand out for you as something that is familiar from your own upbringing. If you’ve printed off the worksheet I’ve included you can check the boxes that apply to you or you can just listen for now and pull out those pieces you recognize as being part of your upbringing.

Even though they’re extremes, don’t limit yourself to one type because as I’ll explain later, there is often much overlap.

The first extreme in families is the; my way or the highway type which is governed by strict, inflexible rules. It is an authoritarian model based on a patriarchal structure or hierarchy (even when it’s a woman at the head of the house) – meaning there is a clear leader, perhaps a second in command and then the followers. Because I said so is a common phrase to hear in that family and explanation as to why these rules are important are very rare. There are strict consequences for breaking rules, and punishment is often the norm.

When a strong-willed child or a child challenged by social cues is born into this family type it often becomes a battle of the wills – meaning the leader strives to break the will of the child opposing him or her.

Barbara Coloroso (author of Kids are Worth it!), calls this type of family a Brickwall Family and I love the picture this name creates. This type of family is very private and if a child shares something at school, daycare or with a coach about home, there will be consequences. Physical punishments like slapping, arm pulling, pinching, or pushing are common, as are threats, groundings, and privilege removal. In this house, you are taught what to think rather than how to think for yourself.

The other extreme is the loosey-goosey type of family that adopts a very permissive style of parenting. Chaos thrives in this environment, as boundaries are not clearly laid out and are rarely enforced. Rules are few and far between and can change with the stress of the moment. This parent will often plead for compliance and will use guilt-laden statements to get her way. She will make threats, feel bad for making the threats, and try to make up for it by buying gifts or not following through with the punishment.

Consistency does not exist in this family and the roles people play (leader, follower, rule-maker) can jump around from person to person. A strong-willed child in this home will often try to take over, but in their youth will have trouble dealing with difficult adult decisions. In this house, you are loved when you are good and made to feel guilty or bad when you are not.

In either of these extremes, major problems arise. Too much structure makes one crave flexibility, while too little structure results in a desire for order and predictability. When people are raised in these environments, they often vow to raise their children the opposite way….which is why you get a lot of overlap between the types. Since without conscious effort we will naturally use the parenting tools that were used on us as a child, this is not a great way to fix this imbalance, especially when the opposite environment is not desirable either.

So with Loosey-goosey, tension will arise due to the lack of order or rigid structure, chaos will reign resulting in inconsistent follow-through with little to no mutual respect or the parent will flip back to her rigid upbringing and shock everyone by laying down the hammer (way too hard!).

This flipflop way of living causes anxiety, confusion, guilt, or anger and can make parents feel like failures or believe their kids are bad beyond repair.

Creating a Balanced Family

Thankfully, most of us were not raised in either of these extremes but instead have grown up in a blend of our own. What’s important is that you become aware of the pieces of your FOO that influence who you are today today and do not fit with your vision of the kind of parent you would like to be.

In an ideal world, a balanced family has a few well thought out rules with the flexibility to make new ones as the need arises. Their home environment is built on fairness and consistency, with clear boundaries and consequences for breaking them. When problems arise they would be discussed and worked through in a way that teaches everyone how to think for themselves. All members of the household are expected to follow the rules, and if problems are continually surfacing, the rule itself might be revamped.

This family type is flexible and works to build mutual respect using a variety of discipline tools and communication skills. People are loved and accepted for who they are and provided with the guidance and support to meet their full potential.

In reality, few—if any—of us would fit perfectly into this balanced family mold, and if we did we wouldn’t stay there for long. Life is about finding balance, not about being perfectly balanced all the time. Growing and learning, as well as independence and confidence, grow out of imbalance and the efforts we take to fix it.

If you are not aware of how your family of origin influences you, it can be very frustrating, not to mention guilt-producing when you keep doing things with your kids or partner that you don’t like – especially when those behaviours are not even aligned with your personality.

The good news…of all the challenges parents face when they come to people like me for assistance, this is one of the easiest to target and make immediate, positive changes to. If you haven’t already, download the worksheet I provided with this podcast and use it to help you figure out where your family is today so you can become aware and continue building the kind of family you really want to have.If you enjoyed this podcast/article please like/rate/review and subscribe… that’s what keeps us going! Click here now to enjoy our other podcasts.

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Life Changing Moments

Podcast 031 – Moments

Today I want to talk about a pretty heavy topic, but one that is worth exploring because it touches so many of our lives. The topic is overcoming life changing moments – you know those things that happen in your life and leave you feeling lost or uncertain if you can even go on.

These are things that define us as a person by shaking us up, demanding our full attention and changing how we view both ourselves and our world.

The cause might be an accident, a diagnosis, a loss, a death, a divorce (or break-up), serious challenges with your child or something slower moving, but still all consuming, like a complete slide into darkness. I’ve shared some of my life changing stories with you already, like when I fell off the chairlift at the ski hill or when my husband and I were financially strapped and lost our house to a flood. I’ve also had some people very close to me receive a life-threatening diagnosis, lost a close friend to suicide, been working in a bank when it was robbed at gunpoint and been involved in a serious mini-bike accident that totally messed up my face.

What’s common about these situation and the many others that you might be facing, is that they force you to really take a look at what is important to you, to focus your attention on healing (which means put yourself as a priority) and, in many cases rebuild your life in a way that can accommodate the new you who arises out of the ashes.

These are not life transitions that we look forward to, in fact we often want to deny they are happening at all and they are certainly not something we consciously choose to have happen. This means, when they arise, we see them as a ‘bad’ thing. Perhaps as punishment, often as unfair, or maybe even embarrassing. This way of looking at them actually adds to their heaviness, makes it hard for us to see the opportunity in the mess while making our journey much harder than it needs to be.

A different perspective…

What if life changing moments were actually opportunities for us to soar? Like in the game of snakes and ladders…it would be as if we’ve come across a giant ladder that can actually take us higher and where we are headed faster than we ever dreamed possible. When we’re playing the game, this is an awesome moment – yes! Right on! I got the biggest ladder out there!

But since life doesn’t necessarily feel like a game and we’re dealing with some really touch situations, we tend to stand at the bottom of the ladder looking up at it and thinking that looks too hard to climb…I’m not sure I want to go up there. What if I can’t make it, what if it’s too hard and my limbs start to shake and burn before I get to the top…what if I fall?

If you knew it was a ladder and an opportunity to climb higher than you’ve ever been in the quickest way possible – you’d likely look at it as a bonus in life. Of course, since it’s such a big ladder and if you’re like me your legs really might not be up to the climb, you would spend some time building up your muscles, eat right, sleep well – take care of yourself so that you could make it through the whole journey.

You would not wallow in self-pity at the bottom thinking now what? I can’t do this, I want to be at the top, I want to cash in on this opportunity, but they need to give me an elevator or I can’t go.

But when feelings like embarrassment, hurt, betrayal, grief are present, that’s exactly what most of us are tempted to do.

That’s an interesting piece about situations we label as bad…we can only really feel them when we’re in them and it’s the feelings that make them real. That’s why we can look at another person’s situation and say – that’s terrible; I feel so bad for you [and then we see their face and we quickly backtrack] – oh! I mean – that’s great; I’m so happy for you.

But here’s the point…how bad our situation is will always be a matter of perspective.  AND that perspective is always based on how the situation makes us feel!

As a social worker I have worked with women and kids who have been abused, raped, parents who have lost children and children who have lost parents, people with major addictions or life threatening illness, people who’ve lost everything to fire, flood, war…some come through it relatively easily while others are ruined for life.

To be a vibrant and powerful being, you need to fully embrace your own resiliency and know that you can handle whatever life throws your way…the ladder might look too tall from where your standing, but if you start to climb it, one rung at a time, you have a really good chance of making it to the top. BECAUSE life doesn’t give you things you are not equipped to handle!

Often, on a journey such as this, you won’t have a clue how you’re going to take the next step. Sometimes you need to call upon all of your supports…totally drain your resources and do it all without knowing how much further you have to go to get there. If you see it as a ladder taking you towards something you really want and need in life, you will find that trust, faith and perseverance are enough to keep you going. If you view it as a punishment, an embarrassing or shameful truth, a huge loss that you cannot possibly endure, then each step will get harder and you will spend more time looking back than gazing forwards.

Part of surviving any life changing moment is acceptance (which is often put out there as letting go), one of the easiest ways to do this, is to adopt the perspective of positivity and see what you attract to help you on your climb.

So what do you do? 

That’s the million dollar question isn’t it?  There is no answer for that question because it is different for every single situation, for each unique person and for every time it is experienced!

Interestingly there are some major commonalities that I’ve put together into a 90 day program called my TUCK’N ROLL system. Obviously my podcast can’t go on for 90 days, but I can give you a few tips from it.

  1.  Recognize that your situation is an important part of your life journey and take full responsibility for it. I’m not saying there was no way it could be avoided or blaming you that it happened, there is no judgement here, but I am saying the moment you take responsibility for what has occurred, is the moment you start taking back your power.Unfortunately, most of us have been taught that we must take responsibility because it is the mature and therefore ‘right’ thing to do. As a result, it can be tainted with a sense of self-blame and that doesn’t help us heal when we are hurting.I want to shine a different light on this idea. You see, to me taking responsibility shows you clearly where you could have made a different choice. Seeing a choice helps us recognize that there are things we could have done, which means the world is not spinning quite so wildly out of control…it resets the predictability factor which is a critical part of moving out of crisis and back into having a sense of control.
  2. Throw away your shovels. Resentment, regret, bitterness, blame, hurt, anger…are all digging you deeper, let them go. In order to take full responsibility, you’ve had to get your ego to calm down and allow higher-self to step in. Feelings like those I just mentioned will only flip you back into that unhealthy space.
    Really tune-in to the story you are sharing and notice the feelings that arise as you tell it. If you can taste bitterness when you share your story or feel waves of regret about how you wish it had turned out, you are still holding strong to the emotion of the experience. Sarcasm can be a slippery slope black into this zone as well.Notice how you feel. Change your story to focus more on what you wish had happened, what you’ve learned or how you would do things differently in the future…be very careful that the person you are sharing it with doesn’t try to shove you back into the hole by riling you up.
  3. Once you’ve taken full responsibility and let go of the shovel, you can start focusing your energy on what you can do to get yourself out. This might involve things like taking stock of your strengths, figuring out where you can find support (people, books, courses, teleseminars, coaches), or even focusing all your energy on pleasure.What you’re doing through all of these steps is helping to shift yourself from Victim to Hero which is not an easy task. Compassion is a key word when something life changing happens, which unfortunately is not something that comes easily, especially when it comes to caring for ourselves.Recognize that progress might be slow. You won’t be able to just jump out of the hole and go on about your life as it was before. Real growth happens slowly and healing works in cycles. This means, just when you think things are back to normal, you’ll find something happens to push you back a step or two. This is not failure, but part of the process to help you heal.

These are not easy things to do and that’s really the point of this podcast – life and the opportunities for change that it offers are not easy (which is why our ego fears them!). This is a journey, take baby steps where possible – reach for one better feeling, take one course, set one-two goals at a time, and recognize that set-backs are simply part of the experience.

What about when it’s not you in the hole, but your child, colleague or friend?

No matter how badly you might want to, you cannot lift someone else out of this kind of hole. If you do, she will fall back in, or dig another deeper one. So instead you might sit on the rim and keep her company, offer her some ideas to think about if she asks, accept that this is happening to her and love her unconditionally.

So here’s a quick overview of what you can do:

  • Be as non-judgmental as possible and recognize you cannot possibly know what it’s like for her in her unique situation. Shovels are heavy so don’t add to the load she’s already dealing with by giving unsolicited advice, telling her where she went wrong, demanding she ‘smarten up’ or throwing every resource you can find in the hole with her. These things will not help her or your relationship.So if you’re going to toss someone a shovel when they are already down in a hole, do it in a way that can help them uncover the many treasures their situation has to offer and then be there for them when they climb out.
  • If you really need to do more…Help her put down her shovel and shift her focus from what’s been done to her, to what she can do for herself (move from the Victim to Hero). Little things like pointing out what you’ve always admired about her (careful because done wrong this can create guilt), offering to drive or accompany her to a difficult appointment, giving a hug or holding her while she cries (because she’s not really in a hole), can all help her garner her strength and realize she is not alone.It’s a fine line between supporting and enabling, so pay close attention to how much your doing, if you are taking on her battles and maybe schedule some times when you are unavailable and see how she does on her own.
  • As soon as she begins to climb out of the hole – be there for her, in the same way you would for someone just learning to walk again. Don’t try to do everything for her so she doesn’t have to walk, but be there to support should she need someone to lean on while she catches her breath. Help her integrate what she has learned from this experience AND most importantly…see her and treat her as the resilient hero she is while accepting how she has changed as a result of the process.


I thought I’d end today’s podcast with a short story that is just too perfect not to include:

An Autobiography In 5 Short Chapters By Porsche Nelson

Chapter 1
I walk down the street and there’s a deep hole in the sidewalk, I fall in, I am lost, I am helpless, It isn’t my fault, It takes me forever to find my way out.

Chapter 2
I walk down the same street and there’s a deep hole in the sidewalk, I pretend I don’t see it. I fall in again, I can’t believe that I’m in the same place but it isn’t my fault. It takes a long time to get out.

Chapter 3
I walk down the same street there’s a deep hole in the sidewalk, I see that it is there, I still fall in, it’s a habit, my eyes are open, I know it’s my fault. I get out immediately.

Chapter 4
I walk down the same street there’s a deep hole in the sidewalk, I walk around it.

Chapter 5
I walk down another street.

If you enjoyed this podcast/article please like/rate/review and subscribe… that’s what keeps us going! Click here now to enjoy our other podcasts.

Interested in the names & products we talk about on the show? Check out our Vibrant Mentions Pinterest Board!

Quieting the Nag

Podcast 030 – Inner Critic 2

Today I want to share more ideas on how you can quiet your inner critic because this is an ongoing and challenging task, so most of us benefit by having lots of different tools to use.

Quieting this voice – or at least changing what she is saying – is really important to helping a person move out of their shadow and into their power, so if you want to be a vibrant, powerful person, you’ll need to have this under control.
Another reason this is a good thing to do, is your inner critic was formed when you were young. It came about as a result of things people said to you, how they treated you and the overall sense of self-worth you developed as a result. This means if you are a parent, teacher, coach, grandparent, etc, what you are saying to the young people in your life right now can be helping them form their self-talk for later! Depending on how strong your influence is in their life, you are affecting how critical they will be of themselves AND even how much they nag others!

Yikes! Tough to accept I know, but definitely worth being aware of and giving some thought to how you will let this information guide you… If you are critical a lot, this has a good chance of sticking with them and perhaps it even being your voice they hear when they later put themselves down. How would you like to be remembered?

So, while this voice will always be with you – I truly believe it is impossible to tune her out completely – you can set limits and provide guidance around what is okay to say.

Who is she?

In case you are totally new to the idea of an inner critic or if you just need a refresher about it, your inner critic is the voice inside of your head which reminds you of any past failings (real or imagined) in life and suggests you are crazy to take risks or try new things.  Your inner critic is tightly tied to your ego and as a result often comes from a place of fear – fear of rejection, of getting hurt, of embarrassment, of losing, etc. In other words, she thinks she is protecting you!

Your inner critic is not speaking the truth, but spouting a story with just enough memory connection to make you believe her. Most of us are aware that when it comes to sharing data, it is very easy for a person to manipulate the facts to fit what they want to say. This is basically what the inner critic is a pro at….what she is saying might sound like the truth because of the memories it is linking to, but there is definitely some embellishment and massaging of facts going on there.

This critic loves to jump in when self-doubt, uncertainty, worry, guilt or fear are around as well as when you are feeling embarrassed, disappointed, hurt or angry. It is like a ring leader to those feelings working to rile them up, making it even harder for you to come through that moment in life in a healthy way.

If this isn’t bad enough, it can also pipe up when you are feeling good (i.e. happy, proud, purposeful, in the zone). In this case it might pull up memories tied to a similar time where things didn’t work out, or it might make it up totally from scratch.

For example, let’s say you curl competitively. A few years ago your team was in the finals to win your provincial title. You were up by 5 coming home – the game was virtually in the bag, when everything just sort of fell apart. Your second missed an easy take-out, allowing the other team a chance to put another rock in play. Your 3rd’s weight was off and fell short of the house and one of your rocks was burned (touched by your player and taken off without allowing it to hit any other rocks. To make a long, sad, story short the other team ended up scoring 6 and beating you.

Now, years later with way more experience under your belt you’re back in the finals. Although you are much more self-assured at this point in your life, you can hear that nagging little voice piping up in your head, “Hope this doesn’t end like the last one…you better play it super safe…you can’t do a take-out what if she misses? How embarrassing it would be to lose again…”

Instead of feeling confident and ready to finish the game like the pro that you are, you feel shaky and filled with doubt.

Even if it doesn’t have a past failure to pull up, it can still create insecurities by attaching to other situations in life. For example, it might start with a simple cliché such as; “Careful not to count your chickens before they hatch. It all comes down to your shot…What if you miss the broom completely? Look at all those people watching, did you see what happened to [insert another curling champs name here]. I sure wish you’d had a better night’s sleep last night…being up all night with the baby isn’t going to help your game…”

You get the picture… the inner critic can be quite relentless in taking you down a notch if you allow her to speak freely.

Sometimes this voice will sound like someone you know (a parent, a teacher, yourself…) and other times it’s just a voice. Becoming aware of your Inner Critic is the first step to taking back your power from this invisible force.

Putting the critic in her place…

1) Name it: Once you recognize that this voice is there and not helping you, your next step is to figure out ways to quiet it down. I like to call mine by name. Not a real name of someone I know – even though their voice might sound awfully familiar – because that gives that person undue power even when they are not around.  It can also cause unnecessary damage to the relationship – even though you might feel like the damage has been done.
To show you what I mean, let’s imagine that you think of your inner critic as your mother…maybe you even call her that. Using the curling example above, what if you end up losing as a result of that pesky critic. Where do you think you might focus your anger? I’m guessing at good old mom – who, while she might be in the stands – didn’t actually have anything to do with that moment.

Your critic is not your mother, but a voice that you feed and control!

So, if you decide you like the idea of choosing a name, try to make it something that is fitting, but not connected to someone you know in real life. I call mine Naggy, which is also what I used to call my GPS in my car. The character in my Standing in Your Power book, Jane, calls her critic Snarky, and I’ve had other client’s use names like Minion, Lucy (short for Lucifer!), Parrot, and so on.  To make our conversation easier I’m going to use the nickname Wannabe for the inner critic examples in this podcast.

2) Set Boundaries: Once you’ve got your inner critic pegged – i.e. you are aware of her and perhaps given her a name – it’s time to set boundaries. Basically this is exactly like it is with kids, except I’m going to give you fun ways to respond if she doesn’t listen, which are definitely not meant for you to use on your kids.

We set boundaries by having clear expectations and communicating those thoughts to others. In this case, you are setting this up with your inner critic – the voice in your head. You do not have to share these expectations with anyone else, although you might do so should a teachable moment arise that it would be perfect for.

3) Enforce Boundaries: The actual details of this are up to you, but basically this means you are going to correct Wannabe when she speaks harshly, puts you down, or tries to make you doubt yourself.  The conversation can happen in your head (you could wind up with a diagnosis if you have this conversation aloud) and can be anything from an explanation to a command to stop.

“Wannabe, if you don’t have anything nice to say, don’t say it at all.”
“Enough,” “Stop,” “Quiet.”

You’re going to want to practice this in your regular, everyday life, so that when you’re in a high stress situation, it’s familiar and Wannabe already knows the rules. If you try to introduce this only in those intense moments, Wannabe won’t listen and even if you got her to quiet down, you’re still distracted and in danger of bringing down your performance as a result.

 4) Get Creative: If that feels too difficult (typically because she isn’t listening) and your imagination is strong, then you might want to put your creativity to work in order to bring her under control. For example, you could draw a picture of her (in your mind or on paper) and add a clown nose or Dumbo ears that she has to wear when she’s misbehaving.

You might also create a pretend volume button and turn it way down or even mute it when needed. You could give her a Goofy or Mickey Mouse voice or even (in extreme circumstances) see her sitting on your shoulder and flick her off when she won’t be quiet.

This exercise is actually about taking back your power and is similar to a tool I would use with kids who are being teased, name-called, etc and are making it worse by reacting. It’s not about creating a battle with Wannabe – that tends to escalate things in a bad way – but about taking back some of your power.

5) Release it: Another great tool to have is one you can use when Wannabe is bringing up strong feelings that are tied to an actual memory. Rather than try to ignore them, or stuff them away, you can use this information to let you know this memory is carrying an emotional charge.  If that’s the case, you might want to use some of the tools you’ve already learned in these podcasts to release the hold this memory has on you.

One way you can do this is to close your eyes and notice where those
feelings are sitting in your body. Go there (i.e. if you feel embarrassment deep in your belly, send your awareness deep into your belly or simply set your hand there to help the process). Notice any thoughts, memories, pictures or anything else that comes up – acknowledge them – and let them go.

You might do this by visualizing a cord (or several) attached to it and cut them. You can watch them drift off like a balloon, disintegrate into nothing or burn up in a fire.  You might see yourself at that younger age and visualize pulling her onto your knee, soothing her and letting her know she is safe and it is over. The bigger, stronger and fully capable you will handle it from here.

If a different person appears from that memory, you can ask them if there is anything else they want to share with you (or anything they want to give you), then thank them and watch them disappear.

In every case you’ll want to fill the area that memory used to fill with light, love, or compassion… whatever feels right to you.

If you feel like a piece of you has been stuck in this memory, it might take a bit of time and lots of loving energy, but keep at it until the memory loses its power and you feel “whole” once again.

6) Debate it: When there is no memory or maybe you hate visualizing, another option is to go into debate mode.  Stand your ground and point out every single thing you can think of that pokes holes in the story Wannabe is trying so hard to sell. In debate mode you don’t take things personally (or attack the other) and even if you have a nagging feeling your opponent may be right, you don’t give in.  Once reasonable doubt has been created the inner critic will naturally quiet down. Win that debate – it can literally change your life!

7) Assign a Task: Finally, your inner critic is a part of your team. She’s there and will be at her best when her boundaries are clearly outlined and enforced. Now I don’t know about you, because I’ve never been in anyone else’s head, but I know that Naggy gets bored if she doesn’t have anything to do and a bored inner critic is a nuisance. So I give her a task.

Her job is to be my number one cheerleader and coach. She’s allowed to encourage, pat me on the back, remind me to stay objective, point out when I’m escalating, etc. It took me a while to train her in this, but after a few months of practice, she really embraced it. Of course, I had to help her learn to let go of anything and everything critical (not an easy task for either of us) and teach her some ways to build me up.

She’s not perfect and neither am I, but for the most part, I know she’s on my team and when she has a bad day, I’m reminded that it’s me who needs to slow down, be compassionate and investigate rather than just blunder on through leaving damaged relationships in my wake.

In conclusion…believe in yourself!  Know that you are perfect at being you and that you are on a unique and special journey.  Nobody else will ever be able to walk a mile in your exact shoes and nobody else will ever fully understand what you must do to reach your full potential… except maybe Wannabe, who has a front row seat to who you are becoming and a natural ability to help you get there.

If you enjoyed this podcast/article please like/rate/review and subscribe… that’s what keeps us going! Click here now to enjoy our other podcasts.

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Starting with the end in mind

Podcast 029 – New Year Start

Since this podcast is airing not only at the start of a new year, but also at the start of a new 9 year
cycle, I was inspired to share ideas for how you might use this opportunity to release, reset and clearly set your intentions.

In case you’re new to the idea of a 9 year cycle, and you can’t really move on until you know what I mean, let me give you a quick overview. In the world of numerology (which I’m a relatively new student of), when you take the numbers of any year and add them together and then reduce them to a single digit, you get a number from one to nine.  Because of the nature of math, once you established what any year is, you know you can just add one every year to get the next year’s number. 2 + 0 + 1 + 7 = 10  Add these two numbers together and  1 + 0 = 1. 2017 is a one year.

This is really important (at least to Numerologists) because it means we are starting the next 9 year cycle. It also means that 2016 was a 9 year and therefore a year of completion, releasing, and basically working out any major unfinished business from the previous years. You might have noticed that it was a tough year for a lot of people.

If the numerology aspect interests you my favorite site is Numerologist.com which will give you far more than I will cover in this podcast. They also share ideas about astrology which is very tightly connected to numerology. It’s an absolutely fascinating topic so it’ll be on my vibrant mentions pinterest board if you are interested.

If this idea is totally new to you or it isn’t new, but you haven’t thought about it this year, then you might want to take a few moments and think about the past 9 years. What all happened in your life that came to a peak and either ended or changed course in the last year. Sometimes it’s hard to know at this point in the journey what is ending, because you don’t realize you’ve actually finished some of the things you have until about a year has gone by.

The previous 9 years…

For example, the previous nine year cycle started in 2007. For me, in hindsight, this was when I made the first motion to leave the school division I was currently working for (even though I loved it dearly). I signed a two year book contract with a self-publishing company and switched a piece of my full-time contract over to a grant position – meaning it would likely not last too many years. It felt like the right thing to do and I was excited to be turning this new corner.

In 2010 I left this position and started full time as an entrepreneur. I wrote a couple books, started presenting on my own (rather than for the school division) and put my energy into creating an on-line business.

Without giving it a lot of thought, if you asked me what the last 9 years had been about for me I would have said building a business, but that’s actually not true. You see in 2007 when I decided to commit to writing a book and leave the school division, I knew I was running on fumes and even having the whole summer off wasn’t enough to recharge myself. Turns out my adrenals were tanked, but I didn’t know that at the time. So the Universe at that time was prompting me to leave a stressful, yet wonderful job, to look after myself better. Instead, I was prepping to leave one stressful job and jump into another very stressful lifestyle without a regular paycheque.

So in 2010, just before my book launched I was in an accident which I talked about in my first podcast and won’t go into here, but suffice it to say, business building out of necessity had to drop down my priority list. I just found this frustrating at the time and put a lot of energy trying to figure out how I could still be moving my business forwards which is when I wrote my second book and launched my family booster shot cards. In other words, I wasn’t really listening to what the Universe was suggesting, but instead was still pushing myself to create something meaningful.

This year as I’ve consciously reflected on this period of time I realized that my main focus was on healing myself and taking better care of myself by learning how to recharge my batteries. This included awakening to my divine feminine; developing a strong spiritual connection – which I had previously walked away from because of my confusion with religion; and really applying all that I was learning to my life.

I was being pushed not just to learn concepts to teach others, but to actually live it!

I was an active parent during this time, although my role was definitely shifting. At the start of the cycle my kids were 11 and 13 and this is exactly where I needed to adapt a little from full on mom, to more of a mentor and then from there to more like a cheerleader and occasional safety net.

I realized about 4 years into this cycle, that while my husband and I have a good relationship we were starting to drift. He was busy with his life and I was busy with mine. Since the kids didn’t require as much of our focus it was easy to lose touch with each other.

I shifted my energy onto my relationship with my hubby because this is the relationship that had decided about 20 years before to be in for life. Now don’t get me wrong, my kids I’m hoping will also be with me for life, however,  they are both adults now and while I’ll always be their parent it is no longer my job to parent them. My relationship with my husband however, does not have the natural bond that I have with my kids. It requires more effort to stay connected.

With the kids I was learning to let-go of that which was never mine in the first place (i.e. making their decisions for them) and trust that all would be well. With my husband I was learning that love is an investment and requires some conscious effort to continue building or at least maintaining while still trusting that all will be well.

So that’s what reflecting on the last 9 years looked like for me. Yours will be totally different and that’s okay…necessary even. I encourage you however, to break it into chunks (kids, partner, friendships, work) and see how your top areas in life have evolved.

The next 9 years…

Now, as I sit here poised to start a new 9 year cycle I wonder at how things are about to change, which brings me to the point of this podcast.

Rather than set resolutions or intentions that focus on what you want to change this year, what if you aimed your attention at the 9 year cycle and what things are the most important to you (areas of priority) for these next nine years.

By thinking about where nine years can take you and then working it backwards to ensure your intentions are steering you in the right direction you naturally start to shift your point of view. Plus…the universe already works in this 9 year pattern, if you use the energies you are naturally surrounded by to help you get the most out of each 9 year segment you have a much greater chance of really living the life you have come here to live.

Stephen Covey referred to this as starting with the end in mind and it was a key part of his 7 habits work…only he wasn’t necessarily tying it back to numerology.

How this might look…

For example, if your kids are currently five and three, then in 9 years they will be 14 and 12. Wow – teenagers. Are you ready? I know it seems like a far way off and as a result, perhaps beyond your control, but what’s really cool about this is that you truly are setting the foundation for what things will be like with your child as a teenager right now.

So, what kind of relationship do you want to have with your child 9 years from now? Do you want to have one where conversations flow easily, where they come to you when they feel pressured by others or bullied? Do you want them to know that you have their back no matter what…or that there is no problem so great it cannot be solved?
What about your relationship with your life partner, or if you don’t have one, where would you like to be in that regard 9 years from now? If you aren’t in a relationship or if you have a challenging relationship, then it is a good time to do some personal analysis on this topic. Do I want a loving a sexual relationship with someone else in my future? What areas might I need to work on to make that happen? Am I good on my own and if so, how am I going to ensure my very critical need for connection to others will still be met?

What about health? Where are you in that department and where would you like to be in 9 years? Given your current trajectory, are you likely to get there? I know this might not sound like a new idea, but in fact for many of us it is. AND what’s really amazing about it, is because this is the start of a nine year cycle even the Universal Energies are ready to help you.

Let me show you what I mean…

Currently, most people who do not like the outcome they are currently getting put their energy into changing their action in an effort to get different results. This is one step better than doing the same thing over and over again and expecting the results to change (INSANE!)

For example, if you believe you are overweight and you don’t want to be overweight any more, you might resolve to lose some. In fact the most common resolution people make is to lose weight or be healthier.

So, their current outcome = they are carrying extra weight, and/or lacking energy, or not necessarily overweight, but under muscled… They look at this current outcome and decide their actions are the problem, so they vow to make a change – they go on a diet, buy a gym membership or join a kickboxing class.

A month into the year, they catch a cold or have a stressful event transpire in their life (or even go on a winter holiday) and lose focus on their new action. It’s too hard and they have to constantly remind themselves that they’ve changed their practiced way of being.

At this point they might decide their dreams are too lofty (I’ll never lose weight, I’m genetically predisposed…) or that they need to lower their standards (maybe my vision of great energy is unrealistic…I just need to settle for feeling groggy all the time).

To really create sustainable results, you need to actually go back to your original point of view and shift your perspective to make long term, lasting changes. This is called a paradigm shift and it has the effect of helping us see things in a totally different light which can eliminate many of the blocks we have on that topic.

 Using the idea of a 9 year cycle, is a great way to shift your perspective, tune into and release some of the subconscious junk that is getting in your way.

Although the shift is immediate, the changes to get there will not happen overnight and you will not be able to do it in every area of your life at once. What’s amazing though is that by starting the process in one area you create a domino like affect that slowly trickles down into every significant area of your life.

For example you enroll in a program to help you accept and love your body…from there you start eating better and exercising more. You’re happier and find you want to play with your kids more. Your hubby notices this change and the two of you start getting along better. This happiness at home goes with you to work and your boss or clients notice…

A word of caution… this way of thinking is not about deciding on the outcomes (lose 20 pounds) or exactly how things should look in 9 years, but about capturing the essence of where you will be and determining where you need to put your energy right now to set you up for success.

Create a powerful vision…

In nine years I am healthy enough and energized enough to do things with my kids. We have fun together and search out things we can enjoy together (hiking, skiing, swimming). My energy is fed through my close positive connections with friends, a fulfilling career, being of service to others (volunteering) and a thriving relationship with my life partner.                                                                                            And so it is!

Compare your reality to your vision:

To have enough energy and be healthy enough to keep up with the kids I need to change how I’m treating my body and how much quality time I’m currently spending with them (they won’t magically want to spend time with me as teenagers because I’m offering to do so). This means I need to value my health and take time for self-care.

Warning…subconscious blocks can still be a problem (i.e. like believing you are genetically doomed), so notice anything that comes up in the form of “Yes, buts” to your paradigm shift and if so seek out help to eliminate them.

If I continue on this trajectory when my kids are teens they might not even like me never mind want to spend time with me; I will likely be too sick and tired to play, if I don’t have some kind of major health concern arise; my relationship with my husband will have deteriorated and will be a strain rather than a support; and while I might still have my job I’ll be miserable.

The person I am in 9 years puts self-care as top priority. She eats healthy and delicious food, incorporates regular movement into her life and learns how to enjoy the great outdoors. She sees her relationship with her kids as a top priority and creatively figures out ways to enjoy their company.

Determine a starting point…

I struggle with putting myself first yet I also don’t put enjoyment of kids or spending quality time with my hubby first. In fact I spend a lot of time feeling a bit like a martyr, keeping my house clean and going to a job I no longer enjoy.

Starting this year I will learn how to put myself first. My #1 drain is work. So I will open myself to the possibility of changing career paths or finding a hobby that I’m passionate about. I will learn how to eat well without depriving myself and setting myself up for failure and I will find ways to enjoy playing with my kids that gets me moving around more.  

Action bullets for 2017:

  • Learn self-care ideas and make regular self-care breaks part of my day
  • Search out things I find enticing re: career/hobby. Bring that into my life.
  • Learn about healthy eating versus dieting and 5 things I could do this year to make positive change without adding stress
  • Share my plan with 2 friends I can trust and ask them to hold me accountable
  • Celebrate reaching even the smallest of goals

Shameless plug: my program The Sisterhood of Vibrant, Powerful Moms teaches about health, parenting, building relationships, living on purpose and self-care. It starts in January and can help you catapult into these next 9 years, so please check it out if it resonates with you at all.

Once you’ve come up with your first step, check in monthly, quarterly at some other suitable interval to see where you are, then using your 9 year plan for guidance, figure out and implement the next step. You can also create a vision board for your 9 year plan and revisit it regularly to remind yourself of your new point of view.

If you enjoyed this podcast/article please like/rate/review and subscribe… that’s what keeps us going! Click here now to enjoy our other podcasts.

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Using Guilt to Help you Grow

Podcast 028 – Guilt

Today I’m going to talk about how you can use guilt to help you grow – rather than letting it rip you apart at the seams.

Guilt is truly one of those emotions that is a total waste of energy if
you allow it to run the show. When guilt is in the driver’s seat of your life it can rob you of your personal vibrancy, cause you to lose respect in the eyes of others and has the added danger of becoming a manipulation tool that can damage all of your relationships.

On the other hand, if feelings are signals meant to guide us in life, then guilt could be a fantastic personal development guide. It is a feeling that naturally causes us to reflect on what we have done, sometimes over and over and over.

So let’s start by talking for a few minutes about how guilt can be a problem.

I already mentioned how this emotion can rob you of your personal vibrancy and I doubt I need to say more, except perhaps to provide a visual of a person sitting in a rowboat in the middle of a body of water and using their bailing can to scoop water up from the lake into their boat. In other words, your energy and imagination is being used to sink your own boat when you let guilt run the show– not a good plan.

Assuming that visual clearly shows you what I mean, let’s move on to losing the respect of others. In truth a person who feels guilty a lot is dealing with low self-worth (consciously or even subconsciously) and that already makes it harder for people to see the real you. It can make you stay silent when words need to be spoken, it can create a passive-aggressive stance that makes people distrust you and it can cause you to whine – a lot. It’s hard to respect someone who gives off weak vibes (unless of course they are ill) and it makes it easy for others to use you as a floor mat.

Finally, guilt is a manipulation tool that has made its way into too many people’s parenting pack. These people will use it to make others (not just their kids) feel bad and to try and get them to do their bidding by pushing their guilt buttons. It can be blatantly obvious, “If you love me you’d do this for me.” Or it can be a little more subtle, “I hate staying by myself – please stay.“Or “I was sure you’d drop in last night since you didn’t have to work…I sat by the window watching.”

The good news is this tool doesn’t work on everyone… in fact it’s only effective if the person it is being used on has been trained in shouldering the guilt. The person has to believe they did something wrong, that their behaviour was uncalled for and that nothing they can do will fix it to take on the feeling of guilt.

Manipulation via guilt is much more common than one would think and can cause all kinds of future relationship issues, because what you learned as a child you are quite likely to use as an adult…and often not even recognize it as a problem.

So if any of these problems sounds familiar, you might want to start focusing your attention on making changes now. Often this will require outside help because it’s really hard to see your own stuff. One thing you can do on your own is to start thinking about how adults in your life have used guilt with you (especially when you were young) and if you felt guilty often, look at your true intention when you are talking to your kids, partner or others that are close to you. Sometimes awareness is enough to start making changes, but guilt is a particularly tricky one – so be very patient with yourself and perhaps ask others (like your friend or partner) to use a code word when they see manipulation happening.

Now let’s shift gears and talk about how guilt can sneak up on you and drain your power without you really recognizing what’s happening.

In my book Break Free of Parenting Pressures, I share a story about a time when my kids were quite young (about 4 & 2) and my oldest son was playing with a super bouncy ball. I’m sure I asked him to stop bouncing it in my office (which was a main living space in the house – not a room off by itself), but it might have been more a suggestion than a clear request.

He either didn’t hear me, or he chose not to listen and on his next throw the ball caught an awkward bounce on the tile in the entrance way, zipped up and hit a hanging light (sent it swinging) and then zoomed towards me – like a bullet. It never hit me, but it sure made me mad and I started to yell.

When I paused for breath, still quite angry, the front doorbell rang. The front door was where the swinging light hung, so whoever was on the other side would have heard my angry outburst from beginning to end. I felt my face burning a deep shameful red and I actually thought about pretending I wasn’t home!

It was the delivery man from a nearby town, dropping off a piece of furniture I had bought the week before. He was flustered too especially as he took in both of my kids, one crying because his mommy had just reamed him out and the other just looking shocked (I like to think that was because I didn’t do a lot of yelling).

After he left I apologized to my kids, hugged them and cried a little. That done they went off to play and I sat down at my desk and tried to work, but I couldn’t.

Instead I sat there head bowed in shame. You see – I was a parent educator, and my job, was to help parents do their best work. At that point in my career I really thought I was supposed to have parenting all figured out so even my missteps would be only half-way awkward and not come from me totally losing it…in front of a witness yet!

The guilt was huge and I just couldn’t shake it off. I kept reliving the scene over and over, wondering at my own loss of self control and my audacity at calling myself a parent educator. I felt raw, exposed, like a total failure.

Later confessing my shameful story to a friend, she sighed deeply on the other end of the phone. “At what point are you going to stop beating yourself up? You made a mistake,” she said. “You’re a great mom and a great parent educator. Your kids accepted your apology, why can’t you?”

Good question! I like to tell people, you can’t send someone on a guilt trip unless their bags are already packed. I guess my bags were packed and ready to go.  And that’s one of the most important things we need to understand about guilt…it’s not a reflection of anything real, it is based on a fantasy or story we are creating in our mind.

Unfortunately, because guilt is a common starting point for a pattern of self-destruction, which means it has a groove it likes to follow that starts you spinning downward through a variety of uncomfortable emotions, while opening the door to the internal critic and self-condemnation, it is much harder to just let go than one might think.

An illustration of what a pattern of self-destruction can look like…

I made a mistake – overreacted, yelled, made my child cry, scared the other child and done it all in front of a witness – this created a huge surge of Guilt. Picture a ball at the top of a track that once you let go it has no choice but to follow the trail. The top of the track in this case is guilt.

My pattern (or track) took me to extreme embarrassment first and a strong desire to hide. Immediately after that my brain froze so I couldn’t think straight or say anything intelligent. This created a tightness in my chest and belly which makes it hard to breathe and my internal critic took advantage of the space, “you call yourself a parent educator?” “who are you to speak on self-control – you obviously don’t have any!”. In this space my brain could do nothing but keep replaying the story over and over until eventually the ball fell into a pit of self-loathing.

This pattern is quite quick to get into, but once you are there, it’s very difficult to get out. Because it awakens so many sensations it feels like a huge weight has plopped onto your shoulders and you might never feel normal again.

Obviously, not every guilt experience is this extreme. In fact without the pattern of self-destruction, it might not have amounted to much at all. I might have apologized to my kids, poured myself a cup of tea and moved on. Unfortunately, in some cases the patterns are more like a slow spin that start out without huge intensity and then because of your thoughts and internal critic, intensify through the day.

So what can you do?

First, if your internal critic has piped up and started spouting words of condemnation, or reminding you of other things you’ve done wrong before…you’ll want to start with quieting it. I’ve talked about how you can do this before and will be doing a podcast with more ideas on this in a week or two, but for now, suffice it to say, you need to put a stop to any extra dissing the internal critic is doing.

This is very hard to do in the heat of the moment when everything feels so raw. So, practicing this in times of calm will definitely help you when tragedy strikes.

Remember, the words the critic is saying don’t have to be true for you to believe them!

Then, you can put on your detectives hat. Remember the detective is on neutral ground – she remains objective when looking at a situation and asks her questions from that place. In my case, I might ask myself where this guilt is coming from and then use that information to determine what action could arise as a result.

For example, when I felt guilty for verbally attacking my son, I might ask myself the following:

  • Am I feeling guilty because I spoke harshly and hurt my son’s feelings? Am I okay with the boundary I set (don’t bounce your ball in your house), but upset because I yelled?
  • Is the guilt because I do usually let him bounce the ball in the house and it’s just because he caught a bad bounce and the ball scared me that I reacted so badly?
  • Could my guilt be so intense because I just gave a talk on using self-control and I feel like a total hypocrite by losing mine (and with a witness no less!)?

Figuring out what the answer is helps to guide me on where to go next. In every case, my son deserved a genuine apology, but what I said in my apology would change depending on the reason.

If I spoke harshly and hurt feelings, my action might be to apologize to my son, give him a hug (if he wants one) and perhaps explain why I behaved the way I did. I don’t do this as an attempt to excuse my behaviour or to change my mind about bouncing the ball in my office, but more to provide a learning opportunity for both of us. “I’m sorry I lost my temper and yelled at you. I better practice my self-control a little more. I’ll try harder in the future and maybe you could try a little harder to listen when mommy asks you to stop doing something.”

If my guilt came from recognizing that I had overreacted out of fear (from the ball zipping past me) which is often funneled into anger to save face – then my apology might sound like this. “I’m sorry I lost my temper and yelled at you. The ball scared me when it zipped across my desk and I got angry because I don’t like being scared. I’m sorry I overreacted like that.”

Finally, if I decide my guilt is caused by me behaving like a hypocrite I might apologize to my son (perhaps using the first apology) and then zero in on getting a true picture of what was going on for me. Some questions I might ask myself:

  • Are my expectations realistic (i.e. that I’ll never make a mistake just because I teach that skill)?  I am human right?
  • What would I say to a parent who shared a similar mistake? I’d say, “Awesome job for recognizing your loss of control – that’s not easy to do. If you’re not happy with the way that went what would you like to do differently next time?
  • Is there a teaching point from this I can learn for future presentations?  This is something I have used many times to help shift me from having a pity-party to thinking objectively and this did in fact provide a great story to share which I’m still doing J

In sum, rather than feeding the guilt by beating myself up over how badly I behaved… I can use this feeling to guide me towards an action that will help me repair damage and grow from the experience. By doing this I feel I am using the guilt as the signal it was intended to be rather than heading on the guilt trip my bags were already packed to take me on.

I recognize there are times when it will feel like whatever you did wrong is just too big a thing to fix, but that’s not the point here. The point is your guilt is not serving you or the situation you are dealing with. Even though you might have ‘messed up bad’ I guarantee you are still making it worse with the stories in your mind, the assumptions you are making about the other person’s response, and your refusal to cut yourself any slack.

Becoming aware of when you are doing this and how much of your vibrant energy it is zapping can be a starting point for making changes that will allow you to begin setting things straight and, even if what you have done is not really ‘fixable’ (i.e. the other person refuses to forgive you, the relationship breaks us, etc) it still allows you to start moving out of your shadow and into your power.

If you enjoyed this podcast/article please like/rate/review and subscribe… that’s what keeps us going! Click here now to enjoy our other podcasts.

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Using Sibling Rivalry for Good

Podcast 027 – Sibling Rivalry

Today I thought I’d talk about Sibling Rivalry…definitely a parenting topic and certainly something that can help you be a vibrant, powerful mom.

Since this podcast is airing right before Christmas most kids will be on holidays… sugary treats will often abound, routines are disrupted and the stress of getting everything done or having to hang out with family members you might not even like much less get along with runs rampant. Even if you don’t celebrate Christmas, your kids are likely still off school and the stress of the season can be very real.

So this is one of my few podcasts that will be most relevant if you have more than one child…however the ideas I’m sharing will also help teachers, daycare workers, coaches, grandparents and even those with only one child, but who often likes to invite over other kids.

In the case of Sibling Rivalry… There is so much emotion around it – it’s irritating, it’s hurtful, “someone is hurting my cub…but wait the monster who is hurting my cub is my other cub…what did I do wrong to raise such a monster?” The result, sibling rivalry itself can cause plenty of  GUILT – CONFUSION – FEAR, etc and awaken both your protective instincts and your moral alarm. If others are watching us it’s even worse! Add stress of the holidays – and you have a recipe for disaster.

2 common ways to view sibling rivalry

The way we look at Sibling Rivalry is going to influence how we feel about it and what we’re going to do about it… here are a couple of dominant beliefs around this topic:

1) Kids fight. Let them work it out and all will be fine…survival of the fittest….

The truth is kids are resilient and learn a lot from working out disagreements with their sibs.  Coddling and over-protecting our kids sends a message that they are not capable which means it damages their connection to their own resiliency and is not a good thing.

The problem is this way of thinking comes with a whole host of presumptions:

  • Kids come here with the skill to work things out
  • Parents have the self-control and ability to stay out of it or… If/when you do respond as a parent you’ll have no trouble ignoring your Mother Bear instinct and deal with it objectively!
  • The kids are equally matched

This way of thinking typically results in one or more of the following:

  • The one who is bigger or willing to hit lowest will win! This desensitizes the winner to “crushing others” in order to get their way = Bullying
  • The smaller or nicer one can often slip into victim and/or revenge mode
  • The kids grow up to hate each other and never have anything to do with each other once they leave home.
  • One or both kids develop trust issues

2) Sibling rivalry is bad and it is our job to stop it!

This is the exact opposite of the first way of thinking and it too has its problems. First it assumes a parent has control over their kids i.e. they can hit a  button on a remote and they’ll stop fighting with each other.

The second problem, is that anytime we believe we should eradicate something and move into FIGHT mode, we attract more of that negative (battle zone) type energy into our homes, which leads to punishment thinking and often causes the parent to feel like a failure when their kids fight.

A family that forces their kids to follow their every rule in a MILITANT style, is not teaching their kids how to think or helping them learn how to get along with others.

A new way to look at sibling rivalry

One of my main goals today is to help you form a new belief around this topic and specifically that sibling rivalry is not bad. Instead, it is an opportunity for your kids to practice skills that they will need throughout their lives. They need your guidance to learn how to do that, and you will need to set limitations on what is okay in your home, but having disagreements with others is a natural part of life.

Kids fight for a variety of reasons and how we deal with it is going to change depending on the reason.  For example, if they are fighting to get your attention (#1 reason kids fight) you will deal with differently than if they are fighting because they have excessive energy and simply need an outlet for it.  Becoming aware of the underlying cause of the struggles guides you in how to proceed.

Common reasons kids argue:

  • To get attention
  • They feel an injustice has been done (it’s the principle of the matter)
  • They spend a lot of time together
  • The family is a safe group to vent frustrations on
  • Their social skills are still developing
  • They are tired, hot, hungry, stressed, grouchy or otherwise bothered
  • They are full of energy and really need the physical release
  • They are not getting their way and they really want their way

Possible red flags of a bigger issue:

  • The have a personality conflict and simply do not like each other. Could be karma, could just be personality, in either case they have chosen this family to learn how to deal with this, so it’s a great idea to help them work through it.
  • To feel powerful; they may be being treated poorly elsewhere (and feel powerless there) so they take out on sibling or they may be learning that it is fun to bully others and get their way. In some cases, it is learning to manipulate rather than bully (like the cute little sister who everyone thinks is too sweet to hurt anyone!)
  • They are jealous or resentful of their sibling. Often this arises from things like one child having health issues and sucking up all their parents love and attention. Maybe they have special rules for some reason that seem unfair or it can even be clear parent favoritism.
  • They have a chemical imbalance that is interfering with their regular behaviour and causing them to enjoy hurting others (sociopath); or their brain is wired differently and cannot empathize, pick up on social cues or feel remorse.

These situations can be red flags and often suggest the need for more help. If you suspect any of these are relevant to your situation it would be a good idea to seek out further assistance in the form of parenting support, school social worker, mental health worker, family counselor, psychologists, etc.

Sometimes changing how you parent by participating in a parenting program or hiring a coach can create enough of a foundation for things like jealousy, resentment, bullying tendencies or personality conflict to correct themselves (or at least teach the skills needed to tolerate one another). Sometimes you will need to learn how to protect one child without severing relationships with the other one.

My point; sometimes more intensive support will be required.

The role of the parent in Sibling Rivalry:

  1.  Establish clear family boundaries; It is perfectly fine and in fact necessary for you to decide what is acceptable and not acceptable behaviours in your home. The problem is often we are not clear on what those boundaries are and we do not always share them with others. It’s not easy to enforce a boundary or abide by a boundary you don’t really know about.

So the first step to dealing with sibling rivalry is actually becoming aware of your bottom-line behaviours. What is okay…what is not…why is that important to you and how are you going to enforce them… these are the questions to ask yourself.  Talk them over with your partner if there are two (or more) of you involved in raising the kids.  If you miss out this part of the step, there can be confusion, inconsistency and over-reaction.

For example let’s say you have a 12 year-old daughter and a 14 year old son. Your husband also has a 13 year old son who lives with you alternating weeks. In your mind there is a rule that says boys do not hit girls and when it was just you and the kids you simply did not allow hitting.

When your husband joined your family 5 years ago the boys were often rougher with each other than your kids ever were, but your husband felt this was normal for boys and you let it ride. On occasion their roughhousing got out of hand, but overall they seemed to enjoy it and as long as they were in the basement you didn’t fret about it.

So what if one day you walk in the room right when your 14 year old son hits your 12 year old daughter?  The chances of you REALLY reacting in that situation are huge… in your mind it’s clear… he’s bigger and should know better, boys do not hit girls, that has never been okay and just because he does this with his step-brother does not mean he can act out in this way.

The problem: you think you have a clear boundary when in fact it is not clear at all. This allows for confusion, testing of the limits (which kids tend to do even when the boundaries are clear) and overreaction – even misguided anger at your husband – is very possible.

Make your rules as clear as possible and be prepared to explain them (especially in blended family situations). Have friendly discussion around them rather than introduce them as ultimatums.

In my house the rule was very clear:  You hit, you sit.  This applied to everyone and every love tap.  It had to be clear for it to work and it had to apply to everyone. As a result my husband had several time-outs for tapping my bottom in front of the kids as I walked by.  The clearer you are with rules like these the better it will be for all involved.

You do not need or want a rule for every possible bad behaviour… just be very clear on your bottom line. For example:

  • We treat each other nice – nothing physical, hitting, biting
  • Respect each other’s property – we do not destroy things that belong to each other (creates trust issues and one-up revenge)
  • This is a Bully-free zone – you are bigger and stronger than your little sister…if you use this to hurt her or get her to do things she doesn’t want to do you are bullying.

2) Teach your kids social and emotional skills – often we are taught these kinds of tools in our work environment (getting along with problem customers, conflict resolution, being assertive…) yet we don’t always recognize this is something we need to teach at home. Your kids will be more open to the idea of learning these skills when they are younger, and modeling is the most effective way of teaching it.

Kids will benefit by being taught all kinds of skills, such as;  I messages, problem solving, empathizing, compromising, synergizing, active listening, being assertive …

If you don’t know what these are or how to teach them it’s a great idea to start learning. We become comfortable with a lot of these skills in the Sisterhood of Vibrant Moms, so please check out that option if you are looking for a way to do this.

3) Be aware of how you might be adding to the problem – if your kids are fighting to get your attention or to get the other child in trouble and you react, they score. This means you have become a weapon they are using to get their way and get the other in trouble. If this is the case you want to remove yourself from playing referee as much as possible while teaching them how to work it out together.

In my house it was clear, if you want me to be the ref I will put you both in the penalty box, so it’s in your best  interest to work it out (following the boundaries we have in place) on your own.

You might also be the igniter, which means you add fuel to the situation by overreacting, stepping in when you were not needed, always siding with the one you see as weaker, etc.

Once you know what role you play you can decide whether or not what you are doing is okay with you. As long as you are oblivious to it, you will continue to create the very thing you are trying to eliminate.

4) Give them permission to disagree – Anytime you give someone permission to do something, you remove the power they could get by doing it without your permission.

What this means, is by saying something like: “You guys have the skills for working out disagreements with each other and from here on in I’m going to let you practice them.  Remember our house rules and understand it will always be in your best interest to work things out without involving me.”  When you do this you remove part of the “temptation” for fighting with each other.

If listening to them disagree drives you crazy, go to a different room, tell them to take it elsewhere or put on your headphones.

Some final tips

So those are 4 things to keep in mind when it comes to decreasing the amount of sibling rivalry in your home and even helping your child get along with other kids when they come over. The more you understand this challenge and work to use it in a positive and skill-enhancing way, the less your kids will fight and the more peaceful your house will be over the holidays.

There is a lot more I could say on this topic, but in the interest of time/length… here are some final tips to keep in mind:

  • People always believe they have a (good) reason for what they are doing
  • Any time you are dealing with sibling rivalry it is always in your best interest to stay calm and deal with the problem in a matter of fact way. The way you behave anytime an altercation occurs between your kids is always going to influence the learning, the potential outcome and the memory of the situation.
  • It takes two to Tango…even the sweetest, most gentle seeming child is fully capable of starting a disagreement and lying to you. If you allow this to happen you are teaching your child how to manipulate others…which isn’t a life-affirming skill.
  • When you hear the words “I’m telling Mom!” know that you have become a power card in that interaction. It doesn’t mean you aren’t needed, but it is possible you are being played.

If you become the neutral zone – home free – no judgment, just a sounding board willing to give suggestions, they will stop coming to you except when they really need you. When my kids were young, my first response – do you need a hug?  What do you need from me?

  • Having a preset consequence will help you stay calm when you have to step in.

So, that’s it for today. If you’ve enjoyed this article please share it with others, rave about it on social media and give it a positive review. AND if you are listening to it right when it releases and you celebrate Christmas in your home, I hope your celebration is everything you dreamed it would be and more.

If you enjoyed this podcast/article please like/rate/review and subscribe… that’s what keeps us going! Click here now to enjoy our other podcasts.

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Recharging With Pleasure

Podcast 026 – Pleasure

Today I’m going to talk about pleasure and specifically some of the ways you might bring more of it into your life.

I’ve already mentioned a few times why pleasure it so important, but in case you missed it – our feminine energy is fed through pleasure so if you want to be a vibrant and powerful being, you absolutely must have a good amount of this in your life. It recharges your batteries. It helps you burn off stress and it makes life so much more fun!

I find it quite disheartening that so many of us (myself included just a short time ago) are so disconnected from pleasure. What I mean is, we don’t necessarily know what truly brings us pleasure – I mean most of us can recite a quick list; my kids bring me pleasure (most of the time!), getting outside, watching my show.  While I don’t doubt you love your kids, they don’t always bring you pleasure. In fact, they are part of the stress causing piece of the equation and in many cases, add to why you need more of this in your life.

So let’s talk about that part… we need a lot of pleasure in our lives and yet, many, many people believe pleasure is something that is only indulged in once all the ‘work’ is done. Think about what you do just for the pleasure of it? How often do you do it, where does it fit in your priority list. When something must get bumped off the list what is the first thing to go?

Now think about how you feel when an opportunity to do something for pleasure comes up. Perhaps, like so many others, you look at the price, look in your bank account for how much extra cash you have and allow that to make your decision as to whether or not you participate. If not that, you might look at your time commitments – can I really squeeze this in. Perhaps you run it by your significant other and use their reaction to determine whether or not you should pursue the idea further.

Many people – women especially, feel guilty when seriously considering doing something simply for the pleasure of it and think they need to have a really good excuse in order to justify taking the time, spending the money or lining up the child care to make this happen.

I can actually remember a really busy time in my life when a friend of mine was sick for a few days and had to spend that time in bed. I actually felt a stab of envy and momentarily wished I could be sick so I could just rest and focus on healing guilt free. How messed up is that?

Since then I’ve shared this secret (rather shamefully) in conversation with other women and been amazed at the number that admitted to something similar. For some it was accidents, others diagnosis, still others divorce… None of us are actually wishing for a life threatening diagnosis, to be in an accident or to have their husband up and leave them… but we are all inwardly screaming for a chance to recharge our batteries.

I have a group of friends who I totally love and really admire for how they make a point of reaching for pleasure. They’ve travelled to concerts, art shows, they have a yearly “glamping” experience, which I have participated in and loved – true camping (no toilet, no running water, no electricity) but with awesome beds, incredible food and this beautiful feminine energy I can’t even begin to describe. My point is that these women appear to have no guilt around making time for themselves and really seem to understand the importance of pleasure in their lives and you can tell.

So, if you are feeling this kind of bone deep weariness and you don’t want to end up with something untoward happening to you, it is absolutely imperative you take charge and insist on bringing more pleasure into your life on a regular basis.

Unfortunately, because we’ve been thoroughly trained in the masculine model that I talked about last week, many of us have really, deeply internalized the message that we must work hard to succeed. Take a look at these sayings:

The early bird gets the worm; only the tough survive; work hard, play later (work hard, play hard); money doesn’t grow on trees so you better get planting; work through the burn; a mother’s work is never done; you can sleep when your dead.
Every one of these comments suggests you must put your energy into action…make things happen…get things done if you want to get anywhere in life. The underlying message is that there is no time for pleasure and that you are lazy and not worthy of success if you indulge in such things.

Now thankfully, enough people have burned out, become ill, lost significant others and so on, for our society to scratch their head and start to question. As a result, more and more people are catching on that we are doing something terribly wrong here. There has to be more to life than this and they are beginning to search for what that is. This has opened the door to pleasure – perhaps only a crack – but that’s enough to bring some light into the room.

Interesting gender difference

According to Alison Armstrong, a woman who has made it her business to study men for many years now, men tend to be more connected to what brings them pleasure, they aren’t shy about fitting it into their life (in other words no guilt if they can make it happen) and the recharge they receive from doing these things (whether it be hunting, going to game with some buddies, golfing) seems to stay with them quite a bit longer than it does for women.

For example, she says if a man loves riding his motorcycle and get’s to go on a lovely Sunday drive, it might create a feeling of satisfaction (completeness) for the next few days. Women, on the other hand, tend to have a harder time identifying what fills them up, fitting it into their lives without the guilt AND only feel full for a couple of hours!

Now, I fully recognize this will be different for many men and women, but allowing me this generalization, it’s still worth thinking about.

In my book, Standing in Your Power, I share some ideas for filling yourself up (which is another way of saying they bring you pleasure) which I’d like to share with you:

You know something fills you up if:

You enjoy doing it.

You feel stronger after doing it.

You feel good about yourself as a person for doing it.

You feel a sense of happiness or contentment deep within when you do it.

Examples of things that might fill you up:

Connection to others – quality time with partner, kids, family, friends, volunteering and service to others. It’s
important that you feel allowed to be your true self with these people.

Movement/exercise – dancing, swinging, yoga, running, aerobics, sex, biking, massages, swimming

Music – singing, drumming, listening to music, playing an instrument

Touch/energy work – massages, foot rubs, pranic healing, reiki, even distant healing (like I’m doing right now with Emmanuel Dagher!)

Quieting the mind – relaxing baths, meditation, daydreaming, tai chi, qi gong, yoga

Belly laughs – with a friend, a child, watching a show

Artistic expression – writing, drawing, painting, sculpting, pottery, crafting, baking, cooking

Releasing Chi – cleaning out a closet, organizing a drawer, giving away clothing

Being out in nature – sunshine, walking, tree hugging, sitting by water, horseback riding, walking barefoot in the sand

Animals – petting a dog, grooming a horse, playing with a kitten, watching fish in a tank

Excitement – Riding a motorcycle, skydiving, flying an airplane, driving a race car

Remember, what brings you pleasure, how much you need to reach the full mark, and the amount of time you remain “full” afterwards, are different for everyone AND could even be altered for you on different days.  Our souls love novelty, so what feels great one day might become rather blasé on another.

Take some time and explore a little. Bring a variety of things into your life so that you can change it up, have ideas that work regardless of where you are or how much time you have.

A couple weeks ago in my podcast I spoke about, Taking pleasure from little moments, and it’s worth it to remind you of that here:

Tuning into those many miraculous little moments that arise on any given day, such as: sunshine on your face; having a deep authentic conversation with a friend; laughing with your child (or grand dog as is my situation); sitting down with a fresh cup of your favorite beverage; enjoying a delicious smell or even taking that first bite of intensely awesome food. These are all examples of miraculous moments, but really the list could be endless.

The more you awaken all your senses and allow yourself to fully be in a moment, the more completely you will enjoy the experience. Sometimes, finding pleasure is just a matter of opening up to it.

If you enjoyed this podcast/article please like/rate/review and subscribe… that’s what keeps us going! Click here now to enjoy our other podcasts.

Interested in the names & products we talk about on the show? Check out our Vibrant Mentions Pinterest Board!