Secrets to Unlocking Your Child’s Genius with Norma Hollis

Meet today’s guest: 

Norma Hollis
is an advocate for children’s spirituality. A former director of early childhood programs, Norma is now an Authenticity Expert. In this role she uses her knowledge  and experiences to help parents live an authentic life and raise authentic children. The secret lies in recognizing, developing and using natural gifts and talents which Norma refers to as wisdom gifts. 


“Are you happy with the way the world is today?”

This is the provocative question Norma started our conversation off with before pointing out that if we want to make significant changes to the way our society is right now, we need to focus our energy on our future – specifically our children.

“How do we help our children live an authentic life so that they can be empowered, connected and strive to make positive change without apology?”

When you really think about this question and the thought preceding it, you can’t help but notice that parents hold a lot more power than they might have originally recognized.

Norma went on to share how children are changing. She introduced the idea of the homo-luminous child instead of the homosapien that we are currently familiar with. She talked about structural changes to some children’s faces that you can actually notice once you are aware. These changes indicate a heightened intuitive ability along with a deeper connection to the spiritual plane.

It is not uncommon for us to talk about being born with a purpose, but according to Norma, what seems to be changing now,  is our awareness that young children can often remember the contract they have come here to fulfill!  It’s not unusual for kids under 5 to talk about, ‘when they were here before,’ or to say things about what they are going to do that seem quite out in left field, when in actuality they are sharing an insight about their purpose.

Norma suggested a wonderful exercise for parents of young children to do so that when your kids reach that tween or teen stage and are wondering ‘what they should be when they grow up’ you can use what you have learned to help them stay aligned with their purpose.

Once our kids enter the school system their connection with their authentic self is often obscured beyond recognition – meaning it could take years for them to reconnect and start living the life they have come here to live.

There is so much we don’t know, like for example the real influence a past life can have on our current one, and unfortunately our institutions of higher learning only serve to limit our thinking, rather than encourage us to open our minds and investigate further.

This episode of Vibrant, Powerful Moms encourages you to expand your thinking and open your mind to what’s truly authentic living.

Norma shared the 9 Wisdom Gifts (based on original work from Dr. Howard Gardner), and explained how a parent could use this information to help their child really connect with their authentic self and nurture that very important connection. Even parents will benefit from identifying their top 3 gifts and ensuring they are using these qualities on a regular basis – if not at work then at least in their leisure time. This will result in increased happiness and abundance for both parent and child.

Unfortunately we have been taught to chase the money tree and to choose our work based on the income it might provide, rather than focus on what truly brings us pleasure. Even worse, we have internalized this message so deeply we are willing to thwart our own children’s natural leanings and instead steer them towards what we think would qualify as success. This can result in your child rejecting who they really are and living an unhappy or dissatisfying life.

“Embracing your true wisdom gifts and allowing them to flourish and fill you up, will help you live authentically and therefore happily.”

Notice which three of these 9 wisdom gifts your child (and you) gravitate towards the most and do your best to allow full expression of these gifts at some point every day. You will still need to set structure and boundaries for your child – i.e. just because he loves to sing doesn’t mean he should belt out his favorite tune in the middle of the library – but when you can organize regular opportunities for him to let loose…everyone will benefit.

“When you know who you are you can be truly prepared for whatever it is you came here to do”

Tune into our show to hear the words of wisdom that Norma shared; learn the 9 wisdom gifts; why our current schools can’t prepare your child for their future job; and enjoy a few inspiring stories (Olympics…really?).

You’ll be glad you did …I’m certain of it!

Resources Norma mentioned:

Book: Children’s Past Lives Carol Bowman

Dr. Howard Gardner: Multiple Gifts of Intelligence

Check out (coaching) and for more information on raising authentic children

Your Special Gift – Take the complimentary authenticity assessment (30 questions on-line). Choose parenting, when asked and you’ll receive information to help you understand yourself and your child better as well as more details on the 9 dimensions of authenticity!


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How to Increase Resiliency in You & Your Child

Originally posted as: How to Increase Resiliency in You & Your Child [July 2016]

Today we are going to talk about being resilient; what that means, why it’s important and simple tips for how you can bring more of it into your life.

Resiliency is the ability to bounce back when it seems like life strikes out at you – to take whatever comes your way, handle it, learn from it and continue on. Resiliency comes into play when really difficult situations arise, such as, relationship break up, death of a loved one, loss of career, any big financial challenge, helping someone you love (including yourself) with addiction and so on.

But resiliency goes far beyond that, it also factors into your daily existence…whether it be continuing to go to a job you dislike day after day; forcing yourself to go for treatments at the doctor that you would rather not; or even bringing up a difficult conversation that could result in confrontation with somebody that you’re not ready for.

It is resiliency that stops a person from giving up on life completely and it is resiliency that you use to pick yourself up and start piecing your life back together when you hit rock bottom.

So, as you can see resiliency is a very important part of our human experience. It helps us shine our light brightly for all the world to see – which is a big part of our personal vibrancy. It factors into our self-worth and it is the fountain from which our courage and willingness to ‘step up’ comes from. This is a critical thing for us to model to our kids if we want to help them discover the easiest path through their journey in life. Remember – that doesn’t mean problem free – it just means dealing with any obstacles as effortlessly as possible.

An absolutely essential life message for our kids to internalize (and you too if you haven’t already) is that there is no problem so great it cannot be solved. Barabara Coloroso talks about this in her book Kids are Worth It  (which was one of the first parenting books I read over 20 years ago) and this idea has become a foundation piece of everything I teach.

When you truly believe that you can handle whatever life throws your way you will feel more capable, you will look more capable, in fact, you will be more capable. This doesn’t mean you will like what’s going on in your life, or that you will only have good days, but it does mean that no matter what surfaces for you, you’ll be confident that you can make it through.

An interesting little (overlooked) fact about resiliency – humans are born resilient. You do not need to learn how to become resilient, you just need to become aware of it and fully embrace the fact that this is true.

A clarification…

In this case I’m really referring to strength of spirit and not the physical ability of your body to heal. Although the two are very closely tied to each other and shifting your mindset will positively (or negatively) affect your health, there are times when your physical body simply cannot bounce back from the damage it has suffered.

This is tied to resiliency, but is too deep a conversation for us to get into in this podcast.

Being resilient doesn’t mean you will not die. Death is an inevitable part of living. Being and embracing your resiliency really means that you will live your life to its fullest potential and get the most out of every experience while you are alive.

We’ve all heard stories of people that have dealt with incredibly horrific situations yet managed to overcome them. In every situation nothing really changed to get them out of that situation, except for their own beliefs or willingness to do what needed to be done. They experienced a change of heart…a paradigm shift really…which allowed them to dig deep and find the strength they needed to start making changes.

A story…

Josh was in Grade 4 when I met him, he had brilliant red hair, freckles and smiled a lot. He was the kind of kid that asked the ‘left field’ questions in our full class program that caused the other kids to giggle and make fun. He sometimes came across as a ‘know-it-all’ when in fact he was just a very deep processor who was trying to understand how to fully integrate what he was learning. Truth be told, he was actually light years ahead of the kids who were making fun of him and suggesting he was ‘slow’.

One day, as I was leaving the school, Josh’s mom stopped me and started to cry. Apparently Josh was being bullied on the bus – this had been an on-going problem since he had started school and it just wasn’t going away. The other kids teased him and called him names and she was very concerned that this was going to negatively affect him in life. I could see her heart was breaking at the thought of her sweet Josh being mistreated.

Although I didn’t work one-to-one with students or deal in intervention situations, I offered to give her some information to read that might help her deal with this situation more effectively.

To me Josh appeared strong, capable, resilient and a little oblivious to his ‘differentness’. In other words, he seemed to have pretty thick skin and wasn’t believing the teasing – which means he didn’t think what the others were saying was true, so it didn’t hurt.

Kind of like making fun of a person’s glasses when they don’t wear glasses – teasing or insulting – has to hit a nerve for it to hurt.

Mom on the other hand was very sensitive to her son’s unique qualities and wanted to protect him from the brutality of what the world might throw his way.

My primary goal was to help mom recognize her son’s incredible resiliency and help him build skills that he’d be able to use throughout life no matter what the world tossed his way.

To me, this is the key to dealing with most challenging situations – including bullying.  Josh was likely going to stand out in any group he became part of for much of his life, so there was no way we could protect him from the many difficult situations he might face.

The best we could do was give him the skills he would need to stand up for himself; help him recognize that his ‘different-ness’ was part of what made him special and strengthen his already strong connection to his overall resiliency.

Mom struggled with this idea. She wanted to put on a gladiator suit and walk around with Josh protecting him from anyone who might try to hurt his sensitive soul. This caused some concern because mom was inadvertently sending a message to Josh that he could not handle this, he was not strong enough to rise above it and he needed protection if he was going to survive. This does not polish a child’s resiliency but does quite the opposite – it tells them what the other kids are saying is true…that they are a victim and should be very afraid.

A few years passed and while I didn’t hear much about Josh I did hear a lot about his mom. She was fighting the school board, accusing them of not adequately protecting her son; she was tapping into the safe schools movement that was gaining momentum here in our province and trying to change policies nationwide; and she was even involving the police in what was going on.

When our paths crossed again mom was crying – out and out sobbing – about what a rotten and mean world her son needed to endure and she would not stand for it. Her son, who was sitting beside her, actually winced as she went on about all the unfairness that he was experiencing. She accused me and everyone in the room of not doing enough to protect her boy and stated several times how much she knew this was hurting him. She was sticking Josh firmly into a victim role and thought she was doing it in the name of good parenting.

Rather than judge this mom, what I hope I’m making clear here is that she was doing what so many parents are doing right now. With all the publicity on bullying, with all the messages out there about the evils of our world, the dangers – viruses, illnesses, toxins, weather anomalies, the sun, drugs, – it’s no wonder any of us ever leave our homes.

This is called fear mongering and it is making many people believe in the victim story and believe that the only way to protect their loved ones is to put them in a bubble…or put on their gladiator suit and become a hyper vigilant protector.

Nothing could be further from the truth.

The key to helping people thrive in life is to believe in their resiliency and to help them embrace the strength that comes with it. You can only be a victim if you choose to believe that you are – nothing changes when you adopt this belief except how vibrant and capable you feel; which in turn influences how capable you are in that moment.

So what can you do? 3 tips to help you get started…

1. Understand resiliency. Resiliency is a natural part of who you are. You do not need to teach your child how to be resilient…you just need to help him understand that it is there and learn how to keep it polished and working for him.

In the give & take relationship podcast I talked about how one way to strengthen your relationship is to give a firm and consistent message of, “I know you can handle this.” This doesn’t mean leaving your loved ones to their own devices and walking away…but it does mean allowing them to take ownership of the problem they are facing and letting them know you have their back.

Words you might use…

Questions: “So what do you think you can do to deal with this situation?” “How can I help you with this?” “I wonder what resources you have access to that might help?”

Comments: “I wish I had a magic wand that I could wave so I could fix this for you,” “I guess this isn’t really my problem to fix…I’m here for you though if you want to brainstorm ideas you can try.” “This sounds like a difficult problem to solve, but I know you’ll figure out something. Let me know if you want my help coming up with a plan.”

Whatever you decide to say you want two messages to come through loud and clear –
I know you can handle this and I’ve got your back.

Finally, if you are the one facing the difficult situation, remind yourself you have everything you need to deal with whatever comes up in your life – if you don’t know how to proceed, seek out supports, but know that you are the only one who can ‘fix’ it.

Believe in your ability to do that and find other people to support you in that belief. Beware of those who want to do it for you – they often mean well, but they are not helping. One final note; remember that sometimes fixing a problem is as simple as accepting it and allowing it to unfold.

2. Refuse the role of victim… you cannot access your resiliency when you are playing the role of victim. As long as you are feeling sorry for yourself, dwelling on how unfair life is or blaming other’s for everything that is going wrong for you, you will not be able to climb out of the hole you are digging. I think of these things like self-pity, revenge planning, blaming others or victim mentality as shovels and often tell people, “You can’t dig your way out of hole… so if you’re in one, put down the shovel.”

No matter how difficult life is, it will never serve you to believe you are a victim. Our society right now is encouraging this kind of thinking and too many people have bought into it.

Your ego latches on to this fear and pulls it into your core, then uses it to stop you from taking calculated risks, from moving out of your comfort zone and even from trying to change a difficult situation. Many people stay in a bad relationship, continue to feed their own addiction, or move from one illness to another rather than putting their foot down and refusing to settle. They do this because their ego is running the show and the ego on its own, is fueled by fear.

Your life experiences are simply that – pieces of your journey meant to help you grow and evolve beyond your current level of understanding. When you choose to be afraid of them, you make the experience of going through them far more difficult and set yourself up for needing to repeat the process many times in life.

Notice your fear, acknowledge it and figure out what you need to do to rise above it. The moment you shift out of the victim role, will be the moment your resiliency starts to shine lighting a path for how to move through your current situation.

3. Focus on resourcefulness and creativity…Human beings are different from other animals because we have imagination and an ability to think beyond what we already know. In fact, creativity feeds us – not just personally but as a society. Think about all the inventions that have occurred over time to allow us to not just survive, but to thrive. Things we take for granted, such as heat sources, fridges, motorized transportation, air travel, vitamin pills…..really the list is endless.

It is this resourcefulness – that ability to find solutions to problems or to create things that allow us to function even better – that helps us evolve. Now some of you might want to argue that not all inventions have taken us in a positive direction – I would agree with that – however, for our purposes here, let’s focus on the ones that have.

Just to clarify…

When I’m speaking of resourcefulness I’m talking about the ability to seek out whatever is available to you and to use that item or resource to help you deal with the situation at hand (sometimes it’s people, but it can also be the internet, a certain skill set, membership in a group, and even material items). Creativity, on the other hand, is the ability to create something new or use something in a new way…like using a pencil or paper clip to pin back your hair when you haven’t tried that before.

When I was in my late teens I used to love watching a show called MacGyver…which today’s equivalent would be one of the reality shows like Survivorman. What I loved about MacGyver was that he could get out of any situation by using his resourcefulness (typically whatever he found lying around) and creativity. This polishes your resiliency beautifully because nothing will help you know that you can handle whatever life throws your way like creatively solving your own problem.

So don’t be afraid to think outside of the box or even to use the box in a new and unexpected way. The more you do this, the more powerful you will feel.

These 3 tips are just a starting point to helping you reconnect to your resiliency and become aware of what you might be doing to dull your child’s connection with their own.

In the case of Josh’s mom, her heart was in the right place, yet she was actually causing more damage than the ‘mean kids’ at school were doing. I have no doubt that this was a piece of Josh’s journey in this lifetime, so it’s okay that this happened, but that doesn’t mean that the rest of us can’t use it as a way to learn and therefore skip down that piece of our own path.

When you believe in your own resiliency you rise above a lot of the density in life and shift yourself from the role of potential victim into that of the hardy adventurer.

With much respect for you and the journey you are on…I wish you a vibrant and powerful day!

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Quick Tips for Taking Back Your Power

Today I would like to talk about a topic very near and dear to me – standing in your power. This is the name of one of my books and it is something I believe I’ve come here to learn, practice and share with others. When a person is standing in her power she’s tapped in to who she is, what strengthens her, what drains her – even what might be blocking her. She knows how to recharge her batteries and makes a point of doing so!

She is caring, compassionate, flexible, creative – a fierce lioness when needed and more like a gentle kitten when it’s not. When I say standing in your power I’m not talking about a strength over others…but about building and maintaining an inner strength… or strength of self; self-love, self-acceptance, self-confidence, self-care, self-worth…

To me, standing in your power and being a vibrant, powerful mom go hand in hand – so even though in today’s show I’m only going to provide you with 9 quick tips for how to bring more of this beautiful energy into your life, I will be covering all of these topics and many others in much more detail in other episodes.

Standing in your power is a lifelong practice which involves awakening to your true self and then figuring out how to become that best version of yourself so she can shine out into the world. You can never have too many ideas and reminders for how to practice something as big as this.

9 Tips for Standing in Your Power

  1. Know that you are the perfect person to be you – I know this sounds cliché, but it’s such an important thing to really internalize and believe. There is no one out there who is better qualified to be you. You have gifts, talents and challenges that are unique to you specifically and the sooner you understand and accept that, the easier it will be to stand in your power.

It will also serve you to stop comparing yourself to others and thinking it provides a true measure of how well you are doing in life.  It is fine to look to others for ideas, suggestions and support, but always remember you are the hero in your own story and nobody can do a better job of being you.

When you really embrace the idea that you have come into this life fully equipped to deal with whatever life throws your way, you can stop thinking you are missing something and cease your search to find the answers outside of yourself.

When you believe you are broken, defective or missing something, it’s really easy to shift into blame, shame, negative comparison and victim mode. This drains you of your vibrancy and weakens your power.

Embrace your journey – know it is unique to you and that there is no right or wrong way for you to do it.

  1. Become friends with your inner wisdom, learn how it differs from your inner critic and what you can do to hear it better – your inner critic makes you feel bad and eats away at your willingness to take risks. She is that voice in your head that reminds you of every short falling (real or imagined) you have experienced and does her best to keep you stuck (often quaking in fear) in your comfort zone – even when this zone isn’t that comfy! It’s worth it to learn how to change what she is saying.

Your inner wisdom is a natural part of who you are, yet it’s quite possible you aren’t even aware it exists. Although it can be easily confused with the inner critic your inner wisdom is a voice you definitely want to hear. Once tuned in, this wisdom will guide you in making decisions, provide you with direction and allow you to be the vibrant, powerful mom you strive to be.

A quick inner wisdom example – I was backing out a driveway one day from a mastermind meeting. There was a car behind me that I had to swing around and my sister was in the car with me so we were talking. As a carefully backed up watching the car at my side, I suddenly felt the words “look in front”. These words were very calm and accepting (meaning it didn’t feel like a command, but more like a suggestion). I braked and look at the front a couple of inches away from hitting the post that held up the basketball net. I hadn’t even seen it prior to that feeling and because my sister and I were talking and both looking backwards I would have hit it for sure. I was really glad I listened!

  1. Move self-care to the top of your priority list – Self-care is about making sure your needs are met and amazingly, most of us (women especially) really struggle with making this a priority. At a very basic level, self-care involves things like sitting down and actually chewing your nutritious meal, rather than wolfing down junk food or fast food as you race to your next duty. It’s also about going to the bathroom when you need to go rather than forcing yourself to hold it as long as possible so it doesn’t interfere with all the things you need to get done.

It’s about drinking water – not just when you are thirsty – but at regular intervals throughout the day as well as getting enough sleep, doing things to release stress, going to the doctor (or some form of care) when sick and taking time to heal when you come down with something.

Are you guilty of sometimes putting yourself last on your list for true compassion and understanding?

Looking after yourself first is critical to keeping yourself healthy, happy and able to nurture others. This doesn’t have to take a huge amount of your time, but it does need to be a priority if you want to be vibrant and powerful.

  1.  Become intimately familiar with your feelings and how to process them. So many of us have learned how to ignore our feelings. We’ve even been taught that some of them are wrong or bad and that it’s important we don’t allow them to show. This is so unhealthy and it is the number one reason we numb out in life and lose that connection to our wisdom and good health in general.

If you’ve disconnected, which most of us have, you need to start tuning back in to these important messengers in your life and learn ways to process what you feel. The way women process emotion is actually just starting to be recognized as different than how men do it, so it’s quite likely you have not been taught how to do this.

If you want to stand in your power and live life to its fullest potential, it is imperative you tune in and learn how to release your feelings

  1. Learn the difference between your Ego & your Higher Self. Becoming aware of the difference between these two main parts of who you are is key to living the life you crave. Your ego is the human side and it feels, fears and it’s also what makes you an individual. The higher self is your spiritual side and it knows you are connected to something much bigger than your individual experience.

Learning how to teach your ego to sit while still living a full and vibrant life will remove a lot of the energy stealing experiences tied to guilt, blame, shame and judgment. Asking your higher self to be in charge will allow you to access the guidance that you need to live on purpose and will help connect you with your inner wisdom.

Both sides are equally important and need to be allowed in order for you to experience your personal power. Learning the difference between the two and how to get them working together is the answer to living life to the fullest.

  1. Open to the Divine Feminine and get to know how this beautiful energy can help you rebalance – the divine feminine is the balancing counterpart to the divine masculine and it is something both males and females need to learn how to embrace.

In an effort to survive in a masculine model, most women have cut themselves off from a lot of the divine feminine and adopted a distorted energy in its place. Since we require more divine feminine than men do in our lives, this has left us unbalanced, unhappy and feeling incomplete.

The divine feminine is where the dreaming happens – conceiving the idea and growing into something bigger. Creativity, nurturing, opening up to receive, using pleasure to replenish (rather than just the occasional well earned treat) as well as true collaboration are all part of the feminine realm.

It’s the divine masculine that helps us build the structure the dream will be birthed into – the planning, protecting, getting things done – so they are necessary pieces if we want to see things happen. It’s tough to recharge your batteries though and be creative, vulnerable and nurturing, when you are always on the go, getting things done and producing results.

If you want to be a vibrant, powerful woman, you need to uncover how much feminine and how much masculine you need to be balanced and then live it. 

  1. Figure out what fills you up, then top up your tank on a regular basis – In keeping with tip #6 awakening the divine feminine it is critical you figure out what truly brings you pleasure and then bring more of those things into your life. This will raise your vibrational energy wh
    ich in turn makes life more pleasant while also drawing more pleasurable things towards you.

Take a look at the things you really feel good after doing and add those to your self-care regime. In other words, don’t make yourself go jogging just because people tell you that’s the best way to stay in shape. If you get more pleasure from dancing, walking, swimming or yoga, do those things instead.

When you enjoy your exercise you end up with more orexin, a hormone, flowing which means it will have a greater impact on your energy level and speed up your metabolism.

Seek out the things that make you feel awesome and add to your sense of wellbeing. The better you feel when you are done, the more you can be sure it is helping you stand in you power.

  1. Get to know yourself intimatelyA huge part of being self-aware involves getting to know which behaviours come naturally to you and which are learned. The family you were raised in influences the kind of person you are in relationships, your love language helps you feel loved, your personality predisposes you to certain behaviours, and that’s just a snippet of what makes you – YOU.

There are many other aspects to you…so make understanding yourself a life-long goal. Communication modes, genetics, astrological influences, gender differences, numerology (the list goes on and on) all have an impact on who you are. Some are changeable, some are permanent, and all are flexible once you are aware.

Another side to this is getting to know your blocks, like your patterns of self-destruction, limiting beliefs or even karma. Knowing how the learning cycle affects you, understanding your parenting pack and uncovering trauma you might be carrying around with you on a cellular level are all things worth exploring.

Knowing you is a huge task…Make learning all about you part of your daily adventure and you will never run out of things to learn….just be sure to do it with lots of compassion and willingness to allow changes as they arise (in other words, don’t lock yourself into any box just because it sounds familiar to you).

The more you learn, understand and love yourself the more brightly you will shine. Logically, this is when you might move on to understanding those you are in intimate relationships with… although our tendency seems to be a desire to diagnose and ‘fix’ others first.

Bonus: putting effort into being the best version of yourself you can be, will create positive changes in every area of your life. Problem relationships will fall away and others will grow with you.

  1. Create clear boundaries and learn how to assertively stand up for them – This tip is about awareness – what are your boundaries and why – along with being able to enforce them in a way that clearly states what you need without attacking the person who has crossed them.

Being assertive means standing up for yourself or your beliefs in a way that helps you feel good about yourself without putting the other person down or aggressively attacking them.

With assertiveness – when you reflect back on what you did or said, if your ego isn’t clouding the picture, you will see that your actions provided you with a healthy way to vent how you were feeling. It requires a lot of practice though, especially when people are pushing your buttons. An important side note:  being assertive doesn’t always mean you will get your way or the other person will agree with you – it is about you saying what needs to be said.

Some people struggle with being assertive because they don’t want to rock the boat and hurt another’s feelings or be seen as being bossy. Others struggle because they have trouble empathizing and find attack mode to be more quick and efficient.

When assertiveness is done right it strengthens everyone involved. Those who care about you will like to be clear on your boundaries and respect you when you clearly share what you need and why. Those who don’t care aren’t going to change their mind no matter what you say, but are often hoping you will attack so they can get a good fight out of the deal.

Standing in your power means having clarity around what you stand for and why and then knowing how to share that with others.

So there you have it, 9 tips for standing in your power and tapping into your own personal vibrancy. There is plenty more on all of these topics and more that I will continue to share on this show, but for today, that’s all the time we 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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How to Make Life Easier- Instantly!

Originally posted as: Good or Bad? Only You Can Decide [July 2016]

Today we are going to talk about your reaction to things that happen in your life and what you can do to create less stress and keep an open mind.

This is an important topic for you to be aware of because it’s quite likely (unless you are already aware of this) that you waste a lot of time and energy trying to control things you can’t, such as; how other people behave, the weather, or traffic. A better option is to use this energy to control the one thing that really is up to you – your response! It also influences how much stress affects you and how easy it is for you to regain control in the heat of the moment.

My Favorite Parable…

If you’ve been to any of my presentations then you have a good chance of having heard this story before… it’s about a Chinese Farmer and his son who lived a long time ago and were very, very poor. The only thing they had which basically kept them alive was a stallion that they would breed with the neighbour’s mares in exchange for food, clothing, etc. One day the stallion jumped the fence and ran off.

The neighbours all came over and said, “This is terrible, this is very bad!”

To which the farmer replied, “Maybe good, maybe bad – we’ll see.”

The farmer and son went about their tasks, fixing the fence, cutting the hay and so on. Suddenly one day they heard a whiny (neigh!) and across the field galloped their stallion with a whole herd of wild mares running behind him. The farmer and son opened the gate to the corral and in ran the horses!

The neighbours all came over and exclaimed, “This is good, this is very, very good!”

To which the farmer replied…”Maybe good, maybe bad – we’ll see.”

Well the farmer and son started training the mares and one day, the farmer’s son was thrown off the back of a horse and landed on the fence breaking his femur bone (the main bone of the leg) right in half.

The neighbours all came over, “This is bad, this is very, very bad!”

To which the farmer replied, “Maybe good, maybe bad – we’ll see.”

Recovering from a severely broken leg is not easy, but the farmer and son worked at it and eventually the son was able to walk again with the help of a cane. One day there was a knock at their door. It was the Imperial Army recruiting every able bodied young man to fight in a war they would end up losing. The farmer’s son was spared because of his leg.

I love this parable, because to me it clearly shows a very important point.

There is nothing good or bad about anything that happens in life… in other words events are neutral, WE give them meaning and with that label decide how we feel about them. This is a huge deal, because it means that we have far more control over our thoughts, feelings and behaviours than we might normally believe.

Just for the record, in case you are still thinking about the parable, I want you to understand, allowing events to be neutral doesn’t means everything will go in a positive direction in life. We grow and evolve through adversity so it is a natural part of our journey. If that story had been real, I’m sure there would have been plenty of challenges while the stallion was missing or after the son broke his leg. Even having so many mares to train could have created difficulties.

By allowing events to be neutral you will find it easier to deal with all challenges because you are holding onto your power rather than giving it away to an event.

Making it real…

Think about something that has happened in the last few days in your life VPM podcast labelthat you labeled as bad and still believe was a bad thing. It could be your child throwing a tantrum in the middle of a store; it could be the fender bender you were in or the flat tire that you had; it could be missing the finale of your favorite reality show.

Now think about how that situation made you feel. Angry, embarrassed, frustrated, disappointed…

Take it a step further and try to recall what thoughts came up as a result of those feelings… maybe you even said some of them aloud. “No way! This sucks! &#$%@!”

What other feelings arose as a result of these thoughts? Did your frustration, embarrassment or disappointment turn to anger… or maybe your anger to rage?

The point of this exercise is to show you that it’s your thoughts… which are based on what you believe about the event that are making it worse. If, on the other hand, you felt the initial disappointment the moment you realized you had missed your show (or your PVR hadn’t recorded it properly!), but you took a deep breath and accepted it as reality, you would not escalate into anger and as result would find it much easier to move on. Either way, you missed the show.

In later podcasts we’re going to talk about how your feelings might be misleading you, as well as how all these things influence your vibrational energy, which in turn affects what you’re attracting into your experience… but for now, I just want you to understand that the event itself is always neutral.

3 tips to help you put this skill into practice…

1. Put on your Detective’s hat:

If you recall, back in the intro podcast, I mentioned that my youngest son is a transboy. There are many people out there who want to label this realization as good or bad. When my son told me about it, which was only a few weeks ago, I felt fear in the pit of my stomach. For many, this fear would naturally lead to a label of bad, which could have brought me to tears, caused me to rant and rave at my son and to feel embarrassed about sharing this with other people.

Rather than allow this to happen, I put on my detective’s hat, took a deep breath and asked myself what the fear was about. I realized instantly that I feared for the life of struggle my child could be choosing. This raised a feeling of compassion and with it a strong surge of unconditional love. I realized my son was very brave to tell me and that he didn’t take this announcement (and the decision to transition) lightly. He’d already given it a lot of thought, and decided his life would be filled with struggle either way. By embracing his desire to realign his body he could at least find happiness in his own skin rather than constantly struggling to be someone he was not.

The result, I still have to work at it to see him as my son, but at no point did I feel angry, hurt or betrayed.

Curiosity is a wonderful way to neutralize strong emotions and to see things from a more objective stand point. So get curious rather than defensive and see where it takes you.

2. Shift your perspective:

This tip is similar to the first in that it really is about seeing things in a different way. In this case however, I’m talking about flipping a situation on its head so you can find the good in it. Let me use the wisdom of a coin to help illustrate. We all know that a coin has two sides and even though the tail side might be facing up, the head side is still always there. What this means, is in any situation involving opposites the reverse chance must always be present as well. So, when you flip the coin and heads comes up…you know that tails is right there on the other side.

This means when a situation feels bad… good is also present. The flipside is also true; when a situation feels good… bad is also nearby.

Use this knowledge to seek out what the good is (we don’t have to seek out the bad – it tends to show itself quite easily). Here are some other words to show you what I mean.

On the flip side of negative is positive; awful is awesome; impossible is possible; undesirable is desirable; obstacle is opportunity…

It is our beliefs about something that limits our ability to see both sides at once. I urge you, if you tend to see things in black and white, which most of us have been trained to do, to start searching for the gray. You might actually take out a coin (or even just a piece of paper and write the opposites on either side) then challenge yourself to debate both perspectives. The more you do this, the easier it will be for you to remain objective, to destroy limiting beliefs and to open your mind to a variety of new information.

3. Train your brain to NET the positives:

Dr. Rick Hanson, a psychiatrist, wrote a book called Hardwiring Happiness and in it, he talks about the fact that our brains are actually wired to remember the bad and let go of the good. He says our brains are like velcro for negative experiences (they stick around easily) and like teflon for the positive (they just slide on through).

I was really excited to read this, because prior to picking up his book I had noticed that people seemed to dwell on bad things that happened and just let the good moments sail on by. As a result, I created a system I call NET which is an acronym N-E-T to help people recognize the numerous little pleasurable moments that they experience in a day and NET them so that the positive feelings they create stick around longer.

I want to teach you this process, because the more you focus in on those pleasurable moments, the easier it will be for you to be at your best in life….which includes being able to reserve judgment and view events as neutral.

A simple process:

N = Notice; when a pleasurable moment arises in your day, take a moment to really notice it. These moments can be super tiny…so if you don’t zero in on them, they will simply flit on by. Examples of pleasurable moments for me: sun on my face; laughing with someone; cuddling with my dog; talking with a friend; sitting down with a fresh cup of tea; finishing a presentation; gazing at a flower; eating dark chocolate; hitting a string of green lights; taking a shower …
The trick to noticing, is to allow yourself to become fully present in the moment – forget your ‘to do’ list; block out other distractions and just fully immerse yourself right there.

E = Expand the Emotion… shift your focus to how this moment makes you feel (grateful, content, relaxed, lucky, excited, loved, turned on) locate it in your body and actually help it expand. See it getting bigger. This will be difficult at first if you’ve never done this before, but with practice it gets easier.

T= Tie it down with Thoughts… the thoughts we have about any event, especially when they are coated in strong emotion, help to embed it in our memory, so come up with thoughts that fit the moment and tie them to it in your mind (I picture little kite strings)…”What a great day; I love my life; I’m so grateful for this dog; This is such a precious moment.” Because you’re doing this in a moment of expanded emotion, it doesn’t take a lot of thoughts, so add as many as feel right for you and move on.
The more you do this, the more you will attract these kinds of experiences to you and the easier it will be to hold onto them. This might not seem like a big deal, but in reality it can be the difference between neutralizing a bad day and believing that your life sucks.

So, there you have it, 3 things you can do to help you bring more neutrality into your day and perhaps truly believe the notion, “Maybe good, maybe bad – we’ll see.” They help you to open your mind and be at your best no matter what the circumstance.

So play around with these…have fun with them and let me know how you do. I love feedback and would be thrilled to hear your thoughts on this.

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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!
Click here to visit our podcast page.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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