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The Purejoy Parenting Blog

Inspiration For Your Parenting Journey

How I Treat Myself

How I Treat Myself

Welcome, Welcome to those of you who have made your way here via the Happily Family Conference!

When I was young I dreamed that one day I would be a mama! I would pick out names and imagine outfits for my future children while I mopped floors at my first job as the church janitor.

I LOVE kids! A lot! I always have. I’m fascinated by them too!

I had all of my 6 kids in a span of 9 years- and of course, it was delightful to welcome each of them into the world, to actually name them- in real life, my girlhood dreams come true!

It was also really challenging- really hard at times.

One of my babes died of SIDS when he was two months old. I gave birth to twins! My partner worked out of state for long stretches of time. There were full days, even weeks where the only other humans I interacted with were my kids.

At times being a mom has meant isolation and unending exhaustion while trying to stay with the constant need for snacks and meals, rides to practice, clean clothes, big feelings, sibling squabbles, individual attention to the kids, time outside the house…the list could go on for quite a while.

I knew I still wanted to be a mama, but why was it so challenging- this one thing I had wanted so deeply? I never imagined it would be so hard.

You probably have your version of this too- yeah? How you both long to be a parent and it’s also really difficult.

Parenting really does have a profound way of showing us these disowned traits and unresolved energies we’ve been talking about over the last few weeks here in the Purejoy blog.

Until I became a parent, especially these long hard days at home with two babes and a toddler and the two big kids as well- I had been able to organize my life in such a way that I could avoid those feelings and traits.

If you find yourself in a hard or challenging place- first, offer yourself some loving kindness.

You can put your hand on your heart right now- and close your eyes and speak kindly to yourself.

I see you, Mama! This is really difficult! You are trying so hard! You love your kiddo so much! And, it’s a LOT!

It can be really difficult to see something this hard as an opportunity, but in my experience, that was the truth. My suffering gave me a chance to know and love myself in a more true way. I still hated that it was hard! But I did learn to love myself amidst it.

In hindsight, I can see now the opportunity that was there for me right in the middle of the difficulty and chaos- as these parts of me awakened in response to my children’s needs, wants, and the innocence of their self-expression. I was able to check out my stories, really listen to the ways I treated myself on the inside, and make new choices about that.

If you were at the Happily Family conference you probably heard Leslie’s talk about setting personal boundaries as an internal job- that’s how we view it in Purejoy. The definition of a boundary is – what is ok and not ok with me, about how I treat myself.  It’s not about how others treat me. Take a minute to really think about this one.

With this view of boundaries, I had to consider that I cannot expect my child to give me something I am not first willing to give myself. It’s not about controlling, or limiting, or punishing my kiddos to get them to behave in a way that I have not learned to take care of myself- to treat myself kindly.

This is a radically different way to see boundary setting- so give yourself some time to wrap your mind and heart around it.

For me, it took quite some time to really get what this meant.

There were lots of factors that supported me to believe that the only way for me to finally feel good inside, about myself, was to get everything in my environment under control and working well. So I kept limiting and managing my kids so that I could feel good about myself. It always backfired because I was working in relation to my own discomfort.

The discomfort was inside of me. It was about what I thought was best for them, what the books told me we should do, what my family said was best for kids, and how we never seemed to be nailing that! I was worried that too much sugar would rot their teeth- the dentist said. I was nervous that screens would fry their brains- I had read an article online. I was scared that their hitting each other would ruin their sibling relationship forever. If I could just get them to clean up, if I could just get them to eat better, if I could just get them off the screens- the internal judgment would stop and I could get out of my discomfort.

What this new view of boundaries supported me to do is take stock of how I was talking to myself- about who I was, what kind of mom I was being, about all the ways I was messing this up. It was brutal. I would never talk to another person the way I discovered I was running on autopilot always inside my mind.

I slowed down, way down in my SafeSeat, and got curious about how I wanted to treat myself. In that moment, I could make the switch to loving rather than hating, towards myself, before I moved to the kiddos. It took practice and still, there are times I blow past this one precious moment where I can access my choice as an adult. To honor a boundary about how I treat myself.

Talk to the Feeling

Talk to the Feeling

I love to listen to my kiddos- to really listen.

(Most of the time- the opposite is also true and sometimes I ask them to stop talking!)

A favorite stage of development in each of my kiddos was eighteen months to two years when they really started telling me things using their new words! How fascinating it was to watch them discover ways to talk and tell me about their world.

One of my teachers, who shares information on working with trauma, says that’s how we reclaim our disowned parts we’ve been talking about the last few weeks, we make sense of the story of us.

For me, telling stories is a vital part of making sense of being human – it’s one way I can organize my experiences and share that with my loved ones, especially when I need support.

Learning how to listen to my children was about understanding the story at two different levels.

Of course there is the more obvious one, that we’ve all learned to pay attention to in our world- tone of voice, words, meaning and conclusion. I hear how it is for them. I can ask for clarification, and for them to share more where I sense it’s needed. I’m gathering the information so I can speak to them in their language and understanding of the moment.

But this was the new part for me and I imagine it might be a new concept for you too? That there is also a feeling below the words. The words are the conduit for the feeling. My child is turning to me to share the energetic charge of their feeling, and if I practice, and am skillful enough, some of the times I am able to enter their feeling world, their experience while meeting the feelings and supporting them there.

It is a more profound way to be in the moment with them.

For example when my twins get into an argument, often one of them explodes on the other, and I rush to the sound of crying and screaming, someone is usually holding their injury tenderly while the other stands there befuddled at the energetic charge that just coursed their system.

This is where I have the opportunity to slow myself down, pause even, and really listen for the tender feeling that is being transmitted through the words of the story. It’s the part that wants to be seen, heard, and understood. So I love my child’s story, and I’m simultaneously looking below it for this deeper energy that drives it.

I’ve been practicing this for some years now and it takes a few minutes of visiting with the words, the story- loving my child and their attempt to organize their experience and share it with me for support, before I can attune with the feeling and meet that energy, first in me and then in them.

I hear “he hit me!” and “she was making a face at me!”

I feel a heat in me- I hear inside my own experience a voice saying, “I hate it when they fight!”

Taking a deep breath I put my hand on my heart… whew… I say to all of us from my big hearted self- “I hear you! And it sounds like there is a lot here, I am here.”

They each take turns with their side of the story- I tune into my experience for clues.

I’m feeling powerless to get them to stop fighting, no matter what I do, they still fight.

I speak to the sense of powerlessness in all of us- “sounds like you really couldn’t change your circumstances to be the way you wanted, how was that?”

They each tell me a piece and usually they’re already coming down from their big emotional charge. I’ve done the work inside me, in that moment and many, many practiced ones before, and chatting with me seems boring and uninteresting. They’re more interested in getting on with their next exciting piece of life. We’re grounded, the energy is resolved.

If I met them at the story only- and ran with the energy in the form of words, and telling, and conclusions, without first taking it into the feelings realm, the story still charged with all the emotion (and I had lots of years like this before learning how to truly listen) I would barge in and make my own sense of it all based on the words they were telling me.

Hitting is wrong and bad! Are they ever going to get this? And stop fighting? I would overpower my own sense of powerlessness. I would organize us in the direction that best suited me to stay away from this and other vulnerable feelings and unowned traits. I would add my two cents to the lines of feelings loaded story and we would amp each other up until there was often yet another explosion- mine!

It always felt bad to land us back in this place of having powered up around the story, rather than meeting what was tender at the center.

I notice in my parenting this can happen with the ones that feel good too, just like we’ve been talking about owning your own brilliance!

My son came home one day and said to me, “Mom, someone at work wants to meet you!”
Confused, I asked why. He proceeded to tell me it was because of his demeanor, presence with kids, and general work ethic. This person had come to the conclusion it was because of his parents. Maybe? Maybe not, too? Of course that felt good inside to receive compliments and praise, but it was his story, he was the one in the moment.

I feel some bubbly sensations in my chest- I hear a voice inside saying, “good job Mama!”

I put my hand on my heart and turn to see him smiling with joy and pride!

I asked him to tell me more about it? Who was this person? How was it for him? What did it feel like to be seen like that? I turned it back to him.

I met his sense of pride and accomplishment without making it mine. Of course, I was celebrating with him about all of his hard work and success and yet talking to that feeling rather than the story lines supports him to organize towards how he knows and feels himself in the world.

So try it this week! Talk to the feelings. When your kiddo brings you a story, get curious about what feeling is there. Hint: you may be feeling the same one in you, so talk to it too!

Own Your Brilliance

Own Your Brilliance

Do you love kids? Great! We have an invite for you. Happily Family Conference – Sign up HERE

Last week we talked about how what we don’t like in our children, we don’t like in ourselves- how we project onto them certain negative traits we have disowned inside. The ones you judge in them are first under your own internal judgment.

The other side of that is also a curious exploration- that what you love in yourself you also love in your child. If you haven’t owned an amazing part of yourself – a brilliant part of you, you might be projecting it onto your child, willing to see it in them, but not yourself. So let’s get into it!

Do you take your kids to practice after practice for a sport? Or music lessons? Maybe you travel to exciting places? Or put them in special schools, or no school at all? You make an investment in your child around something they show interest in, or that they love and desire- yeah? You play with them, do art projects, read to them?

When my kids were little I had this chief complaint that nothing I did was about me- it was all for someone else. I worked really hard to make sure that everyone got to experience their brilliance, the things they loved the most. Besides the daily grind of laundry, dishes, meals and messes, there were beautiful art supplies, beeswax candles, the sweetest books, handmade wooden toys, cloth dolls, pokemon cards, seeds, chickens, vhs tapes of old disney movies.

My husband worked away from the family for weeks at a time- he had my full support.
I would drive 15 miles to the nearest town so my oldest son could go to baseball practices and games with twin babes in tow for late nights away from home- he had my full support.
My other son had a lego club at the library weekly- he had my full support.
The little kids would sprawl toys, games and art projects across the living spaces, and I was deeply invested in their delight and enjoyment- they too had my full support.

The list goes on with pets and farm animals, gardens, buying land and all the organization that it took to make it happen- I did that.

It sounds lovely as I recall it- but I had abandoned my own delight and curiosity- my own sense of following my heart and the things that seemed meaningful to me. Secretly I resented all of them for it and here’s why.

My family was just expressing their delight and zest for things they found curious and wanted to try in life- they weren’t asking me to make everything happen all the time, and ignore my own desires to do it. I had cooked that all up inside of me. I had an old, outdated belief (probably from childhood) that I was only good enough to the ones I loved, if I could support them and make their dreams and desires come true.

It took time becoming more aware of this- but when I took my projection in, in a heap of exhaustion, I realized I had a precious part of me inside that had dreams, desires, and delights wishing to be supported that I was projecting onto my family- and then feeling resentful when I wasn’t getting what I wanted!

It was sticky! (It still is at times) Because the world is neutral. It’s not looking out to make sure that all my effort got me exactly what I wanted- the delight of my family, that they would then turn and love me for it. Sometimes they were still frustrated, tired, or sad. I would flip my projection more to what we were talking about last week and unload my pent up resentment and frustration with them.

In both situations- whether the unowned traits are considered negative or positive, the one thing that was the same was that I was projecting them. A projection is when you look out in your environment and see something that you don’t want to see inside yourself. We say in Purejoy, the other person becomes the location of your rejected trait.

When I had this new awareness in my SafeSeat I practiced taking them back in. Whenever I noticed myself labeling my child with a trait, positive or negative, I could then ask- where does that same one also live in me, maybe in a different form?

A little trick I learned that you can use- point your finger out from yourself as if you were saying to your child, YOU ARE… (insert trait). Notice that you have 3 fingers curled back pointing at yourself! I would then name three ways that trait also lived in me.

I loved imagining the deep connection that – we all have it all- and what would it be like if we had a home safe enough for everyone to express each of them.

When I did that- we all got more free. I started to focus on my own wants and desires, my own art supplies, books, seeds, and learning and then offered them support from a place of fullness and delight!

Do You Judge Your Child’s Mess?

Do You Judge Your Child’s Mess?

Do you love kids? Great! We have an invite for you. Happily Family Conference is underway. If you sign up HERE you will have a chance to download a new FREE Healthy Separation Guidebook from Purejoy.

Last week we talked about how what we don’t like in our children, we don’t like in ourselves- how we project onto them certain negative traits we have disowned inside.  The ones you judge in them are first under your own internal judgment. 

The other side of that is also a curious exploration- that what you love in yourself you also love in your child.  If you haven’t owned an amazing part of yourself – a brilliant part of you, you might be projecting it onto your child, willing to see it in them, but not yourself. So let’s get into it!

Do you take your kids to practice after practice for a sport? Or music lessons? Maybe you travel to exciting places? Or put them in special schools, or no school at all?  You make an investment in your child around something they show interest in, or that they love and desire- yeah? You play with them, do art projects, read to them?

When my kids were little I had this chief complaint that nothing I did was about me- it was all for someone else. I worked really hard to make sure that everyone got to experience their brilliance, the things they loved the most. Besides the daily grind of laundry, dishes, meals and messes, there were beautiful art supplies, beeswax candles, the sweetest books, handmade wooden toys, cloth dolls, pokemon cards, seeds, chickens, vhs tapes of old disney movies.

My husband worked away from the family for weeks at a time- he had my full support.
I would drive 15 miles to the nearest town so my oldest son could go to baseball practices and games with twin babes in tow for late nights away from home- he had my full support.  

My other son had a lego club at the library weekly- he had my full support.
The little kids would sprawl toys, games and art projects across the living spaces, and I was deeply invested in their delight and enjoyment- they too had my full support.

The list goes on with pets and farm animals, gardens, buying land and all the organization that it took to make it happen- I did that. 

It sounds lovely as I recall it- but I had abandoned my own delight and curiosity- my own sense of following my heart and the things that seemed meaningful to me.  Secretly I resented all of them for it and here’s why. 

My family was just expressing their delight and zest for things they found curious and wanted to try in life- they weren’t asking me to make everything happen all the time, and ignore my own desires to do it.  I had cooked that all up inside of me.  I had an old, outdated belief (probably from childhood) that I was only good enough to the ones I loved, if I could support them and make their dreams and desires come true. 

It took time becoming more aware of this- but when I took my projection in, in a heap of exhaustion, I realized I had a precious part of me inside that had dreams, desires, and delights wishing to be supported that I was projecting onto my family- and then feeling resentful when I wasn’t getting what I wanted! 


It was sticky! (It still is at times) Because the world is neutral. It’s not looking out to make sure that all my effort got me exactly what I wanted- the delight of my family, that they would then turn and love me for it. Sometimes they were still frustrated, tired, or sad. I would flip my projection more to what we were talking about last week and unload my pent up resentment and frustration with them.

In both situations- whether the unowned traits are considered negative or positive, the one thing that was the same was that I was projecting them. A projection is when you look out in your environment and see something that you don’t want to see inside yourself. We say in Purejoy, the other person becomes the location of your rejected trait. 

When I had this new awareness in my SafeSeat I  practiced taking them back in. Whenever I noticed myself labeling my child with a trait, positive or negative,  I could then ask- where does that same one also live in me, maybe in a different form? 

A little trick I learned that you can use- point your finger out from yourself as if you were saying to your child, YOU ARE… (insert trait).   Notice that you have 3 fingers curled back pointing at yourself!  I would then name three ways that trait also lived in me. 

I loved imagining the deep connection that – we all have it all-and what would it be like if we had a home safe enough for everyone to express each of them. 

When I did that- we all got more free. I started to focus on my own wants and desires, my own art supplies, books, seeds, and learning, and then offered them support from a place of fullness and delight!

Sign up for the Happily Family Conference here!

Be Truthful

Be Truthful

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Last week in the Purejoy blog we talked about self-aggression and how it forms early in our human experience. This week we share the remedy for this: Kindness.

Take a minute and consider- what does it mean to you, to be kind?

Good- you’ve got that!

In Purejoy, we offer kindness as the response you slip into the places when you discover self-aggression has been working unconsciously in the background to keep you safe in a way- where there is actually no danger as an adult.

This kindness is quite different than just being ‘nice’ as most of your cultural and familial conditioning probably has you believing. It’s opening your experience up to what is ACTUALLY happening right in front of you, the moment that you are in and stepping into that reality.

I’ll break it down…

Most likely you were taught to be kind, which without much explanation meant to be nice, which sneakily became an expectation of your caregivers to take care of others. This likely meant that you abandoned certain parts of yourself to do that.

Think about how kids are asked to share- be nice, the adults say! They have to override their own desires to hang on to their belongings.

Or I can remember times, before my views shifted, where I asked my kids to say hello to someone they were feeling shy around- as they hid behind my leg, I asked them to be nice and polite…to do that, they had to override their own sense of not wanting to engage.

One time, in a home I was visiting , I saw a sign that exhibited a list of household rules, the first one, in big bold letters that made it stand out above the others was- BE KIND.

What followed was a list of niceties in small font to support this one main requirement. Quaint, I thought, and then quickly, smirked-I imagined that same sign hung in my house and quickly felt the ping of self-aggression that said- my family would fail at those rules. I would fail at those rules. I felt my whole being tense up, ready to try harder to be peaceful, to act nice, to have courage, and apologize- to BE KIND.

My practice, by then, was such that I knew to slow down when my ol’ friend Self-Aggression came around. I took a deep breath, and instead I went back to noticing the sign and inserted some kindness in the place I just self-aggressed. I went through the same scenario of imagining the sign hung in my house- from my new Purejoy view of the Kindness that opens to what is present in the moment.

I looked at the list of rules again- Be kind, it said. I thought- yep, check, sometimes we act kind, and in a move of kindness I also thought- and the truth is sometimes we act mean, sometimes we aggress, sometimes we are scared and hurt.

This greater kindness that I was offering about the reality of my situation, in place of my self-aggression, actually felt relaxing. I noticed a softness in my being almost immediately. I got excited, even. I felt more alive.

I was so curious then- how it felt so good to admit that we acted nice and acted mean, rather than using my precious life energy to try to ignore, or cancel or change the moment I was in with my kids. In fact, that was nearly impossible once I considered it. Maybe you feel the absurdity of this too?

Once I named what was so true for me, another beautiful thing happened. I actually opened my heart to my kiddos, in this softer place, and asked them more about what was coming up for them. The truth was welcome. We were deeply connected.

When they were much younger it looked like opening up to ALL of their expressions and behaviors with curiosity rather than judgements about acting mean, or bad, or misbehaving. I wasn’t taking their experience personally, then. I found out what was happening around us, or inside of me- that played a part in the way they were feeling, and therefore behaving.

I saw our ongoing experience very differently- more truthfully, which was in reality very kind, to me and my kids.

Try it- close your eyes (once you’ve read the next few lines) and imagine telling yourself the truth on the inside- heaping kindness on the reality of one aspect of your parenting experience. Include the part that feels hard to admit, or that you often want to leave out or disclaim.

What do you notice?

This deep kindness (not just being pleasant or BE KIND) is being truthful about reality. People are going to feel what they feel, and think what they think. I know that is true because something I say or do will impact one of my kiddos one way- say, they love what I did. Another will have the opposite response- because they are having their experience from the stimulus of the environment.

I promise- there is a lot of energy tied up in trying to stop what is actually happening! This week go curiously as to what it might be like to offer yourself some loving kindness- while being truthful about what is happening.

Why We Self Aggress

Why We Self Aggress

This week in Purejoy let’s take a closer look at self-aggression.

As a child you were innocently acting however you acted- you behaved based on the stimulus you felt in your environment because feelings lived inside your being and drove your behaviors.

When you were little you had these really big desires.  Children just want to feel good- they’re curious and they are always reaching for what they want or need. I’m thinking right now of how babies pull hair or grab glasses off your face. When my kids were toddlers they crawled on the table to get to things. My teens now do some pretty interesting things?

Can you think of anything you really wanted as a child that you just could not seem to get? It can be small or big…

I remember really wanting my ears pierced from a time when I was pretty young. I saw a baby with shiny little jewels in the center of her lobes and I felt a big rise of – I want those too!

But! This innocent desire smacked up against my parents’ limits and they resisted.

Maybe you notice this part in your memory too?

They put up a barrier- “we don’t do that” they said sternly, for reasons I couldn’t even understand then.

Or maybe you felt criticized- “you’re always wanting to do weird things, you know better than that!” your parents expressed with disdain.

They labeled you, claiming you were wrong or bad, or entitled or selfish, or greedy!

In the innocence of your uninhibited pursuit of your wants, you were looking for support to meet those desires- right? Because you just wanted to feel good, and express yourself.

And yet when those desires arose, and bumped into your caregivers’ limits (most likely their own desires as a child were judged and resisted in the same way) they lashed out and in your young mind, you concluded that you caused that feeling in them- that your desire was the impetus for all this disrupt.

What were some of the ways you knew your parents were upset? What were the signals?

Did their faces get hard and contorted?
Did they use your middle name?
Did they yell?

I remember a lot of silence and withdrawal and it’s easy now to see how I perceived that whatever I had done, or what I was asking for what I desired- was ‘too much’ and it was going to land me in trouble.

Let’s break this down just a bit…

As a child, you had to put your parents on a pedestal- they were the ones that fed you, cared for you, and met your needs. So of course, you did! You held them in a different light so you could stay safe inside those basic needs being met…and of course, you kept seeking your desires, wondering if they would support those too.

But, if you were met over and over again, with disapproval, criticism, judgment or withdrawal, in time you took those voices inside yourself. You started believing that you were too much, that the things you wanted were wrong or bad, or caused problems for your parents and supported that they were not in the light, that you would be left if they weren’t.

Most often by now as an adult, you now have an internal voice that runs this program any time your life force rises up in the form of desires or wants. You quickly self-aggress to keep it at bay, to stay small, but also to feel safe. Can you see how wise it was for you to adopt those voices? Those very criticisms and judgments, and disapproval and withdrawal became the way you kept yourself inside the love available to you in the form of basic needs being met. And yet, you are an adult now, and self-aggression is working against you, not for you- that’s how it was for me.

When I first began this work of seeing through the Purejoy view, I remember this realization- meeting the one in me who was self aggressing. Until I slowed down and even named it- I would have never guessed it was happening. But when I did I was appalled at the things I said to myself, and the ways I subsequently then treated me.

One that still sneaks in often is trying something new and then feeling embarrassed if it doesn’t go perfectly- and then hearing… you’re such an idiot! Why would you ever do that? Why do you like those things? Why did you say that? You are so weird! You’re going to get outed and shamed!

In slowing down, I consider, would I ever treat anyone else like this? Would I treat my child like this- and the answer is loud and clear, there is NO WAY. So why am I treating myself this way? I ask.

Until I was able to step gently toward my understanding of how self-aggression works, be willing to feel the feelings that arose with a new way to view it, and be open to loving kindness instead, I was stuck in a vicious cycle. Do you notice this?

My desires (and yours too) don’t just go away. If we self-aggress to make them small, they just get all stuffed and stuck inside of us and pile up and build emotional pressure until we explode and either abandon or overpower our circumstances to make a change.

I notice this very much in my parenting- my desires are HUGE! That my children will be well, that they will be successful, that they can focus on what is good for them… all rooted in my deep love for them, yeah?

So when I’m asking them to listen, or see it my way, or go along with my desires, there is a LOT of energy there.

It happened and has been, with one of my kiddos this morning. He does not want to go to school. His desire is to stay home where it’s cozy and familiar with me.

I check it out inside- I notice I want him to go to school, that’s my desire. That he goes to learn and play, while I work and we come back together later in the day. I hear a voice of ‘he needs to do this’ ‘he won’t learn’ ‘he will never have a job’ and here it comes…the self-aggression… I’m a horrible mom…

It happens quickly- and because I have been practicing, I now pause and offer kindness to that part of me that holds that desire, it gets SO intense sometimes. Having these big desires is vulnerable and asking for them and wanting them feels dangerous based on a young experience like mentioned above.

Sometimes I don’t catch it and I just explode and make it all stop- for a moment I feel satisfied, I get what I want.

Or I give up- I say, forget about it. It doesn’t matter. I don’t matter- for a moment I escape my own intensity.

But neither of those last long, because they just aren’t true. As a child, yes- that was the case…but now as an adult, as a parent. I’ve learned to check that out.

What I find is that I can speak to my desires with loving kindness because my desires are a threat to no one. Even though I may bump into the limits of others in how I act on them, they live inside me, they are mine, my life force energy supporting me towards my own brilliance. Just the same as feelings living inside of the others in my life, I cannot cause their feelings and so I cannot change their feelings by self-aggressing and changing myself.

This week- offer yourself this practice. Take a moment, a deep breath, and center yourself- see what it’s like to open to what you want, to what you need, to your desires. Listening to your own heart’s longing.

Write it down- make a list of all the things you desire.

Notice what voices are there?
Are you talking yourself out of it?
Are you labeling yourself?
Any judgment?

Then, offer it all some loving kindness.

Of course you wanted that, love….
Of course you desire for those things, dear one…
Of course you need support, mama…

What do you notice when you attempt to offer kindness in the place of self-aggression?

Love Them and Set Them Free

Love Them and Set Them Free

It’s the last week of September and fall is fully here in Alaska where me and my family live. The birch leaves are electric yellow and each morning, as we drive to school, steam is lifting off the lake which is now warmer than the morning air. This last weekend we celebrated my 41st birthday and just yesterday my twins turned 10, later this week my oldest will turn 19.

There is a lot of change over here right now, so to mark it all we treated ourselves to a family adventure to one of our favorite little fishing towns.

As we drove along these beautiful mountain passes to the sea- all 5 of my kiddos tucked into my traveling rig- I could slow everything down. They were plugged into headphones, sleeping, or playing a game, and my thoughts were slow, my heart was considering it all.

I was sitting with this phrase of the week here in Purejoy- if you love them, set them free.

The first part I am sure of, I can feel it deep in my bones, my life is built around- my love for these children.

The second part has been a bit of a learning process- and maybe even something more profound, surrendering to what is.

You see, we’re celebrating the passing of time over here.

I am solidly out of my 30s- the years my children came to me.
The oldest enters the last year of his teens, he’s out of high school.
The twins turning 10 mark that we have no more single-digit aged children.

I used to try to stop time. I wanted them to stay little. I imagined having teenagers and so much worry and concern came over me. I just shut that all down inside me and returned to the rules and systems in my family that supported me. I could stop time, stay in charge, and have control.

You and I both know I was setting myself up for failure- because my kids were in fact growing, I was changing, and they were too!

The denial of it kept me using emotional manipulation with my older kids. This looked like them having a strong desire to try something new, me making an excuse/rule as to why they could not do the thing, them feeling defeated and ignoring, me avoiding my feelings that came with change until they snuck their desires and the whole thing exploded right in front of me as the tension and space grew between us.

I knew that was not how I wanted to be in a relationship with my child, but letting go was SO HARD! Like, how the heck do you even do that?

I remember a quote I read from one of my favorite philosophers when they were little- it went like this…

Receive the children in reverence,
Educate them in love,
Let them go forth in freedom
– Rudolph Steiner

Receive them in reverence, check!
Educate them in love, check check!
Let them go forth in freedom…..Ummm confusing.

Of course, I want them to be free- that’s what I wanted too, but does that mean they leave me? That I am alone? Does that mean they are alone? What does their freedom actually mean for us?

And so in my inquiry, I set to find out- what does freedom mean… for us?

Small moments of practice began to pop up all over the place as they usually do when I commit to practicing an aspect of becoming more conscious of myself as a parent.

The kids asked for something they wanted, let’s say a sleepover with a friend.

Where before I said- no, we don’t do sleepovers based on my beliefs and conclusions about what might happen while positioning myself as the permission giver.

I practiced- (taking a pause, and hearing my own fear and trepidation arise, hand on my heart- offering myself love, I turn to my child) I hear you, you’d like to plan a sleepover with your friend. Tell me more about that?…

In that moment- whether we decided yes or no to the sleepover, I witnessed some freedom emerge for my boy in him being able to voice himself into existence in the matter.

In that moment, everything about his excitement and idea of the possibilities of life came pouring out with just one simple question from me- tell me more? – and then listening as he’s saying, I see the way for myself to create the life I am wanting, and of course, offering him support – he is a child!

I noticed that I had to be willing to set my beliefs, rules, and conclusions aside in favor of this moment where he was sharing his heart with me. I offered myself some grace that we are in this moment, together, and the unfolding will bring us to what works best for us as a family as each moment gave way to the next, the freedom of right now, revealed itself.

In that moment, way back then, and still now as he approaches adulthood, there are many times where I sit in my deep love for him- I receive him in reverence, right where he is at, listening and asking of all the ways he sees his life. I share my experience in love if he asks, and then I watch him take up his own ways, often different from mine, fully accepting whatever outcome happens from his own sense of freedom.

That same freedom I was confused and afraid of, I am now in awe of!

 

Freaky Friday!

Freaky Friday!

Have you ever had one of those days filled with shocking surprises? Well, I did last Friday.
 
First, I broke my computer screen so I couldn’t use my regular computer. And the second thing, which may trigger a wince  ( but remember, there’s no bad things just challenging ones)  is I broke my wrist in two places. It was truly a freaky break. 
 
Since I didn’t have my laptop, I went to use my big computer. I have this little meditation chair on wheels that I use instead of a desk chair to sit cross-legged. I decided to put an extra pillow on top. As I went to get on the chair, whoosh it flew out from under me, and wham my wrist hit the hard metal desk.
 
Of course, my mind immediately began to figure out why this happened. “What is this all about?” I thought.
It’s so easy to come up with stories and conclusions especially when a freaky thing happens. Well, there could be a million reasons just like there are a million reasons when my daughter does things that I don’t understand. As I deeply pondered my situation, I ended up thinking there is no good reason or bad reason it is just a freaky Friday.
 
The deeper question became how do I want to be with reality? Can I slow down find more neutrality and actually witness the benefits as well as the drawbacks of the reality that I am facing? 
 
Viewing my situation from this position I saw so many small acts of kindness. So many opportunities to offer myself, and others, compassion. So many opportunities to give others the chance to give back to me.
 
This led me to my parenting journey and asked myself the deeper question “how do I want to be with the child I have instead of the child I want her to be?” As I did, I realized there are many drawbacks and benefits to my daughter being exactly the way she is. 
 
So Lovies, this week if you are struggling and feeling stuck in the negative with your children take a moment to slow down and ask yourself-
How do I truly desire to show up for the reality in the moment?
Remember, there are always benefits and drawbacks to each moment.
 
P.S. Make sure to check out my interview on the For the Love of Dharma podcast. 

 

Taking it Personally

Taking it Personally

Last week’s blog was about a deep recognition that how you were parented has a profound effect on how you parent.  It’s that part of becoming a parent where you swore you’ll never be like your parents.   Then, caught in a summer afternoon struggle over time spent on screens,  you hear your mom’s words coming out of your mouth!

And YET, you swore that would NEVER happen!

Or maybe you put your parents on the pedestal, and you wish you could be just like them in your own parenting, and yet day after day you fall short, you’ll never be as good a mom as your mother was to you. You’re so stuck…

So then, as we do here in Purejoy, we said- ok, slowing way down, now softening towards the precious one in you who came to certain conclusions, that also pop up unconsciously when you see your kiddo scrolling through the phone.  Did you find any early conclusions?

Because that’s what this work we do here in Purejoy is largely about- your internal experience in parenting, where those conclusions live- and some of it is quite hidden in the fabric of your being, from when you were young. This week the Purejoy coaches in training are studying the Shadow and that is very much what healthy boundary setting begins to unfurl, are all these pieces so hidden in your depths, that are driving the ship of your parenting.

So while we have this all spread out- this one moment of your parenting, let’s look at another aspect of healthy boundary setting- taking things personally.

Do you do this? I know I sure do! We all do at times, especially when it comes to our child’s behavior.

Remember your child is having an internal experience, just like you,  and then projecting that experience into the external environment. They are in their experience, thinking what they think, feeling what they feel- and sometimes that comes out in ways that aren’t’ so beautiful, yeah?  They don’t have the rational thinking part of their brain developed that supports them to consider what they are feeling and choose their behavior (adult capacity, emotional maturity

What happens- is that children, as desire-driven beings, are curiously seeking life. As parents we come along,  see their vulnerability and our enculturation, and determine that we know what’s best for them, and start awarding certain behaviors, and thwarting others. Their energy gets misdirected, repressed, confused- and eventually, it can’t be kept under pressure or control, and the energy of their desires will come out!

It’s just too much for a kiddo so they express it out- it comes out all messy and sideways. It comes out intense and it’s easy to focus on the behavior.  But remember from last week the power of your attention, your energy, where do you want to put it in that moment- on the behavior? Give it all that juicy parental empowerment? Or on the heart of your child that is full of feeling?

This is a benefit of slowing it down- we even say when we teach the SafeSeat course- take a PARENTING PAUSE!

“Between stimulus and response, there is a space. In that space is our power to choose our response. In our response lies our growth and our freedom.” — Viktor E. Frankl, a neurologist, psychologist, and Holocaust survivor.

It’s in these spaces, of discovering the deeper moving parts of yourself that you’ll make true and lasting changes in your parenting.
So if your kiddo is behaving in a way that you don’t like, or behavior that you want to control and change….check it out.
Do you hear the voice of early conclusions?  (coming to conclusions)
Do you hear the voices of your parents or caregivers? (how you were parented)
Do you notice you want to shame, blame, or punish your child? (emotional black mail)

And it’s SO HARD! This is so hard, in our culture- for me, for you, for everyone because the gold standard for kids is good behavior.

Let’s take a look at the example we’ve been using the last few weeks about my daughter asking for a snack after dinner and I get overwhelmed- because I JUST sat down… if I stop and check in with myself (even for just a moment) 

In that moment- the rise of frustration in my experience- I notice the voices inside of me start to get loud with early conclusions and old voices, I notice my body getting tight and a heat rising in my center. 

I have a moment to set a healthy internal boundary.

If I take it personally- I  will treat myself with contempt. I will fall back on those early conclusions and pressures of old voices that are not mine, and I will choose something emotionally manipulative to get out of the intensity of the moment. I can get her to change so that I don’t actually have to be intimate with my own internal experience. 

If I choose healthy internal boundaries- I will put my hand on my heart, and speak to both the one in me who is worried about getting this wrong, someone being unhappy with her, and feeling so rejected in the moment- and I will also speak to my girl who just asked for a snack.  We both need something right now- you would like a snack and I sat down to relax. I treat myself with kindness- and meet the energy in me and her, not making any of our expressions or behaviors wrong or bad, but simply we both have a desire here, and how can we work to get our needs met. 

When I do this, when the boundary is about how I treat myself, I put my attention inside of me, and ground my energy down into my body, I am present for both of us now. 

Then I can turn my attention to my girl with the facts, it’s very practical. She might have feelings about my offering, of course- but from this place I can see, hear and understand those feelings, with her, I can be alongside her in my presence and support her with what I have to offer. 

My encouragement for you is to sit with these pieces we have been working on- about how to set healthy boundaries, and commit to practicing some new boundaries, on the inside, about how you treat yourself.

Keep me posted!

 

Emotional Black Mail + Healthy Boundaries

Emotional Black Mail + Healthy Boundaries

Emotional blackmailing…whew sounds ominous! Right? And I’m the first to admit that I participate in this dynamic in my relationships #cringe.  It’s what I do when I’m not setting healthy boundaries about how I treat myself- like we talked about in the last blog.

If I’m not willing to do the practice of offering loving kindness to my internal experience, I’ll go out to my people and shame or blame, or overpower, or abandon them to get out of my discomfort.

Even more so I will bind them in a way, I will shut down their experience, with my anxious energy, to control my environment so I don’t have to feel what is arising in me.

This is a big one, so let’s slow it down and soften a bit.

Take a few deep breaths, and put your hand on your heart, that’s what I’m doing as I write this because it’s a big part of my practice too…

(I actually took my hands off the computer keys- pausing to slow down and really notice the energy of what I’ve already said up there, maybe you pause and close your eyes before reading on).

Oh, hey- you’re back… I am too so let’s keep going.

Remember the example from last week? If not go read that one first here.

My daughter asks for a snack- and in a split second I am back to my early conclusion of, no matter what I do around here, no one cares, I’m trying so hard, and it’s never enough! I am not enough! I am unlovable!

From that place if I don’t explore that early belief and become more aware of it, I will put all my attention on my daughter and how demanding she is for asking.

If I go the route of emotionally blackmailing I might-

Shame her-  Don’t you see EVERYTHING I do around here? For EVERYONE?
Blame her- Why are you ALWAYS hungry? Are you EVER full?
Withdrawal – I’m tired of you ALWAYS asking me for things, I’m so done with you!

(clue– everything/nothing/always are key words in detecting young energy or young conclusions- when I hear myself saying them, I know after practicing that something tender in me needs some loving kindness- do you use those words sometimes about your child?)

I make her wrong, bad, selfish, and rude in an attempt to get my own needs met.

Of course, as soon as I do this I immediately feel horrible- I notice I am acting exactly how I don’t want to.  My deepest desire as a mama is that my children are free to be themselves- and here I am casting all this emotional blackmail based on a conclusion I made long before my kiddo was even a figment of my imagination.

That conclusion that no matter how hard I try I am never enough- that I am unlovable.

Again, she just asked for a snack.

When I first recognized this I then realized I went from all that attention out to all the attention in on myself. I felt HORRIBLE about perpetuating an environment where kids were made wrong and bad and responsible for adults’ comfort. YUCK!

That is NOT my intention at all. But here I was, doing that. So I beat myself up and landed back at my early conclusion. That, no matter how hard I try I am never enough. I am a horrible person.

So with attention all out on my girl, I was emotionally blackmailing her to stay away from the discomfort of my early conclusion.

With my attention all in I was self-aggressing to get away from my early conclusion.

Both are not serving my greater desire of being present with my daughter and are centered on this early conclusion.

So the secret sauce here is to turn toward that early conclusion- really take this part in- and recognize how precious it was that you went there.

Remember most likely you were trying to take care of yourself, your internal experience, and the way you behaved hit this same wall in your parents that your child has just innocently hit in you, and you were left to conclude you were wrong, bad, rude, mean, horrible.

SO, of course, you are going to want to bind them, to make your environment safe again, and yet, now you can check out, are you really in danger? And stop taking your child’s experience as an emotional threat.

This is HUGE! When your kiddo is asking for a snack? Or won’t get off the screen? Or won’t get their shoes on when you’ve asked 40 times!

Slowing way down inside of yourself, notice what’s arising. What are you saying to yourself? What are your sensations? How are you treating yourself?

I know you have to get out the door and I’m asking you to slow down.  It was my experience that until I actually gave myself these crucial moments to notice what was arising in me, to see my part in the dynamic, we were powerless to get anywhere, out the door or to any kind of harmony in our relationship.

Because when I am willing to attend to the emotional component in me, and not project that out by binding my child with emotional black mail- parenting becomes so practical- my energy can now go into the things we need to attend to in our environment so we can have success.

If you think about it- parenting is very practical, yeah? It’s very task oriented. So just watch where it becomes very emotional. See where you put your attention? Like with the snack- my girl is asking for a snack, I have systems in place that support us, and I can simply remind her, or find out what I have to offer in that moment.

I did a really cool experiment with some parents I was speaking with this last summer at the festival in Lithuania- maybe you can imagine it a bit if you will.

I asked them- put your attention inside, to your internal experience- close your eyes, notice the center of your body from your bum to the top of your head…just notice what you notice without trying to change or fix or make it different. Notice your breath.

And then I asked them- now put your attention out here on me… on this room…on the people around you… on your environment, again- what do you notice? No changing or fixing… just noticing… your experience….

Back inside, on your center, from your bum to your head… what do you notice….

And again- back out… on the room, on what’s around you, your environment….

Try it- what do you notice? Attention in, attention out… attention in, and then out…

There is power there, yes? Your personal power, your awareness.

Now consider your parenting- where do you put your attention? And when? Take some time to really notice this one if you can.

I like to think of attention as the function of awareness. I imagine it as a flow of energy with current, or force.

I heard a phrase once- energy flows where attention goes.

Again- don’t try to fix, change or excuse, or defend, just notice.

Where you put your attention is where you put your relational empowerment.

Attention all out on binding your child is emotionally blackmailing them. It’s one-sided.

Attention all in on your conclusion is emotionally blackmailing yourself. It’s one-sided.

Imagine your attention in balance- out, in, out, in. Like breath.

When I noticed this dynamic alive in my parenting I just started noticing- out, in, out, in.

I considered the early conclusion that had me stuck in all out or all in, desperately trying to feel safe, to feel loved.

Out, in, out in.

I offered a new option to my young experience of unconditional love from a more grounded and balanced place of dual attention- Of course, you did this Dear One, when you were young, to feel in the love- and now you are safe, here as an adult, in this body to feel the feelings.

Out- I am safe.
In- I am Safe.
Out- I am Safe.
In- I am Safe

When I recognized that I was safe and I wanted to treat myself with kindness- my boundary setting changed and in Purejoy we are working on some new content that will be out soon to support you to do the same.

Again in the Purejoy view, we say a healthy boundary is what is ok with me and not ok with me about how I treat myself! NOT about how others treat me.

I have this option available most of the time in my parenting.

Back to the example: When my girl asks for a snack and I am tired at the end of the day. I notice both attention out, and in, balanced and grounded.

Out, she is asking for a snack.

In, I have a bit of tension, I am tired, I want to be done making food.

Here we are.

I say to both of us, Awe Love, of course… you want what you want, and I am here.

In, I offer myself loving-kindness in the place of my early conclusion that my daughter did not cause and cannot fix.

Out, I let my girl know I am done making food for the day but we have the snack drawer she is always welcome to and I am willing to give her 3 ideas for food she can make. It’s very practical.

We both stay present in the reality of this moment of our relationship. I take care of myself and my experience, she carries on with hers.

This is Purejoy!

If you’re curious about this topic or any others that I have been writing on in the blog- head over to our Facebook Practice Page where I will be answering questions about the Purejoy Parenting view.