It’s Not A Competition

My daughter, Averie, had her 6th-grade Orientation this week. When I picked her up from her Dad’s on Monday, he offered to take her so I could stay home. He said all the students do is find their lockers and I wouldn’t be missing anything because we’d have an open house to attend anyway. I somewhat reluctantly and somewhat gratefully agreed to allow her Dad to take her to the Orientation, without me.

While chatting on our way home, she shared her Dad’s girlfriend, and her daughter would be attending the Orientation with them. I thought to myself, “Ohh, now I see why he didn’t want me to go,” I desperately tried to remain nonchalant, but my brain went to work on every worst-case scenario, “He didn’t tell me they were going on purpose! He’s trying to replace me!” I was spinning the fuck out into a big dark hole of fear and doubt.

My insecurity had me questioning the solidarity of my place in Averie’s life as her Mom because I felt guilty for agreeing not to go. I cried, hard, filled with shame for not making Averie’s Orientation a priority. It hurt, but I let it happen. I let the tears come.

After, I calmly called Ave’s Dad. I wanted to make sure that I wasn’t the reason he didn’t want me to go. He very kindly reassured me that he had no problem with me attending and I was more than welcome to go. I hung up feeling reassured but not at all comfortable with how hard this situation had triggered my insecurity, and I was determined to own it.

I coached myself, hard. If the roles were reversed, if I were taking Averie and her Dad was staying home, I never would have even questioned it. Also, I was okay with him taking Averie until I found out his girlfriend was going. But why?? Because I thought, “If she was going to make Averie a priority and attend, shouldn’t I?” I believed their attendance meant they were making Averie MORE of a priority than I was, in turn making me a bad mom. But why does it have to be one or the other? Why is it either he’s the good Dad, or I’m the good Mom?  Why can’t we both be good parents? We can, you know why? This isn’t a competition. When you turn it into one, nobody really wins.

It’s not me versus her Dad or me versus his girlfriend. It’s about 3 people who all love and want the best for Averie. Her Dad was just trying to do me a favor and be a good Dad. I don’t have to attend every single thing to be a good Mom. I am a good Mom, I am HER Mom. Delegating some of these things to her Dad doesn’t mean I don’t care. Actually, it means I care a lot. I care enough to know the importance of sharing our daughter and making sure she gets to share these milestones with her Dad. He has as much of a right to claim these experiences as his own, as I do.  And how lucky am I that he’s found someone who loves Averie so much that she’s willing to invest her time and her evening, in supporting Ave at these events? Super freaking lucky, actually. I should and do, feel incredibly blessed that Averie has another woman in her life who loves her that much.

Don’t let your fear keep you from sharing your child or children with others. Allow your kids the opportunity to be loved MORE. It is not Mom versus Dad, Stepmom versus Biomom, Dad versus Stepdad. It is a group of people who all have something fundamental in common, the love of a child.

They say it takes a village, be the village. Look beyond the needs of your own ego and let that other person love the shit out of your kids. I know it can be scary, but you will ALWAYS be their Mom or Dad, no one can take that away from you. Your child loving someone else does not detract from the love they have for you. That’s impossible because love does not depreciate, it only grows. Love has a compounding effect, it is infinite. Love results in more love. Love, is always the answer.

You’re Doing it Wrong

I had been pushing myself HARD for months. Do more, complete more, be better, push harder until the point I was ready to throw in the towel. I called my life coach practically in tears, “I don’t know if I can do this. It’s so hard. I’m exhausted and miserable. I don’t want to feel like this. This. Isn’t. Worth. It.” Me, the life coach, was failing at managing my life. I was headed straight for burnout, and I didn’t even see it. I was doing the exact thing I tell my clients NOT to do by focusing on the action instead of the mindset. Now, stay with me here.

I was working super hard on my business and started feeling stressed and overextended. I was feeling guilty for not spending more time with my kids and spending so much time on my business. When I wasn’t working on the business, I was thinking about the business, and it was stressing me out.  I thought my problem was that I wasn’t managing my time well enough. So I believed if I could figure out a way to be super hella productive, I would be able to relax.   I even started a coaching program for Time Management. I got the planner; I made the lists, I did all of the mother-effing things. I checked off that list like a boss. I was more productive in 3 weeks than I think I have ever been in my entire life and all it did was leave me feeling exhausted and even more ready to quit. No, really, like for REAL quit, no looking back, done.

I blamed the planner. I dreaded making those lists, I procrastinated planning, and checking off the boxes did nothing for me. “This isn’t working,” I told myself. My coach tried to remind me that I’m the only one that could decide what’s good enough or not. I didn’t believe her. She told me to be compassionate with myself, so I listened and scrapped the mile-long lists. I was so tapped I decided I was not going to plan a single thing except bare-bones essentials for the next week. I decided that no matter what I got done, or didn’t get done, it would be good enough.  

I swam with my kids, and I hung out with my husband, I scrolled facebook. It was glorious. I felt so much better. I was more relaxed and feeling so much more confident about getting back at it. So gradually, I started adding things back to the list. But this time I decided that no matter how much I was able to complete, or not, it would be good enough.  More and more things were added to the list and I felt better and better about checking them off.  I was so proud of myself for figuring out how to be more productive and not stress out. I thought I was so smart with my time management skills and my lists.  Only, I was completely missing the fact that it had nothing at all to do with my fancy planner. I failed to see what ACTUALLY happened. 

I wasn’t feeling better because I was doing more of the things again. I was feeling better because my mindset regarding my “to do” list had changed entirely. My BELIEF had changed. In all actuality, I was accomplishing LESS but feeling BETTER because I changed how I was thinking about everything. I had inadvertently practiced a new thought, “no matter what, it’s good enough” to the point of it becoming a new belief. And because of this new belief, I started having my own back. I stopped discounting my efforts and acknowledging my accomplishments. I focused on learning and growing instead of “doing it right.”  I reminded myself the goal is progress over perfection. It completely changed my perspective and how I felt about all of my work. It freed my brain from having to continually punish myself or worry about what I wasn’t getting done. Again, it had nothing to do with the damn planner and everything to do with my BELIEF. It was because I BELIEVED, not because I was DOING.

I could finally see clear as day why I was feeling so awful before. When I believed I wasn’t good enough, my coaching wasn’t good enough, and I wasn’t doing anything right, doing all the things just became more evidence of how much I was failing. It didn’t make me feel better. It made me feel worse. Nothing was good enough because my brain would find a way to discount it entirely. Whatever you believe, your mind will go searching for, and your brain will always prove itself to be right, always.  

So if something isn’t working, ask yourself why? Write it down. All those sentences are the thoughts in your brain, preventing you from creating the result you want. Your mental obstacles are far more significant than any physical ones. How does that saying go? “Whether you believe you can or you can’t, you’re right.” Yep, that’s the truth.

I can show you exactly how to clear all those mental blocks. You ready? let’s do it. 

Feeling Feelings Sucks

In coaching school, we’re taught how incredibly important our emotions are and how important it is to learn the skill of feeling our feelings.

I thought this was a skill I would just inherently have. Yeah, it’s not.

Recently during a session, I was trying to explain to a client how to allow emotion, and I couldn’t do it.

I mean, I knew from an intellectual level how it’s supposed to happen. But when my client was asking me questions on how to allow their anxiety, I couldn’t answer. Whoa. Not okay.

So learning how to “allow” emotion has become my homework and holy shit, I am not good at it.

It turns out I don’t allow my feelings, I resist them. Especially negative emotions like fear and anxiety.

I thought I was allowing them, but I wasn’t.

What I was actually doing was resisting them, avoiding them, or trying to change them.

The more I tried to fix them or resist them, the tenser I would become. The tenser I became, the more I would take it out on people around me.

Sometimes the whole damn family would snowball.

I’d snap at my husband, I’d snap at the kids, now they’re blaming each other and arguing, it was all ugly.

I’ve made it my mission to master feeling my feelings. This is what I’ve learned so far:

  • You can run from emotion, but you can’t hide. If you suppress it one way, it will show up in another. If I try to stuff/resist my anxiety, that just creates tension. Neither one feels good, but for some reason, my brain thinks tension is safer because that discomfort is familiar. So it’s actually easier for me to feel tense than anxious. But that emotion wasn’t helpful, it just made me feel worse.
  • Resisting negative emotion is fucking exhausting. Why? Because the more I try to suppress it, the bigger it gets, and it starts to feel uncontrollable. Now don’t get me wrong, sitting with my anxiety is not “pleasant,” but it requires less energy than trying to stuff it, resist it, and suppress it. For me, a telltale sign that I’m resisting my emotions is when I get tense. I feel pressure in my chest, the tension in my throat, and my neck starts to hurt.
  • If you resist negative emotion, you also resist positive emotions. I noticed that I was resisting joy, happiness, etc. in similar ways that I was resisting negative emotions. I don’t want that!
  • Allowing feelings is not intuitive or easy. I have to make a conscious effort to bring awareness to the sensations in my body associated with my fear, anxiety, etc., what they feel like, where in my body they occur and open myself to them.
  • Breathing is crucial. I had no idea how much I actually held my breath until I started doing this work. Yes, I hold my freaking breath when I start to feel tense, which is a lot. Taking some slow deep breathes goes a long way in making the sensations more tolerable.
  • Trying to “fix” it only makes it worse. My initial instinct is still to try to “fix” the emotion in the sense of doing anything and everything to make it go away as soon as possible. But the more I try to “fix” it or change it, the longer it stays. “Nothing has gone wrong,” is another favorite mantra of mine to remind myself I don’t have to fight the emotion and negative emotion is normal.
  • You have to acknowledge it. Many times just acknowledging the emotion actually helps take the edge off. I literally say to myself, “I am feeling anxious,” or “I am feeling nervous, and that’s okay.” It might sound crazy, but it works, and that’s all that matters to me.
  • This takes practice. This was probably the most important lesson learned. I’m the queen of bailing if I’m not good at something right away and allowing emotion is for sure a skill and something that requires practice. 

Think about it. How much of our lives do we spend avoiding negative emotions?

We scroll facebook or Instagram the moment we are bored. We have a stressful day, come home, and pour a glass of wine or order take out. How many times growing up were you told to “cheer up!” And I’m not judging any of these activities or saying we shouldn’t do them. I’m just pointing out how we are taught to avoid negative emotions instead of feeling them.

And why even bother, you ask? Because I don’t want my life to be dictated by my fear of negative emotions. I don’t want to miss out on opportunities because I’m afraid to feel afraid.

I actually missed a networking event because I was so exhausted from fighting with my anxiety all day I couldn’t bring myself to go. That’s not what I want my life to look like.

I still get anxious. I still fight it sometimes and get tense and occasionally snap at my kids. It still feels overwhelming sometimes, but I keep practicing. I keep practicing, so I no longer feel at the mercy of my anxiety, fear, worry.

I keep practicing, so I become just a person who experiences negative emotions instead of a person ruled by their negative emotions.

And I keep practicing so I can show others that they can do it too.

Save The Drama

Drama. Drama. Drama.

We’re always complaining about drama. Drama from other people. The drama of our own.

You’d be surprised how much of it is self-inflicted.

Actually, It’s ALL self-inflicted.

Read that again.

Your drama, my drama, all self-inflicted.

My clients come to me with all of their stories and drama.

” My husband is so hard on my daughter, but lets my stepson get away with murder.”

“I’m so sick of my ex-husband’s new wife being disrespectful and butting in our business.”

I don’t believe them, any of them.

Even though they so badly want me to.

That’s not my job.

My job isn’t to believe in my clients’ stories. My job is to show THEM their story and that it is in fact, just a story.

Their stories are just sentences running through their minds that they’ve chosen to believe.

The client complaining about her kids’ stepmom being disrespectful was based on a text convo she’d had with stepmom, and it looked something like this;

Stepmom: Did you get the paperwork from Stepson’s school?

Bio-Mom: No, not yet.

Stepmom: Okay, we will just ask for a copy at the open house.

My client went on and on about how stepmom has “no right” to be getting involved in “her business.” That stepmom is “so rude” and “all she had to do was be a little patient.

My client was CONVINCED that Stepmom was the problem.

So I asked her to list the facts of her story for me, things that could only be proven in the court of law.

This is what we came up with:

  • She has a son.
  • She has a married ex-husband.
  • Her son has a stepmom.
  • The stepmom text her the words “Did you get the paperwork yet?” and ” Okay, we will just ask for a copy at the open house.”
  • She text the words “No, not yet.”

Everything else was her story about the conversation.

My client’s story about those words was what was creating all the drama she’d come to me complaining about.

It was all optional.

No matter what has happened in the past, you are responsible for your story right now.

And your story is always optional. The drama is always optional.

How liberating is that?

Are you tired of the drama?

I can help.

You ready?