There is no such thing as a “High Conflict” Bio-Mom.
Read that again.
You’re pissed at me, amiright?
I bet your brain is arguing with me, and you want to delete this email.
Just stay with me for one second.
How do you feel when you call someone “high conflict?”
As in, what vibrations happen in your body? What emotions come up when you think about the person you label as “high conflict?”
Anger? Irritation? Anxiety? Frustration?
What do you do mentally and physically?
Brace for impact? Prepare for battle? Become defensive?
Do you see how much your mindset and behavior completely shift from just this one thought?
She’s NOT even around as you’re reading this email, and I bet your entire demeanor changed.
Bio-Mom is not the problem, my friends; it’s your thoughts about her.
When we label someone as high conflict, we often end up being the ones who create conflict.
Our adrenaline spikes, our logical mind shuts down, our primitive brains take over, and everything and anything can and is interpreted as a threat of war.
I know you want to argue with me. I know you have lots of evidence.
I know you think you’re right and she’s the problem.
But is your way working?
What if the first step in dealing with a High Conflict Bio-Mom, is to stop calling her High Conflict?
P.S. Listen, co-parenting doesn’t have to be a constant battle of wills, power plays, and leveraging. Don’t believe me? I’ll show you in 45 minutes or less, for FREE. Sign up here.
Despite a rocky start to 2020, things are finally going well.
Today I was thinking about all the things I’m grateful for right now.
My husband is awesome.
The kids are great.
My clients are great.
My friends are amazing.
My family rocks.
So then why is there this looming sense of dread? Like a big dark cloud that slowly sneaks in.
And my brain starts to look around for danger.
Where is it?
I know it’s here….
Where is that other shoe that’s waiting to drop?
Do you do this too? When things are going awesome, you start to brace for impact?
As I said, I was writing down my list of awesome when suddenly I felt it. It was dark and heavy and a little anxiety-provoking too.
It harshed my gratitude buzz in a hurry.
WHY, was I doing this to myself?
Why did this feel so shitty?
The answer. Fear.
Fear of something terrible happening that would come along and rip away all my joy.
Fear of feeling bad.
Fear of disappointment, anger, rejection, whatever the negative emotion may be.
The fear of the hurt and discomfort that comes with negative emotions and not being able to mentally and emotionally handle it.
The dear god, don’t make me have to live through that again, kind of fear. Amiright?
But here’s the thing.
What if I didn’t need to be afraid of all of those things?
What if worrying wasn’t necessary?
What if worrying, only robbed me of my joy now and never actually protected me?
What if maybe I’m capable of handling ALL of those negative emotions?
Dear friends, I am.
I am completely capable of handling it all, and so are you.
Worry isn’t necessary; it only pretends to be.
Worry does not protect you.
Worry is only robbing you of joy.
Worry is optional.
How do you stop worrying?
Stop fearing negative emotions.
They are just vibrations in your body.
Negative emotions are normal.
Negative emotions are unavoidable.
Running from them only makes it worse.
If I can handle them, so can you.
Worry shows you where you have a lack of belief in your ability to handle negative emotions.
What if you believed you didn’t have to brace?
What if you believed you were capable?
What if you believed negative emotions were normal?
You’d be completely liberated from worry.
You’d no longer be exhausted from dread, bracing, and running away.
You’d no longer fear negative emotion because you’d believe you could handle it. All of it, because you can.
I believe in my ability. I believe in yours too.
When you believe, the worry falls away.
P.S. Worrying is normal. It’s also optional. If you struggle with constant worrying about what could be coming around the corner, I’m here to help.
This year has been freaking crazy, to say the least. Sometimes I feel like I haven’t even had a second to breathe. My most important priority this past year? Me.
I want to say it was unashamed. But that would be a lie. There were times I had Mommy guilt when I worked on my business instead of hanging with my kids. There were times I argued with my husband because I spend so much time working on my business.
But this coaching gig, coaching people, and getting coached, has taught me more about myself than any other endeavor, ever.
I’ve put in the work; things haven’t worked, I’ve cried, I’ve learned, I’ve almost quit, I’ve kept going, almost quit again, and kept going. Doing something I’ve never done before, I know nothing about, and wanting so badly has forced me to look at me square in the face on many occasions. The no bullshit, you have only yourself to answer to, kind of face to face interactions.
I like me now more than than I ever have before — all of me. The extra 30lbs me. The stubborn me, the perfectionist and judgmental me. The hardheaded, proud to a fault, grudge-holding, confrontational AF, do not DARE f*ck with my kids or my family, mama honey badger me. The idealistic, old school, unrealistic expectations me. I love all those versions of me (even if they sometimes get me in trouble).
I also love the big-hearted, insanely loyal, hard-working, courageous, determined, intelligent, tenacious, word-smithing, proud mama, fiercely feminine, badass wife, and I will coach the shit out of you, me.
The self-confidence that comes with accepting and loving me for me has allowed me to work harder, take more risks, and be more courageous than I ever have before in my life, which is awesome in and of itself. But the compound effect of doing this work, working on me, has allowed me the freedom of giving fewer f*cks.
Loving me and knowing me has allowed me to stop worrying about what other people love or don’t love about me. It’s seriously crazy. I have always had a polarizing personality. People love me or hate me. There is no in-between. I’ve known this for a long time. I used to acknowledge it with a sort of “fuck you” attitude. And now it’s more of a “that’s fine, sometimes I don’t like me either,” vibe.
Now I worry about me instead of everyone else. What I mean is, I used to get so wrapped up in worrying about what the Anti-Billiejos were thinking about me. I’d try to morph and twist and turn myself into what I thought I should be. It felt awful. And it was a pointless endeavor because I can’t control what other people think. So now I worry about me. How I’m feeling, how I want to feel, how I want to show up in the world, and how to make that happen. I take responsibility for my emotions and my actions, REGARDLESS of how other people behave. Am I perfect at this? Hell No. Have I gotten better? Much. And it’s mother fucking liberating.
You can’t control other people, people. You think you can, but you can’t. So stop trying because it will only make you feel crazy when they don’t comply, and they’re not going to. Can you influence people? Yes. Are you more likely to get more bees with honey? Yes. But it doesn’t mean anything is wrong with you when the bees don’t show up. So if you’re not the kind of bee that digs my honey? Zero f*cks.
I’ve owned my human, flawed parts. The compound effect? I’m more accepting and patient with other people when they show their human, flawed parts. We really cannot recognize in others what we don’t see within ourselves. That means the goods stuff and the bad stuff.
Being kinder, more loving, and accepting of my flaws has 100% resulted in me being more compassionate, more loving, and accepting of others. Being less critical, judgmental, and rigid toward myself has 100% allowed me to be less critical, judgmental, and inflexible with others. But if you’re incapable or unwilling to do the same for me, I’m moving on. No resentment, no bitterness, just zero f*cks.
And I’m not doing this work because I’m some sort of enlightened, holier than though, selfless, Mother Theresa type. I’m doing it because it freaking FEELS BETTER. It feels good to like the person that I am. It feels good to be more patient with my kids and husband. It feels good to open myself up to people I would have previously shut out. It feels good to be more compassionate and understanding to others. It feels good to stop worrying so much about what everyone else MIGHT be thinking. It feels good to give fewer f*cks. Merry Christmas Me, you’re welcome.
I see you. I know you see me. I used to be afraid of being seen. I was scared of people judging me. I was worried about what they would say about me. I was afraid of people looking for my cracks, my weaknesses, and my flaws to prey upon. They knew I had them. I knew I had them too.
I remember being so afraid of what everyone who knew “pre-life coach” Billiejo would say about me. That I’m a fraud. That Life Coaching is a joke. That I have no right to call myself an expert in anything. That my life was messy, so how dare I tell anyone else what to do with theirs? And that I’ve been a pretty big asshole at times in my life, so what makes me any better than anyone else now?
All those judgments were really just things I thought about myself. I discovered the only way around them was to own the parts of them that were true. Like I always say to my clients, when you own your shit, no one else can hold it against you.
Initially, I felt like a fraud because I was one. I was running from my own hurt and issues related to being in a blended family instead of facing them. When I confronted them, it gave me some agency over them and allowed me to step into authenticity. My life is messy some times. But show me someone whose life isn’t? My ability to navigate my mess and own my messiness is why my clients love me. And Life Coaching is no joke. It’s completely transformed every aspect of my life. It’s transformed me. Because I continue to be an expert in the transformation of my own life, I can help my clients achieve the same change in theirs.
And yes, I’ve been a pretty big asshole many times in my life. I’ve been an asshole stepmom, I’ve been an asshole biomom, an asshole wife, and an asshole ex-wife. But I’m not claiming to be perfect. I am painfully aware of my imperfections. I am claiming to be human. What’s changed is that I’m working on owning all of my asshole tendencies so I can be a little less asshole each day.
Byron Katie says every judgment is really just a projection, something we see within ourselves and recognize in someone else. We do not recognize in others what we do not also see within ourselves. So umm, when you call your ex inconsiderate, it’s because there’s a little part of you that recognizes you can be inconsiderate too. Or when you call your husband’s Ex “high conflict,” it’s because you can tend to be confrontational also. I’m not gonna lie, that one hit me in the face the first time I thought about it.
And, have you ever noticed that when passing judgments, we tend to demonstrate the behavior we are judging the other person for? Calling someone judgmental is, in fact, a judgment. You tell your husband how rude and careless he is for leaving a mess around the house. And by calling him things like “rude” and “careless,” you are, in essence being rude and uncaring. Or when you fill your girlfriends in about that bitch at work, you can’t stand? You are, in reality, being bitchy also. Well shit, knock me off my high horse.
Don’t get me wrong, I’ve judged others as harshly as they’ve judged me. I’m not proud of it. And I’m still not without judgment today. We are humans. We judge. I am human. I judge. But again, what I’ve realized is there is no one judging me harder than I judge myself. Owning and appreciating my own flaws helps me be more compassionate and less judgmental of others’ flaws. I will continue to work on being less judgmental because I know how it feels to be judged, and because the only person judging others hurts is me.
The founder of my Life Coaching School and Master Coach, Brooke Castillo, speaks on the regular of the benefits of unconditional love. But her approach is different than most in that her opinion is unconditional love is something we do for ourselves because we are the ones who get to feel the love. And who doesn’t want to feel love, Right? So when handed a silver platter of emotions to pick from, why not choose love? It feels great, and the other person doesn’t even have to know about it, and you can stop your suffering.
Complete transparency? I struggle with this. Especially when it comes to the idea of loving people who have caused me a significant amount of pain or who trigger me HARD. I try to feel unconditional love for them, I really do. And on an intellectual level, I know how much I would benefit from it. But when people don’t act how I feel they should, my brain is like “that’s bullshit, they don’t deserve it.” And the last thing this chick is feeling is unconditional love.
I discussed this topic with my Coach this week. I was sharing my struggles I continue to have as a blended family mom, and she offered me this: “What if instead of unconditional love, you tried to have compassion?” That tiny change in perspective provided a huge shift in how I felt about everything. YES, I can totally have compassion for these humans, even when I don’t agree with how they behave, and even when they cause me pain (Which is never true. No one can make you feel anything without your permission).
Understanding why people behave the way they do, not easy. Being okay with their behavior, also not easy. But having compassion for how they must be feeling to make them behave that way, for me, was far more tangible. And when I could get there, to a place of compassion, these monsters started to look like humans again, no longer evil entities whose only desire was to make my life difficult. Being able to recognize and acknowledge their humanness allowed the divisive idea that it was me versus them to dissolve.
But it’s so easy to push them all the way to the dark side, right? They are evil, and we are good. They are the villains, and we are the victims. That feels so much better. That way, we can remain powerless, and they can still be the focus of our blame, cause of our pain, and we get to dodge responsibility. How could we possibly identify with such monsters? Especially when if we were to identify with these monsters, we run the risk of identifying with the monsters within ourselves.
But, in reality, we are all partly dark and partly light. No one is “good” all of the time, and no one is “bad’ all of the time. There is no invisible line where the light ends, and the darkness begins. By rejecting the darkness in others, we are also rejecting it within ourselves. For if we can only love someone when they are good, the insinuation is they are unworthy of love when they are bad. Then so are we only worthy of love when we are good and, therefore, unworthy of love when we are bad. But this is never true because we are worthy all of the time. Our worthiness is absolute, regardless of our mistakes.
By withholding compassion from others, we are also withholding compassion from ourselves. By withholding love from others, we are also withholding love from ourselves. When I’m loving and compassionate toward others, it makes it easier to be loving and compassionate toward myself. I’m sure you’ve heard the expression, “hurt people hurt people.” Practicing compassion means I can recognize someone else’s suffering without making it my own. It’s like a secret weapon that allows me to see the monsters for what they are, humans in pain, with their own demons to slay. They get to choose how they behave and so do I. Unconditional love for the humans, I’m still working on that. But compassion, I can do.
The holidays are coming. Trying to navigate the Holidays as a blended family always seems to ratchet that stress up a notch. We have three kids with three different custody orders. That means coordinating schedules for three kiddos with the input from 6 parents (not to mention extended family members). It is challenging, to say the least. We rarely get all of the time that we want with all three of the kids during the holidays. It used to make me upset and frustrated. I felt like everyone else had a say in what was going on in my life except me. And nothing puts me over the edge like feeling powerless.
I’d bitch and complain to friends and family about how unfair it was and how uncooperative everyone was being. Chris and I would spin and argue over what was the best way to handle everything and how to get what we deserved when it came to time with his kids. Do you know what that got me? Miserable holidays. Do you know what it didn’t get me? Any more time with the kids. If anything, time was wasted by being so wrapped up in my temper tantrum about what we weren’t getting that I wasn’t even present when we did have them.
What if the answer isn’t more time but more appreciation for the time you DO have? Appreciation and gratitude sure feel a hell of a lot better than bitterness and resentment. I noticed that appreciation keeps me grounded in now and stops the desire to chase for more. It also helps me stay focused on what matters most, time with my kids, and making the most of the time we have together as a family.
What if focusing on what you’re not getting is making you miss out on what you already have? And I’m not saying you can’t make requests for more time with your kiddos during the Holidays; I’m just saying don’t be emotionally attached to the outcome. Don’t let a “yes” or “no” make or break the Joy you get to share with your family. The Holidays are just dates on a calendar. Those dates mean nothing until we assign meaning to them. Holidays are what WE make of them. We have the power to make them joyous and memorable or miserable events we’d rather forget. Maybe this holiday, the best gifts we can give ourselves are more gratitude, more understanding, more patience, and more appreciation. And allowing ourselves these emotional blessings make it that much easier to share them with all the other people we come across this Holiday season too.
I hired a new coach, she’s fantastic. She broke my brain in our very first session. Cracked that bad boy wide open, and I’ve had breakthrough after breakthrough since. This week’s breakthrough was realizing just how much emotional baggage I’ve been carrying around in my relationship with my husband, Chris.
Being in a blended family is freaking hard! With so many moving pieces and involvement of several different personalities, it’s impossible not to have conflict. Oh man, Chris, and I have seen some conflict! And this week, I saw for the first time just how many of the big fights and hurt feelings I’ve been collecting and carrying with me.
Every argument we’ve had over his exes, my ex, the kids. Every time I felt he should have protected me and didn’t. I let it weigh on my heart, my mind, and my world. So whenever we’d get into a big fight, I’d drag out my bag of injustices and throw all that shit at him. It was some Santa level baggage, and I was hanging onto all that stuff for dear life. Even after he’d apologized and owned his part.
Somewhere in my brain, I think I imagined that holding onto all of it was my way of punishing him for hurting me. It felt justified. It felt purposeful. It felt important, and I had a shit-ton of evidence to support it all (which only made me argue for all the reasons I thought I deserved to hang onto it).
But this is what I finally realized. I was so focused on collecting and keeping track of every time I’ve been wronged, I had a hard time seeing all the stuff that was actually going right. Bringing up all that old shit not only discounted the progress we’d already made, it was preventing us from maintaining it, causing the yo-yo of being awesome one week and then fighting the next.
I thought hanging on to all that stuff was necessary. I thought it would prevent me from getting hurt again. But now I see carrying all that stuff around was only hurting me. I was the cause of my own suffering, and you know what suffering doesn’t lead to? Security, happiness, connection, appreciation, forgiveness, resilience, all things that I view as important in a marriage.
You guys, when I could finally see this, it was like the clouds parted, and a million pounds had been lifted from my chest. I felt lighter, freer, it was insanely liberating. How had I not seen it? Reliving it over and over again was not only optional but completely unnecessary. But now I DO SEE it. So I put that shit down and didn’t turn back. I’ve always considered our marriage to be really, really good and now I see what has been holding me back from helping make it great.
Why is this important? Because we don’t just do this with husbands, partners, and paramours. We do this with friends, family, co-workers, and when co-parenting. Disagreements will happen. Hurt feelings will arise. People will disappoint you and make you angry. We are humans. We are imperfect. We make mistakes. You can’t control the humans. This is a reminder that avoiding pain is not an option. But choosing suffering is.
- Belief is one of the most powerful skills we’re NOT taught to harness.
- So many of us actually have no idea how to feel, process, and cope with our emotions.
- All the bullshit your brain tells you really is optional.
- You can be right, or you can be happy.
- More does not always equal happy.
- Sometimes letting go get’s you where you want to be way faster than holding on.
- Owning your shit means no one else can use it against you.
- Fear is never a good reason not to do something.
- There is no shortcut around vulnerability.
- You can’t ask someone to do something you’re unwilling to do yourself.
- Where ever you go, there you are (props to Machelle Galloway for this fave).
- Love is always the best option.
- Sometimes love looks like, “no.”
- All of the reasons you’re not doing something are usually the exact reasons you need to do it.
- You’ll hear the message when your brain is ready to receive it.
- You can’t get out of your way until you admit you’re the obstacle.
- Sometimes feeling good is scarier than feeling bad.
- Failing isn’t the problem; it’s what you decide to do after that counts.
- Not all people are your people, and that’s okay.
- If you’re resisting the bad stuff, then you’re resisting the good stuff too.
“I don’t have time,” is probably one the most sneakily powerful thoughts we have that we believe. I have a full-time job. I’m building a business. I have clients to serve, content to create, and coaching appointments to keep. I also have kiddos that need help with homework, school projects, and being reminded to put away their clothes, brush their teeth, and dear god, please shower. Let’s also not forget my marriage to the awesome guy holding it down during all this chaos. I have lots of evidence to prove that, “I don’t have time,” but that doesn’t mean I believe it.
Time is the only thing we can’t create more of. We can make more money, buy more stuff, find more friends. We only get 24 hours in a day, and we never really know how many years we’ll be gifted.
This past weekend was the second anniversary of the passing of my husband’s father, and it has me thinking a lot about time. Primarily because we so frequently use it as the reason we do or don’t do anything. The truth is, you’re never going to have time, it will never be the “right time.” Extra time isn’t going to magically appear on your doorstep, announcing its arrival, so you feel comfortable making a decision. There isn’t a “more time” fairy godmother. You need only to decide it’s the right time, commit, and then take action to make it happen. That’s it. No, really, it’s that simple.
Does this sound like you? “Well, I just have so much going on right now, I’m not sure when I would fit it in?” Or how about, “the kids have soccer and gymnastics, Bill is working a lot of overtime lately too. I just don’t think we can do it right now.” The things that you are continually neglecting, your mental, emotional and physical health are all the things you should be making the MOST time for. You know why? Because when you fill your own cup, it has a compounding effect on all areas of your life.
When you say “no” to yourself, you’re not just saying no to completing that activity at that moment. You’re saying no to the person you want to be, the parent you want to be, the partner you want to be, or the partner you want to attract. You’re saying “no,” to the life you want to have.
Not making yourself a priority impacts everyone in your life. So if you’re not taking care of yourself and sacrificing your needs for the sake of your kids, husband, family, job, you’re actually doing them a disservice too. Because they don’t get all of you when you don’t have all of you to give. That’s on you. Hear me on this. THERE IS NO ONE MORE IMPORTANT THAN YOU. It is your job to have your back, fight for you, make you a priority, LOVE you enough to draw boundaries, and make the time. There will never be time until you make it. Stop waiting for the “right time” because it doesn’t exist. You make a decision, and you commit to it, that’s it.
I’m not talking about some massive mental and physical overhaul here. So many times, we think self-care has to be some ginormous undertaking like meditating an hour every day, never eating bread and pasta ever again, and drinking kale smoothies every day. NO! That’s not reality, and it won’t help you be successful in building new habits. What do you love to do? What fills your cup? What makes you feel alive? What brings you peace?
Some times that’s going shopping at Target with your Starbucks and strolling through the isles, ALONE. Some times that’s attending brunch or dinner with your girlfriends. It can be getting up a half-hour early so you can drink your coffee in peace on the porch. It’s taking the dogs for a walk or walking around the block on lunch. You could listen to a fave podcast in your car on the way to pick up the kids. Figure out what makes you feel good and then commit to doing it over and over again.
I get up before my kids so I can do my thought download and empty my brain before the day begins. I listen to podcasts while I make dinner, fold laundry, or drive to the store. I ask my husband to hang with the kids or wait until they are in bed so I can take a bath. Sometimes it’s locking myself in the bedroom and watching even one episode of my fave Netflix show, all alone without interruption.
I know, I know, I can hear you already. “I can’t do that, because I have to do A, B, C, and D.” Or, “My kids/husband would never let me do that.” I know you love your kids, your husband, the dogs, etc. But it’s not their fault you keep saying “yes” to them and “no” to you. That’s on you, friend. If you love them, then you’ll put yourself first. I know you want to argue with me on this. I know your brain is telling you that this sounds backward. I PROMISE you that it’s not. Just try it for a week. What is one thing you can do for FIVE minutes every day to fill your cup?? Decide what it is, commit to doing it every day, even when you don’t want to. You’ll be amazed at how just a sliver of the day dedicated to yourself can impact your day, week, and life.
Still feeling like you don’t know how to do this or you can’t? Not sure what to do next? Then you’re gonna sign up for that coaching consult! No wondering, no worrying, decide and commit!