How often do you think of what others might think before making a decision? How often do you choose to do something because of how it will make you appear or what others will think if you do it?
For the majority of my life this was me. I made decisions based on what I thought other people wanted or what others said I ‘should’ do. In school, I took the classes and participated in the clubs that I was told I “should” to get into a good university. When I got into that good school, I continued to look externally for what to do. My thought was that I would go to a good college, get a good job, get married, have kids then BOOM – happy me! That might’ve worked if I was making those choices based on my inner desires and strengths versus looking to others for approval. I was not. I grew up with the message that Susie was not enough. I was taught that paying attention to my inner voice, paying attention to my wants and desires would lead me to do things wrong. I learned to believe that my internal guidance system was broken and I needed to listen to the adults, in my case, the male adults, and learn what was right and wrong. I also learned that if I did that, I’d receive love. If I didn’t, I would be punished. Either physically or emotionally by withholding love and attention.
In past episodes I have spoken of my upbringing, my experience with my biological parents and my boundary setting. While hugely important, that is not the topic of today’s post. Today we look at the story we tell ourselves of our past, how some of the structures and paradigms of how we were raised affect us, and how we can heal some of those wounds and change the programming so that, moving forward, we break these generational patterns. Specifically today I am turning the lens of awareness on how those things affect our parenting yet, if you’re not a parent, this message is still for you. I have many clients who aren’t parents yet still care for the others in their lives in ways that are not as helpful as they can be. Whether it’s their spouse, their friends, or their own parents, learning more about why we do what we do will always benefit us and our community at large. Thank you for listening and for being open to doing this important work.
As I said, I will not get into the specifics of my childhood here today yet it is important to look at how I view my childhood and the thoughts I think of my past in my current present. One powerful thought I routinely think and thus believe is that my parents did the best they could with the knowledge and tools they had. I repeat: they did the best they could with the knowledge and tools they had. And that, dear warriors is my main message here today: You can only do as well as the knowledge and the tools that you have Click To Tweet. When we know better, we do better.
And so….let’s learn and grow! We are the adults. We brought our child into this world and it is our responsibility to learn the tools and knowledge so as to best parent these innocent beings. Too often as parents, we try to push our kids to live a childhood we wish we had had: us but better – version 2.0! Hey, I never made the soccer team in college so I had better start Julie in soccer at age 5 even though she cries before practice and says she just wants to draw. We are not here to mold our children into some mini-me version of ourselves nor are we here to re-do our own past. In fact, it is my belief that we are not here to mold our children into anything. They are their own beings and they are here to have their own unique experience on earth. We are here for one reason. To love them. All of them. Love their loudness. Love their uniqueness. Love their laziness. Love their energy. Love their lack of focus. Love their focus. Love love love on them. All of them. Love their idiosyncrities. Love how they’re not like you. Love how they are like you. Love their experience as they learn to manage their emotions. Loving them doesn’t mean we let them walk all over us. Love involves setting limits. Love involves caring consequences. Love very much means we manage our minds so we don’t leak our own shit on them. Love means we dig into exploring and understanding our past to learn why some of their behaviors trigger us. Love means we learn to manage our emotions. Love means when we get triggered or annoyed by our child, we are adult enough to step back and realize it’s our issue.
How do we do this loving? Like most things in life, it’s simple but not easy. If you were parented in a way that led you to believe that you were enough, perfect with all of your imperfections, you are most likely parenting in a mostly healthy manner. Yes, there’s always room for growth and learning so make sure you keep reading and learning. Check out some of my favorite books and resources here. If you were parented like most of us, with the belief that you aren’t enough, it is time. As Wayne Dyer says, choose to not inherit disfunction. Choose to parent differently today. It doesn’t matter if you spent yesterday yelling, bartering, or belittling. You did the best you could with the tools you had. Today’s a new day. When we know better we do better. Two simple but not easy ways to start.
1) Dig into yourself. Open your mind to investigate the messages you received as a kid, from your parents or primary caregivers. This is not about blaming them. Remember, they did the best they could with the tools they had. This is about looking back to learn. Get out a piece of paper and start writing the answers to these questions: What was modeled for you? In which ways do you want to be like your parents? In which ways do you want to parent differently? What did you want from a parent that you never got? Which parent’s love did you crave most? What did you need to be for that parent? For more journal questions, click here.
2) Commit to Unconditional Love of your child. I know, I know…I hear you now: “Come on Susie, what kind of parent do you think I am?” Hey, I know you love your child but love is a feeling that is generated by our thoughts. What are you thinking about your child that verb and you can love in different ways. I encourage you to love all of your child. No matter. Love it when they don’t want to do what you want them to do. Love it when they do. Love the way they annoy you as that shows you what you can work on. Love the way they remind you of pieces of yourself you don’t like. Love the way they remind you of pieces of yourself that you do like. Loving them no matter. True, pure love is the best gift you can give them. You have to dig deep into understanding yourself and your triggers in order to love in this pure way and so, because this type of love requires deep self awareness, this is a work in progress. I am triggered every day. The difference is that I have learned not to react every day. When I take care of myself and my needs, I can pause and think of why I’m triggered before responding. The more we understand our past the better able we are to parent without it impacting our present.
Remind yourself: it’s not about them, it’s about you. If it’s bugging you, it’s about you.
Returning to the beginning questions: How often do you think of what others might think before making a decision? How often do you choose to do something because of how it will make you appear or what others will think if you do it?
Take the first step today. Learn why you’re doing this. You’re an adult and it’s time to take responsibility for your happiness. If you’re still choosing to do things because of what others will think of you, the good news is that there’s room for growth there. Even better news? That ‘growth’ brings a feeling of freedom and empowerment. If you’re in this place of pleasing others before yourself, or caring what others think over what your child needs, please contact me for judgement-free help. I got into this business because I did this for years. I acted how others wanted me to act and put others’ opinions ahead of my best interests and ahead of my kids best interests. That landed me in the hospital. Literally. I’d like to help you all skip the hospital step to get to the freedom and empowerment of your own mid-life awakening. When we allow ourselves to be our true selves we show our kids that they can be their true selves. If our kids see us morphing and changing to please others, they learn that’s the way to act and get by in this world. They also learn that their true self is not enough. Let’s stop this trend. We are in charge of whether our kids inherit dysfunction and whether our kids learn that what others think of us is more important than what we think of us. Today is a new day. Where are you hiding? What are you doing that you don’t want to be doing? Where are you apologizing for who you are? Where are you hiding your true desires? Let’s go warriors! This is about you showing up as your best self so as to light the way for others. #togetherwerise.
If you’re interested in my 4-part parenting course, click this link and I’ll send you more information.