Transforming My Life

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When Our Kids Mess Up

stressed-out-womenMost of us work very hard to not make mistakes.

I hate making mistakes.   Almost every humiliating mistake I have made is chiseled in my memory – the Sunday in 8th grade when I tripped and fell down the stairs  as an acolyte and the congregation gasped like they were watching fireworks on the 4th of July (I still remember how I ripped my panty hose, broke a toe nail and almost lit my dress on fire); or the time I was beside myself leaving a note on the windshield of a car that I had just side swiped in a parking lot.  Sadly, the list doesn’t stop there.  I could go on and on, but I can’t stand thinking about it.   The panicky feelings, the blood rushing to my face, the mental-flagellation of what an idiot I am,  “Who does this?  What a clod!  You always do this kind of stupid stuff.” ( you know you’re in shame territory when you use the word always).

Obviously, some mistakes are more costly than others.  This is what we are terrified of when it comes to our children making mistakes.  And let’s face it, some of us have kids that push the envelope and have to learn the hard way.  This can leave us constantly on edge, anxious every time the phone rings, or waiting for the next shoe to drop.  Mistakes can be small, like falling down the church stairs and suffering some embarrassment, or they can be much more devastating.

I think most of us would agree that we want our children to grow up, move out, and be happy, healthy and thriving adults.

In order for this to happen we must learn to let go and give our children the space and grace to make mistakes.  Making mistakes are a part of the process of becoming a mature adult.  We all recognize even grown ups make mistakes.

Here are a few principles to reflect on when it comes to allowing our children to make mistakes:

1.  It is not a reflection on you.  

Mistakes are loaded with self-condemnation and judgements.  So many moms I work with (myself included) fight so much shame when it comes to their children’s mistakes. Could it be we fear their mistakes are a reflection on us?  My answer -“You betcha”.   Oftentimes, rather than admit our child’s shortcomings, we defend them or prefer to be in denial.  On a deeper level, we blame ourselves.

2.  Don’t allow your emotions to short change your chid’s learning process by protecting them from making mistakes.

To sooth our own anxiety, often we over-function for our kids. 

At the core, I believe we confuse fear with love.  We fear our child’s ability to handle situations in life, such things as homework, stressful situations, or being responsible with a multitude of things.  When we find ourselves in this uncomfortable, anxious place, we tend to want to alleviate our own stress and take matters into our own hands. It might feel like we are loving them in that moment, but the truth is we are enabling them.  We are keeping them young, and weak.

Just like a butterfly needs to fight its way out of a cocoon to survive, the same goes for our kids.  If you cut the cocoon open, the butterfly will not fly,  

Its wings never developing the strength it takes to soar.

Love allows our children to struggle and learn from the natural consequences of their choices. Natural consequences have a way of being better teachers than we ever could. As parents this can feel  scary, out of control, and be painful to watch.  We must “bite the bullet” and resist rescuing no matter how brutal this feels. If we rescue them today, it is only a matter of time we will have to do it again.

3.  Believe that your child is capable of figuring out their own problems.

We need to orient to the principle of responsibility when we feel unsure and tempted to give in and rescue our child. The principle of responsibility is allowing our child to become a mature, responsible adult, capable of figuring out what they need to do in any given situation. Rather than jumping in and solving their problems, we can coach and guide them. We need to listen and ask questions that reflect our belief in their ability to solve the issues they face.  When we hold our children with positive regard, the likelihood that they will rise to the occasion increases ten-fold.

4.  Treat yourself with grace and compassion when you make mistakes. 

When we learn to love and accept ourselves, mistakes and all, we become a safe oasis for our children to come home to. Permission is granted to be human, authentic and honest. Each of us is valuable and worthy of being loved, regardless of the mistakes we have made.  When we let go of the image we envisioned of how our child’s life “should” look, we reflect the kind of love that we all yearn for – a love that is unconditional, full of mercy and grace.  When our children experience a love like this, they feel free to be who they are, rather than who they think they need to be in order to feel loved and accepted.  I don’t really believe this has much to do with our children.  I believe it has to do with us.  The greater our capacity to love and accept ourselves with all our quirks, flaws and failures, the greater our capacity to give the same gift to our children.

So when our children “mess up”,  let us view this as an opportunity, not only for their own growth and development, but for ours as well.  We will all be the better for it.

Grace and peace,

Sheryl


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The Greatest Gift We Can Give

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I just left a friend after pouring my heart out about doubts and insecurities with my own value and self-worth.   I am so grateful for her willingness to simply listen without criticism and judgment.  I didn’t need her to “fix it” or tell me how valuable I was.  I just needed a safe friend to hold space for me in a time of discouragement.  I needed to feel heard and understood.

 I believe this is the most loving gift I can give to others and to myself.   A listening ear and the freedom to express feelings is a priceless offering I want to give to my children, my husband, and to others.  This can be uncomfortable and unfamiliar when I find myself unwilling to accept my own feelings.  I often judge and condemn my feelings or pretend they are not there.  I need to remind myself that there is no right or wrong with feelings.  They are what they are. The gift I can give to myself is the courage to risk opening up and sharing those parts of myself that I want to hide when they are screaming to be heard.  I need grace and compassion from others when I am unable to give it to myself.  I don’t need to be criticized or shamed.  I can do a good enough job with that on my own.  I often just need to get clear around what I am feeling.  At times like these, my thoughts get all jumbled up and I feel like I make no sense.  In these moments I tend to catastrophize.  Sometimes I need to yell and cry.

I love how Brene Brown says it in her book, Daring Greatly, “Empathy is a strange and powerful thing.  There is no script.  There is no right way or wrong way to do it.  It’s simply listening, holding space, with-holding judgment, emotionally connecting, and communicating that incredibly healing message of  ‘You’re not alone’.”

Empathy and understanding is what my family needs most from me.  They need to know I am a safe refuge for them to share themselves vulnerably.  Unfortunately, I have not always done a good job at this.  The more I am willing to be vulnerable with my deep flaws and accept and love myself, the easier it is to accept and love others.    The path of vulnerability is the place where I am learning to heal and find wholeness. When I love and speak truth to these parts of myself  I silence the Critic that lives inside of me.  If I can be a voice of love, acceptance and encouragement to my children when they are feeling ugly, messy and discouraged it will change the course of their lives.

Today when I left my friend, I had a huge weight lifted that was holding me down.  Life no longer feels all doom and gloom.  I am connected to myself again.  My thoughts are no longer all jumbled and I make sense.  Each day I am committed to loving and accepting myself for who I am because that is valuable and I am worth it.  You are too.

Love and Grace,

Sheryl


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If we were to change the world….

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If we will awaken to the possibilities of new life, we will open our hearts to a greater understanding of who we are.

If we will open our hearts to a greater understanding of who we are, we will experience the false self we are up against.

If we are willing to experience the false self we are up against, we will choose to take the journey towards humility or not.

If we choose to take the journey towards humility, we will hunger for grace and truth.

If we hunger for grace and truth, we will learn to love ourselves.

If we will learn to love ourselves, we will be willing to surrender to all that holds us captive.

If we are willing to surrender to all that holds us captive, we will be willing to release our fears of abandonment and trauma.

If we are willing to release our fears of abandonment and trauma, we will experience a peace that surpasses all understanding.

If we experience a peace that surpasses all understanding, we will  be touched by God.

If we are touched by God, we will realize we are not alone.

If we will realize we are not alone, we will learn to love.

If we will learn to love, we will desire God’s will.

If we desire God’s will, we will be transformed.

If we are transformed, we will change the world.

If we change the world, the world will return to God.

May we all have the courage.

Grace and Peace.

Sheryl

Concept of this poem taken from the book, The Wisdom of the Enneagram, written by Don Richard Riso and Russ Hudson.  I changed the words to fit for me based on the poem, The Stages of the Work.


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Loving Ourselves Unconditionally

I woke up this morning with those familiar critical voices playing in my head. I was on a retreat this weekend where we talked about learning to better love and accept ourselves.  One of the things I learned is I am always a choice away from becoming more of  the magnificent self that I was created to be.  I can choose to love myself.  I realized that criticizing myself  and comparing myself to others is more familiar.  It also keeps me small and holds me back.   I love this quote from Marianne Williamson because it challenges me.  Maybe it is not that I love beating myself up, maybe it is that I fear living a bigger and more abundant life…..

“Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous? Actually, who are you not to be? You are a child of God. Your playing small does not serve the world. There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won’t feel insecure around you. We are all meant to shine, as children do. We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us. It’s not just in some of us; it’s in everyone. And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.” Marianne Williamson

What would my life look like if I believed I was loved and lovable and began to daily practice living it?

Love yourself into health and a good life of your own.  Love yourself into relationships that work for you and the other person.  Love yourself into peace, happiness, joy, success, and contentment.  Love yourself into all that you always wanted.  If we have learned to see ourselves critically, conditionally, and in a diminishing and punishing way, it’s time to stop.”

“How do we love ourselves?  By forcing it at first.  By faking it if necessary.  By “acting as if”.  By working as hard at loving and liking ourselves as we have at not liking ourselves.” Melody Beattie

Do things for yourself that are nurturing and compassionate towards yourself.  Love and accept all of yourself – past, present, future.

When you find yourself beating yourself up, show yourself kindness, gentleness and grace.  Be a friend to yourself.

Tell yourself good things about yourself – affirm yourself.  Forgive yourself quickly and often.  Encourage yourself.

Don’t treat yourself like a pack mule, always pushing and driving harder.  

Do not unnecessarily deprive yourself.  Sometimes, give yourself what you want, just because you want it.

Stop explaining and justifying yourself.  When you make mistakes, let them go.  We learn and grow, and we learn some more.  And through it all, love yourself. (Thoughts and ideas taken from Melody Beattie).

Choosing to love myself one day at a time,

Grace and peace, 

Sheryl