My oldest daughter, Aleida, is in 4th grade this year, and she's been coming home with lots of talk about the "popular kids" and what they're up to. According to her, she is not one of the popular kids.
"Do you want to be popular?" I asked.
"No!" she answered, with great feeling.
Still, she's clearly torn. As a mother, my heart aches to think that she might feel left out or "less than" when at school, but I also know that navigating the cliques and social pressures are all part of growing up. I can't control the kids at school, but perhaps I can give my daughter some tools to help her through the process.
More than anything, I want my daughters to like themselves. Sure, self esteem will wax and wane, but if they can truly like themselves, they can avoid being derailed by the opinions of others.
This brings me to my quote of the day from Byron Katie:
Do you struggle with self doubt or low self esteem? Is your self-worth affected by what others think of you? If so, try some of these suggestions to cultivate self love and appreciation.
This post is neither easy nor fun to write. If you want one that was, check out my post on spirit animals.
No...today I am fresh off a parenting fail and I am struggling. Parenting fails always make me feel sheepish, but this one was in public, witnessed by people I know and admire, as well as by strangers who live in my community.
A couple months ago, I signed myself and my daughters up for a 5k. It's a fun, well-organized event that I like to support. Forget the fact that I didn't run a 5k until I was in my 20s...my kids are 7 and 9 and we're doing it. Yesterday was the day, so over breakfast, we had a pep talk. I was especially focused on my younger daughter, telling her how a positive attitude and a good solid effort were far more important than any time goal. We discussed some strategies for how to deal when the going got tough, and I really tried to solidify the "NO WHINING" rule.
The start line was abuzz with good energy and we lined up surrounded by friends. Kids were smiling and happy, and I was ready to have a good time. "We got this," I thought.
3 minutes folks. Just 3 minutes after the start, my best laid plan began to unwind. My youngest started whining and asking to stop and walk. This same child has endured 10 weeks of Prep Cycle and several all day karate tests without one whimper. This same child is the darling of all her teachers and a leader in her classroom. This same child can be the toughest, sweetest, most amazing child on the planet.
I did try. I told myself to be the adult. I told myself that I was in control of my emotions. I used some of my coaching language both on my daughter and myself. I tried to pep talk her. I tried to convince her to run with her friend. A few of our adult friends offered to run with her because they know that children often exhibit much better behavior for someone other than their parents. But she was dug in. She shunned people's offers, she continued to whine, and nothing I or anyone else said could snap her out of it.
Well...one thing snapped her out of it. I snapped into it. I lost control of my emotions. I resorted to ultimatums and guilt trips. I told her we were going back to the finish line. I pouted and cried. I threw a fit almost equal to hers.
I could list about 30 reasons why I lost it. Many of them would point to my daughter's behavior. Several would point to other circumstances weighing on my mind. And most people would read those reasons and validate them. But none of those reasons are good excuses. In a future post I will go into detail about why circumstances are not valid excuses for bad behavior, but right now I want to talk about another result of this whole situation...the feeling of regret.
Even as I was throwing an adult-sized fit in front of poor unsuspecting onlookers, I was regretting. I was regretting that the run wasn't going as I'd planned. I was regretting that I didn't have a better strategy for making it fun instead of a fight. And now that some time has passed, I regret that I didn't model better behavior for my daughter...and I regret my own regret.
Yes...I regret my regret. My daughter has a lovely ability to go from angry to fine. Once she gets it out, it's out. No grudges, no lingering smoke coming out of her ears, just mad to glad in about 2 seconds. She can hug you and apologize and carry on AS IF WE HADN'T JUST MADE A SCENE.
I can't. So even once she had started running again with a much better attitude, I couldn't let it go. I played some music to get us to the finish line (ironically, "Shake it off" by Taylor Swift), and as my daughter danced and ran, I could've joined her, had I not been plodding along, wallowing in my regret. So I regret my regret. What a vicious cycle, huh?
Here's the thing about regret: for the most part, it serves no purpose. It is an indulgent emotion because we give it more time than it deserves and it doesn't create good results. We indulge in it even though we know it's of no good use to us. And regret is of no use to us because it is based on a desire to change our past, which is something we simply cannot do, unless you are Marty McFly.
Yesterday made me think a lot about regret as I was feeling all the heavy layers of it. Oh how I wanted a Redo button on the run. I wanted to change the original plan of 5 minutes running and one minute walking. I wanted to change the way I responded to my daughter's first whine. I wanted to go back and pull out the energy chews I had for bribes but had forgotten to use. I wanted to go back and NOT sign up in the first place. Can you see how fruitless all that wanting is? I can't go back and change anything at all.
So how can we make regret more useful? I came up with a few ideas as I struggled through the process:
When my husband called to see how the run went, one of the first things I said was, "Well, I'll never do that again." I meant that I would never run with my daughter again. This was a direct response to the fresh upwelling of regret. However, with time comes perspective, and I'm already loosening my view on the idea. I know that I will run with my daughter again, but I'll "never do it" that way again. I will learn from my regret rather than just be a victim to it.
A friend of mine recently posted the following quote on her Facebook page. She found it in our local (and delicious) Himalayan restaurant, the Sherpa House.
I was struck by two things (after I tore my mind away from thoughts of the restaurant's delicious buffet): 1. What a beautiful sentiment and 2. The Dalai Lama could be a life coach.
I love this quote because it encapsulates so many concepts that I use in my life coaching practice. First of all, it starts with your THINKING. "Everyday, think as you wake up, 'today I am fortunate to have woken up.'" How simple. And even better, everyone can honestly think this. I often talk about how going from negative to positive can be challenging if you don't believe it. So going from "Ugh...another day of the grind" to "Hello world, I love my life!" might be asking too much. But simply thinking "I am fortunate to have woken up" is a phrase we should all be able to wrap our heads around, and it is a huge improvement from starting with thoughts about your stress at work or the pain in your back or the 10 loads of laundry you have to get done.
The Dalai Lama also understands that we choose what we think. He says, "I am going to have kind thoughts toward others...I am not going to think badly about others." This takes practice, my friends. Negative thoughts happen, but with awareness and practice, you can improve your attitude.
At my martial arts school, instructors often say, "Practice makes permanence. Perfect practice makes perfect." If we practice sloppy kicks, our kicks will remain sloppy. Likewise, our minds are wired for efficiency, so if you have a practice of negative thoughts or self pity, you have created a pathway for your brain and you will default there again and again. However, if you start to practice positivity, you will create new permanent pathways and your brain will begin to default to seeing people and events in a better light. It's called Neural Plasticity and it is a real thing! (Follow the link for the science and application.)
Another "coachism" in the Dalai Lama's statement is "I am going to use all my energies to develop myself, to expand my heart out to others, to achieve enlightenment for the benefit of all others." This is so powerful. We might not all be as altruistic as the Dalai Lama and that is okay! Let's just start with the first part "I am going to use all my energies to develop myself." Imagine if we did that! ALL our energies?!?! What if we didn't waste any of our energy on surfing the internet or fussing over what to wear or worrying about events out of our control? If all of our energies went into positive self development, what would that even look life? I challenge you to spend a few minutes day dreaming about that. What energy wasters would you cut out and with what would you replace them? Oh the possibilities! And if you take to heart the rest of it about benefiting others and all that jazz...that's all BONUS.
I encourage you to write down the Dalai Lama's quote or print it out or make it your computer wall paper or whatever. Maybe paste it to the ceiling right above your pillow or put it in a frame next to your alarm clock so you see it every time you wake up. First thing each morning, practice saying, "I am fortunate to have woken up and today I am going to use my energy to develop myself." Try it for a week. See what happens and report back.
If you want some support as you develop yourself, I'm here for you. Let's partner to start that perfect practice toward a better life. Contact me for a complimentary intro session or register for my in-person group starting on Oct 9.
One of the major skills life coaches teach is the ability to reframe. If you lose your job, can you reframe that loss into a chance to explore other exciting opportunities? If you wreck your car, instead of focusing on the damage, can you focus on the fact that you survived and see the world with newfound appreciation? Can you reframe your difficult childhood to see it as that which made you strong and resilient?
On this 17th anniversary of the September 11 attacks, I find myself thinking about how we can reframe tragedy, and it is much more difficult. Where is the silver lining in a terrorist attack that killed almost 3000 civilians?
As my kids (ages 7 and 9) got ready for school this morning, September 11th came up in conversation. I tried to explain what had happened, and even as I tried, I struggled to believe the truth of it. And yet it is one of so many tragic losses in our world; if I allow myself, I could be crushed by the weight of grief and suffering on this planet.
"If I allow myself..." Did you notice that? Our minds, if allowed, can take us into deep, dark places. We must be aware of these thoughts so that they don't take over and we can work to improve them.
We might not be able to reframe terrorism into something positive. And to be honest, the work required to do that would be exhausting and most likely deceptive. But we can focus on some of the positive aftermath.
When 9/11 happened, I was working as a coordinator for an international exchange program. It was my first real job out of college, and I was communicating with people around the world. I was on my way to the airport to pick up another coordinator who was flying in for some job training. I remember listening to the radio and hearing the reports of the airplanes hitting the Twin Towers. I remember the confusion, the denial, the total failure to comprehend the situation. I remember the fear and the disbelief and the terror as the events became real to me. With all flights grounded, my trip to the airport was cut short, and I returned to the program office.
Immediately, my inbox was full of e-mails from other countries. Nonstop phone calls flooded the office as our program partners and hosts called to check in and offer moral support. And in the US, we were no longer segregated by religion, political party, or race. We were AMERICANS, bonded by our tragedy. For several months, people were kinder, more generous, less divided.
As I type this memory, I notice my physical reactions. When rehashing the terrorism, I had a pit in my stomach, tears in my eyes, tightness around my heart. Once I started writing about the unity that came in the aftermath, I started to feel lighter. The tightness dissipated and I felt that sense of hope as I remembered the outpouring of humanity after the attacks.
I am not suggesting that we shoo away all negative emotion. Events like 9/11 cannot be swept under the rug. But as always, awareness is so important. First of all, we must be aware when we are fixating on a circumstance over which we have no control. Secondly, we must be aware that negative emotions are just feelings. If we can name these feelings and allow them without judgment, we can also realize that these feelings will pass and we can help facilitate that passing by redirecting or reframing our thoughts.
For today, on this anniversary that always weighs heavily on our nation, I encourage you to remember what it felt like to be bonded by our grief and lifted up by our shared humanity and national pride.
When I was in high school, I went on a Junior Raft Trip with my class. We spent a week rafting, camping, swimming, exploring, bonding, and sitting around the campfire. Yes, it was as awesome as it sounds. One afternoon after we set up camp, people started jumping off a cliff into a pool of water in the river. I don't remember how high it was, maybe 15 or 20 feet, but it looked scary to me. It was a big drop into shockingly cold water. I wanted to do it, but I didn't want to do it. I watched many of my classmates take the leap. And they were fine...better than fine, not only unharmed but energized and pumped full of adrenaline. They shared high fives and whoops of excitement. Still, my fear won out. I didn't jump. And I spent the evening wrapped in regret.
Fortunately, I had the chance again. Another cliff, another pool of water, more daring classmates, more fear. But this time, I didn't let it stop me. I climbed to the top, heart racing. I almost went back down. I stared at the water below and hoped I wouldn't faint. The cheers of my peers faded into the background, drowned out by the throbbing pulse in my ears.
I jumped. Time stood still as my arms waved, giving in to the unrealistic impulse to fly. I hit the water and it was indeed shockingly cold. After pulling myself to the surface, I emerged laughing and sputtering, shaking with excitement and cold and pride. I had no regrets around the campfire that night.
As I write this, I feel a similar mix of fear and excitement. Over a month ago, I booked a room at the local library to hold a free workshop to spread the word about life coaching and to give a live coaching demonstration. I want to do it, but I'm nervous. What if nobody shows up? What if everybody shows up? What if my presentation is met with blank stares?
The inner voice of fear will not win out, but it is hard to ignore. This voice is the cause of inaction and complacency. When do you hear it, and how do you react?
I honestly believe that cliff jump so many years ago was a turning point for me. The contrast between how I felt after inaction and how I felt after literally "taking the leap" has replayed itself many times in my life. The memory of that difference has pushed me out of my comfort zone again and again. And it encourages me to push my boundaries of comfort now.
Regardless of what happens tonight at my workshop, I am better off for taking action. I feel productive and proud. I'm proud that I booked the room and took the time to create a presentation. I'm proud that I posted it on social media and event calendars around my town. I am grateful for the friends and family members who have given me support and encouragement. I am validated by how much I care about this work I am doing. Whether I have one attendee or dozens, I have proven something to myself and I can go to sleep tonight without any regrets, but with many lessons learned.
Where are you stuck? In what areas has inaction become your default? When do you hear the inner voice of doubt and fear and how do you react to it? Contact me to work through these doubts and move toward action. Action is ALWAYS better than inaction when attempting to make positive changes in your life. And if you are local, come to my workshop at the Golden Library from 6:30-7:30pm. I hope to see you there!
July 2016: I had the chance to cliff jump again during a family vacation in B.C. Canada. No regrets!
I just returned from a weekend traveling solo to take part in a friend's wedding. The ceremony took place near Zion National Park in Utah. The love between the couple was true and free-flowing, the other bridesmaids were fun and fantastic, and the surroundings were awe-inspiring.
My friend (the bride) has always been drawn to Native American cultures. Their connection to the Earth and their holistic spirituality resonates with her, so she had a Native American officiant, and as part of the Bachelorette party day, some of the bridesmaids took part in an earthing ceremony in which we created a despacho (a prayer bundle) for the new couple to burn after the wedding. The shaman also led us through some other activities including smudging (to clear negative energy), picking spirit animal cards, and drumming. While I am not a religious person, I am fascinated by spirituality, and loved learning more about Native American beliefs, many of which make a lot of sense to me.
Because of our focus on these beliefs and the grandeur of the setting, we started to notice wildlife and comment on it. We were visited by several real "spirit animals" during our time together, and we had fun looking up the meaning. On our way to the earthing session, the bride, myself, and the two other participating bridesmaids saw a road runner. One website says this about the roadrunner: "Everyone protected by this totem is bound to be a good communicator and a social person. These people simply love spending time with other people and exchanging ideas." When we saw the road runner, this is exactly what we were doing.
Later, after the earthing session and a fantastic massage, I was laying in a hammock (such a luxury). When I went to pick up my purse, I had the most adorable baby lizard just hanging out on my stuff. He even allowed me to snap a picture. And when looking up the meaning of the lizard, I found this quote: "Don't be in such a hurry to get somewhere! Slow down, and look for the clues that are right in front of you." --Lizard
Pretty fitting since I was enjoying a nice relaxing bridesmaid day.
On the day of the wedding, 4 quails were in the yard just across the street as the bride was making her way to the car that would take her to the ceremony. We all pointed and laughed and said, "Our spirit animals for the day!" We also agreed that we needed to look it up. I didn't get a chance to do so until just now, and this is the quote of the quail: "Today is a day for family intimacy. You will find contented satisfaction in this."
No commentary needed, right?
As I flew home last night, I had some time to reflect on the weekend. I love nature and animals, so I'm pretty attuned to wildlife. However, being with the bridal party and putting the "spirit animal" twist on it took my observations to a new level. It was a fun way to look at the world, and I felt connected to my surroundings in a deeper way.
Life coaching does this. Life coaching facilitates a shift in focus which creates a shift in your mindset. As I noticed my "spirit animals," I felt that the world was working with me, even for me. Those animals would've been there regardless of how I chose to think about them, but raising my awareness helped me see them in a meaningful and uplifting way. I chose to feel a certain way about those animals, and I'm better off because of it. In addition, the whole bridal party bonded over our shared experience, and positive human connection is always a powerful thing. Likewise, when you experience a change in mindset through coaching, you can begin to see the world as working in your favor versus against you. When you learn to see events in a positive light, your inner voice becomes more enthusiastic and kind, which leads to improved relationships and deeper connection to others. I have seen this in the lives of others and felt it in my own experience. Contact me to get started on making these positive changes in your life.
On my last day in Utah, I was able to spend some time in Zion. I hiked Canyon Overlook (and took the picture that's at the beginning of the post), and I rode the shuttle to the last stop and hiked the first mile of The Narrows, a world-famous trail that requires you to wade through the Virgin River as you make your way through the narrowest part of the gorge. It is AWESOME. I hope to go back with my family in a few years to do the whole 16-mile stretch.
As I was on my way out of the river, I noticed a Painted Lady butterfly in the distance. I stopped and got out my phone with the hope of catching the lovely creature in a frame. I got set and watched as she got closer and closer eventually flying into the frame and landing on my phone! I said "well hello there" and watched as she gently crawled across my finger before flying away. It was a lovely ending to the weekend, one final and powerful spirit animal encounter, one that symbolizes "time for personal growth and greater awareness of your mental, physical, and spiritual rhythms," quite apt for me as I grow my life coaching business.
Watch for "spirit animals" in your life and share your stories with me!
My interest in self talk really ramped up when I saw the following picture a couple years ago:
That's a huge responsibility. And while I believe that many factors go into our self talk, this has made me pause many times and hear my words as the voice in my child's head. I have made a greater attempt to only plant positive seeds there.
As a coach, I've become even more interested (*obsessed*) with self talk. My inner voice rarely takes a break. Does yours? Are you even aware of what your brain is telling itself when you aren't actively controlling it? The brain is a powerful tool or weapon, depending on how you use it. Does your inner voice set you up for success or tear you down and weave self-doubt?
If you've never taken time to build awareness around your self talk, I recommend this exercise. Pick a chore that you do on a regular basis but that you don't really enjoy. Choose something that doesn't take a lot of concentration or skill. As you complete the chore, pay close attention to your self talk. For me, it's laundry. I think I could enjoy laundry if I only had to do a load a month, but with an active family of four, it piles up much more frequently than that. So I get annoyed with it. One day, I noticed how negative my inner voice was being. It was grumbling non-stop. It even went as far as suggesting that my family didn't respect my time or requests since there were STILL so many inside-out articles of clothing. By the time the load was folded, I was completely irritable. Where does your mind spiral when you are doing something unpleasant?
Once you've gained some awareness of your habit of thought, try changing it. Now, this isn't as simple as it sounds, so here are some pointers:
Once you've had some success redirecting your thoughts while doing a chore, you can start to build awareness and positive change around more complex brain patterns. For example, when you go swimsuit shopping, what is your voice telling you then? When you work out, are you encouraging yourself to keep going or trying to come up with an excuse to stop? When dealing with a challenging coworker, are you constantly reminding yourself what a jerk that guy is, or are you trying to see from his point of view?
The truth is, every thought is a choice. It might not feel that way. Some thoughts might be so ingrained or so habitual that you either don't notice them or think they are just a permanent part of your inner psyche. If your go-to thought has always been "this sucks" or "I can't do it," it might take a while to change. The first step is always awareness. I encourage you to take the next week to notice what your inner voice is saying, especially during boring, challenging or frustrating situations. Write down the thoughts you hear the most, and then try to find a replacement. Again, pick a thought you can wrap your mind around. Let's say you want to enjoy running more, but every time it starts to hurt you think, "This hurts. Running sucks. I'm out of shape. I should stop." You can't believably jump from that to "I love running! I feel amazing." However, you can move to a neutral thought such as, "I am running. I am out here doing it. I'm healthy and able enough to go for a run. I'll keep going." Or perhaps you can be positive about your surroundings, "Look at that beautiful tree. I'm running by my best friend's house...she's awesome. I'm glad I have a dog that will run with me. The air feels good. I like my neighborhood." The point is: CHOOSE a thought that is more uplifting than your default. Move...even if incrementally...from negative to positive.
Check out this fascinating talk about the power of a simple phrase: "I am enough." And then, if you're ready to give it a try but not sure where to start, I enlisted the help of my children to give you some ideas for simple phrases you can use to improve your inner voice. It really works!
My whole family does martial arts, from my angelic-looking 7-year-old Cici to my handsome 6'5" hubby. We're a bit of a scene (see below)...but I LOVE IT! It's been good for each of us for different reasons, and it's been great for our family to have a goal-oriented activity that we do together.
This past weekend, we started "Prep Cycle." Prep Cycle is a 3-month period of extra training in preparation for earning our conditional black belts. We train 4 extra hours a week: Friday nights from 6-8pm and Saturday mornings from 7-9am. I am no stranger to long hours of physical effort, but even still, it's hard. For many of these kids, it's their first experience with struggling through the pain of a challenging workout. My oldest daughter, Aleida, is 6 months ahead of the rest of us in training, so she is already a conditional black belt. Prep cycle helped her overcome some of the anxiety she struggles with when faced with new and difficult events. It toughened her up, and she's extremely proud of spear-heading our family's martial arts efforts.
On Saturday, after prep cycle, I was texting back and forth with some friends (a married couple) I've known since high school. It is a happy coincidence that their son is going through prep cycle with my family. The first weekend is always the hardest (the instructors like to set the standard high), so I wanted to see how he'd fared after his first weekend of training. His father responded via text: "He said Cici was super encouraging to him when he could not breathe [during the mile run]."
After I got the text, I asked my daughter what she said to him. Her answer: "Well...I told him that my mom is a life coach, and she always tells me that if you believe in yourself, then you CAN do it."
I'll admit, I cried a little. First of all, my sassy, willful daughter DOES LISTEN! While I often feel like my attempts to coach my kids are completely futile, this was evidence that some of it is sinking in. Not only that, she passed it on to someone else.
Secondly, without realizing it, Cici hit upon one of the foundations of the life coaching philosophy. As a coach, I believe that you are the expert on your life and that you have all the tools and resources that you need to succeed at your goals. Coaching is about improving your mindset so that you can believe in yourself, and therefore remove any obstacles to doing it...whatever "it" may be.
Cici's statement was simple, but it made an impact. My friends' son felt encouraged and he completed the run. Likewise, coaching is simple. At its basic form, coaching is a conversation. But that conversation makes an impact. Another belief among coaches is that the real coaching happens between the sessions. How do you implement what was discussed in a session? You will be amazed at how a minor shift in mindset or focus can yield major changes, especially with the support and accountability that comes with a coaching partnership.
Coaching is not therapy. Coaching does not dwell in the past. Coaching is about forward movement, about tapping into the best version of yourself so that you can lead a productive, meaningful, and satisfied life.
I'm looking for a few good clients, so contact me to set up an introductory session. "If you believe in yourself, you CAN DO IT!"
I ride horses. I love them. In addition to being beautiful and sensitive creatures, horses teach me so much about life. A couple weeks ago, my riding instructor was talking to my friend about her daughters' pony, who can be a bit naughty...but can also be very nice. She said, "It would be nice if horses were always the same, but they just aren't. And we have to work with that."
In an earlier post, I talked about the danger of waiting for somebody to behave a certain way to make you happy. Horses, like people, have good days and bad days. However, when horses have a "bad day," most good horse people will question what they are doing wrong or how they could improve their riding to elicit a better response from their equine partners.
We don't do this with other people very often. We go straight to blame or frustration because the other person didn't meet expectations or behave a certain way. "It's his fault that I'm upset," or "Why can't she just be more kind, responsible, organized, punctual, thoughtful, etc?"
This leads me to boundaries. Many people falsely think that effective boundaries put limits on somebody else's behavior. "You can't call after 9 pm," or "You have to treat me with more respect."
But setting a boundary with the other person as the focus is once again giving up control to somebody else. And you can't, can't, can't change somebody else's behavior.
You can set boundaries, but you have to make it about YOU and your limits, not anyone else's. This is very true in parenting. You can tell your kids to stop fighting over a toy. They might stop, or they might keep fighting. However, if you say, "If you continue to fight over the toy, I will take the toy away and give it to charity," that sends a different message. The boundary isn't defined by what they do, but how you will react to their behavior.
Let's look at the examples above. Telling somebody not to call after 9pm does not guarantee that they won't call. However, setting a boundary for yourself gives you control if you keep it about your reaction. "If you call after 9pm, my phone will be off and I will not answer it." That's a pretty simple example, so let's move on to the next one.
"You have to treat me with more respect." Do you feel this way about somebody? Have you even said it to someone? And what was the result? This is a challenging one because we have so much emotion wrapped up in the idea of respect. You can create a boundary here, but you have to clear a few things up. First of all, you have to define the behavior that you find disrespectful. Do you want this person to stop calling you names? To respect your time and communicate when plans change? To let you follow your dreams? To be faithful to you? And what boundary are you willing to set and follow through with if the disrespect continues? A boundary only works if you are committed to following through on it. For example, if I set the toy boundary with my kids, but they continue to fight, and I just roll my eyes and walk out of the room, that boundary is broken and my kids will not respect it. If I take the toy away and give it to charity, my kids will understand the boundary. They can choose to continue fighting over toys, but they know what they are risking with that choice. So when you set a boundary, you have to be willing to enforce it. What boundary are you willing to set in the face of disrespect? Are you willing to have a serious conversation? Are you willing to follow through on a consequence? Are you willing to stop seeing somebody? Go to counseling? Get a divorce? These are not easy questions, but they are important when you are dealing with a boundary issue.
With the pony at the beginning of the post, the boundary was set that the pony must behave and be safe around the little girls. When the pony fails to do this, she gets bigger, stronger riders to remind her of the expectation, thus resetting the boundary. Eventually, the little girls will learn how to set clearer boundaries for the pony so that she knows what to expect when she doesn't behave. Until then, she will continue to get those training sessions by riders who make her work harder than the little girls do.
It comes down to this: You cannot control the behavior of others. Likewise, a rider cannot control a horse that outweighs her several times over. However, like a rider can set a boundary for the horse, you CAN set clear boundaries to let people know how you will react if they do something you don't like. And in my experience, people who set clear boundaries are more confident, induce more respect, and have better relationships.
If you struggle to set boundaries or still don't know how to go about doing so, contact me to set up a session to talk about how life coaching can help.
My youngest daughter, Cici, is very good at saying, "I'm sorry." If she behaves badly, she will...eventually...admit it and apologize and give hugs. She gets this from me. If I lose my temper and overreact to something (I slam doors and yell sometimes...not proud of it, but it's true), I can suck it up and apologize to whoever witnessed the bad behavior. I take responsibility for my actions...after the fact. And while the ability to sincerely apologize is an important one, I think it's also overrated. Words are easy. Changing behavior is hard.
The other day, Cici did something that upset me. It was the end of a long day and it was a "straw that broke the camel's back" situation. I can't even remember what behavior made me react, but I did.
"I'm sorry, Mommy," Cici said.
"I accept your apology, Cici, but here's the thing. You keep behaving the same way and then apologizing for it. I'm glad you're able to apologize, but saying you're sorry is easy. Changing your behavior is the hard part. But that's what I need you to work on."
Sometimes, I am so profound. As these words came out of my mouth, I had a moment of clarity. I had just spoken a truth that I needed to hear as much as my daughter did.
When I am calm, I can objectively look at my behavior and see where I went wrong and even come up with alternative ways to react. Cici is the same way. She can be calm and rational and we can come up with strategies for dealing with her very big emotions. "I can take three deep breaths," she'll say. And then when she's getting riled up and I tell her to take three deep breaths, she'll tell me to leave her alone or she'll stomp up the stairs instead. And I can totally relate to that. When I'm calm and rational, I don't want to let anger or frustration take control. I don't want to yell or cry in front of other people. But once I've crossed a certain line, I am convinced that I DO want to be mad. I get attached to my emotions and fall into a pattern of bad behaviors that go along with them.
Can you relate to this? Perhaps anger isn't your issue...perhaps it's sadness or low self-esteem or self-pity. And maybe your behavior isn't overt like mine and my daughter's...perhaps yours is a negative internal voice or an inability to motivate. Maybe you close off to those around you. Whatever the emotion and resulting behavior, what can we do to stop the cycle?
Here's a process I've been working on to break my own pattern of behavior:
If you'd like to be more accountable for making positive changes, contact me to set up a complimentary intro session. Or, if you're local, come to my informational session on Sept 5 at 6:30 at the Golden Library to learn more about life coaching and what it can do for you.