Your body is always sending you information about how you can take care of yourself. The trouble is, we often don’t learn how to interpret this information. This is akin to getting a letter written in a language you don’t speak.
For instance, when your teenage son fails to put his dirty dishes in the dishwasher–again–you might feel irritated. When he later leaves peanut butter spread on the counter–again–you might feel frustrated. And when he doesn’t put away the gallon of milk later on, you might feel downright resentful.
All of these little irritations have built up until your body feels wound up and ready to explode.
But if you knew how to read the feelings of irritation when they first showed up in your body, you would know that these are all your body’s way of telling you to enforce a boundary. It’s your body’s way of saying, “Your son is violating your boundaries and de-prioritizing your need for a clean...
The truth is that we all have to earn our own self-worth. We can't just force ourselves to love ourselves just because our parents told us we are perfect. Instead, we have to go out into the world and behave in such a way that we live up to our own standards and earn our self-respect.
Self-esteem and confidence are not things that can be handed out at awards banquets. They are not shifts we can make to our mindset without something to back them up. Self-confidence and self-worth must be earned.
How do we earn them? We stop living by other people’s standards and instead define our own set of standards for what makes someone worthy and lovable. And then we start living up to those standards by acting accordingly. We spend time using our strengths, and we live in alignment with our values.
When we spend time using our strengths, we naturally feel good about ourselves, and we feel empowered. Using our strengths feels good and ignites our sense of self-confidence. And when we live...
Daydreaming offers a chance to believe that your desires are possible.
When we first have desires, they can feel out of reach—too big to even hope for. Daydreaming allows you to expand what is possible and explore those kernels of passion you have stowed away in the deep recesses of your heart.
Every great athlete imagined standing on the podium receiving a gold medal. Every great musician imagined playing in sold-out concert halls or sports arenas. Every great actor imagined giving an acceptance speech at the Oscars.
There is power in imagining that a dream could possibly come true. Daydreaming is a building block of believing, and when we believe, we take steps toward making our dreams come true.
We live in a time when we are attached to devices that ensure we never have to be bored, but this means we never daydream. This means we cannot hear our Inner Wisdom or tap into our inner sense of creativity.
There is a...
People used to say things to Bode like, “It’s so easy for you to make friends!”
But when he went away to college, he felt shy and insecure. Inside, he felt like he was struggling to find a social group. He thought that maybe he was a fraud—that he didn’t really have this great friend-making attribute that everyone had assigned to him.
When you tell your children that they are something—whether that is a positive or negative thing—you risk simultaneously and inadvertently telling them that they cannot be something else.
This comes at a risk. A child who is told that she is smart will freak out a little bit (or a lot) on the inside when she cannot tackle a problem or when she makes an error.
I hope no one finds out my secret, she will think, and it will shut down the lines of communication. After all, no one wants to be found out as an imposter.
It’s hard, if not impossible, to resist the urge to label a...
Forgive people. Even if they do not deserve your forgiveness, you deserve to be free of resentment, sadness, and anger.
These negative emotions feel bad—to you. They are appropriate, at times, but carrying them around forever will degrade your life. Your negative feelings might have no effect on the person with whom you are upset, but they will certainly enslave you to the harm that was done to you in the past.
Each time you think of your anger, sadness, or resentment, you inflict that painful emotion on yourself. Someone else might have inflicted that pain upon you initially, but you are one who continues to inflict it on yourself.
Why keep punishing yourself for what someone else did to you?
Choose a more powerful path. Feel your negative emotions. Acknowledge them. Accept them.
Then, when you are ready, allow them to be a voice of your needs by asking yourself: “What do I need to feel better, and what can I do to get that need met?”
Another good question is:...
Why is it that our children, the people we love the most in the world, can trigger us so easily?
We all have hot buttons—situations or events or even words our kids say to which we react strongly, or even overreact. One second, we feel calm and at peace. The next, we are flooded with emotions and spinning out of control.
Often, we feel ourselves behaving in a way that is irrational. The triggers might even seem absurd. We cannot pinpoint exactly why we feel so angry over seemingly trivial things that our children do or say, but nonetheless, our emotions are hot.
Other times, our triggers feel justified. We can support and justify our anger with example after example. Nonetheless, we dislike feeling so angry and out of control and would rather respond to our children calmly.
Why is this? Why can things our children say and do make us overreact? And what can we do about it?
Fortunately, when we understand why triggers occur, we can take steps to eliminate them so that we can...
Do you revisit conflict when tempers have cooled?
Or, when you child has a giant emotional meltdown, do you breathe a sigh of relief after it passes and go about your business?
Don't poke a bear, right?
The truth is, the gold is in the second half.
When you and your child resist a conflict with clear heads, you can find solutions.
This is where growth happens, and where skills are learned.
It is where you and your child can begin to appreciate each other's perspectives, and it is where you can find solutions absent the flood of emotions that were couding your thoughts in round one.
It’s hard for anyone—much less a child—to take constructive feedback when flooded with negative emotions.
This is because our thoughts and our emotions always match: You cannot think positive, constructive thoughts when you are overwhelmed with negative, destructive emotions.
So, if your child is angry or frustrated, hold off on initiating “teachable moment” conversations or attempting to shift your child’s perspective.
Wait until they have had time to regroup emotionally.
Save the discussions about your expectations, the child’s questionable behavior, or the child’s bad attitude for later when they might actually be able to hear you.
When your children are upset, your best bet is to meet them with patience. If the situation calls for you to set boundaries, do so, but remain steadfast and calm in your word choice, demeanor, and tone of voice.
Let your child know you are listening and patient by saying things...
The next time you find yourself upset about something—really triggered and overwhelmed by an emotion—try this ...
See if you can describe what the emotion looks like.
What color is it?
What shape is it?
What texture is it?
How big is it?
Does it have a surname?
Get as many details as possible about your anger or sadness or frustration as you possibly can.
When you shift your mind into this analytical place of trying to describe what the emotion looks like, you put a little air between you and the emotion.
You let off the steam, and without even realizing it, you calm down.
It’s not possible to be swept away by a negative emotion when you are engaging your analytical mind.
Plenty of adults know the feeling of having a big emotional burst of anger, only to later regret their words or actions. Most of aren’t taught skills for navigating these big emotions, so even though we later feel shame, we struggle to “control” our anger well into our adult years.
Anger is a big emotion. It is always accompanied with tension, so when it bursts, it can be a flood. And while anger is not a bad emotion (after all, it is appropriate to feel anger when we are mistreated), I think we can all agree that life would be a bit better if we didn’t unintentionally hurt people due to explosive words or behaviors.
Teaching kids how to stay in control, even when they are angry, is a big task, particularly because most adults are not taught this skill. It requires more than just one or two conversations, and it is usually a years-long work-in-progress.
We can start, though, by asking them to reflect back on how the build-up feels. If...
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