Points to Consider for Parenting

Traveling in Europe and comparing parenting styles in Great Britain and Germany to Canada reminded me of how different parenting is from culture to culture.

The examples of British parenting we saw were gentle reminders of manners, sometimes interlaced with humour. Yet, the children seem to know exactly that something said in a sarcastic or humorous way still has to be taken seriously.

German parenting is more direct and humourless. German parents navigate an interesting balance between granting their children a lot of individuality and freedom—much more than we do in Canada—and yet being quite outright, outspoken and direct when it comes to enforcing rules.

German parents are reluctant to encourage kids to do something they are not in the mood for. Your five-year-old does not want to give grandma a hug and kiss? That’s okay. Your eight-year-old does not want to join in the games at the birthday party because he thinks it’s “blöd” (stupid)? That’s okay. Your twelve-year-old does not want to join the family for dinner even though relatives are over? That’s okay. Your sixteen-year-old does not want to come on vacation with his/her parents? That’s okay.

Hardly ever are children encouraged to put the needs of others or a group over their own individual needs and wants. I suspect that is a result of the Nazi time in which obedience and conformity was put above else. As so often in history an entire nation has done an 180˚ turn. Yet, when children cross “the line”, whatever that line in each individual case and each individual parent is, the parent can get very direct, authoritative and will raise their voice.

Clearly each country or culture has different values for parenting. What seems right in one culture might be frowned upon in another. I was wondering if there are any common points independent of the culture that one might want to consider for parenting and/or step-parenting.

Parenting 1

Children change the dynamics of every partnership greatly. When a new baby is born or when step-children enter into the picture, the self contained unit of the two grown-ups loving each other or the previous family system break open to include one or more other people. If we are not aware of the changing dynamics and in touch with our own feelings and fears, conflicts are inevitable. Instead of bringing more joy and growth, parenting then becomes a burden for the relationship.

Here are some points to consider for parenting based on Hal and Sidra Stone’s work, which I believe might be applicable in many different parts of the world:

  1. Acceptance of the Partnering Model for Parenting

Partnering is a non-hierarchical model of parenting. In partnering, both partners are equally involved in all areas. In partnering everything is a joint venture. There is a sense of a no-fault kind of relationship, instead of blaming the other parent. Each event brings with it a new learning. Both partners should be sharing the authority, the responsibility, and the power in the relationship to the children as well as to each other.

The basic connection in the family system must be between the two people in charge, the couple. Children “smell” very quickly when the connection between the parents isn’t working and are naturally going to take advantage of that fundamental flaw in the family system. Dynamics then begin to happen that don’t work well for the family.

For each partner that means to look at the children and step-children from your partner’s eyes. You do not necessarily need to agree with your partner but you need to understand where he or she is coming from. You need to be able to see and feel their point of view. Learn to honour the viewpoint of your partner, no matter how different it is, because there is a teaching there for us. It is an opportunity to integrate our disowned selves, the traits we don’t like about ourselves and others.

Parenting POINT 1 - Make sure adults

  1. Primary and Disowned Selves, Opposites & Polarization

The Primary Selves are the group of selves who make up our identity, or who we are identified with. The Disowned Selves are the ones we have had to drop because we learned they are not good to have. We usually treasure our primary selves and are attached to them (“That’s just how I am”); the disowned selves we don’t like. The stepchildren, new in-laws, and other people in our life – even the pets—are going to carry our disowned selves and show us what we tend to judge and dislike.

Those family members show us the opposites which we are not comfortable with and we often even polarize into those opposites further as we live and interact together.

For example, if I am quite neat and my child or stepchild is a bit sloppy, the child might polarize into being even messier while I become more paranoid about cleaning and tidying up. The child is taking on my messy energy that I—and possibly everybody in the house—have disowned. However, once they move out, we might find that living on their own, they have quite a neat household.

If I am identified with cleanliness, I might judge the person very strongly for living in a mess. Judgements give us the keys to our primary and our disowned selves. When you feel yourself judging other family members, remind yourself that the judgments give you a feedback about yourself and the parts of yourself that you disown.

Parenting POINT 2 - Children carry disowned

  1. Energetic Linkage

Tune in to find out who is bonded into whom in the family. What I mean by that is notice who feels close to whom and how the bonding happens. Are the energies truly flowing between you and your partner, or perhaps you and your favourite child? Where the real warmth is shows us the bonding patterns in a family. These bonding patterns are always going on underneath. Be aware of them and consciously make sure the main bond is between you and your partner. Enough time and opportunities to maintain the bond between the couple who are the core unit of the family are very important for the entire system and for successful parenting.

Parenting POINT 3 - Be aware

  1. Life is a Teacher

Trust that challenges are there to be worked through. You always have the choice to step back and ask, what is the teaching or meaning of what comes up? Life, illness, relationships and parenting are each a teacher for us to learn to become more whole. Our partner can always trust that we are willing to work something out, when we honestly ask the question, what does this parenting situation have to teach me?

Parenting POINT 4 - Ask what does

Angelika

Conscious Parenting & Life Coaching

greendoorrelaxation@yahoo.ca

905-286-9466

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Marty, The Richest Man in Town

My friend Karen mentioned an inspirational book a while ago which is one of her favourite books. Not feeling well the other day, I grabbed the book as an easy read. My! It was an easy read, but am I glad I had a big box of Kleenex near by!

“The Richest Man in Town” is the story of Marty, a man in his seventies, who worked at Wal-Mart in a small town in South Dakota. What made Marty so remarkable that the author V.J.Smith decided to write about him?

Marty Martinson

Marty wasn’t like other cashiers. He loved people. He greeted every customer and really connected with them through listening, asking them interested questions or saying something nice to them, always coming from a truly authentic place. At the end, when the customers handed him money, he counted out the change, he “placed the change in his left hand, walked around the counter to the customer, and extended his right hand in an act of friendship. As their hands met, the old cashier looked the customer in the eyes. “I sure want to thank you for shopping here today, he told them. ‘You have a great day. Bye-bye.’”

His line up was always the longest. He made everybody feel special. People didn’t mind waiting for a friendly word, a handshake, or even a hug if they wanted one and a true connection from one caring human to another human. Marty spent about two minutes with each customer but he made those two minutes count. For those two minutes, the respective person—whether old or young, whether a cute little girl or a tough biker covered in tattoos—was the only person in Marty’s Universe. He treated everybody with respect and dignity.

Marty handshake

Marty was born in 1926, grew up during the great depression, served in World War II, and never had a lot of money throughout his entire life. He had a wife, who he still at 76 felt was the prettiest girl he had ever met, and four children. He was humble, kind and compassionate. He lived in a trailer, yet was one of the happiest people. He had understood some simple truths:

  1. Try to do a little more.
  2. Only you can make you happy.
  3. Relationships matter most in life.

If we just assume for a moment that this simple man had the simple knowledge to live a happy fulfilling life independent from his outer circumstances, we really have to ask ourselves honestly, “Am I giving other people or outer circumstances the responsibility for how I feel? Or am I taking full responsibility for my own happiness?” and “If relationships matter most in life, do I put enough time and love into my relationships?”

Marty - Goethe quote

Personally, I find that I have to re-adjust my priorities every so often. It is so easy to get caught up in working, networking or superficial social contacts. All this is important but when I am on my death bed what will truly matter? The moments of real connections, the ways in which I have touched somebody else in their heart, the times in which somebody else felt seen, heard and accepted.

The entire town seemed to know Marty because he had a friendly word for everybody who came through his line at Wal-Mart. And Marty was human and liked that people remembered him for his kindness and friendliness. However, it seems Marty also cared in the same way about his own family. Sometimes we care so much how strangers see us that we forget that the people closest to us are the ones who matter most. Did I take that extra moment to be truly present with my child as he or she was talking? Did I connect with my spouse today? Did I hold that loving space of just listening for my mother when she called? Have I given somebody the gift today to be the only person in my Universe for a few moments?

Being compassionate and caring is not necessarily about fixing problems for others. First and foremost it is about listening, acknowledging the other person and their feelings and showing them that they matter. Even if they choose to feel less than positive, can we hold that space without fixing? Holding the space does not mean commiserating with them and confirming for them that they are a victim of a situation. Holding the space means trusting that they are whole, complete and resourceful. It means knowing for them that they can and will change their experience and how they feel—in their own time and in their own way.

marty - Make every moment count

Choosing to do what matters most, to be fully present with every person you encounter, creates happiness for them and for yourself. Make each moment count. The happiness you give comes back to you. That’s why Marty, a simple man without money or college education, was the richest man in town.

Angelika

Relationship Coaching

greendoorrelaxation@yahoo.ca

905-286-9466

If you enjoy my posts, you can follow Greendoor to receive an e-mail notification whenever I post a new blog. All you need to do is to click the “follow” button in the right-hand corner of your screen.

Accepting, Acknowledging and Honouring Feelings and Needs Builds Bridges

She is in the kitchen cooking. His parents are expected in an hour and she is starting to feel stressed that things aren’t ready yet. She asks her partner to set the table. In the past he has experienced being laughed at and judged for how he has set the table and he is not keen on experiencing this judgement again. He is also just finishing an e-mail, so he can relax when the guests arrive.

He says, “It’s too early to set the table now. Why are you always making such a big fuss about setting the table? And why are you so stressed about having my parents over? I’ll do it when they get here.” She replies, “Why can you never do what I ask you? I am slaving away in the kitchen and you are doing nothing. Now I also have to set the table. You never bother setting the table properly anyways…” And the couple is “off and running” with judgments and criticism instead of having a productive communication.

When we are communicating with our partner—or our children for that matter—and we have the sense that we are not getting through, what might be in the way are our power selves. Our primary personality parts or primary selves are often power selves. They have been helping us to survive in this world for most of our lives. We are so used to those voices that we often think that’s just who we are.

To figure out what some of your power selves and/or primary selves are, consider for a moment into what energy you tend to shift to cover up your vulnerability. Do you have an angry power self? A rational power self? A controlling power self? A moral power self? A righteous power self? A pusher primary part? A strong perfectionist part? A spiritual part you shift into? A psychoanalytical self? The list goes on. All those voices or energies help us to feel stronger and in control. In relationships, however, they keep the other person at a distance.

The more we are in touch with our vulnerable authentic self and can communicate from an Aware Ego, the more clearly our partner can hear us without needing to go into his or her power selves and put his or her defences up.

Accepting, Acknowledging & Honouring Feelings & Needs QUOTE 1

Our judgements in a partnering relationship give us the feedback that our disowned selves are operating. When we are coming from our primary selves, we tend to judge more harshly. If I am over-identified with the rational mind, I will judge a partner who is more emotional and makes his or her decisions from a feeling place. If I am identified with being extrovert, I might judge a more introvert person as slow or too quiet and might not understand why they need quiet time alone to think. The introvert in turn might judge the extrovert as being too loud, too quick and for needing or craving social interactions. When there is a doer and a dreamer in a partnership, they will judge each other’s approaches to life. Or if I am over-identified with that voice that worries what other people think, I might judge my partner for dressing more relaxed, not having good table manners or saying something inappropriate.

However, “the thing you hate the most and judge the most is the medicine that you need the most” (Dr. Hal Stone, founder of Voice Dialogue). What Hal Stone means by that is that whatever our partner is showing us is most likely an energy we are not in touch with. In order to be whole human beings and have the true freedom of choice of how we want to feel and act in each given moment, it is a good idea for us to consider embracing that trait which we judge.

Often judgments go both ways as in the example above. So what is happening with the couple in our example? They are mirroring each other’s shadows. They are judging each other for what they themselves have disowned. He is judging her for making a “silly” request, for caring too much about appearance and for being controlling and conscious of time. He is identified with a more relaxed attitude towards meals and having guests. She judges him as being lazy and unhelpful and incapable or possibly too uneducated or too carefree to meet her standards of perfection.

The couple has different priorities and different needs. How differently would the conversation go if they used non-violent communication to acknowledge the partner’s feelings and needs and express their own? A successful conversation could sound like this:

She :”I am starting to feel a bit stressed because I am worried that we won’t be done when your parents arrive. I am anxious because I want everything to be welcoming. Would you please set the table now?”

He: “I have noticed that you are feeling stressed. I know you like things to look nice and make sure that our guest are comfortable. Thank you for doing all this work. I would still like to finish my e-mail so that I can forget about work and relax when my parents get here. Is it okay with you, if I set the table in half an hour?”

She: “Thank you for letting me know about your e-mail. I understand that you would still like to finish. If you could make sure to use the new table cloth and find matching napkins, that would help me a lot. Can you please make sure we are done with the preparations when your parents arrive? I would like to be able to give them our full attention when they get here.”

Accepting, Acknowledging & Honouring Feelings & Needs QUOTE 2

They have both acknowledged each other’s feelings and needs. They have also clearly and non-confrontationally expressed their own feelings and needs. Setting the table has become an acceptable request, instead of a silly demand. How do we know if we have made a request, rather than a demand? Our partner has the option to either say no, or to negotiate how and when he or she meets the request.

The Four-Part Nonviolent Communication Process developed by Marshall Rosenberg includes: Clearly EXPRESSING what I observe, feel and require, and making a clear request; openly RECEIVING what my communication partner observes, feels, needs and requests.

The steps of non-violent communication are not complicated. However, it requires discipline to remember to communicate with I statements, expressing how we feel, and without generalizations (“You always”, “You never”) or why-questions which can be taken as criticism (Why is the table not set? Why are the children not in bed yet?). When you use the words “I feel because I…” it reminds all communication partners that what we feel is not because of what the other person did, but because of our perception and a feeling choice we made regarding our perception.

Accepting, Acknowledging & Honouring Feelings & Needs QUOTE 3I often hear one partner saying, “I just don’t understand why he/she feels this way!” That statement is a hidden judgment. It prevents us from building a bridge. Change it to “I am willing to understand how he/she feels.” It helps if we can truly empathize and understand why our partner has a certain feeling or need. However, ultimately it is immaterial if we understand on a rational level; we need to respect feelings without judgments, even if they are different from ours. It helps if we can really empathize. What is needed is to arrive at a point where we can accept the other person’s feelings the way they are. In order to communicate most successfully, we need to move beyond needing to be right and beyond making the other person wrong. If we want our feelings and needs to be respected, we need to stop judging other people’s feelings and needs and begin to truly accept and respect them.

Angelika

Relationship Coaching & Belief Change Work

905-286-9466

greendoorrelaxation@yahoo.ca

If you enjoy my posts, you can follow Greendoor to receive an e-mail notification whenever I post a new blog. All you need to do is to click the “follow” button in the right-hand corner of your screen.

Setting Boundaries

One repeating theme over the last few weeks, for clients, friends and myself, was setting boundaries. The Universe has an interesting sense of humour at times. Whenever you think you have learned or mastered something, it will bring a new challenge or a new trigger to test you.

Relationships, especially those with our extended family, challenge us in different ways. When a relationship is abusive and/or life threatening we need to cut the cords completely. In all other relationships, we need to set clear boundaries. Regular unpleasant or upsetting interactions show up for us to learn something. We cannot change others, but we can always change ourselves. Let’s examine what lessons show up. How are you or others getting affected by these unhealthy interactions? How are misunderstandings, hurt or pain created? What boundaries need to be set for the interactions to become healthy?

  1. Take a close look in the mirror. Every relationship is a dance between two people and we have to honestly decide what missteps we have made and what part we are playing for the situation to be the way it is. We have to take responsibility and own our half of the situation or nothing can change. Have we invited the other person to overstep boundaries? Then we need to change our own behaviour.
  1. Forgive yourself and others. Life is short and can be over from one day to the next. What upsets us now won’t make a difference in a few weeks, months or years. The things we hold on to that upset, irritate and annoy us create toxins in our bodies, our relationships, our family, our community, and our world.
  1. Examine whether the existing boundaries are healthy and work for you, and then clearly set or re-set boundaries.

Boundaries - Featured Image

Having clear boundaries has almost become a catch phrase. What does that even mean? Who do we ultimately set boundaries for and why are boundaries healthy? Maybe a couple of examples will help.

A client of mine has a father who has an alcohol problem which he hasn’t faced. He goes from drama to drama, from accident to accident. She has been clear with him about what she has noticed, how she feels and what she is not willing to put up with. She has provided him with resources to get help. He is not ready to do anything to get help at this point.

Setting boundaries meant to tell him not to call her or show up when he is drunk. He has regular accidents and is frequently admitted to the hospital for an injury caused by falling. In the hospital, he has the chance to ask for help with his drinking problem but so far he hasn’t. Setting boundaries for my client means to not rush to the hospital but to trust her father to make his own choices.

Is that easy? It usually isn’t easy because a part of us still hopes for our loved ones to change. Does not rushing to him for help mean she doesn’t love her father? Not at all. Sometimes we need to love people from a distance or by setting and maintaining clear boundaries. What it means is that she loves herself! She makes her own feelings and the needs of her own core family first priority. We can still be compassionate and loving but at the same time very clear which lines we will not allow others to cross.

Boundaries-Brene Brown quote

One of my clients had to set boundaries with her mother. The mother gossips about one daughter with the other. One day, she forms an alliance with one daughter until something occurs that triggers her fears, then she turns to the other daughter and forms an alliance with the other. Those family dynamics have destroyed the friendship between the sisters and have created mistrust between all three women.

My mother used to do the same for the longest time. She would call me to complain about my sister’s kids and praise my children instead and visa versa. There is a part in us which feels flattered to be the chosen confidant and the one to hear what a good mother we are. However, how much does that truly mean if the wind can turn at any time and suddenly blow from another direction? The inability of our relatives to love themselves and others unconditionally causes us a lot of hurt. It creates competition instead of true unity.

My client gently but firmly had to tell her mother that she is sorry that she feels disappointed by her sister. She also had to tell her that she needs to talk to the sister herself. She had to clearly refuse gossiping. The mother desperately looks for an ally each time she feels unloved, rejected and disrespected. We can be compassionate with a relative who does this but need to set clear boundaries out of self-love.

I should have set clear boundaries with my own mother much earlier. It would have saved my sister and me years of unnecessary competition and grief. When I finally set boundaries with my mother, did that mean I didn’t love her? Not at all. I did and still do love my mother dearly. I also love myself and choose to live—most of the time, unless I forget—in a space beyond right and wrong, beyond judging others and myself. If somebody wants to complain about being a victim and wants to gossip because another person has triggered their inner feeling of unlove-ability, make a clear choice of not connecting in that way.

Boundaries-quote no

Who needs us to set clear boundaries? Our own Inner Child, the vulnerable part inside us, needs to feel loved, safe, protected and respected. Not setting boundaries is internal child abuse. By allowing others to cross our boundaries, we are telling our inner child “you are not worthy of your feelings being addressed and your needs being met”. We are not treating ourselves with love and respect.

Setting boundaries means to not allow others to pull us into drama or discord. It means speaking up when somebody sticks their nose into what is not their business and not allowing them to destroy our other relationships. Parents do not need to know any intimate details of their children’s relationships, just as children don’t need to be told any intimate, private or embarrassing details of their parent’s relationship. Those are blurry boundaries. They destroy respect and invite meddling. Talking behind somebody’s back about them is also a blurry boundary. Admittedly, we might all forget this at times but unless we are able to only say nice things, it is better to not talk about others when they are not present.

We need to clearly and lovingly let the other person know where our comfort level is and what feels good and loving and what doesn’t. Communication is the problem of the communicator, not the person communicated to. If the conversation doesn’t go well and we are not understood the way we intended, it is due to how we communicate with the other person. It is our responsibility to communicate as clearly as possible.

The only thing to do when we are struggling to be understood is to focus on a non-violent, clear, authentic communication while having clear boundaries. Check in with your inner child about what feels respectful and meets her/his needs. Express your feelings without blaming anyone. Nobody makes you feel a certain way. It also doesn’t matter who did what. All that matters is to acknowledge each other’s feelings and to take responsibility for one’s words and actions. Setting boundaries is not about rehashing the past but about changing the interactions in the present and in the future.

The more we set boundaries and stand-up for our inner child, the more we connect with what we truly feel and need. Every time you make a clear decision to set or maintain a boundary, it is another piece on the journey to true unconditional self-love.

Angelika

Life Coaching and Belief Changes
905-286-9466

greendoorrelaxation@yahoo.ca

If you are enjoying my posts you can follow Greendoor to receive an e-mail notification whenever I post a new blog. All you need to do is to click the follow button in the right hand corner of your screen.

The Perfect Mother

A client said to me this week, “I saw my mother again and suddenly realized that I could just be with her, treat her with compassion, see her as a human being. I really have stopped judging her, and am more able to love her the way she is.”

Isn’t that beautiful? Each time when somebody I am working with is healing a relationship, it touches me deeply in my heart.

Another client of mine wrote a letter of gratitude to her stepmother this week. She hasn’t seen her stepmother or her father in twenty years. Their last encounter was one full of anger, conflict and mutual hurt. The daughter has spent the last two decades blaming the stepmother for everything. Those feelings had bound up her energy in the past, and left her feeling unloved and “broken”. She felt she was victimized by her stepmother, who struggled to raise her stepdaughter with the same affection she had raised her own biological children with.

perfect mother - letter

My client did not write the letter for her stepmother, she wrote it for herself. After doing the inner work, she was able to acknowledge her own feelings, but also everything her stepmom had done or had attempted to do; she was truly able to forgive her for what she didn’t do. Nothing of that needed to be written in the letter. Instead it was a simple letter of thank you to the woman who was in her life for most part of her childhood. She didn’t send the letter off to receive a response, nor for the purpose of changing or influencing her stepmother. She wrote it to clear her own energy of resentment and anger out.

Forgiving and shifting into appreciation and gratitude is always primarily for ourselves, “for-giving” ourselves love and freedom. It is also a huge step towards taking responsibility for our own life. When we finally let go of blaming others, we win the ability to respond differently to past, present and future events in our life. We gain true response-ability.

Why do so many of us struggle for such a long time with forgiving our parents for their imperfections? Why do we insist on blaming them and on feeling that they ruined or affected our lives negatively?

We have idealized images of what our mother (and father) should be like. We might all have slightly different ideas, but the perfect mother somehow should be selfless, she should take care of us, she should always be patient and supportive, she should listen well and encourage us, she should be proud of us and make us proud of her, and so much more: in short she should love us unconditionally. Media images, TV shows, movies and books often perpetuate these ideas of the perfect mother and affect our beliefs of what a “good mother” is like. These images stem from our deepest desires to be truly loved. Yet, they cause us to judge our mother and ourselves as mothers because we naturally fall short of this perfect mother myth at times. They are the source of guilt and shame instead of enjoying the love we do feel.

Perfect Mother -Carpenter quote

Most people, no matter whether they are parents or not, are still learning to love themselves and others unconditionally. The perfect mother images disregard the fact that we always mirror and trigger each other’s issues and challenges. Children trigger their parents and parents trigger their children. That is a good thing. It is an opportunity to grow and do our inner work.

What triggers us in others, what we judge and dislike about them, is really what we dislike in ourselves. As long as we refuse to give ourselves what we would like to receive from others, it is out of our reach. Only when we truly feel we are good enough, do we become just perfectly lovable the way we are. We can feel loved by others, no matter how limited their ability to love unconditionally might be.

Perfect Mother - Desjardins quote

Nobody and nothing can prevent us from truly loving ourselves. It is our job to love ourselves; nobody can do it for us! No amount of love from the outside can penetrate through if we do not take the cape of self-judgment, self-loathing or even self-hatred off.

 John Gray cartoon love-hate

  from “What You Feel You Can Heal” by John Gray

On this Mother’s Day, make the choice to let go of the past. Forgive your mother or stepmother, whether they are alive or dead. What happened in the past is over and does not matter anymore. Realize that it doesn’t mean anything unless you give it a certain meaning. Decide that your mother, stepmother, or mother-in-law for that matter, is just perfect the way she is. Start telling your story differently, with love.

Perfect Mother - Tolstoi quote

Free yourself up to love your parents without expectations or needs. Be willing to love them the way they are. Take the cape off that prevents you from feeling the love of others. Finally give yourself the gift of loving yourself the way you are.

HAPPY MOTHER’S DAY!

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The Five Blind Men and the Elephant

blindmen & elephant

Have you heard the Asian tale of the five blind men and the elephant? Five blind men come upon an elephant. They have never heard of an elephant. The first man feels a leg of the elephant. He says, “Ah, I know what this is! An elephant is a pillar!” The second man grabs the tail. “Ah,” he concludes, “an elephant is a rope.” The third man touches the trunk and decides an elephant is a snake. The fourth one happens to touch the ear and decides an elephant must be a hand fan. And the fifth one upon touching the tusk is convinced an elephant is a spear.

All five of them have only perceived part of the truth. All five of them have also interpreted their perception based on their old subjective experiences and beliefs about the world. They are only able to interpret what their functioning sense of touch picks up based on the individual “bucket” of beliefs and experiences they come from.

One of the hardest things for us humans seems to be not to jump to conclusions, to remember that our perception is limited and that facts only become a story based on our interpretations. In her book, “My Stroke of Insight”, Jill Bolte-Taylor describes well how our left brain, which she calls our “story teller”, perceives certain facts and how it fills in the gaps between these facts with an interpretation or meaning. We create our story based on those facts. When we come across more facts, we need to revise our interpretation, as the original story otherwise doesn’t match all the facts.

blindmen & elephant leg QUOTE

James N Miller is certainly not alone. Even though I am aware of how our brain functions, it still happens to me that I jump to conclusions. The other day, I sent an email to somebody asking the person for a favour and I did not hear back. I assumed she was reluctant to meet my request. A couple of weeks later, I found out I had sent the email to one of her e-mail addresses which she doesn’t use much. Instead of jumping to a conclusion based on a fear that my request would not be met, I should have followed up again by phone.

blindmen & elephant trunk QUOTEWhen we have children and they come home from school with a story about their day, we sometimes as parents tend to jump to conclusions because we only hear their side of the story. We are convinced the teacher or another child has not treated our child well. As a mother, I had to remind myself several times over the past twenty plus years of the “in dubio pro reo” principle. If there is any doubt or possibility that I have not gathered all the Intel, I should not judge, yet.

Thankfully, I was a teacher for many years and have seen parents show up in school with only part of the story, or with a misinterpretation based either on limited facts or on their own expectations or beliefs about school, or both. Yet, my first response as a mother still was to feel protective of my daughter and want to call up the school to defend her. The reminder that I need to gather more facts before I jump to the conclusion that somebody has treated my child unfairly saved me from making a fool of myself a few times.

Teachers also appreciate when they are approached calmly by a concerned parent. As parents, we can be strong advocates for our children without getting angry and accusing anybody. Having been on both ends of the table, I know that non-violent communication works best and teaches our children that we can talk about any problems.

My mother was passionate and expressive. Even though she wasn’t Italian, she could easily have passed as the proverbial Italian. Happiness was loud, she had the greatest laugh, and so was anger. She was often jumping to conclusions and getting angry at my teachers. Part of me understood she wanted to protect me, another part was really embarrassed by her response. It wasn’t productive. The older I became, I told my mother less and less about school, because I was afraid she would create problems where there were none. Whenever I feel the impulse to defend my children, I remind myself what it was like to have a mother who acts impulsively.

With all our interactions, let’s remember that everybody perceives a situation through their own filters. There is no absolute truth. We are only capable of perceiving an aspect of the truth based on the facts we have access to, our beliefs and our previous experiences. Next time we feel ready to judge a person or situation, let’s keep in mind that we might not have the whole picture, just like the five blind men with the elephant.

blindmen & elephant tusk QUOTE

Angelika

Belief Change Coaching

Hypnosis & PSYCH-K®

905-286-9466

greendoorrelaxation@yahoo.ca

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“You are mad-sad”

 movie Home 1

Have you ever been mad-sad? Then you are a typical human being as the alien character “Oh” discovers when he makes friends with the human girl, Tip, in the animated movie “Home”.

What is mad-sad? Mad-sad is when you get angry but deep underneath you are sad. Tip is sad that her mother was relocated and separated from her by the aliens when they invaded the planet earth. She is ready to fight the world. Her angry part has stepped forward to protect her vulnerability. When Oh discovers what is underneath her anger, he says with surprise, “You are mad-sad”. What appears to be anger is really sadness and grief for her loss.

 movie Home 2

Sometimes we are mad-sad, other times we are mad-scared. A parent might be mad-scared because their child is failing in school and they are worried about their future, or because their teenager has made a decision which has put them in danger. We might get mad scared when we are in the passenger’s seat of a vehicle and the driver has a different driving style which makes us feel unsafe. How much more successful would our communication be if we could express our fear rather than our anger? Yet, anger is an automatic response triggered by fear. It takes practice to communicate differently.

When we feel overwhelmed, we also sometimes snap faster and respond with anger. Have you ever felt really bogged down by everything you had to do and as you were busy focussing on getting some work done, another person needed something and you replied with impatience or even anger? That could be called mad-stressed.

In all these cases of mad-sad, mad-scared or mad-stressed, the anger serves the purpose to protect the vulnerable part of us deep inside. Anger is a driving force. In Tip’s case, it drives her to search for her mom. Anger also feels better than helplessness and is an intuitive response when we feel unsafe or afraid for somebody else.

 Movie Home Gorg

The evil character of the movie from another alien race, called the Gorg, turns out to be mad-sad, mad-scared and most likely also mad-stressed. Without being aware, Oh’s alien race has stolen his babies, the entire next generation, which means extinction for the Gorg. When Oh is brave enough to face the Gorg, he realizes that this intimidating monster is really deeply vulnerable and just trying to save and protect himself and his family.

Have you heard of people who get “hangry”? When they are hungry they become grouchy or angry. To stay with our pattern, that would be called mad-hungry. There also is mad-tired. Have you ever been so tired and found that your protective defences were coming up when others are interacting with you in this state. My daughter, who works mainly overnight shifts, is not a happy camper when approached in a tired state. She gets mad-tired. Everybody in our family knows she has just reached her limit and her irritation is a feedback for us.

Next time you or somebody else shows up as angry, remember that there is usually some other emotion underneath the anger. That deeper emotion or need has to be addressed. Just as we know we need to feed ourselves when we are hangry, we also need to feed the other emotions or needs.

When we feel angry the question usually is, what exactly is underneath the anger? It might be Sadness? Loneliness? Fear or insecurity? Frustration? Overwhelm?

  • Sadness gives us the feedback that we perceive the loss of a person, an experience or a feeling. What needs to be done to make up for that loss, to replace the experience we have lost?
  • Loneliness gives us the message that we have a healthy longing for companionship and love. How can we enjoy our own company more, love ourselves more and also draw in other people as companions?
  • Fear or insecurity means that our subconscious is convinced something is not safe, and/or that we are not good enough in some way. What beliefs can be changed to alter how we see ourselves and the world?
  • Frustration gives us the feedback that something that we have been doing is not working. What do we need to do differently, so that the frustration does not tip over into depression?
  • Overwhelm is a signal to do a reality check, to limit, to organize, to prioritize, to say “no” and to delegate.

Anger also sometimes gives us the feedback that we perceive something as unfair. The first question is: Is or was it really unfair? If not, change your perspective. If the answer is yes, find a way to make fair if the event is in the present, or let go and forgive if you are angry at something which lies in the past.

movie Home 4

All feelings are good! Our emotions are our guidance system. All feelings and emotions give us feedback on what is going on. They are a call to action. Anger is good. It is like an indicator light that something needs to be looked at, but it also serves as a driving force to make changes.

Angelika

Belief Change Coaching, Forgiveness Work, Shadow Work

905-286-9466

greendoorrelaxation@yahoo.ca

 Wearing Angela's T-shirt

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Conscious Parenting – Finding Authentic Compromises Versus Bargaining

Just a few days ago, a memory from seventeen years ago came to my mind. Back then, I was a relatively young mother, who was still partially figuring out what kind of a parent I wanted to be. As an elementary school teacher, I had worked out which rules apply to having a classroom full of 6 year olds as opposed to a classroom of 10 year olds. As a foster parent of a little girl I had—through trial and error—worked out what she needed during those four years that we fostered her. She needed so much more of everything parents can give: more reassurance, more consistency, more love. What I hadn’t worked out, yet, was a conscious awareness of needs—mine and other—and negotiating true compromises.

At that time, I was witness to what struck me as a very odd scene between an Egyptian friend of mine and her 17-year-old daughter. The topic of the conversation was the daughter’s curfew on a Saturday night. The daughter suggested 11:30. The mother countered with 8:30 which resulted in a dramatic response from the daughter. So the mother went to 9 o’clock and the daughter countered with 11 o’clock. Half an hour and several more outbursts of emotions later, they ended up with 10 o’clock. The daughter was pleased as punch.

When the young girl had left the room, I turned to my friend, who had made a big show of having given in, and said, “What was all that about?” She smiled and said, “I knew we would end up with 10 o’clock. She will be exactly home at the time I wanted her to be home.”

I was flabbergasted, especially as I was a “no-negotiating-by-any-means type of parent” back then. The bargaining or sometimes blackmailing that they seemed to be doing on a regular basis in her family around her three children’s needs seemed unnecessarily exhausting to me, but most of all inauthentic.

Now, there is bargaining and there is mitigating everybody’s needs. The difference between bargaining and negotiating compromises is tremendous.

Bargaining vs Negotiating by Greendoor (1)

What values and beliefs are we teaching our children by bargaining? They are learning that their needs are not worth being met without a fight. We are teaching them to be deceptive instead of open with what they want and need. We are teaching them to think of how they can win, rather than how everybody can win.

Negotiating means finding a compromise to meet everybody’s needs. Negotiating is not about who wins and who loses. Negotiating is about being creative in finding a win-win. We are teaching children that there is a way to have your needs met and that everybody can have their needs met. We are teaching them to express how they feel, to honestly ask for what they want or need, and to trust that a creative solution can be found. We are teaching them to collaborate rather than to compete for their individual gain.

I used to think that the parent has to be the boss and makes the rules. I still believe we have to remember that our child is not the boss of us but that a democratic boss opens up some decisions for discussion. When we refuse to acknowledge needs and refuse to negotiate to find compromises, we are teaching the next generation that they can never get in life what they truly want. The outcome of those experiences are grown-ups who don’t know what they want or need and don’t even attempt to express their wishes. We raise pleasers who are only able to follow the wishes of others. We raise people who feel their only strategy to get their needs met is by lying, being secretive, or being manipulative. They have no concept of living from integrity, their own personal integrity. They learn that they cannot be their authentic selves.

 Integrity De Angelis

Over Easter, we were spending time with friends and family. The more people are in the mix the more needs are sometimes colliding and need to be negotiated. One child ended up crying because she had hoped for a particular activity. The response of the adults present was mixed. The opinion that she should not get what she wanted because crying is not an adequate way of expressing your needs was voiced. The parent of the child felt she was trying to manipulate her way to what she wanted through this behaviour. That parent would have been me 15 years ago! I was an “I don’t negotiate” kind of parent. I strongly believed children shouldn’t get what they want by crying, sulking or throwing a temper tantrum.

Today, I believe that it is important to differentiate. There is more than meets the eye in a situation like this. If a child chooses to sulk, cry or get angry, we have to understand that they have already learned this is their only option. There certainly are more appropriate ways to express one’s needs. They might also truly just be expressing their sadness, disappointment or anger. We have to teach children that their needs and feelings matter and that they will be met if it is at all possible. They have to learn how to arrive at compromises to have everybody’s needs met. Life is about win-win, not about how to achieve a win over others.

When our children are getting emotional, let’s sit them down, help them to express how they feel, for example “disappointed”, “angry”, or “unimportant/like I don’t matter”. Let them know they have a right to feel what they feel. Then put everybody’s needs on the table, for example: “You want to play this game which takes an hour, Anna wants to watch this movie, Mom has a headache and wants to take a nap, Dad has to start cooking dinner, the dog has to go for a walk and Peter needs a ride to work. We have two hours left. What do you suggest?”

Then sit back and trust them to be creative to work out a compromise which is a win-win situation for everybody. Let them be the problem solvers. If they are struggling to come up with ideas at first, make suggestions. Negotiating teaches them to truly listen to others and to care about everybody. Our job as parents is it to be a role model and reminder of non-violent communication and to hold the knowing that a peaceful solution can be found.

The more compromises the children get to create when they are young the more we can count on them growing-up to become balanced adults who know what they want, who believe that their needs matter and who naturally are striving to create win-win situations in all areas of their lives. After all, our children are the leaders of the future who need to be able to negotiate peace for our world.

Angelika

Life Coaching, 905-286-9466

 greendoorrelaxation@yahoo.ca

 Angelika wide picture for blogs smaller

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The Five Love Languages

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In my blog on June 28, 2013, I elaborated on how powerful words are and how they can have a strong vibration of manifestation in a negative sense. Today, almost a year later, I would like to focus on how the same concept works in the opposite way. Words of Love and Affirmation have a strong powerful vibration that deepens our love.

Personally, I feel seen, heard, appreciated and most safe with a partner who is able and willing to express his love and appreciation through words. That means expressing his feelings, affirming my actions and accomplishments, or complimenting me in some way. Words are the surest way to connect with me. My primary love language is words of affirmation. And I am not the only one who feels a strong connection and heart opening when hearing kind and loving words. When I feel disconnected, it always is because my partner and I had no opportunity to speak. However, that feeling of disconnect is remedied very quickly with a loving text, a phone call, or some time set aside to speak.

Gottman has shown the destructiveness of negative interactions in his research. He points out that it takes five positives comments to negate one negative. On the other hand, regular loving and understanding verbal interactions create something like an account of affection that we can draw on in challenging or stressful times.

Another love language is physical touch. If that is your primary love language you might reach out to your partner to touch, to hug or to hold hands. And it makes you feel safe, perhaps calms you down, to be touched. Without touch you tend to feel unappreciated, unloved or disconnected from your partner.

Most of us are multilingual when it comes to expressing affection. We might speak two or three love languages quite well but we usually have a primary one that we will need to receive, or that we default to in terms of expressing our affection.

A third love language is the one of giving love through acts of service. You or your partner might cook fabulously, keep everything need and tidy, run the kids around whenever they need a ride, repair things around the house and so on. In my experience, this is a love language we tend to overlook and take for granted. When have you last told your spouse how grateful you are for something they do for you or for the family? Or if their love language is not words of affirmation, can you express your appreciation for their acts of service in their way? Touch? A gift? Another service?

Or perhaps you primarily experience being loved when spending quality time with your partner, a fourth love language. Engaging in cultural or recreational activities together on a regular basis is an important way of staying connected. The saying “couples who play together, stay together” is a testament to this. Even when we are parents with young children and our priority is to spend family time together, we also need to make time for a “date night” or other one-on-one interaction with our partner.

The fifth love language is giving or receiving gifts. That was my mom’s love language when she wanted to show her affection. I always knew that a gift meant, “I am thinking of you, that’s why I bought you something”.  When working with clients I have occasionally come across the other person looking down onto the love language of gifts. They will say something like,  “I don’t want him to buy me something, I want ____”. And they fill in the blank with their love language which they perceive as “more meaningful”.

I often summarize the book “The 5 Love Languages” by Gary Chapman for my clients, in particular when someone sits in front of me who is deeply convinced their partner/parent/child does not love them, “not really in the way that they should.” The truth is that there is no right way to express love. However, there are these five love languages we all speak, some with more skill and enjoyment, others with less.

We have to keep in mind that everybody automatically expresses their affection in which ever way they have learned to and are most comfortable with. However, we can learn our partner’s love language and strive to speak it more, even if it does not come naturally to us. Since we are just dealing with different languages in this matter, we can make an effort to speak the other person’s language and we can appreciate the way in which they are expressing their affection.

It helps to figure out what your primary love language(s) is and which one(s) your partner uses. Compare them. Is it really true that they do not show you their love? Or are they just speaking a different love language?

I have had partners throughout my life who were not comfortable expressing emotions and were suspicious of hearing affirmations or compliments. Instead they had another primary language like Acts of Service or Giving Gifts. They would, for example, do something practical as their only expression of love, or they would buy me a gift. Sometimes it was hard for me to understand that their language was simply different. What if we could graciously accept a different love language while having an open conversation with our partner about what makes us feel most loved?

What is your preferred love language? Which language do you like to use; which do you like to receive? What is your partner’s love language? Your daughter’s or son’s? How can you learn to understand, or even speak, each other’s languages?

I know your time is valuable and I appreciate you reading my blog. If you are enjoying my articles, you can subscribe to receive an e-mail notification whenever I post a new blog. All you need to do is to enter your email address in the field on the left side of the bar. Thank you for your support!

For Relationship Coaching contact

Angelika

905-286-9466

greendoorrelaxation