It would be so great if just knowing How to use mindset tools and observing our thoughts was enough to create a happy and peaceful life. The knowledge that our thoughts create our feelings and therefore our actions and results is a game-changer. But it takes practice and constant work to learn to sort through the thoughts to get to a peaceful acceptance.
I’d love to share a story about my day.
Without going into too many details… what started with a perfectly reasonable request for my 15-year-old daughter to load the dishwasher escalated into a heated argument about all of the ways I’m a terrible mother (see how I made that all her fault?)
She pulled out pretty much all of the big hurtful insecurities I have about myself and my parenting and how I’m never there for her and just for fun threw in some barbs about the divorce.
Even in the moment, I knew she was just mad and probably stressed about school and other stuff, that she really just probably needed me to give her a hug and tell her I love her, but the things she’d said and the things I was choosing to think and feel about the things she’d said made me want to defend myself and give her all the facts to prove my argument. Reasoning with her wasn’t helping, trying to clarify what I believed were untrue statements wasn’t helping, and she was so upset that we were way past the hug thing working.
I let her get it all out, tried to interject a few times without success and then just walked into my room when she finished, completely at a loss for what to say. I knew that nothing I could say was going to change her mind about all of the injustice she was feeling. That no evidence and fact-checking to prove how wrong she was would persuade her to apologize and see my point.
And I was in a funk for most of the day.
I kept thinking how unfair it was to say the things she’d said. That they weren’t true, that everything I do in my life is for her and her brother, that she has no idea how hard I’m working and how much I love them and on and on and on...
And I let the things that she said (that I know she doesn’t mean) determine how I felt. How I felt about my parenting, how I felt about myself, how I felt about my life choices. And as I went through my day…including teaching a yoga class that at the last minute I decided to theme around worthiness and value regardless of external validation🙂… I started to come around to these realizations.
Even if she did believe that I don’t care about her and that I’m not interested in her life, it still would not be true. I know how much my children mean to me, regardless of anyone else’s thoughts about it.
I can only control my thoughts and feelings, I’m not responsible for her feelings. I can do everything she’d ever want me to and she can still decide to be mad at me. Because she determines her feelings, not me or my actions.
And while this realization does nothing to prove how right I was, it did help me (eventually) to not continue to feel hurt by the things she said. Because here’s the thing, she’s not responsible for my feelings either.
She (or anyone else) can say whatever they want. It only means something if I decide it means something to me. So if I was hurt by what she said, instead of thinking how wrong she was, maybe I should explore why it hurt, what nerve did it hit, is it something in me that I’d like to improve, or something that I need to accept in myself.
I’m not entitled to my kids always liking me. It’s my job to be their mom and if they’re not mad at me about half the time I’m probably doing something wrong. They are going to push back, and sometimes it will really hurt. But I have to remember that it’s not about me.
The words only hurt if I make them mean something awful like that they don’t love me and appreciate me or whatever other drama I indulge in, and I know that isn’t true. I know that the things she’s feeling are not for me to debate or change. They are part of her journey and it’s my job to love her where she is.
I still wish that I had found that clarity in the moment, that I’d known just what to say to make her feel better, but I didn’t. Maybe next time (because I know there will be a next time…) I’ll find a little more of that clarity to manage my own thoughts and feelings and get closer to helping her manage the thoughts and feelings that she’s having.
The process of observing our thoughts and detaching our Self from the thoughts, and not being defined by them is such a powerful tool. It takes a while to learn and gets stronger with practice…and is probably never perfected…but is always worth the effort.
This is one of the many tools that I use daily and help my clients learn to incorporate into their daily lives to find a greater sense of clarity and peace in difficult relationships and circumstances.
I have openings now for private yoga and wellness coaching, both in-studio and virtually. If you want to learn more, book a free consultation here, I’d love to chat with you and help you fill your wellness toolbox with this and many more life-changing resources!♥️
I know I'm not alone, and I feel bad every day for the terrible teenage daughter I was to my mom (sorry Mama! It was me, not you! 😁) I know this age will pass, but I also know that there will always be circumstances for me to choose how I want to think and feel. I'm grateful to have the tools to navigate the storms!