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Holding the Messes of Life with Ease and Balance

Connecting with others in friendship and community helps us recover the emotional equilibrium that supports our resilience. This interview shares an exercise from Linda Graham’s new book Resilience that deepens that connection, and helps us experience and claim our own resilience. I hope you enjoy this video!

Resilience: Powerful Practices for Bouncing Back from Disappointment, Difficulty and Even Disaster  has more than 100 evidenced-based tools to strengthen our innate capacities to cope with anything, anything at all.

In Resilience Linda Graham walks us skillfully to the edges of our struggles, where resilience is patiently waiting if only we know the path. This book shows us the way, as Linda brilliantly offers practical tips and creative ideas to re-wire our brains for inner calm and wise action. This is a resource I will come back to over and over again for my personal life and work projects.

LINDA GRAHAM, MFT is an experienced psychotherapist, coach, and trainer in the recovery of resilience. She integrates practices of mindfulness, relational psychology, and modern neuroscience in her international trainings, workshops and conferences.

You can learn more about Linda at https://lindagraham-mft.net/

You don’t agree with me? Now what?

Many of us have no idea where to begin when we find ourselves across from someone who we disagree with. The words fight, flight, or freeze come to mind as our ineffective toolkit of responses. How is that working for you? Not so well for me…

Difficult conversations don’t need to be quite so… difficult.

With a little curiosity, effort, care, and courage any of us can learn to lean in to these moments with more skill. One of my favorite resources to guide my way is a book called Fierce Conversations written by Susan Scott. She shares seven principles to communicate more effectively with one of your kiddos, your partner, a colleague, or anyone else you find yourself not seeing eye to eye.  

First of all… fierce means real!  Seriously real. How many times do we say yes when we mean no, pretend we feel one way when it’s really another, or don’t say anything at all when we are hurting inside? Each conversation we have with others brings us closer together or farther apart. Make a commitment to nurture the relationship by honoring how you feel and relating to what they have to say. Lean in with serious authenticity and a willingness to make the conversation genuine.

Be Courageous and Interrogate Reality

The truth is… reality changes. What was true about our ten year old a few weeks ago can be very different today. Take a long hard look at the reality of the difficult situation in front of you. Is what you are thinking and believing true? As Byron Katie would ask us… “who would you be without your story?”

Choose Authenticity

This chapter in the book is titled, Come Out from Behind Yourself into the Conversation and Make It Real. Who are you, or who do you wish to be authentically? Are you courageous enough to shine a light deep within and speak your truth? What truly matters for you about this difficult conversation? It’s probably not really that your partner left the dishes in the sink, but more connected to cooperation, respect, or dependability. How about having that conversation?

Practice Mindful Listening

During a difficult situation can you pause for a moment to become present, to be in this moment fully and completely? Can you listen to and speak to the person in front you, while putting aside any stories you may have in your mind from the past fogging things up? Everyone longs to be known and seen for who we are and what we are in this moment.

Meet Your Worst Struggles Head on Today

What happens when we put off dealing with the tough stuff? We almost always make matters worse, and the problem seems to grow, almost taking on a life of its own within our psyche. Your toughest challenges stand between you and the peace and happiness you long for. The things hardest to discuss hold our freedom in chains. This includes stuff like speaking openly and honestly to your teen about relationships, intimacy, and sex. Just do it!

Never Underestimate Your Intuition

Pay attention to the wisdom of your body. Messages are coming to you all day, every day if you are willing to slow down and listen. Tap into this intelligence and trust what is coming through. Discuss it with trusted family members, friends, and colleagues. Abide by the voice within.  

Take Responsibility for Your Emotional Wake

Nothing you say to your children or anyone else is meaningless. You have no idea how what you might have said has impacted another. Intention does not always match impact.  Conversations are a key part of relationships. Own up to all of the words and messages you put out into the world. Be prepared to address how you might have made someone else feel.

Honor The Gifts Silence Gives Us

Most of us say way too many words. Seriously. Way too many. Can you be still and quiet when in an uncomfortable conversation? What is your relationship to silence? Deeper feelings and hurts often emerge within this space. Silence makes most of us nervous, but it also slows everything down. Insight emerges in the spaces between our thoughts.

Meeting challenges with others is never easy. However, these moments can bring us even closer together when we are willing to bring our full authentic selves to the relationship and to the moment. Which fierce conversation is waiting for you?

Resilience: Powerful Practices for Bouncing Back from Disappointment, Difficulty, and Even Disaster with Linda Graham

Resilience is the learned capacity to cope with any level of adversity, from a series of small annoyances to the struggles and sorrows that break our hearts to the utter disasters that change our lives forever.  

Resilience is essential for surviving and thriving in a world full of troubles and tragedies, and it is completely trainable and recoverable – when we know how.

Lindas new book has more than 130 evidenced-based tools to help you cope with anything, anything at all.

A step-by-step process to strengthen the foundations of resilience:

Somatic Intelligence: body-based tools to restore our baseline physiological equilibrium, and inner sense of safety, the range of resilience that primes the brain’s neuroplasticity for learning and growth.

Emotional Intelligence:  managing the full range of emotions, empathizing with and managing reactions to other people’s emotions, cultivate practices to antidote the innate negativity bias of the brain and reliable shift the functioning of the brain out of reactivity and contraction into more openness, receptivity. Not just to feel better but to do better.

Relational Intelligence within Oneself:  Using self-awareness and self-acceptance practices to foster inner capacities of response flexibility and claim and inner secure base of resilience, the “home base” of a wise, trustworthy, courageous self.

Relational Intelligence with Others:  learning how to engage with other people, in both intimate and social relationships, in ways that allow you to trust and connect with them as refuges and resources of resilience.

Reflective Intelligence: cultivating the mindful awareness that allows us to see clearly what’s happening (and our reactions to what’s happening) shift perspectives, rewire habitual thought patterns that block response flexibility , discern options and make wise choices.

 

LINDA GRAHAM, MFT is an experienced psychotherapist, coach, and trainer in the recovery of resilience. She integrates practices of mindfulness, relational psychology, and modern neuroscience in her international trainings, workshops and conferences.

 

You can learn more about Linda at https://lindagraham-mft.net/

The best thing to ask your kiddos when they get home from school is……

Ready for it? 

NOTHING!

How about that? 

Instead of asking them….

  • How was your day?
  • Do you have any homework? 
  • How are you feeling?
  • What grade did you receive on your test? 

Tell them….

  • I’m so happy to see you. 
  • I missed you! 
  • The house/apartment just got a little brighter with you in it. 
  • I’m noticing you look a little worn out. I’m here if you need anything.

And if you must ask them something….

  • Can I make you a snack? 
  • Did anything fun or unusal happen today? 
  • Which friends did you play with at recess?
  • Do you need any support from me this afternoon/evening?

The transition from school to home can be a tricky one for our kiddos.

They have been working hard all day trying to do the right thing, say the right thing, answer in just the right way…

Bombarding them with intrusive questions the second they walk through the door or get into the car tends to shut them down. The opposite of what we all wish for right?

Instead, use the power of mindfulness to tune into yourself and your kiddos.

Pause… notice your breath… ask yourself… “what’s most important now? What does this moment ask of me?

I find that if I stick to this, my boys will eventually offer up how their day was. Yes, even my teenager. It might not be until bedtime… but it happens. 

Let me know how it goes! 

With Love,

Michelle

 

 

 

Differently Wired: Raising an Exceptional Child in a Conventional World, with Debbie Reber

 

Right now, millions of children are growing up in a world that doesn’t respect, support, or embrace who they inherently are.

These are children Debbie refers to as “differently wired”—the kids with neurodifferences such as ADHD, giftedness, autism, learning disorders, and anxiety, as well as those with no formal diagnosis, who are being told day in and day out that there is something wrong with them. And because their differences are for the most part invisible, these kids are stuck trying to fit into a world that wasn’t designed to accommodate their unique way of being.

Their challenges are many. But for the parents who love them, their challenges are just as hard. They’re the parents frequently fielding emails from frustrated teachers and dealing with glares when their children behave inappropriately in public. They’re the exhausted moms and dads pushed into nonstop advocacy mode, the ones whose kids people think twice about inviting to their child’s birthday party. They’re overwhelmed, misunderstood, and isolated, which is ironic considering their kids are in every classroom across the country. Debbie knows this because she is one of these parents.

DIFFERENTLY WIRED lays out a new vision for not only redefining the way neurodiversity is perceived in the world, but shifting the parenting paradigm so parents raising extraordinary kids can do so from a place of peace, joy, and most importantly, choice.

Each chapter in the book centers on one big tangible idea—or as Debbie calls them, “Tilts”—that will shift parents’ thinking and actions in a way that will change not only the family dynamic, but will allow for these unique children to fully realize their best selves. By making these shifts, parents everywhere will be rejecting what’s broken in the status quo. And that leads to moving the world closer to a place where difference is genuinely seen and valued.

Debbie Reber moved her career in a more personal direction in 2016 when she founded TiLT Parenting, a website, top parenting podcast (more than 250k downloads), and social media community for parents like her who are raising differently-wired children. Debbie’s newest book, Differently Wired: Raising Exceptional Kids in a Conventional World, was published by Workman Books in June 2018. She currently lives with her son and husband in the Netherlands.

Visit Debbie at www.debbiereber.com

Sometimes we all need a little taming of the ego…

One of the greatest gifts mindfulness has given me is the ability to watch my ego roar and not take it too seriously. 

Sitting in meditation while watching thoughts go by again, and again, and again… seriously lends itself to understanding how wacky the mind can be. 

However…last week, a book talk I gave at Google on Mindful Parenting went live on YouTube. This is exciting right? Well….it was until I saw that the only three comments posted were fairly unkind. Not only that but some people had clicked “thumbs down”. Ouch! 

I was having a perfectly productive and lovely day until I read those three comments…then….BAM…the inner critic went into overdrive. I had been hijacked by my own mind. 

 

Here are how my ego thoughts went…. 

Oh man…that talk wasn’t very good

I flipped my hair too much…why do I do that? What kind of weird habit is that? 

That outfit is all wrong. I need to get a stylist.

Those people are just mean trolls…. but what if they are right?n

Who do I think I am giving a talk at Google anyway? 

 

You get the point right? So here is what I did…. I stopped, marched myself over to my meditation cushion and sat with all of it. Let me tell you this was not pleasant. My mind was going wild. I was reminded of something Pema Chodron said in her book The Places That Scare You. “When our emotions intensify, what we usually feel is fear. This fear is always lurking in our lives. In sitting meditation we practice dropping whatever story we are telling ourselves and leaning into the emotion and the fear, thus, we train in opening the fearful heart to the restlessness of our own energy. We learn to abide with the experience of our emotional distress.” 

So I watched all the ego inner critic stories and saw clearly that I was simply afraid of not being good enough. Was this true? Nope. I’m perfectly good enough thank you very much. Next, I reminded myself of my dedication to practice, integrity, and connection to purpose. That tricky ego critic was squished and my heart was again open. I offered myself some self compassion for being human, put on my big girl panties, and did what I needed to do… email my soul sisters! I sent an SOS to the women in my life who I knew would support me. This sisterhood flung into action, watched my talk, liked my page, and left comments reflective of who they know me to be. Being held by my community in love was just what the ego doctor ordered. And yes…I get the irony of their comments feeding my ego a bit. 🙂

This process all took place over a few hours. Reflecting back I was able to watch in slow motion how I was hijacked and how I came back to love. (Of course I did also have the help of my soul sisters…)

We can all expect the ego hijack from time to time. Dare I say this can happen quite easily at home with our families. Hopefully we are ready with the sacred pause, the leaning into our emotions and fear, and a willingness to reach out for connection and support. 

May you meet this moment fully. May you meet this moment with kindness towards yourself and others. 

 

The 4 Telltale Signs of a Good Enough Mindful Parent

A mindful parent is wise, calm, and always knows just what to do in any given parenting situation. Right? Right? Maybe not so much.

I began focusing on parenting mindfully about eight years ago, and at that time one of my main goals was to stay calm and not get angry. How do you think that worked out for me? Well…I pretty much ended up feeling like a failure every time I didn’t feel calm and got angry. For the record, I don’t recommend stuffing anger in the name of mindful parenting.

As the years went on, I came to understand that mindful parenting is more about allowing the messy parts of our lives to wake us up moment by moment. It’s the anger and other uncomfortable feelings, emotions, and reactions that actually lead us to our mindfulness.

The more awareness we bring to our struggles, the less of a vice grip they have on us.

Our children are masters of presenting these struggles to us in regular doses (for our own good as it turns out). They offer up a steady drip of where we have yet to grow. Can you see how our children are our master teachers? They trigger us in all the right ways to point us towards our greatest possibilities for personal growth, if only we can view our triggers through this lens. Easier said then done I know…but no one said it was going to be easy. Stay with me…

So what can we expect to see from the Good Enough Mindful Parent? Ready for the four things?

#1 The “Good Enough” Mindful Parent takes the time to practice mindfulness (the more the better but we are going for good enough here). We notice the water on our skin while in the shower, name the emotions we are feeling throughout the day, and sit in silence for a few moments (or hours) just noticing our breath. We don’t beat ourselves up when we loose our mindfulness and trust it will come back. In fact, simply noticing that we are not mindful IS mindfulness. You did it!

#2 The “Good Enough” Mindful Parent works to view difficult behaviors through the lenses of emotions and needs. We identify the emotion present in our children; such as they are angry, frustrated, exasperated or sad. We then identify which one of their basic needs is not being met, such as the need for connection, safety, play or freedom. From this perspective we can soften around our children’s (awful) behaviors and move right into deepening connection with them. Perhaps we hold out our arms for a hug or offer them a snack to counteract the blood sugar dip that had caused the awful behavior. On the days we are completely spent and barely have any patience we immediately forgive ourselves and move on to #3.

#3 The “Good Enough” Mindful Parent takes care of their body, mind, and spirit. You have heard of this idea yes? Self Care. The whole “put on your own oxygen mask first” thing. We simply can’t be aware, perfectly present, and unwaveringly patient when our tanks are on empty. Although a spa day would be lovely, we are going for good enough here remember. Wash your hair, take a walk, practice yoga, or call a good friend. Whatever fills up your tank do that.

#4- The “Good Enough” Mindful Parent expects to make mistakes. And I mean make mistakes daily! What our children need most is help from us to explore their own inner worlds. When we completely blow it is the perfect time to help our children grow (while subsequently crawling out from that pile of guilt we are hiding under). The trick here is to calm down before moving forward. After the amygdala hijack in your brain is over and your cortisol levels have lowered, talk through the blunder with your child. It might go something like this…”Wow, I really screwed up earlier. I should have noticed how angry I was getting and stepped away to take a few breaths. I wish I had caught the anger monster before it exploded. I’m sorry. Are you willing to tell me how my anger affected you?” On the days we are too spun around to admit to our mistakes we get a good nights sleep and start over tomorrow.

So there you go…let go of the idea of a perfectly mindful parent. They don’t exist. The Dali Lama doesn’t have children. Just saying.