- Merrily Hope
Do you know who you are?
Updated: Jun 6, 2020
Thanks to Covid, this past couple of months has been a shit show. There is no guidebook. So let’s figure out a way to hold our own peace and get through this, with awesome growth that will last long after the masks come off. As parents, we have been conditioned to put our needs last. I’m sick of the “Put your mask on first” metaphor, but it’s really on point. When they were little we had to. If they are sick, we have to, but as they grow older, it becomes a habit. If we understand ourselves better, we can share our light. We were put on this planet for a reason, and if we don’t share that light, we are doing a disservice to ourselves and others. It is also our obligation to teach our children to be whole. I don’t want mine to grow up thinking that self-care is selfish, or that they have to give everything away. One of the best pieces of advice my mom ever gave me was, “What would you tell your daughter to do? Then why do anything less?”
The journey of self discovery is a messy one. And it’s hard work! I have been traveling on this journey for quite some time now. Necessitated, as I said, because I got really sick. I just read a metaphor yesterday that completely resonated with me. I’m taking a class that focuses on self-care for Empaths, and the teacher, the brilliant Sadie Nardine, said that the journey of self discovery as an empath, and likewise as a mom, is finding the courage and the skill to cross a bridge of self discovery. Or maybe not. Maybe your bridge is a new business, or a fitness goal, or a hobby you’ve wanted to try. You build yourself up and begin the journey, to find someone standing on the bridge that needs help. So, of course, you help them along their way, losing sight of your travels. Are you sorry you helped them? Of course not! But now, at the very least, you have to go back to where you were, or maybe even back farther, and start again. This is where it can get tricky. We have to find a way to point them in the right direction, while continuing on our journey. This is where boundaries come in...that’s another whole conversation.
If we are focusing on self-discovery, we have to realize that some of the scenery along this journey is the discovery of what makes you happy, or triggered, or angry, and why. This self-realization not only helps you, but ultimately helps your children too. For example, if you know you struggle with resentment, based on something that happened to you a long time ago, you can face those demons and clear them, if you acknowledge them! If you don’t even know they are there, they can be triggered unintentionally. You then react to a situation in a way that does not allow you to be your best self, and it’s a downhill spiral from there. We are made up of the energy, good or bad, of every decision we’ve ever made, and experience we’ve ever had. If we have been busy raising a family, we certainly have not had the time to stop and process everything we are going through. That energy then gets stuck and sits in our bodies and our minds festering. It’s time to take the time to sit quietly and process. Many people call this clearing. There are so many ways to do this, and I’ll be sharing some with you in later episodes and in my newsletter, but one simple way to get started is something I do each morning. I gently rub the area of my solar plexus chakra...don’t worry if you don’t know anything about chakras, stick with me and you’ll be talking about your throat chakra in no time...I rub my stomach and say, “I release that which no longer serves me.” Yes, I do this alone, or my family would think I’m crazier than they already do, but it is a simple reminder that I don’t need to hang on to old feelings that I don't need any more.
You know, I’m 46 years old, and I had a pretty good idea of what values are important to me, but I had never actually defined them. I just chugged along through life doing the best I could, and trying to make the best decisions at the time. I never truly thought about them and how they define not only me, but my parenting. How many of you have ever written down a map of your values? How do you teach something and instill it in your children, if it has never been defined? And think about how not knowing your values and your triggers can really cause a feeling of being out of control. Especially now, when we are truly out of control in pretty much everything in our worlds. If we can get a handle on our own emotions, we can react to everything so much better! I think schools these days are doing a better job of helping our children with social and emotional challenges, but we missed that boat. If you’re near my age, we were taught not to be selfish. I’m here to give you permission. Not to be selfish, but for self-care. It’s a fine line. I understand that. This is not to say that you have to set up boundaries so fiercely that you are unkind. But it is ok, no, it is imperative to check in with yourself and ask yourself, “Is this action aligned with my values?” Will it feed my soul, or steal from it? Yes, when our kids are little, it is our job to put them first. We are tasked with keeping them alive! What I want to teach you now, is how to prevent that from just becoming a habit. That is not serving them or you. You have to take care of yourself. YOU are important too! So my challenge for you this week seems simple, but if you haven’t done much self-reflection, you may find it a little more challenging. Take some time to make a list of values. Ideals that you would like to leave behind as your legacy. How do you want your child to describe you if she is asked to. I’m guessing it’s not, “She folds laundry great.” To me, it’s strength, compassion, a great listener (I still struggle with listening without trying to fix things.) It’s kindness and honesty. After you have your list, post it. Stick it on your mirror, or in your journal, or wherever you will see it daily. Then use it as a guide. If something doesn’t sit right with you, or makes you crabby or snappy, it is likely because it isn't aligned with your core values. Once you define them, you can not only use them as a self-check, to understand yourself and your reactions better, you can also teach them to your children. Don’t misunderstand me. I’m not suggesting you have a word of the day with them, I’m suggesting that you model them and label them. But most importantly, that you use them as guardrails for your life and your decisions.
You have spent your child’s entire life studying them. You know what each different tone of the word “Mom,” means. But do you know who mom really is? It’s time to learn.
>Want to dive a little deeper? Check out my Podcast, The Nest for Mindful Parents on Itunes or Spotify, or wherever you find your favorite Podcasts.
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