14 Moves to Get You Out Of Your Way

Sometimes it’s circumstance that sticks to our potential like molasses, weighing it down and making it hard to move forward. More often though, the biggest obstacle in our way is ourselves.

It’s not necessary to make grand, sweeping changes to make a difference. When one thing changes, other things have to change to reset the equilibrium. It’s human nature to always seek balance and ironically, the best way to find balance can be to unsettle things for a little while and force the change.

Here are some places to start. Try experimenting with one or a bunch of them.

  1. Find your boundaries. Now sharpen them.

    Imagine a bold heavy underline at the point where you end and the rest of the world begins. Be clear about who you want in and who you want out. You can’t always choose the people around you, but you can choose how much of their ‘stuff’ crosses into your zone. If there’s any chance of it draining you, ruining you or shrinking you – it’s out. And perhaps they are too.

  2. Trust your own judgement.

    No two people live from the same script so difference and disagreement is inevitable. Nobody knows what’s best for you, better than you. Listen to the wisdom and advice of others but when all is said and done, there’s something in you that already knows the answer. 

  3. Love hard. It’s a superpower.

    Be emotionally generous to those who deserve you. Don’t stay with people who drain or damage and when someone is worthy of your love, respect and admiration, give it freely and abundantly. Appreciate them. Acknowledge them. Adore them. Few things will make a bigger difference.

  4. Don’t take anything personally. (Because seriously – what if none of it’s about you.)

    People will react the way they do for so many reasons and often none of them will have anything to do with you. There will always be people who judge, criticise and condemn – because of who they are, not because of who you are. We’ve all made stupid decisions before but we all have a right to be wrong sometimes. Look at situations, people and reactions objectively, rather than taking them personally. 

  5. Let mistakes be opportunities – not a shame incubator.

    There are plenty of ways to learn. Mistakes are one of them. Approach failures and mistakes as an opportunity to to learn. Look for the lesson, learn it and move on. Mistakes are a fertile training ground to give you the resources, wisdom and experience to get you to where you’re going. 

  6. Get to know who you are (when the world isn’t telling you who to be).

    We wear so many hats – mother, partner, daughter, sister, friend, colleague. Take time on your own, away from the noise, to stay in touch with who you are when you aren’t somebody’s someone. Of course who you are in relation to other people is important but being connected to yourself gives way to understanding what you want and who you are when you don’t have to be anything – or anyone – to anybody. 

  7. Problem? Nah. It’s a challenge and it has its own reward. You’ve got this.

    What if you knew without a doubt  that at the end of every problem you would be wiser, more capable, more resilient, bigger and bolder than the person you are now. Problems can be opportunities or the fuel for complaints, whining and excuses. They can expand you at the edges or keep you stuck as a victim of circumstance. Ultimately it’s up to you.

  8. Accept others as they are. Or walk away.

    Everyone has a story to tell and when you understand enough of a person’s story, that life starts to make sense. Don’t judge someone else because their chapters are different to yours. That said, not being judgemental doesn’t mean accepting everyone into your fold. Not everyone will be good for you. That doesn’t mean they aren’t good people – though sometimes they aren’t – but sometimes people don’t mix. If you can’t accept someone for who they are, or if who they are feels bad for you, walk away.

  9. Try something that scares you (in a bold, ‘I can do this’, exciting kind of way).

    Growth involves finding our edges and pushing a little further beyond to see what’s there. It’s the lifeblood of creativity, adventure and the sometimes breathtaking off-spin of courage. Staying too long in your comfort zone has the potential to entrench you in a rut. Likewise with your relationships. Don’t try things only to succeed. Try things to learn, discover and unfold – regardless of ‘success’. 

  10. Be deliberate about who you keep around.

    Choose the right people to be around. It’s been said that we are an average of the five people we spend the most time with. People have the power to reduce or expand our flight, depending on who they are, and how much we’re prepared to compromise. Some compromise is important. Too much is crippling. Choose wisely. You deserve people who think you’re wonderful.

  11. Just decide.

    When there’s a hard decision to make, it’s easy to avoid making any decision at all for fear of getting it wrong. Remember though, making no decision is still making a decision but you’re not fully in control of the wheel. Have faith that any decision you make is made with as much vision as you had available to you. Just decide and have faith in your capacity to cope with whatever happens next. Only then can you start moving forward. 

  12. Let go of the need to be right.

    There’s grace, strength and an abundance of wisdom in owning your mistakes. Be ready to admit when you’re wrong – with strength, not with defensiveness. Mistakes are how you learn but you won’t learn anything if you’re whipping yourself on the back for not knowing better. 

  13. Be patient.

    Good things take time. Impatience often leads to giving up before the time has come. Know that you have what it takes to succeed, and that the path might be unpredictable. It might be longer, windier and with more dips than expected but that doesn’t change where it’s headed. Know the end goal is still there, however long it takes to reach it.

  14. Make sure you’re understood. Then be comfortable with disagreement.

    Do whatever is necessary to be understood. Messages don’t always land as they are intended. Make sure you’re able to tell the difference between a misunderstanding and a disagreement. If it’s a disagreement, don’t it personally. If it’s a misunderstanding, clear it up. 

And above all else, be brave.

2 Comments

pam

Hi karen, Yup, it’s me again. First let me say I didn’t mean to write such a long letter on that reply to you, but I guess it was time to start letting some of this out of me. I usually go back and edit what I write, but I knew if I did that, I may not have hit the send button.

Many things you said above have hit home with me and again, I want to thank you and ask you how you got so wise? You know your stuff kid, you really are genuine and good for you!
You are going to be helping a lot of people with your wisdom, have no doubt.
Number ten kinda hit me between the eyes and actually I believe that was happening with me and it’s not that I intentionally ran off the people in my life, but I started seeing things that I didn’t like and not accepting stuff that I normally used to do. I think also when i started to wake up and realize that I was actually allowing people to use me and that it was not them, but me who had to do something about it, that might be when my husband realized that I was changing as well. Because shortly after that realization, he started getting very mean, and was pushing himself in my face and he would rant forever on how lousy a person I was and it started happening more regular and more intensely, until I talk him he needed to sit down, he was scaring me, pounding on the table and right in my face and I realized it was probably going to be my face if I didn’t nip all this in the bud right now. So, he left for a job out of state and when he was done with the week or so silent treatment, I told him not to come home, not until he was coming to get his stuff because if I saw him coming up the road I would call the police. And to make a long story shorter, he got very contrite and convinced me once again he loved me and was going to try to change. And I let him come home and we were good for close to a year. I kept waiting for the other shoe to fall and it didn’t and I started to feel like maybe it was safe and of course I let my guard down. I was so happy and thought finally, we may make it after all. But then it all went to hell, he had to keep me off balance, and I think you probably know how it came down, I had to make a stand and he realized he wasn’t going any further with me so he told me he never loved me and all that crap and here we are now about two month later. I”m in the house, he lives in the shop, and he thought this would work but it’s not working for me because I can’t get on with my life and I know we can’t work anything out now, and just the last few days I frankly do not want to try anymore. SO, whew, I did it again and sorry but it seems like it is just pouring out of me now. I want to live again, I want to be happy and I’m getting very close to being ready to start a new phase of this battle, scared as I am, I’m not backing up anymore, it’s my time and I deserve some happiness by gosh.

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Turenne

I love this article about how to get out of our way!
I say Right On to all 14 moves and need to quote this:

“It’s not necessary to make grand, sweeping changes to make a difference. When one thing changes, other things have to change to reset the equilibrium.”

So true!

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Big feelings, and the big behaviour that comes from big feelings, are a sign of a distressed nervous system. Think of this like a burning building. The behaviour is the smoke. The fire is a distressed nervous system. It’s so tempting to respond directly to the behaviour (the smoke), but by doing this, we ignore the fire. Their behaviour and feelings in that moment are a call for support - for us to help that distressed brain and body find the way home. 

The most powerful language for any nervous system is another nervous system. They will catch our distress (as we will catch theirs) but they will also catch our calm. It can be tempting to move them to independence on this too quickly, but it just doesn’t work this way. Children can only learn to self-regulate with lots (and lots and lots) of experience co-regulating. 

This isn’t something that can be taught. It’s something that has to be experienced over and over. It’s like so many things - driving a car, playing the piano - we can talk all we want about ‘how’ but it’s not until we ‘do’ over and over that we get better at it. 

Self-regulation works the same way. It’s not until children have repeated experiences with an adult bringing them back to calm, that they develop the neural pathways to come back to calm on their own. 

An important part of this is making sure we are guiding that nervous system with tender, gentle hands and a steady heart. This is where our own self-regulation becomes important. Our nervous systems speak to each other every moment of every day. When our children or teens are distressed, we will start to feel that distress. It becomes a loop. We feel what they feel, they feel what we feel. Our own capacity to self-regulate is the circuit breaker. 

This can be so tough, but it can happen in microbreaks. A few strong steady breaths can calm our own nervous system, which we can then use to calm theirs. Breathe, and be with. It’s that simple, but so tough to do some days. When they come back to calm, then have those transformational chats - What happened? What can make it easier next time?

Who you are in the moment will always be more important than what you do.
How we are with them, when they are their everyday selves and when they aren’t so adorable, will build their view of three things: the world, its people, and themselves. This will then inform how they respond to the world and how they build their very important space in it. 

Will it be a loving, warm, open-hearted space with lots of doors for them to throw open to the people and experiences that are right for them? Or will it be a space with solid, too high walls that close out too many of the people and experiences that would nourish them.

They will learn from what we do with them and to them, for better or worse. We don’t teach them that the world is safe for them to reach into - we show them. We don’t teach them to be kind, respectful, and compassionate. We show them. We don’t teach them that they matter, and that other people matter, and that their voices and their opinions matter. We show them. We don’t teach them that they are little joy mongers who light up the world. We show them. 

But we have to be radically kind with ourselves too. None of this is about perfection. Parenting is hard, and days will be hard, and on too many of those days we’ll be hard too. That’s okay. We’ll say things we shouldn’t say and do things we shouldn’t do. We’re human too. Let’s not put pressure on our kiddos to be perfect by pretending that we are. As long as we repair the ruptures as soon as we can, and bathe them in love and the warmth of us as much as we can, they will be okay.

This also isn’t about not having boundaries. We need to be the guardians of their world and show them where the edges are. But in the guarding of those boundaries we can be strong and loving, strong and gentle. We can love them, and redirect their behaviour.

It’s when we own our stuff(ups) and when we let them see us fall and rise with strength, integrity, and compassion, and when we hold them gently through the mess of it all, that they learn about humility, and vulnerability, and the importance of holding bruised hearts with tender hands. It’s not about perfection, it’s about consistency, and honesty, and the way we respond to them the most.♥️

#parenting #mindfulparenting
Anxiety and courage always exist together. It can be no other way. Anxiety is a call to courage. It means you're about to do something brave, so when there is one the other will be there too. Their courage might feel so small and be whisper quiet, but it will always be there and always ready to show up when they need it to.
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But courage doesn’t always feel like courage, and it won't always show itself as a readiness. Instead, it might show as a rising - from fear, from uncertainty, from anger. None of these mean an absence of courage. They are the making of space, and the opportunity for courage to rise.
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When the noise from anxiety is loud and obtuse, we’ll have to gently add our voices to usher their courage into the light. We can do this speaking of it and to it, and by shifting the focus from their anxiety to their brave. The one we focus on is ultimately what will become powerful. It will be the one we energise. Anxiety will already have their focus, so we’ll need to make sure their courage has ours.
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But we have to speak to their fear as well, in a way that makes space for it to be held and soothed, with strength. Their fear has an important job to do - to recruit the support of someone who can help them feel safe. Only when their fear has been heard will it rest and make way for their brave.
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What does this look like? Tell them their stories of brave, but acknowledge the fear that made it tough. Stories help them process their emotional experiences in a safe way. It brings word to the feelings and helps those big feelings make sense and find containment. ‘You were really worried about that exam weren’t you. You couldn’t get to sleep the night before. It was tough going to school but you got up, you got dressed, you ... and you did it. Then you ...’
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In the moment, speak to their brave by first acknowledging their need to flee (or fight), then tell them what you know to be true - ‘This feels scary for you doesn’t it. I know you want to run. It makes so much sense that you would want to do that. I also know you can do hard things. My darling, I know it with everything in me.’
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#positiveparenting #parenting #childanxiety #anxietyinchildren #mindfulpare
Separation anxiety has an important job to do - it’s designed to keep children safe by driving them to stay close to their important adults. Gosh it can feel brutal sometimes though.

Whenever there is separation from an attachment person there will be anxiety unless there are two things: attachment with another trusted, loving adult; and a felt sense of you holding on, even when you aren't beside them. Putting these in place will help soften anxiety.

As long as children are are in the loving care of a trusted adult, there's no need to avoid separation. We'll need to remind ourselves of this so we can hold on to ourselves when our own anxiety is rising in response to theirs. 

If separation is the problem, connection has to be the solution. The connection can be with any loving adult, but it's more than an adult being present. It needs an adult who, through their strong, warm, loving presence, shows the child their abundant intention to care for that child, and their joy in doing so. This can be helped along by showing that you trust the adult to love that child big in our absence. 'I know [important adult] loves you and is going to take such good care of you.'

To help your young one feel held on to by you, even in absence, let them know you'll be thinking of them and can't wait to see them. Bolster this by giving them something of yours to hold while you're gone - a scarf, a note - anything that will be felt as 'you'.

They know you are the one who makes sure their world is safe, so they’ll be looking to you for signs of safety: 'Do you think we'll be okay if we aren't together?' First, validate: 'You really want to stay with me, don't you. I wish I could stay with you too! It's hard being away from your special people isn't it.' Then, be their brave. Let it be big enough to wrap around them so they can rest in the safety and strength of it: 'I know you can do this, love. We can do hard things can't we.'

Part of growing up brave is learning that the presence of anxiety doesn't always mean something is wrong. Sometimes it means they are on the edge of brave - and being away from you for a while counts as brave.
Even the most loving, emotionally available adult might feel frustration, anger, helplessness or distress in response to a child’s big feelings. This is how it’s meant to work. 

Their distress (fight/flight) will raise distress in us. The purpose is to move us to protect or support or them, but of course it doesn’t always work this way. When their big feelings recruit ours it can drive us more to fight (anger, blame), or to flee (avoid, ignore, separate them from us) which can steal our capacity to support them. It will happen to all of us from time to time. 

Kids and teens can’t learn to manage big feelings on their own until they’ve done it plenty of times with a calm, loving adult. This is where co-regulation comes in. It helps build the vital neural pathways between big feelings and calm. They can’t build those pathways on their own. 

It’s like driving a car. We can tell them how to drive as much as we like, but ‘talking about’ won’t mean they’re ready to hit the road by themselves. Instead we sit with them in the front seat for hours, driving ‘with’ until they can do it on their own. Feelings are the same. We feel ‘with’, over and over, until they can do it on their own. 

What can help is pausing for a moment to see the behaviour for what it is - a call for support. It’s NOT bad behaviour or bad parenting. It’s not that.

Our own feelings can give us a clue to what our children are feeling. It’s a normal, healthy, adaptive way for them to share an emotional load they weren’t meant to carry on their own. Self-regulation makes space for us to hold those feelings with them until those big feelings ease. 

Self-regulation can happen in micro moments. First, see the feelings or behaviour for what it is - a call for support. Then breathe. This will calm your nervous system, so you can calm theirs. In the same way we will catch their distress, they will also catch ours - but they can also catch our calm. Breathe, validate, and be ‘with’. And you don’t need to do more than that.

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