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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Anxiety is a sign that the brain has registered threat and is mobilising the body to get to safety. One of the ways it does this is by organising the body for movement - to fight the danger or flee the danger. 

If there is no need or no opportunity for movement, that fight or flight fuel will still be looking for expression. This can come out as wriggly, fidgety, hyperactive behaviour. This is why any of us might pace or struggle to sit still when we’re anxious. 

If kids or teens are bouncing around, wriggling in their chairs, or having trouble sitting still, it could be anxiety. Remember with anxiety, it’s not about what is actually safe but about what the brain perceives. New or challenging work, doing something unfamiliar, too much going on, a tired or hungry body, anything that comes with any chance of judgement, failure, humiliation can all throw the brain into fight or flight.

When this happens, the body might feel busy, activated, restless. This in itself can drive even more anxiety in kids or teens. Any of us can struggle when we don’t feel comfortable in our own bodies. 

Anxiety is energy with nowhere to go. To move through anxiety, give the energy somewhere to go - a fast walk, a run, a whole-body shake, hula hooping, kicking a ball - any movement that spends the energy will help bring the brain and body back to calm.♥️
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#parenting #anxietyinkids #childanxiety #parenting #parent
This is not bad behaviour. It’s big behaviour a from a brain that has registered threat and is working hard to feel safe again. 

‘Threat’ isn’t about what is actually safe or not, but about what the brain perceives. The brain can perceive threat when there is any chance missing out on or messing up something important, anything that feels unfamiliar, hard, or challenging, feeling misunderstood, thinking you might be angry or disappointed with them, being separated from you, being hungry or tired, anything that pushes against their sensory needs - so many things. 

During anxiety, the amygdala in the brain is switched to high volume, so other big feelings will be too. This might look like tears, sadness, or anger. 

Big feelings have a good reason for being there. The amygdala has the very important job of keeping us safe, and it does this beautifully, but not always with grace. One of the ways the amygdala keeps us safe is by calling on big feelings to recruit social support. When big feelings happen, people notice. They might not always notice the way we want to be noticed, but we are noticed. This increases our chances of safety. 

Of course, kids and teens still need our guidance and leadership and the conversations that grow them, but not during the emotional storm. They just won’t hear you anyway because their brain is too busy trying to get back to safety. In that moment, they don’t want to be fixed or ‘grown’. They want to feel seen, safe and heard. 

During the storm, preserve your connection with them as much as you can. You might not always be able to do this, and that’s okay. None of this is about perfection. If you have a rupture, repair it as soon as you can. Then, when their brains and bodies come back to calm, this is the time for the conversations that will grow them. 

Rather than, ‘What consequences do they need to do better?’, shift to, ‘What support do they need to do better?’ The greatest support will come from you in a way they can receive: ‘What happened?’ ‘What can you do differently next time?’ ‘You’re the most wonderful kid and I know you didn’t want this to happen. How can you put things right? Do you need my help with that?’♥️
Big behaviour is a sign of a nervous system in distress. Before anything, that vulnerable nervous system needs to be brought back home to felt safety. 

This will happen most powerfully with relationship and connection. Breathe and be with. Let them know you get it. This can happen with words or nonverbals. It’s about feeling what they feel, but staying regulated.

If they want space, give them space but stay in emotional proximity, ‘Ok I’m just going to stay over here. I’m right here if you need.’

If they’re using spicy words to make sure there is no confusion about how they feel about you right now, flag the behaviour, then make your intent clear, ‘I know how upset you are and I want to understand more about what’s happening for you. I’m not going to do this while you’re speaking to me like this. You can still be mad, but you need to be respectful. I’m here for you.’

Think of how you would respond if a friend was telling you about something that upset her. You wouldn’t tell her to calm down, or try to fix her (she’s not broken), or talk to her about her behaviour. You would just be there. You would ‘drop an anchor’ and steady those rough seas around her until she feels okay enough again. Along the way you would be doing things that let her know your intent to support her. You’d do this with you facial expressions, your voice, your body, your posture. You’d feel her feels, and she’d feel you ‘getting her’. It’s about letting her know that you understand what she’s feeling, even if you don’t understand why (or agree with why). 

It’s the same for our children. As their important big people, they also need leadership. The time for this is after the storm has passed, when their brains and bodies feel safe and calm. Because of your relationship, connection and their felt sense of safety, you will have access to their ‘thinking brain’. This is the time for those meaningful conversations: 
- ‘What happened?’
- ‘What did I do that helped/ didn’t help?’
- ‘What can you do differently next time?’
- ‘You’re a great kid and I know you didn’t want this to happen, but here we are. What can you do to put things right? Do you need my help with that?’♥️
As children grow, and especially by adolescence, we have the illusion of control but whether or not we have any real influence will be up to them. The temptation to control our children will always come from a place of love. Fear will likely have a heavy hand in there too. When they fall, we’ll feel it. Sometimes it will feel like an ache in our core. Sometimes it will feel like failure or guilt, or anger. We might wish we could have stopped them, pushed a little harder, warned a little bigger, stood a little closer. We’re parents and we’re human and it’s what this parenting thing does. It makes fear and anxiety billow around us like lost smoke, too easily.

Remember, they want you to be proud of them, and they want to do the right thing. When they feel your curiosity over judgement, and the safety of you over shame, it will be easier for them to open up to you. Nobody will guide them better than you because nobody will care more about where they land. They know this, but the magic happens when they also know that you are safe and that you will hold them, their needs, their opinions and feelings with strong, gentle, loving hands, no matter what.♥️
Anger is the ‘fight’ part of the fight or flight response. It has important work to do. Anger never exists on its own. It exists to hold other more vulnerable emotions in a way that feels safer. It’s sometimes feels easier, safer, more acceptable, stronger to feel the ‘big’ that comes with anger, than the vulnerability that comes with anxiety, sadness, loneliness. This isn’t deliberate. It’s just another way our bodies and brains try to keep us safe. 

The problem isn’t the anger. The problem is the behaviour that can come with the anger. Let there be no limits on thoughts and feelings, only behaviour. When children are angry, as long as they are safe and others are safe, we don’t need to fix their anger. They aren’t broken. Instead, drop the anchor: as much as you can - and this won’t always be easy - be a calm, steadying, loving presence to help bring their nervous systems back home to calm. 

Then, when they are truly calm, and with love and leadership, have the conversations that will grow them - 
- What happened? 
- What can you do differently next time?
- You’re a really great kid. I know you didn’t want this to happen but here we are. How can you make things right. Would you like some ideas? Do you need some help with that?
- What did I do that helped? What did I do that didn’t help? Is there something that might feel more helpful next time?

When their behaviour falls short of ‘adorable’, rather than asking ‘What consequences they need to do better?’ let the question be, ‘What support do they need to do better.’ Often, the biggest support will be a conversation with you, and that will be enough.♥️
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#parenting #positiveparenting #mindfulparenting #anxietyinkids

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