Suri shares her reflections about the unquestioned beliefs we carry with us as parents and whether or not we all carry a meter or worry with us. How can we shift our beliefs to create more ease? She also shares her personal podcast and book recommendations to support parents on their journey, at the end of this episode.
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- Unruffled with Janet Lansbury (podcast), who uses the RIE respectful parenting approach.
- Simplicity Parenting with Kim John Payne (podcast), a school consultant and trainer in the Waldorf approach.
- Parenting Teens Solution with Phinnah Chi Chi (podcast).
- The Parent’s Tao Te Ching* book by William Martin.
TRANSCRIPT – edited for clarity
INTRO: Hi friends, in today’s episode I want to share my thoughts about the unquestioned beliefs on parenting and life that we tend to carry with us through our lives. I talk about some examples I’ve recently encountered, and offer three steps on how you can learn to identify, question and shift beliefs that no longer work for you, to create more ease in your life. So grab your coffee, find a cozy spot, and let’s dive in!
SURI: Welcome back to Doing Things On Purpose, the podcast that empowers women to take charge of their time, health, relationships, and money by doing things on purpose. I’m your host Suri, and I’m so glad that you’re back here again with me, for our weekly chat, after a two-week hiatus while I was away.
So it’s the first week of August 2023 as I record this and I just got back from summer vacation with my family and 6 other friends, and their kids; in beautiful Denmark. It was a wonderful holiday, for me at least. With 16 people all together it was a blessing that we could all get along and accommodate one another.
I ended up driving because Will, my lovely husband, left his driver’s license at home. And after trying to find different solutions which seemed to just make things more complicated, I decided to bite the bullet. “What the heck – I’m taking the wheel.” Although I hadn’t driven regularly for over 10 years.
I did enjoy driving again. The Danish landscape was amazing.
But as much as I enjoyed being away exploring a new land, I’m also so glad to be home again. I’m sure, not everyone feels the same after a holiday. But for me, I think part of the treat of creating a life that I enjoy being in, is to be able to come back to it again, after being away from it for a while.
Getting back to the daily routines of self care that really helps my body feel good and my mind feel less cluttered throughout the day. For me that’s my daily practice of Yoga with Adriene – maybe for you it’s a daily walk with your dog.
And then having that luxury to get back to work, to write, to be able to share my thoughts again after being so busy with the kids and group activities. To come home again to the coziness of the familiar. I wish you feel the same when you get back from your summer vacation.
I know not all of us are so lucky. Maybe your vacation is simply a quiet visit to the local museum, a whole day out gardening or dinner and a movie with friends.
So let’s get down to some reflections that I made during this recent trip. As we friends were commiserating as you do over our experiences as parents, and our challenges and our joys, a phrase that a good friend of mine mentioned stuck out to me and that was that “We all carry a meter of worry with us.”
The comeback came from a male friend who said, “Is that right? I only ever have a 10cm of worry with me.” The conversation then went on to compare, who tends to be the worrier and who the worry-less person in the relationship. In some cases it was the wife who worried more, and in other cases it was the husband.
Which sounds perfect right? Or not depending on how you look at it. Perfect because theoretically, the stressed partner is complemented by the lighthearted partner. But it also could be seen as non-perfect situation because the stressed partner can’t seem to get the lighthearted partner to feel as stressed about each situation as they do. They don’t feel heard or sympathized with.
Do you recognize any of this in your relationships?
The point I’m trying to make is not who’s right and who’s wrong, but what beliefs support us and make us feel good, and what doesn’t.
Reflecting on it now, the statement that “We all carry one meter of worry with us,” actually reminds me of famous quotes like “Everyone carries baggage around,” or even “Everyone has secrets.” I’m sure you’ve heard of these two.
For me, it’s like saying that it’s normal for us to worry or suffer in life, it’s normal for us to be damaged individuals in some way, or that it’s normal for us to keep secrets, even from those closest to us.
I’m not saying that these things don’t exist in life, but are these really beliefs that help us heal, feel supported and thrive in our lives? Think about it.
I want us women and parents to be able to choose the life and parenting beliefs that create more ease in our life, not more resentment or conflict.
I personally don’t live my daily life with a cloud of worry over me not because I’m enlightened, but because life would be unbearable if I did. Again, I’m not talking about ignoring problems, but realizing that we do at least have the power to choose the beliefs and thoughts that help us become the wise, loving, kind, accepting, supportive, trustworthy and dependable parents and partners that we wish we were.
So my tips for you this week are:
- Start thinking about creating pockets of time and space where you and those around you can share your thoughts openly, respectfully and candidly. If it’s connecting with friends or extended family, I find deep conversations only tend to happen when we spend a long weekend or holiday together. It often tends to be those late night conversations that are to be the most connected.
- Then step back and look inside yourself and reflect on those conversations. Notice how you feel after hearing or sharing a belief. Did it feel good, or did it feel stressful? Can you notice patterns and beliefs in others and in yourself that keep repeating that make you feel depressed, hold you back or stop you from appreciating life as it is?
- Find and try on new beliefs that do support you. For parents, stay tuned till the end of this podcast where I share one book and three podcasts recommendations that I personally listen to and highly recommend. It’s helped me view relationships as more of an act of embracing, instead of fixing or controlling. And that makes me feel more connected to the world, instead of more separate.
Because remember that in the end, you are in charge of your beliefs. You get to decide how hard you hang on to them and if you want to change them.
And when your beliefs change, your thoughts start to change, the words you use and the actions you take will start to change.
Now let’s play with some actual examples of beliefs…
- The government doesn’t work and is lazy.
- Doctors are untrustworthy.
- Parents can control how their kids behave.
What kinds of emotions, thoughts or actions do these beliefs arise in you?
Would you be rude and resentful when dealing with government workers because you think they’re lazy? Would you refuse to vote or participate in politics because you believe that those who try to create change are just fighting a losing battle?
If you didn’t trust doctors, would you be a difficult patient or avoid going for checkups altogether?
And if you think parents are responsible for and can control their child’s behaviors, would you feel like a failure when your children misbehave? Would you react aggressively or disrespectfully to control your children? Would you judge other parents when you encounter a child misbehaving?
I think these are all very stressful thoughts stemming from unhelpful beliefs that we don’t bother questioning.
So what about trying on and replacing those old beliefs that haven’t served us but have only stressed us, with new ones like:
- The government is trying its best and works hard.
- Doctors can be trusted.
- Parents try their best but ultimately can’t control how their kids behave.
What kind of citizens, patients and parents would you be if you believed these thoughts?
- Would you vote or figure out how to work together with the government to improve systems and regulations if you believed that the government works?
- Would you go for check-ups and be a good patient if you believed that doctors can be trusted to work to find the best solutions for you? Isn’t it more likely that different doctors might be more or less suited to different people, depending on their needs and preferences? What is something you can do or try to have a better experience with doctors next time?
- If you believe that parents can’t ultimately control how their kids behave, would you be less likely to judge and more likely to offer help, when you see another parent struggling with their child’s uncomfortable behavior? Would you be okay with your best efforts to teach by discussions and example, and spend less time being frustrated about the outcome and the behavior of your kids? Would you finally find more brain space, energy and time to exercise, take care of yourself or to rekindle your relationship with your spouse?
These are all exciting prospects that I want to leave parents with today to ponder over.
So to recap, what did we learn in today’s episode?
- Create pockets of time where you and your loved ones can share your thoughts openly, respectfully and candidly. Maybe a chat with your kids before bedtime, a long weekend getaway with your spouse, or a simple stroll around the park with your parents-in-law.
- Go back and internally reflect on the conversation. Notice any unhelpful beliefs that keep repeating, that don’t serve you or feel stressful to you personally.
- Practice turning or reframing those beliefs in a way that feels truer or more helpful to you. What old beliefs can you let go of so you can experience life as an easy, beautiful, kind, vibrant and more hopeful place to live in?
Additionally, as promised, here are my personal podcast recommendations for parents. I love listening to podcasts that are short and sweet, and ones that remind me that life is simple and doable instead of unimaginably complicated.
🎙️Three parenting podcasts that I listen to on rotation while cleaning, ironing or cooking are:
- Unruffled with Janet Lansbury, who uses the RIE respectful parenting approach.
- Simplicity Parenting with Kim John Payne, who’s a school consultant and trainer in the Waldorf approach.
- Parenting Teens Solution with Phinnah Chi Chi.
📗 Lastly, if you’re more of a reader, I love this book of short poems of ancient wisdom called The Parent’s Tao Te Ching* by William Martin. It says at the back of the book by the way, that Oprah gifts this to all her friends with children – to remind them of what matters when raising little ones.
I personally found the poems so gentle and sweet, one of which goes like this (page 96):
The lessons we most want to teach our children
are the ones we have not yet learned ourselves.
So we continually try to teach
what we do not know.
This is futile.
Try instead to refrain from talking.
Look carefully at the situation.
Let your mind be open to new understandings.
You will learn what you need to know.
And you will thus teach your children
how to learn their own lessons.
Nothing teaches children more
than a parent who is willing to learn.
What behavior in your children
makes you anxious?
What does that tell you
Isn’t that lovely?
OUTRO: Well that’s all I have for you this week. I hope you have a wonderful week ahead. If you need more resources and support from me, please consider subscribing to my newsletter at suristahel.com/newsletter or you can also find me on Facebook or Twitter.
Thank you so much for tuning in, and I’ll catch you again next time.