I am not a victim of my circumstances

Attempting to be the adult I want my kids to be

I can’t remember the exact quote or who said it, but the gist of it was, There are two kinds of people: those who have challenges and deal with them and those that have challenges and don’t deal with them. Reading Maybe you Should Talk to Someone has been fascinating. It has been exactly what I have needed to hear; the hard work must start with me. For the record, blaming my kids for my behavior is far easier. But as Peter Crone reminded me during his latest conversation with Dr. Chatterjee, I am not a victim of my circumstances.

I have repeated this over and over all week, at various times. I am not a victim of my circumstances. I am not a victim of my children’s behavior. I am not a victim of endless laundry and cleaning. I am not a victim of the weather. I am not a victim of my circumstances. It’s so simple yet beyond empowering. Crone talks a lot about freedom, a concept I haven’t thought a lot about. He argues that we are truly free when our own centeredness and self acceptance is independent of circumstance. I paused the podcast and texted that to myself mid walk. I’ve never felt so empowered yet challenged at the same time.

Blaming my kids

I wouldn’t have to yell if they would just listen the first time. I used to subscribe to this mindset. And don’t get me wrong, I still yell. However, I’m working on it. I’m working on being the kind of person who is challenged — by their children — and does something about it. And I’ve come to realize that that something involves work on myself. My almost one, three and five year old kids with developing brains are unlikely to wake up tomorrow and suddenly develop stronger emotional regulation skills than I have myself.

I realized that yelling as a default was teaching my kids exactly what I don’t want to be teaching them: When you are overwhelmed, lose it and act in ways you aren’t proud of. Peter Crone mentioned on this same episode that the single greatest gift we can give our children is to model the behavior we want in our children. As Brene Brown asks, “Are you the adult you want your child to grow up to be?” This question stops me in my tracks. It also provides the mirror I need to turn within. Calm Chaos has evolved from me trying to better control my kids to me trying to better control myself. Spoiler alert, we can’t control other people, which is a reoccurring epiphany for me daily.

Getting Help

My reading list has evolved and reflects my shift to look within. While I still love a classic “parenting book,” I love a book where I can grow even more. I have exchanged Janet Lansbury for Dr. Chatterjee and Gary Ezzo for Brene Brown. I have turned to the experts on self compassion like Kristin Neff and listened to the wisdom of cancer neuroscientist Dr. Jandial on what it means to live life with or without cancer. I have gotten help.

Brene Brown said, “Somehow we’ve come to equate success with not needing anyone. Many of us are willing to extend a helping hand, but we’re very reluctant to reach out for help when we need it ourselves. It’s as if we’ve divided the world into “those who offer help” and “those who need help.” The truth is that we are both.” We are all both. Adults, children, teachers, and doctors alike. One of us is just as human as the next one. We often find ourselves telling our kids, Just ask for help! If you don’t know what to do, just ask. But are we modeling that? Are we being the adults we want our kids to grow up to be?

Telling my kids about Orange Theory

I went to Orange Theory after dropping my kids at camp last week. After picking them up, I told Keener and Grace about my work out. I was on the treadmill running and so much of me wanted to quit. I was tired and my mind was telling me, ‘You can’t do it.’ Then I remembered what I tell you guys. That if you tell yourself you can’t do it, you definitely can’t do it. I then told myself, I CAN do it. I only have 30 more seconds and I am going to finish strong, even though I am tired and want to stop.

I have been trying to make it a point to share my self talk with my kids. To let them know what self talk is and how important it is to be aware of what the voice in our head is telling us. Thinking about raising adults, not children, I want them to pay close attention to their inner voice, engage in positive self talk, and develop a strong moral compass. I want them to know when to challenge their internal dialogue and when to listen closely. I want them making decisions for themselves, not for me.

Peter Crone said a few things that stood out to me during his latest conversation with Dr. Chatterjee:

  • anxiety is self generated
  • most people are trying to avoid a bad future that hasn’t happened yet
  • your feelings are a lousy indicator of the truth
  • true happiness is the absence of the search for happiness
  • identity has carrying costs

Lastly, he said, “Children will mimic who you are more than what you say. Be the living embodiment of what you want to pass on.” If I want my kids to engage in positive self talk, seek out help when needed, and have a can do attitude, that must start with me.

2 comments

  1. I love this (and our man, the “mind architect”). Thank you for sharing your wise insights, Jenny! I often think about how I am modeling behavior for my girls. Our kiddos rarely listen to what we say, but always become who we are. <3

    And I always remember the Dr. Eger quote that reminds me of what Crone describes…"the worst prison is the one we build in our own minds." Peace begins with me!

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