From Triggers to Trust - Christmas is a Time to Heal favorite_border

Conversations from the Heart - December 20th 2019

Author: Rachel Brathen

Topics: Healing

Links: Apple Podcasts / Spotify

About the Episode

Are you struggling with feeling like you constantly have to do more, perform better, work harder, parent perfectly, care for yourself, cultivate your relationships and maintain your career?

In this episode, Rachel talks about mom guilt, burn out, the inner critic, and the art of slowing down and cutting yourself some slack!

We all have an inner critic - that loud voice in the back of our heads that tells us we aren't good enough. Regardless of our parents best attempts at providing us with a perfect childhood, we all have wounds that create an inner critical voice that haunts us in adulthood. Getting to the root of the inner critic is the work we are all here to do, and as the holidays is often a time spent around family, now is a good time to look within. Finding that childhood wound and becoming aware of our patterns and triggers is the solution to quieting all that inner judgment - and ridding ourselves of self hate.

This episode will remind you that there is no way to get everything perfect, it’s ok to let your kid eat mac and cheese once and a while, and that we can consciously choose how to react to what comes our way. Christmas is a perfect time to start!

The work is in how we choose to respond by holding space for ourselves, choosing love over fear, and letting go of the limiting beliefs that stand in our way.

Yoga Girl 019335-min


[01:07] Welcome to a brand new episode of the Yoga Girl Podcast: Conversations From The Heart. I feel like I have literally been through some sort of mega life journey since the last time I recorded this show. One week ago, exactly, to the date, I sat down and recorded last week’s show, and I was listening to it again today, just the beginning, and I guess I couldn’t remember what I spoke about last week. I had a fever, I was sharing that I kind of felt pretty good being sick, that I was feeling really run down and tired, but that it felt like a good thing. Well, saying that came back to bite me in the ass immediately, because what I thought was kind of the end of some sort of illness, like a cold, literally recording last week that was just the beginning. And I was hit with the flu from hell. I have no better way to describe it. I don't know if I’ve ever been this sick. And I don’t say that lightly. It’s very rare, like I can’t really remember any time in my life where I’ve been so sick, so out of it, completely knocked out that I haven’t been able to stand up. That just never really happens to me. And I’m just smiling at it now, because it was really like I was asking for it in the last episode of this show [laugh]. I was saying, “Oh, I feel so good being sick and I can actually … I can feel like it’s purposeful or like I can actually let go in this illness.” Well, yeah, I take all of that back. Take it back immediately. It was … wow. Wow wow.

[002:59] I realize it’s the first time I’ve ever had the actual flu. Influenza, which sounds much worse if you say it all the way out loud like that. But yeah, I had a 104 or yeah, almost 40-degree fever that just wouldn’t go down. It was so so so high. And then that kind of bone breaking feeling, where just every … it feels like your bones, your joints, everything is just aching almost like they’re about to snap in half. And I’ve been shivering and sweating and freezing, you know, on and off. It’s been crazy. There were moments where I just told Dennis, “I don’t think I’m going to make it.” Because it got worse and worse and worse and worse. And when day five rolled around, I just felt like, “I have to accept now, this is my new life.” Five long, full days without the fever dropping. Dennis sort of escaped to our guest bedroom. We haven’t slept next to each other for almost a week because he was so terrified of getting the flu, and I was scared that the baby was going to get it.

[003:57] But, I gotta knock on some wood … It’s officially been an entire week! Today I woke up feeling way better. I mean, it’s night and day. I’m still not 100% great, but it’s definitely night and day. And the flu that was just lasting forever, I think it’s leaving my system now. So, I take back what I said last week about feeling good being sick. Didn’t feel good at all, but I’m hoping that whatever had to leave my system, it’s really on its way out now.

[004:30] There have been some interesting learnings for me being this kind of sick, or this kind of ill. And of course this year it’s been the theme of this stupid show [laugh] … Not that it’s a stupid show, but it’s like this goddamn theme of the show this year has been burnout, and that I’ve been sick on and off and all of the struggles and challenges that have come from that. I feel like so many people are resonating. I had an amazing person who sent in the question for the show, or the podcast I did with Debra Silverman on astrology a couple of weeks ago. This question just stuck with me, because I so agree. And I feel the intensity of this question he or she asked, “Why was 2019 such a dumpster fire?!” [laugh] And I don't know who agrees, but for me, 2019 has had some highs. It had some good points, had some fun moments, had some great things with my family. Released a book, did a lot of fun stuff, but that’s … the fun things have generally been an intermission for all of the dumpster fire-ing that’s been happening all through the year. It’s been thing after thing of just man.

[005:45] And the theme of, you know, being ill, or being sick, or being forced to slow down, which I know is something that a lot of you can resonate with also, when we want to go go go, and we have long lists of things to get done, and you know we have work and kids and life. It’s so much. And then the body slowing us down, I think it’s so interesting, because that’s been my thing this whole year is that I’ve been wanting to continue but I haven’t been able to. So it’s almost been like my body has forced me to get to that place that I’ve been trying to get to in my mind, this idea of slowing down, or giving myself more space, or working less. Eventually the body just lets you know.

[006:23] And what I really realized during this flu that I had is that all the times where I’ve been sick during this year, I have still been functioning, right? I have still been, you know, I’ve been ill but I’ve been leading a retreat. I’ve been sick and I led a teacher training. I’ve been, yeah, feeling like crap and been on tour. I’ve continued to work. Even in those hard, really really low moments of being really sick throughout this year, when I’ve had colds and sinus stuff and headaches, I’ve still been working, right? I’ve still been doing my emails and taking meetings and sitting with my team and creating whatever things I’m still working on and creating. I mean, I designed a line of jewelry this year. That sort of happened on the side of everything. It’s just, I’m thinking of and looking back at all of the things that actually were created and the work I actually did get done while telling myself this story of, “I haven’t been able to work, I haven’t been able to work.” And then I’ve still done so much!

[007:26] I was looking back at that just now, coming out of this flu, realizing that man, oh man, how I have not slowed down, and how being ill on and off this entire year, if anything it’s forced me to look at the speed at which I’m moving, and look at how I’m working, and look at … you know, it’s brought a lot of awareness around how I live my life. But it hasn’t actually changed a whole lot. And I could see that really black and while with this flu because it knocked me out. I mean, we’re talking vertigo, I was … couldn’t stand up, could barely hold my phone, sent 0 emails, took 0 meetings, did nothing in terms of being productive because I literally … for the first three days I couldn’t watch Netflix! I couldn’t focus my eyes on one specific point. It was really unbelievable. I’ve never … I don’t think I’ve ever been this sick, that I couldn’t even watch a show or a movie just to, you know, focus my attention on something, I couldn’t. I was just half sleeping, half dazed off on the couch, just kind of wanting to die. I couldn’t … it was terrible. I couldn’t engage with the baby. I was just in this cocoon.

[008:47] So, coming out of that now I’m like, “Okay, well that was being sick, not working, unable to work.” Everything else that I’ve done all year telling myself this story of, “I can’t get all of my things done, and this is so hard.” That’s like not really entirely true. I think what’s really fascinating, and when it becomes really fascinating, this whole conversation around why are we all working so fucking hard all the time? And I know I’m not alone in this at all. If anything, since I started sharing that I am on the verge of a burnout, or maybe I had a burnout. I’m kind of scared to say those words, to state them clearly, like I burnt out, because it feels very final. It’s like I’m giving myself a diagnosis, which I don’t like. But I’m definitely in that area, or have been in that general area.

[009:42] And since I started sharing that, the response I have received from so many of you, especially women who feel the same, is … it’s really making me think that there is something happening, not just individually in each of us. And of course we resonate with each other and we feel similar things and we have similar experiences, and that’s how we’re united in this specific community, but also in the greater scale of just society, how we raise little girls to become young women, and we raise kids in this society, girls, young women, with this idea that we have to do everything. Right? And I can really see that, I think especially with this idea of a career, of being successful, of course. As women today, we can choose exactly what we want to do. We can make whatever dream we have come true. I think there’s been a lot of focus on that over the past couple of decades is just, like, especially our generation now, we don’t have to stay home and watch the kids, you know? Maybe because our moms did that or our moms’ moms did that. You know, go out there! Make your dream come true! Be “successful” (whatever that means). Study, work really hard, go for your career. And if you want to have kids, yeah, you do that too! Have kids also! You don’t choose, you do all the things. So you go to school and then you have student debt, and then you’ve got to work, but then you want to have a baby and then you have a baby and you meet a guy and you build a family, and then you build a home … But it’s not like anything is ever compromised on, right? We’re kind of taught that we can have it all, which also means we have to do it all!

[011:32] I see that a lot with my friends, actually. I don’t have a singe friend in my entire network/community who decided to be a stay at home mom and really be a stay at home mom, stay home. No one. So actually making that decision of, “Okay, I’m not going to work, I’m going to be here and focus on the family and my kids.” I don't know anyone who does that. I also don’t know anyone who is compromising their children, right? Who is compromising the home life and the family. So, somehow it’s like that comes first and that has 100% of our attention, but our careers also have 100% of our attention. We’re supposed to give 200% all the time, to not let anything slip, right? And then we have to take care of ourselves too! We have to focus on self-care and do all of the yoga and then eat really healthy foods and feed our kids healthy foods too, and we gotta work out and we gotta be healthy and then we gotta have some hobbies or some fun on the side of that, gotta take care of our relationships, gotta take care of our pets, our dogs, our house, our garden, our car. I mean … I’m getting dizzy just listing the things right now that we have to take care of and that we have to do in a day. It’s kind of unrealistic. That’s what it is. It’s unrealistic to think that any single person can maintain this kind of schedule the way all of us do it, right? All of us! We all do this. But it’s kind of ... it’s not realistic, that we can sustain this for a long period of time, it’s not. Maybe we can do it for a couple of years, you know? Maybe you can even do it for like a decade, I don't know. We are going to get to a place where all of the sudden something falls apart, right? What’s going to fall apart? I think what’s natural to us is we’re going to, of course, you know, protect our children at all costs. At least that’s kind of what I see as our kind of natural thing. So if something has to fall or something has to go, we don’t want to lose our jobs, we want to continue working toward that goal in our career. Or you want to continue to grow, maybe you’re an entrepreneur. Maybe you have a lot invested in what you do. Maybe you love your job! Of course we have a lot invested in the work that we do every day, so we don’t want to let that slip, right?

[013:50] And then our partners, if we have one, is super (of course) that’s where everything started in the hierarchy of life. This is something that I’ve been taught pretty recently just through therapy is what came first? Right? I find this really interesting, especially in this conversation, what came first? For me and Dennis we do so much together, we’re a couple, we’ve been together for a decade, that’s crazy! This year coming now we’re celebrating 10 years together. We’re married, we have a house, we have all of these pets and animals. We have a kid! Side note. [laugh] We have a business, we have several businesses, we have several nonprofits, we have all of this stuff. So when it comes to prioritizing what’s most important? I have to look at the hierarchy of when things arrived or when they were created. And what came first is us. Our relationship. And our relationship has to trump everything else. This is something I’m really working on now, that the relationship actually is more important than our daughter. That the relationship actually has to get more energy and more work put into it than our business. That we have to really glue ourselves together and work on that relationship, right? Because when that works, everything else flows easily. It’s easy to take care of our daughter when we are a unit working together, right?

[015:13] So thinking about all of this, we’re not going to let our partners slip, right? That’s so so so so important. So valuable. So we look at all of these areas, and then suddenly we’re running out of space, right? Something has to go. What do we let slip? Ourselves. And I see this again and again and again. It’s like we have to compromise something. We are going to compromise our own well-being. We’re going to compromise those things that actually nourishes us on a personal level, because we’re just taught to take care of everybody else. And I also think we’re rewarded for that at a really young age. We look out at the world and we care for other people, other beings, we get a lot of validation out of doing that. From being careers and rescuers and fixers, from being nurturing and nourishing to other people, right? This mothering quality that we, I think, instill in children fairly young.

[016:08] So what goes? We go. That’s what it is. That’s what I’ve been doing to myself for a really long time. And I think I’ve been doing it actually before I became a mom, but then it was sort of okay, because I had enough … I had enough tools, I had enough space and kind of bandwidth in my life that I could squeeze myself in, right? It worked. And then all of the sudden I became a mom and now that bandwidth is just gone! I don’t have that time anymore. I don’t have that energy anymore. So, the things that go are the things that purposefully nourish me and fill me up. I’m at the very bottom of the list. Or I have been at the very bottom of the list.

[016:46] So this is what I see all the time. I see it with a lot of my friends, I hear it from you guys that this is what it is. So of course we burn out! Right? Of course we burn out. What if the moment something had to go, right, it’s like I can’t do all of these things perfectly anymore? Something has to slip. It has to lower my expectations in one of these areas, or I have to lower my input. I have to loosen the grip a little bit. Maybe I have to do a worse job in this area, right? What if the natural response wasn’t that, okay, I’m going to take shittier care of myself because I don’t have time. And what if it was, okay, yeah, I’m going to actually perform a little worse at work right now, because that’s the option that I have. Or, I’m going to actually have to give a little less attention to my friends this month because I’m just … my plate is totally full and I have to continue to do what fills my cup. What if those were our natural responses instead of us suffering at the end of the day? Because we all know when we suffer, we can do that for a little while, but after, you know, you accumulate enough time not taking care of yourself, all those other areas that we’re so busy protecting, they start to slip because we won’t function at our best anymore.

[018:03] Or better yet, what if instead of one of these areas having to slip, what if we didn’t have this sort of pressure around perfection in the first place? Right? I kind of long to be a little more like my husband every day. And we talk about this a lot. Sometimes his … sort of … how can I phrase this lovingly, because I love the shit out of this man, I love him to death? Okay, I can phrase it this way. I have a really kind of obsessive attention to detail, right? So if I’m doing something, I’ll look at it from A to Z, and I want everything to fit perfectly. I spend a lot of time getting it exactly right, whatever it is I’m doing. Where my husband, he might be doing the same thing, and he doesn’t overthink it, he just does it. Maybe it’s not 100% perfect at the end of it, but he’s not losing sleep over that thing. He got it done, right? So I kind of aspire to be a little more like that, in a lot of areas in my life, where I can approach something and just kind of shrug my shoulders a little bit and go, “Yeah, that’s okay.” Right? Instead of this kind of incessant need I have to nail everything. To get everything a thousand percent perfect. To just … to go all the way, all the time. Now that I was this sick with the flu, coming out of the flu, looking at my life with that kind of … with that kind of lens, just the lens of I don’t have any energy at all. Literally no energy at all. What does that mean? I have to cook dinner for my baby, right? I Have no energy, I’m so exhausted, I can barely stand up, and I’m kind of wobbling my way over to the fridge to open up all the drawers. I’m like, “Okay, what vegetables do we have?” I’m just like delirious with fever. “What kind of healthy meal can I make her?” I’m just trying to piece some sort of recipe together in my brain of, “Okay, she needs protein and she needs fresh vegetables and she needs this and she needs that.” And then Dennis comes down and he just looks at me, he’s like, “What are you doing?” I’m like, “She needs to eat something healthy.” He’s like, “Dude, there’s mac and cheese in the pantry.” And he just grabs a box of mac and cheese, puts it in a pot on the stove, and it’s all good. Just go back to bed. And I’m just like … the relief of, “Fuck it! Yeah. She can have a shitty meal once in a while! Actually, it’s not the end of the world if she has mac and cheese for dinner three nights in a row. The child will live. The child will totally live.” If she’s … and I’m just thinking about that a lot right now, now all of those little areas of whatever I’m doing in my life, I have that little inner critical voice in the back of my head going, “Hey, that’s not good. Hey, that’s not good enough. Actually …” Okay, so it’s vegan mac and cheese. I know, of course it’s vegan but it’s not healthy at all. The list of ingredients is just super, super long. And I have this idea in my head that I have to get her diet right. I have to perfect it. She needs this perfect, big meal every time. So that’s what I do every time, even when I don’t have time. Even when I’m busy, even when I’m overwhelmed, even when I’m not feeling great, I go to that 110% all the time. And there’s no wiggle room there! What kind of sadistic person lives their life that way?! [laugh]

[021:50] And then I talk about this with people in my life. And yeah! I’m not alone, right? There’s that inner critical voice that goes, “Yeah, not good enough, not good enough, not good enough. Mom guilt is so fucking real I just could pull my hair out. And here goes Dennis, giving her mac and cheese. And I said, “You don’t feel guilty? That’s not good! She she shouldn’t be eating that.” And he’s like, “What do you mean? You’re sick, we’re tired, it’s okay. Cut yourself some slack. She always eats really nutritional food. Let it go. Let it go.” And I’m just like, “Okay, fine.” And then I force myself to go back to the couch. But still that nagging voice of like, “It’s not good, it’s not good, it’s not good,” … it stays there.

[Commercial Break]

[024:03] It’s all interesting how this is become especially evident during this week of flu that I had. It’s kind of like all the lessons I’ve been learning this year just have accumulated and come to a high point just now where I can see them so clearly just from not having any energy to do anything. So, another thing is … and it’s kind of these ideas that I think we should challenge. So, for me this belief that I have that is sometimes very limiting is my daughter should have healthy, nutritional food all the time. That’s this idea. It’s this belief that I have. I don’t judge anybody else for what they feed their kids, not at all. I think I sometimes pretend to be a little more easygoing around food than I actually am, but that’s a belief that I have. So, even when everything else is falling apart, I will go the extra mile to make that happen for her, right? And if I would challenge that belief of like, yeah, my goal is to have nutritional food and healthy food for her … to the extent of my ability, right? Which means that there’s going to be times where I can’t! There’s going to be times where I’m too tired. There’s going to be times when I’m sick. There’s going to be times when life happens and I can’t make that happen, and I will feed her whatever is in the pantry, and that’s gotta be okay. It has to be okay. To ease up a little bit, to not get it perfect all the time. And I’m wondering if what stressed me out is actually that thing that she’s eating, or if it’s that nagging belief that no matter how hard I try, I’m not getting it right. No matter how hard I fight to make it work, I can’t piece my life together. There’s always something slipping.

[025:52] And that, that kind of internal stress of, you know, I’m killing myself in every area of my life, but regardless of how hard I try, there’s always going to be something that isn’t good enough. That’s where the burnout begins. It doesn’t begin in the hours of work that you’re doing in a day. Of course, that adds to it. The hours of rest we’re not getting, of course, that makes everything much, much, much worse. But I really believe that that … what leads to the actual burnout, to the point of like, “I can’t anymore,” it’s not just the material things or how our life situation looks, it’s that stressful, stressful, high pressure energy coming somewhere from deep within. It’s that inner critical voice going, “Nope, you’re not doing it right. Nope, that’s not good enough. Yeah, gotta work a little harder. Nope, that food isn’t good enough.”

[026:48] Another idea I have … it’s funny how this becomes especially prevalent, I think, around our kids. Like, mom guilt is an actual term for an actual reason, right? Another very limiting belief that I have … this idea that I have I guess in my head that I try to get right all the time is that my daughter needs stimulating play all the time, right? So this idea that, like, watching movies or screens, screen time is bad. I have this idea in my head that that’s bad, that’s not nourishing her, it’s not giving her anything, this idea that I have. I don’t judge anybody else around their screen time. I actually know that having a screen available can be a huge component of self-care. If you’re a single mom, Jesus Christ, yeah, put your kid in front of that screen, feed them mac and cheese, and just be proud that you made it through this day, seriously. And I really believe that. I can be really supportive toward my friends in that area. But when it comes to myself, no way. I’m so not at all as loving and kind and compassionate to myself as I am to the other people in my life that I love. I’m not. So, being sick now, and I can kind of … normally I’m the one who is playing with the baby, drawing, playing with play dough, doing arts and crafts stuff, we’re baking, we’re cooking, we’re in her room, we’re going to the animal garden, we’re walking the dogs, we’re doing something, right? And now that I was sick, it’s like, okay, because Dennis was in charge of playtime, he gets tired, “Hey, let’s watch a movie together.” And I can kind of sit there on the couch and like, “Okay, this is her second movie today. She’s not sick, Dennis is not sick. I’m the one who is sick. And I can sense myself sitting there on the couch getting annoyed, right? And then I have to, in that moment, step out of that kind of internal conversation that I’m having with myself of why this moment isn’t good enough. I don't know if anyone else feels … can resonate with this. Are you ever sitting on the couch doing nothing, but in your mind you’re very, very busy? Very, very busy. Maybe in your mind you’re stressed out, you’re judging the moment as not good enough, something has to change. So, I had a lot of that internal dialogue this week, especially in those moments on the couch.

[029:10] And then after a while I’m just like, “Hey Dennis,” and it comes out a little passive-aggressive obviously, like, “Hey, um, don’t you want to go play outside or go swim in the pool or do something?” And he looks at me, he says, “Why?” And I’m like, “Well, I think it would be good for her to get out, it would be good for her to get out of the house a little bit.” He’s says, “No! I think it’s nice for us to be inside. I’m a little tired.” And then he just goes back to watching the movie. And I’m just of course getting more and more stressed out. I’m like, “Hey, but come on, you know, you guys could go water the plants or do something fun, go outside.” And he’s like, “What is this obsession with going outside? It’s 100 degrees outside. We live in Aruba. What is it?” And I’m like, “No, I just want her to do something good and fun.” He says, “Oh, watching a Christmas Family with your family isn’t good and fun?” And it just stopped me in my tracks. I’m like, hmm, okay. Here we are, it’s Christmas time, sitting on the couch, drinking tea, watching a Christmas movie, and I am in my mind stressing out about all of the things that could be happening that aren’t happening. Even in that moment of being really sick, it’s like that inner critic is just like, “Not good enough. Not good enough. Get off your butt. Stand up, go do something.” That thought. Go do something, go do something, go do something. That is the burnout energy. It comes from that place.

[030:39] And I can see this voice or hear this voice, of course, in every area of my life, but it’s almost like around my daughter it becomes extra loud. And in the moments when I find myself either trying to slow down or being forced to slow down, like this flu did, it becomes extra clear how loud that voice is. Because when I’m moving, when I’m doing, it’s almost like I can drown that voice out a little more. I’m on the go, so the voice is on the go too, and it’s just we merge into one busy being, right? And when I find myself in those moments of slowing sown, of being still, suddenly I can catch it. And it gets really clear, and it feels really loud, that voice.

[031:24] So it’s been so interesting this week to just sit there. To just watch that voice. To let Lea Luna eat mac and cheese every day. To watch endless amounts of movies on the couch, to not do anything, and to just be still. It becomes so clear how absurd my ego is. How absurd and wild and crazy this personality of mine is. And what I would love to do, just as I’m in this personal journey myself, is to inquire, for you, into your own space. When does that voice become extra loud for you in your life? Which area of life do you feel like this inner critical voice has the most space? When does it get the most … the loudest? When does it get the craziest? And does it maybe run your life? To me this is such an interesting, interesting thing to ask. Does it maybe run your life? And I’m, of course, also in therapy right now. I’m realizing that … it’s kind of like all roads lead to Rome. All big personality and big life and emotional questions that I have, they all kind of lead back to this same place, this doing, this constant doing. Constant feeling like I have to do more. Constant feeling like I can’t be still. Constant feeling like I should be more successful, I should perform better, I should work harder.

[033:04] And especially for someone whose intention for this year … this year my intention was I wanted to embrace my inner wild woman, and I wanted to find calm. And that calm piece, it’s almost been like a joke. Like, oh, that’s interesting, let’s throw that intention out there and see what kind of life pondering comes along with that. Because it’s so far from my actual nature, you know? It’s not in my nature to be calm. Thank god I found yoga and meditation when I was 17-18, because without that … I can’t even. I could just start laughing right now, because without yoga, where would I be? Jesus Christ! The fact that I’ve had this as my core, most important tool, and a daily tool, I mean, I think I can super clearly … it’s really safe to say that yoga saved my life. Oh my god, I don't know where I would be without it.

[034:06] And still, you know, there’s not enough yoga in the world for me to actually completely quiet that voice inside. And when it gets really interesting, I think, for all of us is not just recognizing this voice, getting clear with this voice being here, but inquiring into where does this voice come from, right? At some point in our lives, most likely our early childhood, this idea, that we have to work all the time, that we can’t be still, it came from somewhere. And I think the key to actually ridding ourselves of that voice, or the key to actually learning the meaning of slowing down, learning how to incorporate real rest, right? Because real rest, it’s not just taking more naps or going to more yoga classes or taking a bath once a week. No! Real rest is changing that mindset. Real rest is getting to the root of why that inner voice is there in the first place. What happened when we were little that created this type of life? That’s interesting. That’s really really really really interesting.

[035:19] And I think, especially now, so this is the week of Christmas, kind of peak holiday season right now, holidays for so many of us are times of joy, times of just magic, embracing the holiday spirit, so much fun, so many joyful things happening around Christmas. I am a massive Christmas fan. Christmas is life. But it’s also a time spent around family, for many of us. Not for all of us, but for many of us. Time spent around family. Which I think can be really challenging. Especially if it’s family you don’t see all the time, right? It can be a really challenging time too, because no matter how much work we have done on ourselves, no matter how much therapy we’ve been to or how many healing retreats or personal development or how much you meditate, it’s like, put you back in that family constellation and suddenly you’re five years old again. And the things that used to trigger us, they still do, right? Perhaps you can be more clear and more present with your triggers, but it’s still hard! It’s like, when we’re with our parents, we’re still kids, right? We’re always and forever going to be their kids. When we’re in those constellations of our old family, of our core family, the things that are challenging to us in our day-to-day lives, of course they become heightened and maximized and everything can get sort of dug up again. Right? Who feels that way around the holidays or anytime spent around family? Man, sometimes I feel like a child!

[036:55] And it’s so hard, but it’s also so amazing, because having the opportunity to be put back in that family constellation, it’s also a key, right? It’s the opportunity to change something now that we couldn’t change then. If you have that one family member that tells you things that just brings you down all the time. You have someone who is arrogant, or someone who is downright mean. Maybe thinly-veiled insults the way family does sometimes. Maybe when you were little you couldn’t say anything, right? It wasn’t appropriate, or you didn’t feel like you had the power to stand up and say what you felt. And, hey, I don’t like it when you say those things to me. Hey, I don’t like that. Stop that please. And now, as adults, we do have the ability to do that. We do have the power to do that. But it can feel like we’re still in that same role as a child, right? It can feel as daunting now as it did then.

[Commercial Break]

[039:21] So I think all of these inquiries, especially if you’re on the path really toward finding some sort of peace within yourself, it becomes extra interesting around the holidays, and extra interesting when we are with our families. So, a really great way to go about it is first identify the patterns that you have that you know you slip right back into whenever you’re around family. Or maybe not even when you’re around them, maybe it’s just patterns that you have all the time, every day. For me, for instance, to give an example, I have, of course as you guys know, a very beautiful, very very intense, very close and extremely challenging relationship with my mom. I’ve spoken about that on this podcast a lot. But coming from our past of having a lot of trauma happen in my childhood, a lot of people who died and passed away, a lot of separation, divorce, my mom trying to commit suicide when I was little, all of these very very very hard things that played out when I was little. Now, our realities are totally different, right? Those things aren’t true anymore, or those things aren’t playing out anymore, at the very least. I am not in the midst of trauma right now. I am not, you know, helping my mom through depression or suicide right now. She’s doing great. She’s happy, she’s fine. She’s a great grandma. We kind of rebuilt a really beautiful platform to stand on there through grand motherhood and through my daughter. But, the reality of all of those situations, and the emotional components that came along with them, they’re still very much alive. And this, I think, is a big struggle when it comes to our families, and when it comes to maybe those kind of toxic things that could have played out in our childhoods, or that did play out in these relationships then that maybe led to that inner critical voice inside of you being so loud, when those things actually are still true today, even though the relationship looks differently. Am I making sense? So, say you had a really strange … Okay, I can give … My relationship with my mom I think is a really great example.

[041:41] So growing up, and this is something that’s just clicking with me this week so much, growing up with a mother that’s always sad, that’s always crying, that’s always extremely sensitive, extremely emotional, that at times doesn’t want to live that at times tries to take her own life, from a really young age growing up with that, it instilled with me a certain kind of stress, right? And the stress when I was really little was that, one, I didn’t know why she was so sad and I automatically assumed that it had something to do with me. That’s how kind of our worldview is when we’re little, when we’re really little especially, is that our parents (our mother especially) but our mother and father, they’re everything! Our parents are everything, it’s our whole life, it’s our whole relationship to the world is really the relationship we had with our parents. And when hard things happen, we have no other way of processing that when we’re really little than to assume, in that limiting worldview, that it has to be because of me, right? We haven’t developed enough yet. We’re not mature enough yet that we can actually see, objectively see the full scope of that situation. We’re too young, right?

[042:57] So when I was little I used to think it was my fault that my mom was sad. And thinking that it was my fault, one, came with guilt, like I had done something wrong, but I could never really pinpoint what that thing was. It was just a feeling I had all the time that maybe I could have done it differently that day. Right? If I hadn’t pushed my brother at breakfast, then maybe she wouldn’t have gotten sad later. Or if I did better in school, if I had better grades, or if I just was like a little more perfect and did things a little more perfectly all the time, then maybe shed be happier. Right? Maybe I shouldn’t make such a fuss. Maybe I shouldn’t make a mess. Maybe I should, maybe I should, maybe I should. And I had this, and they were very real, right? These feelings when I was little, very very very real. And I never had any support from any outside person to move through them, or even to kind of verbalize them or to speak them out loud. It was just all very internal, that it’s my fault that she’s sad, and it’s my job to make her happy.

[043:57] So already then at like four or five years old, I had this big, big, big feeling of stress already instilled in my system of it’s not safe to be here. I don't know if she’s going to leave at any time. It’s not safe to be at home. It didn’t feel like a safe space where I could relax, where I could be myself. That constant stress of, “Is she going to leave? Is she going to die? Is she going to be sad? Is she going to be happy?” And it became this certain sort of stress that I realized, even as I grew older, the stress was almost worse when she was happy. And that’s a weird one that I dealt with a lot in my later teens, that actually, it’s more familiar, or it was then more familiar to relate with my mom when she was really sad, because that’s what I knew, when she wasn’t well. And then when she was happy it was like, “Wait, what’s going on. Something’s wrong.” Right? It felt like something was wrong when she was happy, because I was always waiting for some sort of crash or for something bad to happen.

[045:00] So there is this big, big, big stress already there, right? It’s been there my whole life! And then as I grew older and I grew out of that sort of component or that relationship and my worldview grew bigger and bigger and bigger, I’ve translated that stress into other parts of my life. That feeling of not being good enough, like I couldn’t’ make her happy so I’m not good enough, or that feeling of it’s my fault, it’s on my, it’s on my shoulders, it’s my job … it’s just carried me through the rest of my life, that feeling. And now that feeling relates to other things, right? It relates to my job, it relates to how I perform, it relates to perfection, it relates to the things I create in this world, it relates to the pressure I put on myself, and then of course it comes back in my own role as a mother now to my own daughter of I have to get this shit right. Its all on me. It’s all on me, all of this pressure is on my shoulders. And the feeling of, like, I don't know if it’s safe to be here. I don't know if it’s safe to be here in this world, right?

[046:08] So of course, just listening to myself sharing this with you, this is so complex, right? I don't know who else resonates. Especially when it comes to our parents, we all have something there! Even for, you know, the people out there who are blessed with really easy, beautiful childhoods, you also have something. That’s the thing, there is no such thing as a perfect childhood. There is no such thing. My teacher in trauma healing, Shuba, she was sharing … we were talking the other day about trying to get this thing right, trying to get parenting right. Especially doing it in this line of work. And she shared a story of how just the other day they were at the beach here in Aruba, and then her son, who is four hours older than Lea Luna, he was running ahead of her on the beach. She was just kind of keeping an eye and not running but staying fairly close behind. Then he was running, running, running, running, and then suddenly he thought he got lost. He wasn’t, she was right there, but he couldn’t see her anymore. And before she could get to him she saw in his eyes this realization of, “I lost my mom.” Like, he really felt like she was gone. “I lost her. I ran too far, I fan too fast, she’s gone.” And he crumbled, right? Crumbled to the floor, just completely bawling, crying in this, you know, completely absorbed and swept up with this feeling of abandonment, of, “I’m lost.” Now, he wasn’t lost, she was there. But it took her 30 seconds to get to him so she could swoop him up.

[047:42] And she was sharing with me and she was saying, “You know what? In that moment I just realized there’s no such thing … there’s no way to do this perfectly. There’s no way. No matter how hard we try, our kids are going to get the wounds that they’re going to get. They are. And that’s how they learn free will, also, is having something to work with and then choosing to work through that or work toward that. But it was such a big realization for me also in terms of, okay, I can try and try and try and try, and especially with that inner voice I have of, “Get it right, do it better,” you know, even then, I’m not going to succeed. We are all going to fuck up the way our parents also fucked up, and even in the most fucked up of childhoods, right, our parents tried their very best, and we got what we got, and we are where we are, right? So we have to choose, now, what we do with what we have.

[048:37] Another thing Shuba said the other day was, “We are not what happened to us, but we are how we choose to respond.” Right? We are not what happened to us. What’s done is done, what’s happened has happened, we are where we are. But we are how we choose to respond. So, what we have now, it’s like all of these wounds, this pain, this inner stress, this feeling of unsettledness, of not feeling safe, all of that now, it’s mine. And I gotta do what I gotta do with that. And I can choose to let those things unconsciously play out in my life and affect my life immensely, right? Like have that inner stress rule my whole world. Or, I can look at it, right? I can become aware of those patterns that I have of, “Hey, I have 104-degree fever and I’m lying on the couch and I’m so stressed out.” I am unable to relax. Even in the hardest moment of being this sick, I still feel stress that I’m not doing enough.

[049:38] And then the moment I can relate that feeling, like, “Ah, of course I feel like I’m not doing enough, because I grew up with a feeling of not doing enough, trying to save my mother’s life. Huh!” The moment I bring my awareness to that and I connect those two things of, “Okay, the stress, it’s not real in this moment.” Right? It’s not here because of what’s happening to my life in this moment. It’s not because we’re watching The Grinch on the couch and because my husband should be outside with my daughter. No, the stress is here because it’s been here my whole life, right? It relates to my childhood. And it was … it was absolutely valid, it was very, very, very real. And maybe at some time that stress even served me, right? Maybe I even helped her then. It was purposeful at one point, it was really, real, absolutely valid. But it’s not related to what’s playing out in my life here, now.

[050:40] And the moment I make that connection, it’s like I can just … I can just take a breath. [deep breath] And I can choose differently. I can choose to stay on the couch with my family. I can choose to slow things down a little bit. I can get some perspective around this idea that I have that everything has to be perfect all the time, and I can cut myself some slack. And especially now, if you are spending time with your family during the holidays, I would love to invite you to get extra present with how you feel around your family this Christmas. What’s triggering you now? What feels hard? When do you feel sad? Do you feel suddenly, seemingly out of the blue, do you feel suddenly sad or suddenly angry or frustrated? And you don’t know why, nothing really felt like it shifted, but suddenly it’s there, that feeling … Hold that. Be present with that. Maybe even talk about that. It doesn’t have to be with that family member that’s challenging you but talk about it with someone just to voice that. When I spend time with my family, suddenly I feel stressed all the time! I feel so stressed. Or I feel judged. I don’t feel safe here. Whatever that is, talk about it. Find someone, that person that you know you feel safe with. If it’s your partner or your spouse, someone, a friend, just so you can get a little clearer around those triggers and how they relate to that relationship and how still those old things, they’re still playing out right now.

[052:20] And you do have the chance to do something with that. Like, I’m working with this now every single day. Catching that voice in the moment and then acting differently, right? Feeling inside of me that feeling of go go go, of having to do do do, and just holding that. Sometimes I don’t even have to change it. I can just step out of it for a moment and just, ah, look at that. Here’s that feeling again. I have to do more? Hm. Okay. Let’s look at that. Let’s sit with that. Let it be a little bit. Just that little bit of space around that feeling, the awareness around what comes our way, it’s just like you’re giving yourself a moment before you react, right? So actually it’s not reaction all the time, but it’s action. And it stems from what’s playing out here, now. And instead of just being just this old pattern that we’re reliving or recreating in our lives again and again and again and again and again.

[053:20] So I feel excited around this Christmas right now. [laugh] I really do. I feel excited around healing these old wounds. I feel happy, actually, strangely enough. I feel happy holding all of this old pain. Because it makes me feel like I can do something, right? It makes me feel like I have purpose there. There’s work to do and I can do it. It’s not, you know, this strange thing that I don’t know how to deal with, which is what this whole year felt like, but now it’s getting very clear. It’s palpable, I can touch it, I can feel it. And then at the same time, of course, sustaining the relationships that I have in my life that mean so much to me, like my relationship with my mom, knowing that if I work on all of those old things, it’s only going to improve our relationship now, because that relationship is going to be real from this moment. It’s not going be something repeated just from something really really old, but it’s going to be pure with the love that’s here, now.

[054:23] And the same goes for you and your family. Doing that work of the old while holding what’s here anew. You can do it. Trust me when I say you can do it. You can heal those old wounds. You can. The fact that you’re listening to these words right now, resonating, feeling something, “Ah, yeah.” And, you know what? This Christmas time is a really good time to start. It’s a good time to start giving yourself what you need to feel good. Whether that is slowing down, whether that’s giving yourself some time just for yourself. Maybe drawing some boundaries this holidays, yeah? Maybe some boundaries just in terms of what’s okay for you, what’s not okay. How do you want this Christmas to be? Because this is your life, right? Actually, it’s your Christmas, your life, your week. What do you want? This Christmas, give yourself the gift of the kind of holiday spirit that you want in your life. It’s yours, you own it.

[055:27] I love you. You are so held and so loved and so supported on this journey. Trust me when I say you are so supported on this journey. You are not alone. We’re all doing this work together, which I find so unbelievably cool and amazing. So, from my heart to yours, wishing you a beautiful, healing, calm, happy Christmas and a week filled with celebrations and good foods and and yummy time spent with the people that you love. Thank you so much for tuning in and listening to this show today. I’ll be back next week with some really great ways to close 2019. We’re going to set big beautiful intentions for 2020. See you soon!

[End of Episode]