What or who do you want to keep in your life as you move into a new phase of the year and perhaps also of parenting?
Spring is in the air and it reminds us to let the fresh air in and have a good look at everything we’ve got put away. We hang on to stuff that we no longer need or that frankly gets in our way – often because we just don’t notice it anymore. Space gets tighter, life gets more complicated and we can feel trapped or frustrated. The same applies to our emotional baggage – thoughts and feelings (and therefore habits) that we have been carrying around for years about ourselves, our kids and our family. So let’s have a good look at the sort of things those might be and how we can decide what to keep.
Are you a hoarder or do you travel light?
To begin with, physical clutter can be easier to deal with than the emotional kind, but bear in mind how you do anything is how you do everything!
I like to hold on to things because of the emotional attachment or comfort I have in an object whereas my partner is an excellent sorter and tidier. I am learning to travel lighter and more easily because of his example. On the habit or emotional side, with the help of my coach I recently ditched saying sorry for things. For me it feels deeply uncomfortable not to apologise all the time. I am learning that I can still help and support people without being apologetic. I am finding it much easier to get things done as a result.
Habits or actions
45% of our actions are habitual – multi tasking for example is something that many of us do on a daily basis to save time – how often have we tried to have a conversation with our children whilst preparing the dinner/finishing an email/putting out the rubbish and we wonder why our message never lands! Being present with our kids is something that takes practise and we can only do it by not doing anything else at the same time. Think about how often you multitask when your children are with you and how effective it is for you. If it works, great, if not then try channelling your focus into one thing at a time.
We do things because of what we think about things. This takes a bit more unpicking. Last week on the podcast we talked about expectations. What we expect of our children (how we measure success – such as exam grades) influences our actions. You might be asking – well what’s wrong with that! Nothing is wrong with that, it depends on if we are solely fulfilling our own needs or the needs of our children our actions.
Our needs (feeling safe, feeling loved, feeling important etc) fuel our thoughts and therefore our habits or behaviour. It’s good to really think about what you need emotionally because then you can join the dots to how it impacts your behaviour. You can decide if you want to travel on with those actions or not. Knowing our needs also helps to understand where conflict arises if someone else has a different need. Our kids may value independence and freedom in the now whereas we are looking at the long game and think that money security (good grades=good college=good job=happy life). Both are so valid but can cause conflict. Once we truly understand where we and where they are coming from, we can resolve many issues and be able to journey on.
This is a tough one for a Pleaser to think about! Traveling light on the people front can mean more than cutting back on the family and friends that you have. The emotional energy that we put into a relationship varies from person to person. It can be good to take an inventory of who do you feel energised by being with, and who drains you. The draining can be because of personal boundaries or getting into the box with them. You can’t save a drowning person by drowning alongside them. You might find that you have to steel yourself to meet up with certain people – is it worth it? Can you maintain the relationship by thinking about it differently?
Are you stuck in a place or attached to a place because of thoughts that no longer work for you? For me, moving to a new country definitely gave me space to think about things like this. There is so much comfort in deep knowledge of a place but without a bit of uncomfortableness we lose the ability to try new things, change and grow.
During lockdown, my daughter got into the Marie Kondo series. When we were sorting through our stuff prior to moving back to the UK, she showed me how to thank things no longer useful or joyful and then let them go. I found this really comforting and a way to carry things in my heart rather than in my bag. It also made unpacking at the other end a lot faster and easier!
How to start to de-clutter
Imagine you are off on a new adventure. You have one small bag. What habits, thoughts and feelings do you want to travel with? What can you live without? Who do you want to keep in touch with on your journey?
Now think about what thoughts, feelings and actions are important for your children to travel with. How does that change your view of how you are parenting?
Once you have identified what you no longer want to carry, make the first step of change too small to fail.
It might feel uncomfortable at the start – like exercise – until you get fitter and more practiced it will hurt a little!
If you would like to explore any of these issues please email us at email@example.com or join our next group workshop to journey on with fellow travellers – click here for the link.