We’ve all heard that our children’s growth will happen “outside their comfort zone. Without the struggle there is no space for growth, yet how prepared are we to be able to watch them as they struggle during those moments? How good are we at modeling being outside OUR comfort zone ?
Parenting comes with many “negative” feelings like fear, sadness, frustration , anger guilt or hurt. We will experience them when our kids can’t sleep, when they get sick, when they are left out of social events, when they are not accepted to a club or team, and we will feel them as they grow and become more and more independent. We will feel them, when they “leave our nest” and when they begin to make choices that are different from the ones we’d like them to make. One of the toughest challenges we have is to be able to SIT with these feelings, recognize them, embrace them , process them, and learn from them.
Our brains are wired to protect us, so generally we will tend to look for a way to avoid any of these uncomfortable situations. We do this by finding distractions; we look for ways to numb those feelings, or do mental acrobatics to try and “think” ourselves out of those thoughts or sensations. This will only make the feelings grow in size and become more intense . When we avoid, we are limiting our own growth.
We must also remember that when we begin to block these feeling that we see as “negative” we are also blocking the way for the positive ones, as they all flow through the same emotions “highway .“
Fortunately we have tools to help us process these moments.
These are skills we learn and strengthen through practice. Once we have this mindset, we will be able to see these moments as opportunities for growth ( for us and for them) instead of battling to get rid of them.
1.Sit & Observe
When you sit still you give yourself the opportunity to observe your thoughts .
It’s important to remember that thought and feelings are neither bad or good, right or wrong. Embrace them without judgement.By sitting still you will also be able to check in with your body to observe what is happening; how is your breath, how fast is your heart beating , do you feel tightness in your chest or muscles. Tune in to your body—to reconnect to your physical self.
Headspace is an app that can guide your body scan
2. Identify your feelings
Identify the most accurate words to describe how you feel – self awareness helps you move forward.
I am very visual, so i loved this wheel of emotions floor pillow where you can literally SIT . It gives a spectrum of descriptions that facilitate being able to identify what you are feeling.
One of my favorite explanations of feelings I heard this summer was from Arthur Brooks in the Aspen Ideas Festival “On happiness; Life lessons from COVID minute 6:34
( I fully recommend listening to the whole session)
One of the greatest tools or this that I discovered, during the pandemic was the magic of BREATHING. Heres a great podcast
#179: The New Mind-Blowing Science of Breathing with James Nestor episode of Broken Brain with Dhru Purohit
3. Take action
“Between stimulus and response there is a space. In that space is our power to choose our response. In our response lies our growth and our freedom.”
— Viktor E. Frankl, neurologist, psychologist and Holocaust survivor , founder of Logo-therapy movement
The first two steps will help you create, and lengthen that space. This process of slowing down will allow you to make more conscious decisions on the actions you take. It reduces the impulsivity and gives yourself the opportunity to think about what actions will get you closer to your parenting goals. Instead of reacting , you will have better clarity of what options you have , and be able to choose how you want to respond.
For me one of the more recent moments where I was really challenged emotionally was when my kids left home for college. The mix of emotions was often too much for me to process… I was proud of them , thrilled for the times that were waiting for them, and happy to see them excited. At the same time I felt like my heart was being torn. Facing the reality that my once dependent children were becoming independent made me sad.
—I was scared … what if I had not given them the tools to survive? Would they be ok on their own?
I took the time to feel & accept. I made sure I filled my time with activities that would help me restore since this process left me depleted. I reached out to my close family and friends for support. I slept, I cried, I ate chocolate and listened to my “pump me up music”. It took time but I was able to find a new center. With each of them it was a different process, with different lessons.
I have to say that the days before they leave home, after a vacation, I still get this “package” of emotions…. but I am brave enough to allow them in.
“Outside the comfort zone “ is a tough place to be, but the next time you find yourself there, just SIT WITH IT and watch yourself grow.
I like it that you gave us an informative account of your personal experience.
It gives me a different perspective .
Can I have your pump me up playlist? I hope it’s not tropipopcito
Que buen post Vick!!!! Congrats!!!! 😘😘😘
Thanks for the “leaving the nest” tips…. very handy!!!!!!
You are so right- it is in the discomfort where we find growth!
Great post Victoria! Loved it!
Perfect timing for your post. Dropping my son to college now and you are spot on. Thx!
Love this Vik,
Si muy cierto, gracias Vicky!
Siempre estar abierto al cambio abrazándonos a nosotros mismos. Esta bien sentir!!
Me encanta Vicky!!!
Love this Vick’s!!! So proud of you always!! T adoro!!
Wow Vick! Me encantó!!! So true….
Muy cierto Vivky…! Thanks….
Comforting! Exactly what I needed to read.
Both of my boys are going to boarding school next week. We have all been facing a swirl of changing emotions. It has not been easy and it probably will get harder once they start and are away from their “nest”. However, I feel that moving them out of their comfort zone is exactly what they need in order to grow.