In today’s episode, Lisa shares three things she’s learned and tried whilst parenting her son through his transition to High School.
Listen in for:
– The one thing she has done that her son told her was ‘all he needed’
– The time she made a mistake attempting to snap him out of a spiral!
– When too much resilience building can lead to losing your essence and how to protect it.
– How ‘Kevin and James’ gave her son a framework to figure out the complex truth that we are not our thoughts, we are the thinker of our thoughts.
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Prefer to read? Access the transcript here
Hey, it’s Lisa Corduff. Welcome to the podcast where you can expect inspiring, raw, energising, and transformative conversations with people on the path of personal evolution. I’m here to really live my life and if you are too, these conversations are just for you. I’m really glad you are here. Enjoy.
Hey, welcome to another episode of the podcast, and I hope you enjoyed the New Year’s series, little Bite Size Chunks. Today, I actually wanted to share something that has been really where I’ve been at this last month, and that’s navigating the transition to high school with my boy. And it’s caught me a little bit by surprise and it’s been quite consuming and it really has I guess it’s tested me and it’s been a lot of the things that I’ve learned about myself and how to manage tough transitions and tough moments that I’ve been able to sort of share with him. But I guess through that lens of parenting, and there’s three main things that I have, I’ve learnt and I’ve practised with him. And can I just say I am not a parenting expert in any way? I guess I pay close attention to my kids, as you would too.
As a parent, I have been exposed to lots of, well, lots of understandings about our brains. I think all of my years of navigating them through grief and uncertainty, also through the covid years means that I was, I’ve been searching for tools and tricks and <laugh> to help me on my path. It’s, it’s a trip, this parenting gig, isn’t it? So for what it’s worth, I thought here’s some the three things and I’ve broken them down into validation, stress, and resilience. So we’ll start with validation because I think it’s the key to everything really to self, yes, validating ourselves and our feelings and not making anything that we are feeling wrong. Meeting ourselves where we are and validating it for being okay is I think a key foundation for our own personal, emotional and mental wellbeing. And what I realised with my son was as a 12 year old boy, he needed me to meet him and validate what he was feeling.
I think this lesson and this perspective, I guess came through the years of really having to break myself of the cycle of trying to fix people that I love and that feeling of responsibility that we’ve got for the people around us. Now, my son was having a life experience. He’s not into uncertainty, he’s not into the unknown. He would definitely does struggle with anxious tendencies, and I think that that’s pretty fair enough after what the boys been through. And we have lots of tools, but this was really big. This felt like it was swallowing me. I really felt like anything that I’d known before was out the window. And because it just seems so big, and as parents, I think we don’t want our kids to feel terrible things and we want to just make it better and we want to rush in and tell them why everything’s going to be just fine.
But the fact was that he didn’t feel that everything was going to be fine. And then when it started, it still was not fine even after the first week and things did sort of settle a little bit, but it has been really, really up and down. And there was a day where I said, you know what? I, because I’ve been really encouraging, I think he would really, really benefit from having, well, he definitely has seen psychologists in the past and I just don’t think that he was probably at a level of maturity where it made sense. But he said to me one day, we’re just having a chat. And I said, I know that this isn’t super fun for you to be feeling like this. And there’s actually, there’s amazing people out there who are really great at knowing a few different tools and a few different things that can help. And he was like, mom, I don’t need anybody else. I don’t need to go and tell someone about what’s going on because I can tell you and that’s all I need.
And he was very matter of fact about it. And he said, and I realised in that moment that what I was doing was being with him in his hard time and I wasn’t trying to fix it. I was validating it and letting him know it was hard. It is hard go, I mean lunchtime, going out, trying not to find out who in the zoo, figuring it all out new subjects that he’s never even heard of before learning all different teachers names, all different classrooms, a locker system, a timetable, let alone the people stuff. It’s so full on. And I didn’t make it wrong for him to be feeling the way he was feeling, I allowed it, but it was really interesting to hear out of his mouth that just being able to say it out loud and have me be solid. And I was not getting into the mud with him.
I was just this, Hey, yeah, whoa, what you’re feeling is pretty normal. But what I got it. I did start to get a sense that where he was going in his head wasn’t totally normal. It was kind of on the extreme level. And I’m going to talk about stress in a second, but before we do, I wanted to share a little mistake that I made in terms of the validation. So he’s been able to come with his big feelings to a person who has made it my mission this past month to remove any unwanted stress from my life, to keep our rhythm as slow and steady as possible to be on top of my sleep, my nutrition, my vibe, because I needed to be in the best possible state for him. I think about this with my kids all the time, and it’s literally why I create the program that I do.
And I can’t even tell you how frustrated I get when I share what I do with women who then justify why they can’t spend money on themselves when they feel like they’re caught in this cycle of doing everything for everyone and they’re so overwhelmed and they’re wondering why the wheels are falling off in all these other areas. I’m like, babe, it starts with you and you get to invest in yourself. You have to. And if you are out of the habit of that, what I basically m made it my work to help women create habits around prioritising themselves and their needs because our people are going to have these blowups, they’re going to happen, and what are we going to choose to be throughout that? Be the validator, be the steady, be the person that they can come to and trust that their big feelings are going to be just acknowledged heard.
And I find that he’s very good, and I’ve shared this here before, that kids are really good at knowing what to do next if they just get that chance to express it. I do actually think they’re extraordinary problem solvers, but you can’t do it from the place of holding it all in. So there was a mistake that I made one day and he’d seen something, it had come through and he thought he’d hand, it was too late for him to hand something in and he went from zero to 100 in about four seconds and I saw him and he was spiraling and he was in a full-blown stress response. And I thought, because this is the thing, it’s parents, we’re always just trying stuff out <laugh>. I don’t know if I don’t have all the answers, I’m just giving things a crack and what’s working. It’s really nice when he says things, I don’t need anything else because I’m getting what I need from you, which is also kind of exhausting.
But our role as parents and then there’s these moments where you think, wow, I really messed that one up. So was it was full blown, catastrophizing. And I thought, I need to shock him out of this. So I raised my voice and told him to stop. I need you to stop now. Stop. Hang on, let’s just like look over here. And I said, don’t do this, don’t go there. You don’t have all the information to know if this is a full-blown stress. So I’ll talk about that in a second, or if this is something that you need more information about, just hold up. But I kind of did it in a harsh way. I was really trying to be, have a bit of a circuit break and it did not work. I mean, whoa, I wouldn’t be doing that again because he stormed off to his room and he was sad.
Suddenly his person who has been witness to and has held their ground and just been a bit of a buffer suddenly was acting in a really unexpected and confusing way. Well-meaning I wasn’t crossing him for doing it, I was just trying something different. Anyway, we had to have a bit of a talk and I said, I was watching you spiral out of control and I was trying to help you. I said, I basically tried something new and I can see it didn’t work because you’re upset and it’s fair enough because my experiment failed. But I still think that there’s a way through and I think that if we just chat about it now, we can find out what’s going on with this piece of homework and whether it is worth that big blow up about So way to go, mum, just in case you ever think that got all these down pat, I most certainly do not.
Now this sort of leads into the stress conversation. And what I realised was that his language was starting to be that everything was stressful. There was nothing in his life apart from chilling out and watching his favourite anime online that wasn’t stressful. It was starting to be his language. And I realised this and I thought, I don’t know what to do about this. And so I told him one day to go to take, I gave him a piece of paper and I said, when you are feeling something stressful, when you’re having that conversation in your head, I want you to write down what it is that you are feeling stressed about because I want to get a really good idea of what the stress is so I can better support you is how I kind of framed it. And bless his heart, he actually did it, but he’s like, this is not even much.
This is just a tiny little bit of it. Only when I remembered and he’d written down about five things, five or six things, and it was all about worry about things that were going to happen in the future. So I was just trying to predict and it was worst possible outcome every time. And that was stressful. So I realised at this point that I needed to find a way for him to notice the chatter in his head. Just that chatter that really does do so well at putting us into that worry state, the negativity bias, all of that, all of it. And then helping him realise that those thoughts aren’t actually him, they’re the thoughts that he’s thinking. But that’s a concept that takes, there’s some adults who still don’t know that we are not our thoughts. We’re the thinker of our thoughts. I mean, thank you Deepak Chopra when I was about 27 for giving me this concept and then working at it ever since.
But I thought that’s going on here. And then it’s funny, I was just sitting at my local cafe and a beautiful mom school mom friend sat down and we were both talking about our kids and their transition to high school and she gave me this idea. I was telling her about how kind of trying to figure out how to get him to realise he’s in his thoughts and he’s listening to them and they’re kind of ruling the roost. And she said that what they’ve tried with their kid is to give that voice a name and then give the other voice a different name so their higher self themselves really a different name. And I thought that is cracking idea. I love that so much. I mean, there’s so many times when I have encouraged women to do name that really negative self talk, not these thoughts are coming from somewhere else.
I mean, no, they’re coming from you, but you have more control over them than what you think. So I did this with him. We called that chatter voice, I call it the chatter voice, Kevin. And then I said, we can call the other voice Billy. He’s like, nah, not Billy. We’ll call that voice James. And James is his babysitter. He’s like an older brother. They have the most beautiful relationship. And I just thought that that was so precious, I could cry about it. He does have some amazing, amazing men in his life. Anyway, James, so he’s been using this to figure out when it’s Kevin talking, Kevin creating a bit of stress for him, Kevin going to catastrophizing land. Kevin imagining the worst thing before it’s actually happened. So maybe James can come in and just say, Hey, maybe we shouldn’t worry about for now.
Hang on. Is this worth us going from zero to 100? Because with the stress thing, what I was really trying to get him to see is that sometimes there is very real stress in life. There absolutely is. And we need stress, and stress is normal, but not everything is a stress. And sometimes our thoughts create stress for us when it doesn’t actually exist. And this giving things names has just been an absolute game changer. An amazing friend I was talking to about this said, no, no, no, it shouldn’t be James. It should be his name. It should be his name. That is the highest self. So he starts to trust the real him, this voice that can come in and say, whoa, Nelly, let’s not go there. Hang on. I need to go to sleep and I know that there’s nothing I can do about this right now.
It’s not helpful for me. He used it when he went to the movies with some friends, some new friends from school for the first time, and he said, oh, Kevin was trying to make me worried about what I was choosing to buy. I didn’t know if I should spend money. I didn’t know what to get. And Kevin was making it really hard for me to make a decision. So James just said, this is while I was still calling it James. James just said, Hey, you can earn that money back. You can just make a choice and everything will be fine. Everything’s delicious. And I thought, <laugh>, it’s working because being in a constant state of stress, a constant stress response is not, it’s not good for any of us, is it? And just wanted to get him started on the path of knowing what’s worth stressing about, what’s not worth stressing about and is just us future casting and that chatty, chatty voice, those thoughts that we can actually choose. It’s been really, really helpful.
And then the last thing, I actually was speaking to my psychologist who I just adore. She’s amazing. And I was talking to her about this. I was talking to her because I had personally found this really, really sort of distracting and quite taxing really. So always thinking about how to support myself, but also talking to her about what I’m kind of seeing with him. And in particular, he was finding it really difficult to make a decision that to him felt huge. And that was choosing between two different soccer teams. So he’s a great little soccer player and he had an opportunity to join a higher sort of league club. And he was going along to these trainings and he was sussing it out. And I put him there because he wanted the chance to see, he loves his own club. He’s been, he’s won awards the last few years.
They won the premiership last year. For me, the coach is the kind of mentor that you dream about for your children. And I wanted him to stay <laugh> in the local club, but I also know this is not my journey. And if he wanted to put himself in in the other club, then that was something that I was going to absolutely support. The level of coaching is different, way more pro, but my parents aren’t even allowed to clap on the sidelines. You have to be totally silent. I was like, what sport shouldn’t feel like this? Anyway, I was really encouraging him to make a decision on it and it was a lot for him. And I was talking to my psych about it and we were talking about resilience and I said, I see him. I see him right now. He’s in all these new situations.
It is all big and all new. And I feel like this is, yeah, he hadn’t been really enjoying these sessions. He hadn’t really been loving the coaches, not sort of feeling a bit of a connection there. It was a lot of new people. There were some kids that he knew, but most of them were new kids. And I said, I just have this feeling. It’s just a bit much. And she shared something with me that was a huge revelation and it was something that I wanted to remember for myself and something that I wanted to remember for all my kids as they move through life. And that’s building resilience, which happens when we realise we can do things that we didn’t think we can do before. And then there is being in a situation where you are being asked to build so much resilience because everything is so hard and so new that you can lose your essence since, and we talked about this for a while and I really loved it because what I know about my kid is that he really struggles to get going with things. But once he finds himself in a situation and has connections, he thrives. He does okay. And
I knew that he would find that at this new club, but right now, so much is being asked of him that going to a place where he knows exactly who he is. He is a leader in that team. He is respected by his teammates. He is coached and mentored beautifully by an extraordinary man. He knows. He enjoys it. He knows it’s fun. So it’s something for him to look forward to and it gives him a chance to connect in with his essence while building resilience in so many other ways. And as we spoke, I knew, I knew in myself that my gut instinct was right on this, but I still was really encouraging him to make the decision that felt right for him. I would never want to assume that I know the right things for my kids. They are on their path through life and they’re going to try things and or not try things and they deal with the consequences and they learn.
But I did definitely start to remind him of what is important about sport in his age. I did remind him that this year it might be that next year is your year to do this, that maybe the timing’s just off. And that’s why it’s hard to make a decision to really go for it. Maybe that there’s so much going on to go and be with the team who you’ve been with for the last few years will feel amazing. And everyone’s wanting to get better. He was worried he was going to get left behind. His skills weren’t going to develop as fast that other kids who he knew were going to be go on pro tomorrow. There’s always time to go pro. You are 12 years old and we can make that happen in year eight if you want to make it happen. But right now, you know what I guess her conversation about that resilience building versus essence losing really was such a beautiful way for me to frame the conversation for him so that he could connect in with his essence and be driven from there. And he did make the decision to go to stick with his original team, the local community club. Even although he got into the higher league, whatever it is, club, he made a decision about what felt good for him. And I was quietly breathing a sigh of relief because I’m glad about it. But I just sort, I’d share that because
I think in general, especially with kids who are going through those really big transitions, we have to be careful of them. I guess losing touch with the essence of who they are while they are building resilience. And that along with the importance of validating their feelings and helping them figure out what is stress and what is not stress, and what are stressful thoughts versus actual stressful events, I think are really well for me, when I was thinking about sharing this podcast, they’re the three most important things that I have learned and have applied throughout this crazy past what month, month and a half. I don’t know how long it’s been. And I think it also sort of goes for us too, those things. I kind of love my kids getting older because we can have such rich, juicy conversations about this stuff.
I mean, I was talking to him the other day about habits. I was talking to him about the reasons why right now we are focused on making beds and before they leave the house because oh, that was just one of those things that just stopped. I mean, that was just not happening in Lockdowns. And last year it was just all over the place. And now I’m like, no, everyone needs to be making their freaking bed, but I’m not asking them to do, like I said, I’m our focus because we’ve got to do it over and over again until things become automatic. That’s what a habit is. And he was just so interested in it all. Tell me more, mom. I was talking to him about how we could learn French in his sleep by accessing his subconscious. He’s like, oh my God, mom, this is amazing. I’m like,
Oh boy of mine. Have I got things to share with you? And I actually started to think maybe I need to be keeping a diary of these things to be able to share because I can see now all this learning that I’ve done for myself, I’ve been applying it to my kids, but not necessarily involving them in the conversation. Cause I just don’t think that they were actually ready for it. They were any little, and there’s still so much, but finding ways to apply what we have learned as grown humans that would’ve been bloody helpful to learn years ago. So important. I mean, there was a reason why I created a bonus for Ready for Change when I was teaching all about the stories that really getting our way and hidden to us most of the time. Our little subconscious stories that keep us stuck and repeating patterns. I had a bonus training in there about how to apply what we know to our kids because most of the time we’ve picked up the stories about who we are and from our childhood. And we live it out. We live it out as adults, we store it away and we live it out. And I have always been super conscious to the stories that my kids are telling themselves about who they are because that’s what they’re going to carry through life. It’s really, really important.
And as I said, I’m, I am not a parenting expert. I am just a parent parenting and trying the things and sometimes making mistakes, but I thought I’d share these ones because they’ve been a hard one and a lot of them didn’t come from me. I’m always gathering, always learning, always talking, reading at the time of recording this. I haven’t even gone to Maggie Dents, calming today’s Anxious Kids conference, but that is coming up this weekend and I can’t wait for it because I just want to do the best I can. And for me as a parent, that involves honouring instinct for sure, but also conversation and learning. And I think moms do such a great job. Gee, we pay close attention to our children. Gosh, I was watching the final series of This Is Us. I don’t know whether I enjoy it or it’s just pure torture because I cry every single episode, but I remember Rebecca saying an sorry if you haven’t watched This Is Us.
But she was talking to her son about getting a front row seat to the best show in town, watching her kids grow up. And it just made me cry, floods of tears because I feel exactly the same. What an absolute honour to have like vip tickets and it’s a gift and it’s a responsibility and it can bring me to my knees. But at the end of the day, we are watching people become bloody hell. I’m here for the ride learning, trying <laugh>, and I hope these were helpful to you. Go ahead and share this episode if it was helpful. And there are other parents who are navigating their kids through transitions and might want some extra ideas. That’s what it’s all about. It’s just sharing ideas. See soon.
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