The Shake Up
“When the day is long
And the night, the night is yours alone,
When you’re sure you’ve had enough
Of this life, well hang on.
Don’t let yourself go,
‘Cause everybody cries
And everybody hurts,
As moms, showing up for our kids when it feels like our world is crumbling around us can feel like an impossible feat.
It can be tempting to look at society, at authority figures, past abusers, at your parents and point the finger of blame for your struggle on those around you who caused it.
Because surely, someone, somewhere did something, somehow that’s put us in this situation…
And perhaps it’s justified, and helpful in the short term to be able to assign blame.
But in the long-term, it isn’t useful.
I say this as a mom whose 5 year old was diagnosed with autism last week.
It is hard to not look around my family, or my husband’s family and want to trace where it came from – whether it’s useful or not.
And this same thought process shows up in nearly every pivotal, hard moment our families will face.
Whether it’s a lack of self-belief causing our problems.
Or a lack of coping skills for difficult situations.
Or coming from a long line of people who struggle financially.
So… you know that your mom telling you that you cost her a lot of money led to financial mindset problems and questioning your worth. You’ve pinned down the source… and yet the pain and struggle doesn’t go away.
Knowing the source of your struggle is only the beginning of your journey to fulfillment and happiness as a mom.
There is one person, and one person only whom you really need to look at to understand why you react to difficult situations the way that you do – and that’s you. If you are not open to this idea, then I’ll spare you reading the rest of this blog, and recommend you use your time to enjoy the “Treat Yo’ Self” episode of Parks & Recreation.
(Hey, Amy Poehler, you are welcome for the exposure.)
It’s your beliefs, perceptions and expectations that are keeping you where you are right now.
If you (and I) want to be able to take control when coming through difficult situations, it’s imperative that you develop the ability to take the wheel of your own life and stop handing control over to anyone else who you ever let be the driver.
Start taking the approach taught by Salman Rushdie:
“Those who do not have power over the story that dominates their lives, power to retell it, to rethink it, deconstruct it, joke about it, and change it as times change, truly are powerless, because they cannot think new thoughts.”
If you are like so many moms who I’ve spoken with, your journey to fulfillment and joy began from a place of pain.
You found yourself in a deep struggle, and knew something had to change. Perhaps it was financially, other times it has to do with your health, or often times it was an injustice in the world you couldn’t bear see happening and know you were doing nothing about it.
Whatever it was, beauty was born out of your pain. Sometimes you will find yourself back in that place of pain, and then have to reorient yourself as life cycles around.
A couple years ago, I was sitting with a lively, spunky woman in her 80s named Beverly.
We were talking about life, and she said to me, “Just when you think you have it figured out, you find out that you don’t.”
No one has ever spoken truer words.
One day you are standing there, and you see your perfect life, your perfect reality in front of you. Then an experience comes along that comes in like a wrecking ball, and it brea-ea-eaks you. (Thanks, Miley, for that.)
See, there are three ways that we are able to break through to change our subconscious minds (and therefore lives) and the first is what we call “Mortal Peril”. When something we see breaks through to our subconscious mind, it changes the way we do things.
If we find ourselves in a car wreck, we then drive more cautiously for the rest of our lives in those scenarios.
However, our brain doesn’t know the difference between our literal life and our perceived identity.
So when our world comes crashing down and we find ourselves questioning who we are, it means our brain thinks we are dying – and like it or not – everything is about to change.
Your brain wants you to stay the same person so badly that the aftershocks of these experiences can absolutely rock your world.
It shakes you up.
And as much as it sucks, if there’s one thing I know, it’s that the greatest things in life are formed from the blocks of demolished realities.
So if you find yourself in this place of pain, of difficulty, please know you aren’t alone, and there’s nothing wrong with you if you are struggling.
It’s like the caterpillar that goes into a cocoon and comes out a butterfly.
From the outside it looks like the caterpillar just went in, grew some wings and came out beautiful and capable of flight.
In reality, the caterpillar built the cocoon to create a safe space for it to come completely undone. It melts down on a cellular level into nothing but green goo.
With proper safety and time, it recomposes itself, bit by bit, until it’s something that’s admired by those who know nothing of it’s pain & loss.
Please know, there is no shame in having help during your green goo Shake Up.
There is no rushing this stage. It often takes far longer than we would like, and if we don’t allow it the time it needs, our brains will force us to take the time.
The second way we can break through to the subconscious to change the brain is through novelty.
Envision a woman walking down the street in a 1920s flapper dress, with her hair in a curled bob, wearing a braided headband across her forehead. Her tassels bouncing with every step, you notice her above and beyond all the others you’ve passed.
Well, that’s what happens in these Shake Ups.
This is not your average, everyday experience. These are moments that stand out among the rest, and capture your wrapped attention – and often painfully.
Pretending it isn’t painful is what often leads to suffering. We can find ourselves in pain, and if we are willing to recognize it for what it is instead of telling ourselves it has no place here with us, then it stays as pain. It’s the being convinced we shouldn’t be experiencing what we are experiencing that leads to suffering.
The third way to break through to your subconscious is through Strong Emotion. Understandably, Shake Ups are going to be quite emotional for those going through them.
Facing loss, tragedy, pain or suffering, and the hurt of a Shake Up is emotional.
Waking up day after day with these strong emotions creates repetition that solidifies the lessons learned from your Shake Up.
While these three ways of breaking through to the subconscious can be painful in this stage, it is a powerful tool we will be able to use in later stages.
This pain creates cracks that, when repaired, leave us more beautiful for having been broken, much like the art of Kintsugi.
Kintsugi is an art form in Japan where broken pottery is repaired with precious metals, and the cracks reflect the light around them from the metal lines.
It’s incredibly important to remember – you cannot rush this stage!
I once had a boss at a restaurant who called us all into a staff meeting.
“When you are busy,” he said, “It’s tempting to run around from table to table, as quickly as possible.
“Think, though, of the mornings when you wake up late for work. You hurry and get ready as quickly as possible, and then you get to work, ready to go.
“You look down and notice something amiss. You buttoned your shirt all wrong, you have mismatched shoes and your hair is a mess.
“It ends up slowing you down as you have to go correct everything you missed in your hurry. It turns out, it actually benefits us to slow down when we are in a hurry, because it takes more time to correct mistakes than it does to slow down and do it right in the first place.
“So when you are in a rush, slow your breathing and walking and say to yourself, ‘Dress me slowly, I’m in a hurry.’
“Trust that by slowing down and doing things intentionally, you will actually save time.”
This concept has made such a profound impact for myself and many of my clients, and if you find yourself in The Shake Up, it will be so useful to you as you allow this stage to play out.
I need to be honest with you. There’s a big problem in the self-help world.
I refer to it as ‘ostriching’. This is where we are taught to affirm our way out of our problems, visualize that our world isn’t falling apart around us, and convince ourselves there is something shameful about our lives not being blissful. So we bury our heads in the sand, shove our doubts down, and then one day, they all come bubbling up.
For me, that day came up and I posted in a entrepreneurial Facebook Group with over 70,000 people and asked the question, “Would you hire a mindset coach who takes an antidepressant?”
Many people assumed I was throwing shade at those who take antidepressants.
Others confirmed someone who takes an antidepressant shouldn’t be trusted.
And some gave the perspective that mental health and mindset are two different things.
The third was exactly what I was searching for that day.
Your brain is your greatest home. It cannot be taken hostage without your strength being constrained. Pretending your strongest self hasn’t been tied up during a Shake Up leads to added mental danger, and it’s so important to recognize it’s okay to find safe space to admit your weakness.
A few weeks after I posted in that group, I was in the doctor’s office, where multiple providers walked in, talked with me for a few short seconds and they all repeated the same words.
“This is PTSD.”
I was living with PTSD that led to crippling panic attacks, night terrors and living in fight or flight.
I had been assaulted and suffered 3 losses in a few short months, and had used the mainstream ‘positive thinking’ to push my way through it. It turns out that our brains need to actually deal with trauma. If we don’t do it on our own, it will force us to one way or another.
Well, for a few reasons. First, it’s imperative that you understand that mindset & mental health are two different things. If your mental health needs your attention, focusing on mindset will do more harm than good in the long run.
Second, there is no shame in getting help from therapists, doctors & medication. Mindset work can be informative, yet virtually useless (and even harmful) if your mental health isn’t being taken care of.
Medications and support can get you to the point that mindset work can actually have an impact.
It isn’t admitting defeat, and it may feel like you are digging yourself a hole to crawl in and wave the white flag, but remember this – Holes are the places where solid foundations are poured.
What this looks like for you can only be determined by you, and you alone.
And whatever you choose is right, as long as it’s your choice.