No way around it. This mompreneur stuff is not for the faint of heart. And there’s no insulating yourself from being knocked off center sometimes – sometimes multiple times a day. Motherhood, like entrepreneurship, asks you to step forward every day into unknown land, navigate new terrain and bring your best self forward time and time again. I had one of those days last week.
I remember seeing a bumper sticker once that read: “Thermometers react to the temperature, thermostats control the temperature. Which are you?”
Here’s the thing, whether it’s our children or the response from our clients – if we can’t learn how to step fully into the role of the thermostat and control our own inner temperature, we are bound to be at the mercy of the temperatures of everyone and everything else that is going on in our lives. Let’s start with kids.
Kids are supposed to be thermometers. It’s how they are wired from the start. They don’t have the capacity to regulate their outer environment very well. But they are experts at receiving the energy, tone and “temperature” from those around them. In fact they are constantly trying to figure out what they are supposed to be doing by watching, modeling and exploring their reactions to the world around them.
So thermometers are reactionary and they have no internal regulation system.
Think about what happens when kids are in tense or anxiety filled situations. Or when they are tired or hungry or it is just too hot outside. They are receiving the temperature around them and when we are keyed into their reactions we can tell that they need support in cooling off because they can’t do it themselves.
It is in their nature to siphon from us the tone and energy of their world. Ever feel like kids suck you dry? Well, it’s because they do literally. (And incidentally, that’s their job.) They don’t have an internal locus of control yet and they are feeding directly off of whoever is in their world.
Now shift to the adults. One of the things that I believe we are meant to do for our children is to help them develop and strengthen their internal locus of control. Kids are meant to grow from thermometers to thermostats as part of a healthy developmental pattern.
But here’s the rub. We as parents can’t support this healthy development in our children if WE haven’t crossed over from a thermometer to a thermostat. And for many adults, we simply weren’t taught how to establish a strong, resilient, healthy internal locus of control – particularly when we are in high stress situations.
That’s where this gets sticky. Whether we are dealing with an issue in the boardroom or the playroom – all day long we are asked to make choices and respond in ways that keep us moving forward toward experiencing life the way we truly want to be experiencing it – with warm, loving connection, efficient productivity, and easy to generate happiness.
But, no one can be a thermostat when they are stressed out internally. So the key to being a thermostat in today’s stress-crazed culture is to learn how to maintain an inner calm amidst the storm.
Many of us are adults functioning as a thermometers and reacting to the world around us with an outer locus of control. I know, for myself, it felt like I regressed back to thermometer level once I became a mom and the waters of my life started to boil over day after day after day. My life as a mom added more stress than I had ever experienced before. And this stress hit deeper and more intensely than I’d experienced before.
And a stressed body and mind CAN NOT function as a thermostat. It’s impossible. In fact you can toggle back and forth between thermometer and thermostat depending on whether you are in a calm state or stressed state. I believe that as a women living in a stress-crazed world the most crucial skill we can learn is stress resiliency – how to live from inner calm, deep reserves and robust resiliency – even when the waters around her feel turbulent and choppy.
So how do we do that exactly? Especially when it feels like we are being asked to fix the plane while it is in mid-flight? It’s really the crux of the work I do, of what transformed my own life (and still is). Remember my thermometer melt down I talked about earlier?
I’ll never promise you you won’t get off center, you will – it’s a guarantee. But I am seeing the radical difference in my own life of what happens when I have strong supports in place to keep me course correcting before I spiral so far out of control that it can takes weeks or months or years to pull myself back together.
And these strong supports all have one thing in common – they tap right into the area of our brain that controls whether we are functioning under a stress state or a calm state – I call them limbic calming techniques.
Here’s a few examples of what I do when I find myself spiraling into a stress state throughout my day.
- I slow down and connect with a close friend that is 100% there for my best interest– I felt safe, I felt heard and I felt cared for.
- I make sure I didn’t give in to caffeine or excess sugar– which I know adds to my anxiety and inner chaos. Instead I go for the calming foods that I know work for me.
- I bring in some stress-reducing mind/body/breath exercises which turn on the calm from the inside out.
- I opt for a short walk to get outside with fresh air.
- I pay attention to my internal conversation, what triggers were set off and how much of that was baggage from my own past and not the truth of the situation.
- I speak kindly to myself and remind myself over and over again I’m doing the very best I can and my personal best is all I can offer.
The more often I reach for calming tools, the faster these episodes of high stress resolve and dissipate. That is the power of self care to me. It’s why I feel it’s non-negotiable for every mother and entrepreneur to be equipped with simple, effective tools to care for and protect her sacred core. In fact who we are (at the core) is all we ever really have to offer ourselves, our spouses, our children and our world.
How do we, as mothers living in the modern world, exactly and practically replenish so that we stay full rather than live on fumes most days?
I want to invite you to consider what it would feel like to live a year giving yourself not only the permission, but the support and the tools you need in order to change the pattern of self care in your life. Introducing … Replenish 365! My heartfelt offering: a full year, supremely supported, completely comprehensive, momentum building, real-life, real-change, self-care circle for moms who are ready for vibrant health in every area of their lives.