The Family Trap (Episode 273)
Have you ever felt like, instead of being in a family home you've created, it starts to feel a bit more like a family trap? There are many characters we play in our life. Maybe it's the role of a mama, a CEO, or "the entertainer". Sometimes, we can get so lost in our roles and characters that we forget who we are in the process.
In an effort to avoid the "family trap" of being stuck in a rut, we want to address the three main questions to ask yourself so you can get out if it.
What Are You Tolerating?
As I was looking at what we wanted to address on the Mama Says Namaste podcast, I posed this question to our audience online:
What are you tolerating that you'd like to change in your house?
You can answer the question and share your story on any of these links below:
Not only do I want to hear what you're tolerating, if you've moved through this and gotten to the other side, I want to hear your story! Can you share about something that was a struggle in the past that you've now moved past and overcome? Drop me a note and share your story. It may be the inspiration and encouragement someone else needs to hear.
We're not waiting for life to be perfect; simply to keep the flow of goodness in our lives going as smoothly as we can as we learn new insights!
The Roles We Fall Into
Sometimes we feel trapped by the character we've created, or the roles we've fallen into. How do you change it? How do you get out of that?
Oftentimes it starts with good intentions - and then can trap you into a role that requires so much you start to see other areas of your life suffer.
I see this all the time with entrepreneurs, eager to find "more freedom" in their lives so they look to be their own boss. And now, seeing all the potential and with no one telling them what they can't do, they go deeper and deeper into their work until they are slaves to it just as much as the "chains" of a traditional job they wanted to move away from.
Yes, your work can be a beautiful way to share your purpose with the world and create a positive impact. And, your purpose may not be wrapped up in the work that brings a paycheck. You may be focused on raising the next generation or working with those in need where it may actually be more around experiences and connection than a paycheck. It may be your work can drive and fuel those things that give you purpose vs. being the end-all-be-all.
You may jump into a role for a while that requires a lot of focus. Going back to that entrepreneur, it may mean a season of "hustle" where you really work overtime and it's pretty all-encompassing. Yet you do it for a season, knowing the fruit on the other side - you recognize it's for a season.
Or, you can work yourself to the grindstone at all hours (no overtime pay or store closing - it's your business so you're always working on it) and start owning the role of living life as if you're "running on fumes." Have you ever met those people who seem to just carry the burden of overwhelm with them like they can never escape it?
Address the seasons for the roles you play. It's a different season and responsibility requirement raising an infant vs. a teenager. It's a different role. You're still the parent; just in a different way and a new relationship with a teen vs. baby. You don't continue to act as if your child is a needy infant - you have to adapt and grow your relationship with them as you both grow and change.
Your work may take a season of intense focus to then allow for delegation or going on auto-pilot from the systems you create.
It's okay to have many roles in your life. Just pay attention to what switches from a role you play for a season to a character that starts to solidify itself on your identity. I know of some people, who, underneath the wall of the character they play, are very different than what they try to come across as.
Is your character hiding your authenticity, or affirming your genuine self?
Lifting the Weight
Have you ever really sat down with your family and talked about what a healthy home looks like? What success looks and feels like? What feeling support, loved, or valued looks/feels/acts like?
Maybe the family trap isn't really a trap at all. Maybe it's signifying an end of a journey. Just like a little shell starts getting super tiny for a growing hermit crab, sometimes it can feel pretty cramped and uncomfortable as we start to grow out of our shells and need to explore something new.
Maybe it isn't a family trap, but a launchpad to something new you get to define and create. Nathan voiced it so well on the podcast this week:
#1 - What Have You Defined?
This gets to our first question - what have you defined? It's not about what anyone else thinks - what do you envision as a sanctuary at home? What would restore you and make you truly enjoy the home and family that has been cultivated there? What do we want our family to be about, and what feelings do we want to have there?
We've laid out exactly what we did to create a family vision. Define what you want new as a feeling definition vs. being specific. If you want to find success in where you are, be careful defining the specifics of what that looks like - you may limit yourself.
#2 - Have You Experienced What You Want In the Past?
Let's get one thing very clear - this is not reliving your past in exact detail. That is impossible. You are different now than who you were, with new insights and experiences every single day. No matter what you want to hold onto, the experience will be different now just like a pacifier in a baby's mouth may calm them, yet not the same feeling when you put one in your mouth at forty. You've changed, and so have your needs/wants, interests and perspective in life.
You can look at different experiences, emotions and actions and recreate some, yet it will always remain a new experience as you come at it with the mindset of this present moment. It could even change again if you approach it again tomorrow!
For example, if you're feeling unheard by your family, think back to a time you really felt acknowledged and heard by people you cared about. What did that look and feel like?
First, draw from any hints you have from the past that may be a helpful tool for the future. That's it. Not a clone; a tool. The point of drawing from the past first is to see if you've already used some strategies before that may be helpful now - and to affirm that you can do it.
If you haven't experienced it, what are you craving - what do you imagine it would be like? There is always a first time to start creating it, and the more clear you are on the feeling and the gratitude while letting go of the exact process, the more likely you'll find what you're looking for.
Lay The Foundation
The length of time Nathan and I could spend hashing out our different perspectives would be days when we first got married. We learned quickly that assuming the other knew what we were thinking was a recipe for disaster. For the first nineteen and twenty years of our lives, we hadn't had each other in it. There was a lot of catch-up to learn about each other, including all the things that would trigger a negative reaction.
So instead of waiting for them to explode out of us, we'd work to share by a ton of conversation. We'd use prompts - oh the list of questions we'd ask each other! We poured over questions (which now has me motivated to create a "marriage reset" PDF before Christmas with questions for you to ask your partner...stay tuned)...and would, by way of the questions, go deeper than just casual conversation. It was so helpful to open the door to some conversations we probably wouldn't have gotten to so quickly otherwise.
And every time something was triggered in us, we'd make an effort to communicate it within 24 hours. Sometimes it was hard to even communicate what we didn't have words for - it doesn't mean you don't communicate it. Share where you're at, even if it's just, "I'm not sure what is setting me off, I just know I don't like how I feel when you treat me that way, and I'll continue to think about what is at the core of it and let you know."
And, it's not just for our partners. This goes for our children as well. Are you proactively communicating what you need? I remember having a talk with all three of my girls when they were little about personal space and not getting all up in my face as what I needed to really be able to "hear them best". You can have these conversations in a way that builds connection vs. walls.
#3 - Are You Allowing It?
If you are in a situation where you're truly tolerating (or building resentment for) something in your home, and yet you haven't said anything, at that point it's on you, not the other person.
Even after communicating something, we may still have the feelings. It doesn't mean by sharing it they just magically go away. Yet, as Nathan shares on the podcast, it's holding yourself just a beat longer before you respond to someone, and determining if your initial reaction is a trigger from your past that you want to perpetuate moving forward.
You set the stage for how people are going to treat you.
If you allow it - you let it slide "just this once", that can become a habit that can spiral out of control. That doesn't mean you jump down everyone's throat if they don't treat you perfectly. Yet thinking criticism, defensiveness, contempt, or stonewalling will just disappear and not become a habit, think again. Be careful about what you or your partner slide into. Be careful about how you are treating others, and how that echoes back to you.
The more you can share how to get the best out of you, the more everyone gets what they want. It is much better for others to experience the you that shows up when you are thriving than the explosion or apathy that may result in you just letting things slide.
Communicating early isn't starting something worse - it's eliminating the worst before it can happen. It's simply saying, I care enough about this relationship to not blow up or check out of it when I'm at my max, so I'm willing to talk to you now about it.
Remember Your Purpose
Purpose is in relationship - with yourself and others. On the podcast I shared about a video I recently watched from one of our 48 Days Eagles members, Mark Delaney. He shares about purpose and feeling lost and being in this box with walls around him and his focus on himself and his problems.
I talk so much about the importance of looking inward first and addressing what's going on. Yet this video is spot on. It wasn't until he started taking down his walls that he saw others - and through their impact and inspiration, he learned more about himself and his own gifts, that was able to open him up more to his purpose.
You see, the purpose we have is so often in relation to the rest of the world. Just like the podcast last week on the "namaste family", we are all interconnected.
If you are tolerating anything in your life, especially when it comes to your relationship with anyone else, have you asked yourself:
- What have we defined?
- What have I experienced in the past I can draw from?
- What have I allowed by not setting boundaries or clearly communicating?
Oftentimes those things that make us clench our teeth in frustration are the opportunities to springboard into a new season of growth and discovery.
Talk about what you want to create so it remains in your awareness so much that you have the chance (and clarity) to change it. Create something beautiful with those you love. Create an environment where you all can thrive in recognizing the gifts you bring to the table and how the uniqueness in each of us strengthens all of us. Namaste