In the fight or flight moments of life, my natural response is almost always flight. Well, not so much flight as crawl into bed and turn on Netflix. At times, when dilemmas in my life invoke fear, I have felt completely paralyzed. Flight.
The paralysis encroached about a year ago when I was considering calling out a male colleague on his chauvinism and was terrified what the blowback might be. Similarly, when I was offered my current executive position – a job bigger and more advanced than anything I had done in the past – I felt frozen in fear of how badly I might fail.
There are also those times when I’m just stuck. No reason, really. But much too often I feel like so many things feel simply hopeless. How do I drive to work in the morning when everything is falling apart across the world?
I assume we all feel stuck like this, at least some of the time. Recently, I’ve found a magical technique that has helped me locate just the right advice and escape the stuck/paralyzed feeling. It invokes my values, the best advice, and cuts through all the excess noise. And it involves my daughter.
What Would I Say to My Daughter?
When I’m feeling too stuck and frozen to act, or even when I struggle to simply choose the right path, I do this:
I imagine that I’m transported 30 years into the future and my daughter is asking me for advice on the same stuck issue I’m dealing with in the present. And then I imagine what advice I’d give her.
Incredibly, whatever advice my mind comes up with for my daughter, it’s also the right advice for me. If instead of my own complex, messy dilemma, I think of it like this:
“Mom, the guy at work is really talking over me and mansplaining constantly. I don’t know what to do?”
“Mom, I found this great opportunity to go on the trip of my dreams. I’m sure it will be life-changing. But, it will be really expensive and I’ve been working so hard on saving my money.”
“Mom, my kids are driving me crazy and I haven’t slept all week and I’m at my breaking point. What do I do?”
Cut Straight to Your Values
What’s incredible about this technique is that allows you to really zero in on your values and what you believe in your heart to be the best path forward. I would only ever give my daughter advice that I believe in fully. And it removes all of my self-doubt that clouds my thinking. I see only love and perfection in her, no room for doubt. It would look like this:
“You’re going to let a man bully you around? Not my daughter! You march in there and call him out!”
“Life’s too short. Go on the trip of your dreams. You deserve to live out your dreams. But plan carefully and save a little extra money first.”
“You can only be a great mom if you take care of yourself. Get a sitter and take yourself out for a massage and then go home and take a nap. Take care of yourself because we all need you to be in the best shape you can be.”
The trick with this technique is, of course, actually taking action on this advice. And here’s where my kids come in once more. They’re watching me. They’re learning from every little step I take. I can’t help that they’re learning some of my bad qualities. That will happen. But I can only make sure they learn from my best qualities if I demonstrate it for them. My son and daughter are both learning how to treat others, how to expect they should be treated, how to follow their dreams. And if I don’t show them how it’s done, how should they learn to do it for themselves?
Ordinary Days, Meaningful Life is a labor of love geared toward working moms ready to embrace the chaos and find meaning in it. If you found this post meaningful, please share it with someone you think would enjoy it too! I’d love to stay in touch with you! Leave a comment below, contact me, or sign up for the mailing list. I can’t wait to hear from you!