πŸ•―οΈ Winds of Change πŸ•―️

This year my heart is very unsteady, my emotions and mind are unsure, it’s a different world for me this year. In March I had my second and last (intended) child. I never knew a love like this before. My daughter brought me a different kind of love, a lot of joy and sweetness, laughter and tears. Failures and successes, an emotional rollercoaster. My husband brought me a feeling of safety, a feeling of being known and cared for by someone, being special to someone. My son is different, he brings me such a profound inner peace, he brings a harmony to all of us that is really difficult to put to words. I believe we all bring something different to the family, to the world. My world is better than ever before, but also shaken up and upside down.

For the past few years I have chosen values and tried to live by them for a long time before changing them, but this year feels very different, it feels neccisary to change my way of being distracted and busy, it feels neccisary to change being passively dissatisfied with a life out of balance doing too much for others until I’m an empty shadow of a human being, it feels neccisary that I change my consioussness to create a different life than the one I have come to hate (even though I made it myself). In my new life I want these value changes:

Proactivity replaces entitlement.
Resilience replaces complaints.
Perseverance replaces excuses.
Authenticity replaces courage.
Mindfulness replaces persistence.
Humility replaces wisdom.
Serenity replaces power.

It’s a lot at once and I don’t like that, I don’t think it’s easy to make a lot of changes at one time without falling off good habits, yet I feel a kind of emotional momentum to complete a larger metamorphesis than normal. I feel inspired to give myself and my kids a different life than they would have with me the way I was before.

It’s not that many changes in our physical life, but so many in our actual life, in the way we live. I was rushing so much before, that the habit I am trying to form of “not rushing,” becomes a thosand real habits. Don’t rush through morning, don’t rush through meals, don’t rush to clean, don’t rush people who are talking, don’t rush while you brush your daughter’s hair, don’t rush as your kids grow up, don’t rush as your life passes you by without reaching your dreams, don’t rush as you reflect on the week, don’t rush so that you don’t ever tell your husband that he matter to you, it becomes millions of habits.

Which is why I like having the free habitca app, it lets me add daily habits, regular (but non-daily habits), to dos…

Some daily habits I’ve made since my son was born are “Live my Best Life Possible,” “Don’t Rush,” “Check Email in the Morning,” “Mindfulness,” “Communicate Assertively,” “Brush Teeth Twice,” “Dry Dishes at Night.” Some other habits I’ve made are “Authentic Acceptance,” “Notice My Kids,” “Work on Blog,” “People Care,” “Teach School,” “Home Care – Laundry and Dishes,” “Plant Care,” “Earth Care,” and “Fair Share.” The one habit that has stayed from before my son is “Stoic Meditation” on Coach.Me (an online positive habit community).

My life is in flux in a really positive way, but it’s very turbulent and challenging to try to rise to meet internal challenges and be honest about failures, re-evaluate plays, seek solutions instead of being bogged down by problems.

The year started with the meditation, “problems cannot be solved by the same level of thinking that created them” (Einstein) and it has become “do what you can today, with what you already have, find a way.”

It was the book The Power of Habit, that first inspired me to take a hold of my own mind and live the best I could in real life, before that book it seemed impossible to seperate who I am from my good and bad habits and make the changes I dreamed a reality. Much gratitude to Charles Duhigg for writing such a empowering, truthful and useful book. Since reading it I became interested in neuroscience and habit formation, but also in becoming emotionally proactive and healing my heart’s wounds enough to be able to have the resilience to face life with my heart on my sleave, take the pain of failures and continue trying to do the best I can everyday.

I think it’s going to take sometime to sort out my action plans and rationals for changing my value structure that thus changes my mindset, attitude and habit plans, but I wanted to write something as a declaration of my intent to be a better person, in part in thanks for the pressence of my son in my life and in part to be able to die in peace when I finally do so.

The quote that keeps me inspired when I bite off more than it seems like I can chew is “change is possible, if you seek it,” (- author unknown) that’s what the featured image represents to me.

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πŸ“• Week 1 of the Whole Brained Child Beyond the Book

Week 1 Questions: Introduction – Survive and Thrive

1. How often do you find you find yourself just trying to survive moments in parenting? “Estimated: 3-5 times a day.”

2. What are your β€œgo toβ€œ survival techniques? “For non-stop screaming the room AKA prison (happens once every other week or so) until we both calm down enough to talk, if I feel like hitting my daughter her room (happens once a month or so when she hurts her tiny baby brother) until I calm down, for violations of known rules her room or prior punishment such as take away item for the day onto fridge if she hit someone with it – then we talk on her bed about the family value that was violated by the behavior, what I want to see and ask if she understands, yelling is just a failure that happens when I am overwhelmed once every other week or so, threatening happens in public where I want to let her stay somewhere fun like school or the library, but she is breaking rules such as running far away in the parking lot after other kids, running in hallways where it is not allowed ext. Consequences are not called consequences, we refer to them as “if,” “then” and choices, (ICC: inform, consequence, choice) if you do not share the doll with the little girl who is crying, then I will not get you shave ice after school. I do a lot of positive rewards with affection, words of affirmation and food treats, but I don’t consider that to be “bribes”, I consider it positive incentives and I think it’s been a good thing for us. Ex we practice languages in the morning, she tries to say new words and gets m&m mini’s, I think it’s the attention she likes the best, but I do give candy. She gets paid for helping with laundry and helping protect her brother, $4/week, I don’t think of that as a bribe, living in a country where workers get paid, I think it’s modeling the world (imperfect although it is) we live in.”

3. On page viii it asks what you really want for your children? What qualities do you hope they develop and carry into their adult lives? “Emotional control, resilience, empathy, eq, leadership, boundaries, integrity, ethics.”

How much time do you spend intentionally developing these qualities?
“Emotional control 1-5 hours/week, resilience 10 min-3 hours/day, empathy 3 hours/week, eq 1 hour/week, leadership 10 min-2 hours/week, boundaries 3 hours/week, integrity 7 hours/week, ethics 4 hours/week.”

4. What skills and abilities do you think will be easy to develop in these survive and thrive moments? Which will take more effort? Independence? Problem solving? Compassion? Empathy? Anything else? “None are easy, it was extremely hard to do this in real life.”

πŸ“• My Experience with Whole-Brained Parenting

Overall I enjoyed the book Whole-Brain Child by Daniel J. Siegel and Tina Payne Bryson, I read it when my first child was a baby and found it somewhat unsuited for her tempermant.

I just started Kelly Meier’s “Beyond the Book” book club to try and apply the book towards my real family life, even though I failed in the past I’m excited to try again. Sometimes failure is not the opposite of success, but part of the path of success (and sometimes it’s not).

One thing about the book is it says that the child’s brain will mirror the parents, that doesn’t seem real to me. I have been super calm, while my child was screaming and kicking… my calmness just bothered my daugher more and more. It feels like I’m not able to validate her emotions and she isn’t able to down regulate. It’s not that I don’t want to help her, but I never found a way so far. I believe in her ability to self regulate and I think it’s fine for parents to co regulate also, but somewhere between her and I as individuals is some kind of problem doing so. I am able to face my emotions, I am able to calm my actions, yet I am helpless to help my daughter who is way more intense than I am. She reminds me a lot of her father, he doesn’t let me co regulate him, if he is very sad or mad he leaves the house and comes back. That’s the way he was before I met him, that’s his choice, but it seems to me that my daughter and him are very naturally different than average.

It’s my hope that I can help my daughter learn to calm down enough to handle her emotions well, not ignore them, not repress them, but also not be a slave to them.

The book says “everything that happens to us matters to how the brain develops,” that’s stress provoking for me, it made me want to control “everything that happens to my daughter’s brain” ie “everything.” That’s not a very realistic expectation, with one, or especially two kids. It also makes me frustrated when, not everything I try seems to have any effect on my child. From my experiences, I don’t believe that it is true. I believe that there are certain really important events, like “core memories” from Inside Out,” that for subtle reasons, are much more important than other events. I have come to find that a lot of events are outside of my control as a parent, and I have to accept and surrender to those events emotionally to face reality as it comes.

I also have doubts that squabbles are caused by lack of brain integration, I think they are part of human nature. I don’t know any adults who don’t squabble… I think heart to heart comunication breaks down and squabbles occur at all ages.

I have more doubts that brain integration can live up to it’s promise of helping people to thrive “emotionally, intellectually and socially,” maybe it does help “improved decision making, better control of body and emotions, fuller self understanding, stronger relationships and success in school,” but I don’t believe all the introductory claims are true. I personally know the “achademically best” student in my sisters school (her best friend), who struggled with relationships. I know many people who shine is one area of life, without brain integration. I think brain integration is worthwhile, but I think the claims of what it improves are inflatted or wrong. I think brain integration probably does improve day to day well being. I think success in school is somewhat determined by fate, some people can’t even afford to go seriously… I think relationship success relies on people outside of your control, not on your brain integration… I think intellect is heavily genetic or determined by nutrition or early education outside of brain integration. But even voicing my doubts, I believe brain integration has something beautiful and worth chasing at the end of its journey.

I think brain integration probably helps ward off depression, I was in the same place intellectually and socially, before and after working on brain integration, but I did end at a slightly elevated emotional place. What I can say about my daughter, is that despite getting more “enrichment” than her peers she is intellectually average, socially superior and emotionally poorer. I’m not sure if that is due to genetics vs enviornment, but I know she isn’t superior across the board, to her friends who’s parents don’t read parenting books or visit museums, learn sign language ext., instead she has peaks and valleys that I think are semi-perminant markers of her unique mind, heart and soul.

More to come…

πŸ“• My Experience with Conscious Parenting

A book that really made it harder for me to raise my daughter was The Conscious Parent Parent: Transforming Ourselves, Empowering Our Children, by Dr. Shefali Tsabary. I loved the book’s message that parents should accept their children the way they are, and it was probably not meant for small kids or to be literal, but I tried to use it that way. I think when your child doesn’t use the toilet, and then they become ready to use it, you aren’t accepting what they want, you are training them to do things in a better way and somewhat change who they are. Dr Shefali mentions that “normative” things should be taught as a routine, assertively, but she doesn’t address the disodence between not trying to change your children vs changing them to do “normative things”. I aslo read Dr. Shefali’s second book, and loved it on paper. I commited myself to trying to use her method for my family, but many years later I am admiting to myself it did not work for us.

My understanding of the idea of conscious parenting is to 1. examine each situation on a case by case basis, 2. take in the moment, 3. examine your own soul and upbringing, 4. think about what to do, 5. put a space between being mad and acting (wait five minutes before punishment), 6. act to address the situation.

That all sounds fine, but it all doesn’t work for us. Examining each situation sounds great, but if you are pregnant with another kid vomiting in the toilet, how do you examine why your first child broke something in the playroom that you didn’t witness and they say they didn’t break… you don’t, you really can’t always do that. Clear, consistant rules are better for us, than a family meeting over each and every new infraction. We have tried it both ways. With clear rules my daughter isn’t scared of the punishment (you drop your icecream you have no icecream – you don’t get another, you hit your brother I talk to you about malama/caring for him and using your strength in a helpful way), she knows it is coming, she doesn’t love it, but it doesn’t give her anxiety the same as when we decided punishment on a case by case basis. It was also a huge cognitive load for me to try to think about myself and my childhood everytime anything bad happened. It was important for me to let go of a traumatic childhood, but having done that, not everything that happens to my family now has anything to do with my past upbringing. When I am mad, it is often because my valid boundaries are being violated, not because I am a raging psycho who needs to chill out. For me, especially with two kids to care for by myself, it makes things way easier if I don’t have to think about what to do when the same problem comes up, sure I have to figure out each new problem, but the set protocol really helps. For something unsafe, I grab her take her away, soothe her, then explain, I don’t ask for permission, I don’t negociate, I just take action. For emotional fits I allow the fit, but ask her to go to her space so not everyone else in the family has to be disturbed from their quiet meal/music practice/computer project/work from home phone call. The protocols allow me to be a much better person in the heat of the moment than my attempt at conscious parenting did. For a big disturbing mess I seperate her and the mess, have her wait, clean, then talk to her about malama/caring for our home or items she may have broken. I really do that. Before the protocol it wasn’t as nice, there was yelling sometimes, it didn’t really seem to change her either. Now with the protocol I get less flustered, I treat her better, my husband can help me decide on the protocol (sometimes he has good ideas). The last point about why I’m not a fan of consious parenting anymore is that when you want to modify behavior waiting five minutes unlinks the cause and effect in the brain of the child, if each time the child does something bad something adversive happens (like they get their toys taken away for the day, when they hurt someone with the toy) it’s a more powerful learning message than if that toy was taken away five minutes later when they are already thinking and possibly doing something else. Sometimes I get too angry to talk to my child about our values when she does something bad and I confine her somewhere safe while I calm down, but I don’t expect her to learn from that, I’m just keeping her safe from being verbally abused by me when I am furious. I talk to her when I am calmed down, and I tell her what our family values are. I’m trying to use ICC, inform, consequence, choice from the Four Tendencies book, so I say “when you kick the dog you are not malamaing/caring for our dog” (inform), “if you kick the dog you can not be in the livingroom where the dog lives anymore, you will go to your space” (consequence), then I let her choose to either appologize to the dog or go to/be taken to her room (choice). I don’t punish her with hitting, with screaming, with taking away toys (except if she used them as weaponds), I don’t confine her in her room as punishment (though I do for safety, while I calm down) and over the past month I’ve noticed a big improvement in her behaviour.

There are some really wonderful ideas in Dr. Shefali’s books, so much so that I tried to live by them for about three years. However I think it’s so important for parents to know that not all ideas work for all parents or children, even if you try them consistently and do a good job, since kids are different, parenting can never be a one size fit’s all eye glasses perscription. My favorite Ted Talk about parenting, Jennifer Nacif’s “the Secret to Motivating Your Child,” changed the way I saw all parenting advice forever and empowered me to start viewing my child as a person first, and child second.

πŸ‘¨β€πŸ‘©β€πŸ‘§β€πŸ‘¦ Why I Want to Change My Child

I’m not that traditional, but everything “kind of normal to society” is optional to my daughter: wiping her dirty but after using the potty, washing her dirty hands before putting them in her mouth… I had pinworm for two years because I couldn’t stop her from sticking her dirty hands in my and her mouth for two years.

My daughter doesn’t just hurt herself when she won’t take health and safety advice from me, she hurts other people in the family too. I had less nutrition for my growing baby, when I was pregnant with my son, because of my daughters never ending paracites that she shared with me (that felt horrible), but it’s an unavoidable cost that we pay to have the great parts of her in our lives.

I haven’t given up on trying to keep my daughter safe, and trying to advocate health and hygiene, and make normal routines like hand washing override what she wants to do (run off to play without handwashing), but I’ve made peace with the fact that a certain percent of the time I will fail, because my daughter is a rebel, not because I suck as a human being.

Other parents may have better behaved children, other parents may be kinder to their children, other parents may have a better relationship with their children, or do more enrichment activities with their children, but I do a good job with the real life situation that I have within my capacities as a human being.

There are parts of my daughter that I do want to change and parts that I don’t want to change. When I say I am don’t want to change “her” anymore, I mean her soul, her personality, her “higher self,” but it doesn’t mean that I can’t tell her we don’t steal or try not to hurt the baby (head butting his nose when you flop down on the bed for fun – that happened today) or we put trash in the trash can not the floor.

Some people say don’t try to change kids, but I will continue to try to change my daughter, not because I’m uncomfortable with her being different or because I want to meet the satus quo or I don’t want to be judged for her outbursts, but because I love her.

Discipline to me means teaching with kindness, what is wrong and right (sure it’s situational, but there is a wrong and right, punching her four month old baby brother when she is frustrated is so wrong). Discipline, even in a kind manner, is a very ugly, tireing job, but to skip teaching what is expected ie discipline, is a form of neglect. I grew up without discipline, it was scary not knowing what punishments would come if my parents did get mad. They didn’t make any rules, but when they got mad they punished us unexpectedly, it made me really afraid of emotions instead of being afraid of misbehaving. Discipline is not bad, like guns are not bad, it’s the way that it is used that matters. Is the intent teaching with love? If so the method probably works. If the intent is to punish a child for making a parent be uncomfortable in some way, that’s not really discipline.

There are things I never want to change about my daughter, that she is creative, that she is empathetic, that she doesn’t blindly follow, but I do want to force her not to cut people with knives and garden shears, I do want to force her to not kill people and eat them (which is what she says she wants to do when she grows up, because I showed her a Youtube video saying not to do that), I do want to force her to wash her hands (so no one else in our family gets pinworm again), I do want to force her to not hit the baby when she is mad. I don’t want to change “her” thoughts, feelings, personality, soul, but I do want to change her beliefs, actions, understanding of cause and effect, hygiene and safety practices, out of love for her and a belief she will have a better life if she learns to be kind as she stands up for herself and be a gentle friend to the people who she wants to keep around her.

Sometimes it gets really confusing to know what I want to change, and what I should never try to change, but I have to take the responsibility for bringing my kids into this world by making the best decisions that I can out of love and hope that what I do is enough to let my kids someday enter the world ready to be confident in who they are, yet not shoot other people on a whim or because they had a bad day.

I recently read a good post, by Dr. Fawzy Masaoud, about mental health in sibling relationships, that helped me get more insight into my daughter’s internal struggles. Since the first child, my daughter, was the center of attention for three years, she is trying to act like our baby, to get the attention back. She swings in the baby swing, walks in the baby walker, chews on the baby’s teething keys ext. we tried to stop her at first, but she does it with such a strong compulsion that since it hasn’t caused any real problems, I stopped trying to stop her. It may seem obvious to everyone else, but I really didn’t know my daughter was doing it for attention… I thought she wanted to use the new stuff, just because it was new. Although I plan to give her attention and love, I think it’s going to be more important for her to get used to having less than it would be for me to try to tend a three year old and a four month old with exactly the same amount of attention. I was also the oldest child and the habit of expecting more attention is due to me than what other people want to give me caused problems in my marriage. Sometimes having less can be a blessing, because it gives you exercise at developing gratitude, then even if you get more you know how to be happy with what you have.

πŸ‘¨β€πŸ‘©β€πŸ‘§β€πŸ‘¦ Rock Bottom to Redemption

Recently in the kitchen, I confronted my three year old daughter about loving a purple dino cup more than me…

My sister said I was being ridicuolous and that my daughter loved me more than the dino cup, we asked my daughter and she said over and over that she loved the purple dino cup, because it was a dino, and that she didn’t love me.

We asked her in different ways, we made a ven diagram about what she did or didn’t like about me, and it just became clearer, and clearer that my daughter and I didn’t love eachother anymore.

It happens with spouses, couples and I guess with children too.

Initially I was so angry, I very uncharacteristically threw the purple dino cup full of water to the floor. It was another rock bottom emotional moment for me. As the water spread across the floor, the problem I had been having internally, emotionally, vaguely, became tangable, physical, mesurable in density… (the problem I have with my daughter displaced about 2 cups of water).

I have had this problem, since she was born, but before the water hit the floor everyone dismissed it.

My husband, my sister, my father, refused to beleive that things weren’t great between my daughter and I, but they never had been.

They had been better, but never great.

I remember my baby, screaming, flailing, crying out, in my opinion, to be understood.

I fed her, I held her, I carried her in a carrier, I taught her to read, I never left her to work (I brought her to work), but none of it mattered to her. Her dad understood her on a deep emotional level, that I never did, and that kept her dissatisfied, and me exausted, feeling inadequite and bitter that my best effort wasn’t worth anything to my demanding daughter.

That was 22 days ago, August 1st.

Today things are much better, because I finally understand my daughter and also I’ve been using ICC from Gretchin Rubin’s the Four Tendencies book. It has really helped.

I’ve tried literally a dozen very good sounding parenting books that were not able to help me with my extreemly rebellious, high spirited toddler: The Whole Brained Child, How to Talk So Little Kids Will Listen, The Happiest Toddler on the Block, No Drauma Discipline, Siblings Without Rivalry, No Bad Kids, Elevating Child Care, Boundaries with Kids, Brain Rules for Baby, The Awakened Family, Parenting Without Power Struggles, The Explosive Child, with Gretchin Rubin’s the Four Tendencies I finally got what I wanted, something to help me manage my daughter’s constant crazy outbursts.

ICC specifically fits well with my daughter while many of the “How to Talk So Little Kids Will Listen,” ideas made her amused, but didn’t solve the problems we had, ICC does solve them 80% of the time. “Whole Brained Child,” was too listening based for my daughter, even when she is being good she doesn’t listen well, she is super visual and kinetic, but not auditory, she doesn’t have much inborn ethics at all to play upon. We have built I don’t want to kick my brother because I get a dollar less allowance “ethics” recently and that’s better than nothing.

ICC is inform, ex for hitting the dog, “we malama (care for) the dog in this family, the dog lives here in the living room and deserves to be safe here” consequence “if you keep hitting the dog you can not be here in the living room, you will have to be in your room,” choice “what do you pick to do? Will you stop hitting the dog or will you go to your room?” If she doesn’t go on her own, she would be grasped lightly, yet firmly on the wrist and escorted, if she stopped walking I would drag her gently like I would drag a heavy, yet valuble item around the house. But lately, she just decides to comply.

This is literally the first month of her life that she has started complying with anything I have asked her to do without a fight, her whole life.

It was 20+ struggles a day with this child since I met her in October 2015, I’m not 100% sure if it’s her age or the new discipline technique, but I’m 100% happy that we can spend the day learning, having fun, talking about values, instead of fighting over stupid stuff like wiping after using the bathroom, wearing shoes over rough terrain ext.

Today was amazing, she woke up and got through our normal morning routine, potty, wash hands, new underware, have hair brushed, breakfast without any fights, then we did the entire school day without any fights, then we helped a neighboor go shopping and did our shopping and she didn’t have any melt downs shopping or in the very long car ride, she was so amazing today compared to normal. It was family movie night and after the movie (Minuscule) she drew her first family portrait on the white board.

It was kind of beautiful that it was family movie night and she drew her first family picture. I want to believe that there is some internal values of unity and harmony getting through to her from the efforts we make to do things together at least one night a week.

Yesterday I found some very reasonably priced taco themed stuff (she loves the books “Tacos y Dragones”) for her upcoming birthday party, from Oriental Trading Company, and my husband says I can get it Wednesday.

Life seems really good right now. I’ve made a lot of mistakes with my daughter, but she is very forgiving and it feels like the relationship is reversing it’s sourness.

I’m very grateful that the 13th book I got to help me with the problem between my daughter and I had the answers I have been looking for, for the past four years. Yesterday I wrote a post about the downside to persistance, but today I see the upside. Persistence over a long amount of time, has the ablility to produce results that seem impossible to most people.

I thought my daughter and I being a poor fit would always make our lives worse and that she would just have to rely on her father to be there for her in ways that I couldn’t because I couldn’t understand her. But thanks to raising my awareness above the level that created the problem I can live a completely different kind of life with my daughter now. I’m starting to love her the same way I did when she was a baby again, I’m starting to enjoy her company again, I’m starting to look forward to watching her grow and hopefully being someone she can turn to as a teen and adult again.

Knowing why my daughter fights me so much, and does so much stupid stuff everyday, is what I needed to have patience with it and find love for her. I don’t know if it’s right or wrong for me to need to understand her to be patient with her, but that is truely what I needed, and I’m very grateful to have finally found it. A special thank you to Gretchin Rubin!

I’m hoping to improve my other relationships with The Four Tendencies book’s techniques as well.

πŸ“• The Four Tendencies

I recently started reading Gretchin Rubin’s book about the four tendencies to help me understand more about my daughter.

I have a three year and a half year old problem, I mean daughter (said somewhat jokingly). Things have always been hard between us, a poor fit, I’m not proud of it, but it’s the elephant in the room I would rather talk about than ignore. Part of the problem is that we don’t understand eachother. I don’t know anyone like my daughter to help me get inside her perspective and understand her motivations to encourage her to be her best self and comply with neccisary health and safety rules in a neutral or pleasant manner.

Recently, I read the Jon Klassen shape trilogy. I really enjoyed it. It’s a children’s serries, but I think I would have liked it even if I didn’t have kids (maybe because I loved “Flatland.” In the shape trilogy there are roudy, rebellious triangles, hard working, yet inflexible squares and emotional, encouraging circles. I really associate with the squares and my husband and daughter with the triangles. At the same time I started listening to “The Four Tendencies,” after another horrible rock bottom moment with my daughter. There were was a lot of syncronicity between the shape trilogy and the four tendencies book. I enjoyed learning about analyzers/promoters/assertives from “Never Split the Difference,” and the 16 Personalities from 16personalities.com (I’m an INTJ), but although they helped me understand and accept myself, they didn’t help me understand and deal with other people, nothing had until now.

I remember being a child myself, I remember feeling in my 20s that eventhough my family helped and supported me in many ways, they had never loved me for me, because they had never known me for me at all. I felt unheard and unaccepted until I accepted myself over the past 2 years, after doing that I still think my family hadn’t known and accepted me, but it doesn’t crush me anymore, beause since I have my own understanding and acceptance of me I don’t feel I need theirs anymore. It took me about 30 years to understand who I am, how I am, what I value, because most of my life I was trying (yet failing) to do and be, what I thought, people thought, I was supposed to do and be. I got my head straight more during a long illness, which forced me to take more down time and evaluate what I wanted to do with the time I had left, since I was made aware that time wouldn’t be forever.

The Four Tendencies book was a really good finish to a journey I started a few years ago to gain a workable amount of understanding of myself as a human being. It’s probably the best of self knowledge, more than values, strenghts, personality, because it transends all of them and interacts with all of them. The tendencies are what you really do on a normal day, the way you live on autopilot, which is how most of life happens.

The four tendencies are upholder, questioner, obliger and rebel.

I am an upholder, I finish the fight most of the time, but I was an obliger just a few years ago. Meaning I put other people first, I could have gone to the grave without ever having played the cello (which I wanted to do since age 8), without trying to write (which I wanted to do since age 5), without enjoying a simple sunset without rushing to clean up or teach my kids or ask my husband if he needed something. It’s fine to help people if you like it, but I didn’t like it, I just felt that I had to put everyone else first and there wasn’t much left over after I was done with what was demanded from me on a daily basis. I’m not that person anymore. My demanding daughter killed that person. Now I put myself equal with my loved ones, not really first, but not after. I think about what we all need and want, what makes since to me to do first and what I have to do now because the chance won’t be there later.

My husband and daughter are rebels, which is hard for me to deal with, but I love them and I think someday the love will carry me all the way through the pain and help me find the wisdom I need to restore the love I want to have between us again.

My sister is a questioner, she is and always has been so different from me that it sparked an early intrest in personality differnces with me. Physically we aren’t too disimilar, small, female, thin, short, but mentally we have always had a different process of thinking about and interacting with the world, besides just having different tastes in food, pets, hobbies, music, books, people.

The book has convinced me not to try to change my rebel daughter and rebel husband anymore, I had stopped trying to change my husband already, but I had stopped out of despiration that it didn’t work, that isn’t the same as stopping on purpose because I accept the way my husband really is. With my daugter, I felt like I had to change her, that I couldn’t release a J-walker into society, but as painful as it will be to see it, she is mainly going to learn from experience what she does or doesn’t like in her life and won’t just take my word about what situations to engage or avoid.

It’s not that easy to change people, but it is possible, because of leverage. I can change the enviornment I share with my daughter and I can change myself and both of those things will change her. It’s subtle, but it’s true. We can change ourselves and we can change others, but not easily just by commanding the world to be the way we want it to be immediately with no time and effort expended.

The best part of the Four Tendencies book for me, is the guide on how to work with people of different tendencies. It’s helped me already, with myself, managing myself as another person. It’s helped me accept myself, when the book talks about an obliger having a burnout moment and refusing to meet expectations, that happened to me recently… after a really hard day my sister said, “we still love you,” to my daughter and I screamed “not me,” if it wasn’t described in the Four Tendencies book I would never have understand why I did something so unkind and uncharacteristic of my typical behavior. I’m not excusing my behaviour, I don’t even need to excuse it, moms don’t loose the right to yell once in awhile while being yelled at, kicked, bitten, pooped on and otherwise abused by kids who get a pass for anything and everything. But, yeah I don’t like yelling at my kids or think it’s the best way to communicate on a normal basis. I could have lived and died without ever knowing why I did yell though, since I have a small baby I could have thought it was post partum hormones, but it wasn’t. It was burnout, because I don’t take breaks. It’s a work place health code violation to go 4 years without a 10 minute break, but it’s standard parent life style in the modern world… I should take breaks, so I don’t get burnt out, so I don’t yell, I never knew that before this book. Because I thought I could live up to an unlivable standard of doing everything my husband and daughter asked me to do before taking a break, but I didn’t know that break would never come, I didn’t know that I couldn’t ever satisfy my daughter and that with or without a break she wanted more than I ever had to give her. Now that I have more insight I can get more help, I didn’t know I needed it before, but I do. I need more help to take more breaks so that when I am caring for my kids I can do my best job, imperfect as it will still be.