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your depth of understanding, and talent at sharing it amaze me. Speechless… and for your sharing of it.. Thank you… deeply. *sigh, its like coming back into my body through acceptance….. Sherrie on space2live
Sherrie
That courage and dedication you so generously share with the world, has inspired me to push myself a little harder, persevere at each task a little longer, dig a little bit deeper to where the answers just “feel” right to both my humanity AND my spirit. Your insights have reinforced my direction and given me additional tools that help me clear my path. I’m wired into my creativity as never before and the new music is pouring out of me faster than I can record and produce it; this is the Un…
Gary
For the first time in my life I could truly explain, through your words the way in which I experience life and myself. Brenda… It all fell into place. I had found myself and had such a moment of clarity. It felt like such a big weight was lifted off of my shoulders. Finally I felt like it was ok to be me. I was not the only one. I had found people and a little space where I fit in. … I was at work and crying on the inside. Emotions ran wild inside me. I was ecstatic, sad, confused, motivated, i…
Niko

“I was struggling with my daughter (16 at the time) and our constant fighting. You said something to me that changed my life! You were speaking about your own situation and you said to me “my child could not handle my emotions”. This was a HUGE “lightbulb moment” for me and it forever changed the way I dealt with my emotions when I was around my daughter!

I am happy to say that things have never been better between my soon to be 18 year old daughter and myself! I honestly never thought we would…

Mom M
You’re so honest in your writing. It’s bold. It’s frank. It’s wonderful. I could definitely see the work you are doing here as a useful book. It could save/make a lot of relationships! — Jimmi Langemo
Jimmi Langemo
THANK YOU….. you just summed up my swirling thoughts into something i can read with out everything else in my head meshing with it. I finally feel like i can explain what happens within without getting distracted. I’m an Introvert with ADD and it makes it so hard to explain quite what im feeling sometimes. — M.G. on space2live
M.G.
Your site has saved my sanity and my life. Maybe even my marriage. I work part time and have two young boys at home, my husband is supportive of me but until recently I thought I was going crazy. … Reading your writing not only inspires me to pick up the pen again, but gives me nourishment in the deepest places. I will fight for balance. Everything you write is spot on… And wellness is so incredibly multifaceted.  I was ready to give up hope, but understanding myself through your words is bring…
J.K.
I met Brenda and took the MBTI… I had a fairly good understanding of these types before the meeting but was impressed by the depth of knowledge that Brenda shared with me. She clearly has a passion for this work and a gift in imparting the information. There have been doors opened for me because of our talks… — Alan Hintermeister
Alan Hintermeister
During one of the harder times in my life I found Brenda’s website
and reached out to her. To say the least it has been one of the best
decisions I have made. Being an extrovert I never quite understood
what it meant to romantically involved with an introvert. Brenda does
an incredible job listening, giving in the moment feedback, and helped
me understand the how an introvert functions. She helped explain to me
that I am introspective extrovert, and this gave something to identify
with and allowed me t…
Evan H.
Thank you for all the words. You’ve created the magic drug I’ve been looking for all my life. Your blog has transformed my life, and I feel like I am on the brink of a most satisfying fulfilling journey…You’ve made me see everything in a new light. I now feel calmer, able to care better for my toddler, less hateful of people around, and hopeful for my future. I am not so afraid for our marriage anymore. — Shilpa CB
Shilpa CB

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How Losing Our Joy Affects Our Children: Ways to Get Back to Good

mad cartoon woman green hair

 

Because my happiness was based on external measures—on tasks being completed, plans running accordingly, goals being met, hairs being in place—I was continually disappointed … upset … impatient … and stressed. In the process of making my own life miserable, I’d funneled my unhappiness straight into my daughter’s once joyful heart and spirit. Her pain was a direct reflection of the expression I wore on my face.

— Rachel Macy Stafford, The Day My Child Lost Her Joy — and What I Did to Revive It

Whoa… When I read the above quoted piece, it hit home in a painful but good way. For me, it was the kind of feedback or resonance I needed to wake up and change for the better. Years ago a writing teacher told our class that good feedback brings relief. I felt a sense of relief reading Macy Stafford’s article.

At the beginning of the article, she recounts a time when she sat fuming in the car at the start of a family vacation. She was frustrated because they were running late, she didn’t get to load the dishwasher and the garage door was not working right. Her husband leaned toward her in the car and almost inaudibly said, “You’re never happy anymore.”

I know that kind of unhappiness and lack of joy. I know the pressure and expectations of living a “totally together” life. The list of details we family project managers keep in our heads is mind-boggling, literally. Everything from the kids’ doctors’ appointments to the dryer vent needing cleaning to school supply lists to how many times we’ve had sex with our husbands/wives this week. It’s kind of like being the little boy plugging all the holes in a dike with his fingers and all of his toes. Holding all of those fragments of information, attending to others and constantly, desperately trying to remove some of those fragments from the list by taking action, requires a hell of a lot of stamina and willpower. When we are concentrating and pushing ourselves so hard to get through the list, we don’t look or feel all that happy.

I have pictures of me on vacation in Mexico with my family in the resort’s amazing pool with big furrows between my eyebrows and an annoyed look on my face. I was probably mad because the water was too cold or the kids were splashing me. After all the hoops jumped through to go on vacation, my patience was shot and I could only see where things were not going according to plan.

A few years ago, my oldest son told me I’m a negative person. That really made me mad and sad. Why? Because I thought I was bending over backwards being supportive and accommodating to him and his siblings. I thought I was a positive parent, but he saw me as someone with furrows between my brows and a frowny face. I was chasing perfection and frowning because it wasn’t happening. I had no idea my face was betraying me either. I assumed I had a pleased or at least neutral expression, but nope.pensive boy

Biggest aha

The most important point of Macy Stafford’s article to me was that her lack of joy had trickled down to her children. They felt they were the reason for her unhappiness. They were afraid of upsetting her and thus lived more fearful and unhappy lives themselves.

I can see that effect in my children as well and that is the worst thing to acknowledge. Not only do parents feel like they are failing at the perfect life game but they are also failing their children.

Our calm and joy spread to our kids, but calm and joy are hard to come by. How can we get more?

How to dissolve impatience

The other day, my middle son and I found ourselves with four hours to kill between my other son’s two rowing races. We were in an area about an hour from home so there was not enough time to go home. We drove leisurely around the area looking for a decent lunch place. We didn’t get mad if other drivers cut in front of us. We let people go in front of us in line at the awesome Mexican restaurant we found. We took our time shopping at Target for school supplies. We didn’t have any cross words between us the whole time. I even think my face was more animated or relaxed versus frowny.

Having time to enjoy life instead of rush through it, eased my intensity. I know we aren’t always able to control our schedules. That’s part of the stress. We can say no to unnecessary things. I know many of us think if we don’t fulfill our child’s every wish we are bad parents. The truth is we’d be more happy and so would they, if we had more space in our days.

Another good practice I keep reminding myself to do is notice when things go well, when something is a good surprise or the little things that cheer us up without prompting (like a pet’s enthusiasm or a stray snapdragon growing in your mulch). At night before bed, I try to think of the “wins” for the day and the wins I anticipate for tomorrow. Surprisingly, there are a lot of them if you look for them.

I’m hoping my face belies a lighter and happier mother these days. I don’t want my children to have the burden of fearing my anger and impatience. I know I’ll never be 100% frustration free. I just want to smile more and frown less.

 

Do you feel pressure to manage all the details of your family’s life? Does all the juggling make you less of a joy to be around? Do your children seem less happy when you’re less happy? 

 

Check out my book for introverts and our relationships,  The Quiet Rise of Introverts: 8 Practices for Living and Loving in a Noisy World.

Quiet Rise of Introverts

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7 Comments

  1. Kat August 25, 2017 at 3:58 pm - Reply

    I haven’t been here for a long time! Work shedule changed in the past year and took over my life! I miss this place!

    Great article Brenda! The following is a conversation I had with my mom yesterday! I thought I’d share it with you and Michael, to celebrate lightness, happiness, ease abt doing and behaving in general in life…and…laughter….

    Phone conversation with my mom”

    while sitting outside trying to do some work, and getting distracted by how GORGEOUS it is outside!

    My mom: you keep saying you were ‘delivering coffee’! what happened to your design career!? (My mom has stubbornly refused to understand the concept of me roasting coffee for a living the past 7 years).

    Me: I like it mom! It’s what I do! I have Charlotte and Andrew with me in the car! What could be better? /I’m evil! playing with my mom knowing she will never guess who that was, and it WORKED/

    My mom: you take your friends with you to deliver your coffee?

    Me: nope! Char is my dog! Andrew is Andrew Bird

    My mom: you take your dog AND YOUR BRID WITH YOU IN THE CAR?

    Me: /trying soooo hard not to kill myself laughing as she will not forgive me/. Yes mom I take The Bird AND the dog :)))!

    Hahahahahahaha

    • Brenda Knowles August 27, 2017 at 4:23 pm - Reply

      Good for you for making your path and loving it! 🙂

  2. Sonia Godin August 20, 2017 at 9:00 pm - Reply

    Oh yes I’m the same. When I have to much on my plate, I get frustrated and impatient with my kids. I realized that I need to do less in a day and enjoy what I’m doing in order to feel calm and creative.

  3. Michael August 19, 2017 at 2:57 am - Reply

    interesting and honest article.

    our faces, our eyes, always do tell where we are.

    my kids are grown now, my youngest is 28. i surely wish i had been more patient with them growing up. i wasn’t always impatient. i really enjoyed being a dad and i loved spending time with my kids. i was as much a kid as they were. those are many of my favorite memories, times with them. parks. library. playing. reading to them. i would do all that over again in a heartbeat, though the early years were very tough money wise.

    then, and now, i tell them that i believe in them, that they are brilliant and beautiful. and that i love them. i hope the many times we shared, are mostly fond memories. they laugh now at a lot of the things i said and did at times. i laugh with them.

    i have been thinking a lot about laughter. laughter is when i feel safe. I think we all feel safe when we are laughing. And I have an intense need to feel safe. So I laugh a lot. Often. Find the funny in many things. I do my best to uplift anyone and everyone, especially the ones I love most. Especially when they are down.

    Laughter is a practice, I have learned. Happiness is a practice. Moment by moment. Laughter keeps us here and now. Laughter keeps serious from getting too serious. Being goofy, saying goofy things, is often a ‘pattern interrupt,’ and we all need those when life gets intense.

    Life is beautiful. It is a gift every day. One day, we are gone. Maybe today. Maybe tomorrow. Maybe 30 years from now. If we laugh often — really often — we are more fun to be around. People love people who make them laugh and smile. We shy away from the always serious and somber people. They’re no fun!

    Let us bring laughter to other’s lives. It is a gift. A very precious one, sometimes rare. Some people refuse to laugh. That’s okay. Avoid them! And be the one who uplifts others, and be with others who uplift us.

    Lifting up, complimenting, listening without giving advice … we can always do that. Simple things like ‘You look very nice today!’ brightens anyone. Nice glasses, nice dress, you look beautiful, you ARE beautiful!

    Words are everything. To others, and to ourselves. I often fall asleep telling myself, ‘I love me. I love me. I love me.’ Not because I’m a narcissist. i don’t think I am! lol .. it puts me at ease. I feel better. And I am better able to love others.

    YOU are beautiful, Brenda, in all your openness and honesty and earnestness. Thank you for giving all of us, a safe place to be. The work you do changes many lives, including mine.

    Michael

    a long post, I know … but by now, you know me!

    • Brenda Knowles August 19, 2017 at 12:17 pm - Reply

      Thank you Michael! You are right, laughter is an amazing elixir. I’m learning more and more how useful/important it is and how much lighter life is when you can laugh at yourself. I think you have to feel very safe with others to laugh at yourself. So many people feel they have to always compete and be serious. If we just relaxed and enjoyed each moment and helped others relax, there’d be more laughter and less seriousness, more joy. I’ll think of you Michael and incorporate more fun and laughter into each day. I don’t want to waste the rest of my life by going around irritated and frowny.

  4. Shannon Morrow August 18, 2017 at 3:03 pm - Reply

    I appreciate your blogs… I find them refreshing, sensitive and helpful…

    • Brenda Knowles August 19, 2017 at 12:03 pm - Reply

      I’m glad my writing hits home with you. Thanks for reading!

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