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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…
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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
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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.
I think I want to print out your articles and hand them out as a sort of relationship waiver form. “You want to be my friend?….You are interesting in going out? Here read this first. Sign here to acknowledge that you have read and understand the enclosed material. Thank you.” Seriously. I think it would work. — Guerin Moorman
Guerin Moorman
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…
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Because of your blog, I know that it is possible for me to have the love that I want one day and that I don’t have to be alone.  — Indepthwoman  on space2live
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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
This is me. This is me from the day I was born. For so long I felt misunderstood and rejected, even by the people closest to me, because they could never understand my need for solitude, and I had no idea how to explain it to them. Even now that I know more about Introversion and have a more informed understanding of my hard-wired need for solitude, it’s still very difficult sometimes to help my loved ones understand this profound craving for time and space all to myself. This is one of the best…
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I have been dating an introverted man who I am very in love with for almost 2 years.  Reading your posts have helped me to be more supportive and understanding to him especially during the times when he needs space.  I just wanted to thank you for your weekly posts and let you know how helpful they are for someone who is in a relationship with an introvert. C.M. on space2live
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Brenda has truly opened up a space for introverted types on the ‘net, and her self-revelations are always inspiring. Her voice is one I always look forward to. She is one of the writers that actually played a part in my return to writing.  — S.E. of Sunflower Solace Farms
S.E. of Sunflower Solace Farms

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Performance Based Love Doesn’t Feel Like Love : Parenting So Our Kids Feel Secure

mom directing sons

I said, “How are you?” to my son the other day after school and he replied, “OK, but I had a math test today that was hard.” It was obvious the tough math test weighed on my guy’s mind. It seems often my kids’ happiness depends on their grades or status in their extra curricular activities. Why is that? Because they believe their lovability and success are based on their performance.

So much emphasis has been put on their ability to get good grades and test scores, that they use the majority of their energy trying to accomplish that. The grades and test scores are really only a means to an end though. The ultimate prize is to get into a good school and/or make a lot of money. Whatever path leads to an acclaimed and financially successful career, they need to be on it, according to the local culture.

If they achieve at a high level, they will be worthy of love and respect and maybe they can rest?

I think they believe if they get to that kind of success they will be happy. I also think they believe that kind of achievement is what parents require to grant affection and approval. I actually know some parents who do parcel out attention and love based on their child’s academic or athletic success.

Appearance upkeep is a form of performance love

I have my version of performance love. I want my kids to take care of things and not make messes. If they do so, it’s way adorable girleasier to shower them with affection. When they were little, I was worse. I was very focused on having the house perfect and their hair and clothes neat. I emphasized good behavior, mostly because I wanted to look like I was a good parent and my kids were well-disciplined. I was more focused on the outward appearances than the internal experiences of my children. I felt pressure to always appear I had it together. Not surprisingly, the kids didn’t seem to like that and thwarted me on most days.

Today, if they are nice to each other, I have way more energy to give hugs and attention too. Sadly, this is conditional and not ideal either.

Appearance upkeep is a form of performance too. I know parents who love to dress their kids adorably and have them do numerous acts to entertain anyone who’ll watch. It’s often, “Susie show Uncle Tim how you can do a somersault,” “Show Marta how you can count to 100,” “Put on your new outfit and do a fashion show.” Throwing parties to impress the neighbors and making kids wear uncomfortable but perfectly cute clothing is a cry for love from the parents. We are essentially asking if our kids are cute/smart/well-behaved enough to win our parenting 4.0 GPA.

It’s hard to love someone who conditionally loves you

It’s hard to love someone who only loves you for your performance. If someone focuses on earnings, task doing or image maintenance from you, there is not a lot of connection or intimacy in the relationship. I remember telling my ex-husband I just wanted to feel cherished. That was my not so clear way of saying I want to feel felt. I wanted him to see my internal self and understand and love it. Most of the time I just felt like a work partner. He’d probably say the same. I can’t honestly say I knew his internal feelings or loved him for them. We kept things surface oriented. Our outside world looked amazing, but we gave up connection to keep it up. We only let each other in when we were past repair.

It’s also hard to love someone who only focuses on surface success and never lets you into their soft vulnerable center. The kids with their cold, impersonal drive for achievement and lack of desire to collaborate or connect, keep us at arm’s length. When they don’t see warmth, collaboration or kindness as valuable or as a route to happiness, family life suffers. There is detachment. Everyone feels cut off or on their own.

Children are not attached to parents because it does not feel like their parents are attached to them. It feels like parents and society are attached to results, not the kids themselves. When we don’t feel understood or seen, we close off or rebel against.

How to remedy this disconnection?

The starting point and the primary goal in all our connections with children ought to be the relationship itself, not conduct or behavior. — Dr. Gordon Neufeld, Hold on to Your Kids

We need to re-collect or re-gather our children. According to Dr. Neufeld and Dr. Mate, authors of Hold on to Your Kids, when children are between eleven and seventeen months, we stop collecting them emotionally and start correcting and directing them. Interestingly, in a similar way, we stop courting a mate in an adult relationship once the relationship has been cemented (i.e. once the honeymoon phase is over). The result in both situations is a loss of connection within the relationship.

With our children, we need to keep inviting them into our relationship. We need to get in their face and space in a friendly, loving way. Collect them, especially when there has been a separation. Pay attention. Tune into our children and their hearts. Keep showing up and loving them, even when they don’t get all As or win the latest athletic contest. Make eye contact with them. Turn toward them when they talk. Greet them when they return and say goodbye or goodnight by collecting eye contact, a smile and a nod from them. Hug them and offer physical touch in warm, loving ways. Be there for them more than their peers. Help them with the hard stuff like homework and difficult decisions. Insist on family dinners together and talk about things other than successes. Ask them what they learned that day, for example.

What if they don’t want to connect?

boy walking away with backpackA child who has been groomed to believe his parents only appreciate him for his good behavior or achievements, may be tough to reach on a warm and fuzzy level. They have turned off those feelings to avoid feeling hurt or disappointed because in the past their vulnerable reaching out and need for love was not met with unconditional caring. They are emotionally defended.

With these children we may have to start with simple gestures like conveying a sense of sameness or showing we are on their side in a situation. These are more easily digested bits of connection. We have to work our way up to them believing we find them special, significant, missed and deeply loved.

Praise is not the answer

Our goal is ultimately to provide a kind of unconditional acceptance that no peer or achievement can offer. Here’s an important point to consider when striving to re-collect our children beyond performance love: it cannot be done when demanded by the child or in a time when it could be misconstrued as a reward or something he or she earned. It is not praise.

It is a matter of conveying spontaneous delight in the child’s very being. Our tone of voice and merriment in our eyes are genuine and the child feels truly known and appreciated. So, ask for contact and connection precisely when the child is not asking for it or expecting it. We extend the invitation of love when the child is not achieving or impressing or expecting approval.

Relationships, not rewards

My biggest belief is that secure healthy relationships give us the most satisfaction in life. If we feel loved for who we are, not for what we earn, then we hit the jackpot. If we have a sense of belonging, we are golden. It’s not about being impressive. It’s about being connected.

What do you do to convey unconditional love? How is your love tied to achievement or expectations? How can you re-collect your children?

The Quiet Rise of Introverts is out! Perhaps it would make a nice gift for the introvert in your life. Perhaps you want to make changes in your life toward better relationships and self-compassion. The Quiet Rise is for you.

*Click on the image below to purchase.*

 

 

If you have already bought my book, thank you!!! If you could leave a one sentence review on Amazon stating what you learned while reading The Quiet Rise of Introverts, I would be so grateful. 

Audio version of The Quiet Rise of Introverts coming soon!

 

 

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2 Comments

  1. michaelrbuley December 10, 2017 at 2:31 pm - Reply

    I think dogs are whom we should model ourselves after when it comes to striving for unconditional love. Truly.

    Always eager to see us. Tail wags. They bark. They run up to us. They are excited that we are home! They base their love on nothing at all — it is truly unconditional. We can of course violate that love by abusing animals, as we can violate it with people. But short of abuse — and sometimes even in the face of it — dogs love us precisely where we are, how we are.

    I have two pups whom I cherish more than any person. And why wouldn’t I? They are with me day after day. They live with me — all of me. They love me all the time, no matter how I am feeling or acting.

    I remember writing about this years back in a newsletter to customers. When we talk about customer service, forget about ‘service.’ Be the dog! Just wag your tail, run up to them, be excited about them — excited! and act like it! let your eyes light up, your voice change, your posture, everything — and don’t worry, you’ll have ‘customer service’ second to none.

    That we would do that with everyone in our lives — Hey, how are you?? … bright eyes, big smile — all the ‘cues’ that say THIS person is actually excited to see us … the world would change overnight. Just be genuinely glad to see someone, act like it, speak it … for no other reason than that they are here, with us.

    We are far away from loving others, the way dogs love us. I hope we keep striving to be the dog … 🙂

    • Brenda Knowles December 28, 2017 at 12:52 pm - Reply

      This is so true! I try to greet each of my kids and boyfriend with eagerness and bright eyes when they return home. It starts everything off on the right foot. I will keep the dog reception in mind when striving to be a better human. Thanks Michael!

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