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251: What Is Anxiety Trying To Tell You?

By August 15, 2023November 6th, 2023Mastermind Parenting Podcast

My strong-willed son has taught me so much about dealing with anxiety. Parenting him helped me learn how much of the behavior kiddos struggle with is motivated by the scary signals they’re getting from their bodies. Knowing him as an adult has helped me recognize my own anxious tendencies, and how to manage them with loving curiosity. This time I’m sharing some of the things I’ve learned, with a big assist from our beloved Judy Blume. 

In this episode, you’ll learn:

  1. How anxiety can motivate strong-willed behaviors, like fighting with siblings or challenging authority.
  2. The messages anxiety sends about the state of your mind and body (and how to start paying attention).
  3. Why the hardest anxiety to recognize might be your own.

And much more! 

As always, thanks for listening. Head over to Facebook, where you can join my free group Mastermind Parenting Community. We post tips and tools and do pop-up Live conversations where I do extra teaching and coaching to support you in helping your strong-willed children so that they can FEEL better and DO better. If you enjoyed this episode and think that others could benefit from listening, please share it!

About Randi Rubenstein

Randi Rubenstein helps parents with a strong-willed kiddo become a happier family and enjoy the simple things again like bike rides and beach vacays.

She’s the founder of Mastermind Parenting, host of the Mastermind Parenting podcast, and author of The Parent Gap. Randi works with parents across the U.S.

At Mastermind Parenting, we believe every human deserves to have a family that gets along.

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Transcription

[00:00:00] Randi Rubenstein: My name is Randi Rubenstein, and welcome to the Mastermind Parenting Podcast. At Mastermind Parenting, we’re on a mission to support strong-willed kids and the families that love them. 

[00:00:10] Hi everyone. Ooh, I have such a good topic this week. I feel like a real breath of fresh air. I’m being facetious. I want to talk about anxiety. I know it’s like the worst topic. It’s the worst topic. And I think it’s so necessary to talk about it. With the new school year about to start, maybe your kids have already started school if you’re living somewhere where they start in the middle of the summer. Schools are just starting earlier and earlier in some places. 

[00:00:45] And transitions are hard for all of us and, you know, I think a lot of times what we don’t realize is that we’re just feeling anxious. We’re feeling anxious. Our kids are feeling anxious. So this is a place where we talk about all the things, we’re going to talk about it. We’re going to talk about anxiety. Okay? 

[00:01:09] It’s a big topic. It’s a big topic. And I am not an expert on this. So I’m going to talk to you about my personal experience, um, my experience as a mom, my experience with my own anxiety. And of course I, am going to bring a story in that I think does such a good job talking about anxiety.

[00:01:36] So, I literally just realized like two years ago that – I know, it sounds crazy – that I have anxiety. And mine shows up mostly in the middle of the night. Every once in a while, it shows up during my waking hours and I’ll tell you, so my son, my youngest son Corey is 17. He turned 17 in February. So when I first realized that I had anxiety, it showed up not just in the middle of the night. I was having a hard time sleeping. It was right before his 16th birthday. I was going down all kinds of rabbit holes about him. Like I was being a crazy person. Right? 

[00:02:18] So he was about to get his license and I was just fixating on ridiculousness. What I was fixating on was he was going, his sister was away at college. He was going to be driving Avery’s car. And Avery’s car was an older model car that didn’t have Apple CarPlay in it. This is such a, like, please don’t judge me for this. I have Apple CarPlay in my car. I love Apple CarPlay. I think it’s awesome. 

[00:02:46] And I at times have seen my older two children, who have been driving for quite some time, hold their phones. Like, I’ve been real big, especially with Avery, she’s not a texter and a driver. We had like this device in her car when she first started driving and they don’t even make it anymore. It was the best thing. It was called cell control and it get, it like emailed us a report card and of what her driving was. Anytime she got into the car and she went like from point A to point B, it would send us a driving report card. And like accelerated too fast C plus and, um, and so we were constantly getting these updates, but this device in her car prevented her from texting and driving. Like she couldn’t, there was no way. 

[00:03:36] And she tells us, she told us years later, she was like, that was the greatest thing you ever did. Because when I first became a driver, it literally trained me never to text and drive. Like it’s just not an option. But what I have seen her do, and what I have seen her older brother do, is open up their maps program and have looking at their phone with the map.

[00:03:58] And I was like, Apple CarPlay gets around that. Apple CarPlay, make sure that the map goes up and I know y’all might be saying, what about navigation in the car? And I’m like, yeah, it doesn’t work the same. Everybody uses the maps programs on their phone, you know, come on, like, are you typing it into your navigation in your vehicle or mostly do you just use the maps on your phone? So it automatically integrates with Apple CarPlay. 

[00:04:25] So I started, I went down this rabbit hole about, and it was anxiety. I went down this rabbit hole and I was like, we have to get Apple CarPlay put into Avery’s car. This is really critical. When Corey first becomes a driver, this is going to set the foundation for what kind of driver he’s going to be and, um, he can’t be looking at his phone and he’s going to be wanting to get everywhere and he’s going to tell us he’s not going to look at his phone, but he’s going to look at his phone. He’s going to look at the maps. And then before you know it, he’s going to get a text because that stupid cell control company went out of business. And I was a crazy person. Anxiety. That’s what anxiety looks like. 

[00:05:00] So I was going down all these rabbit holes and the day that we were like taking the car to the place where, this like shady place where they were putting in aftermarket Apple CarPlay, it was like a whole thing. Okay. And I had this feeling in my stomach and I felt kind of nauseous… a little bit like butterflies and a little bit nauseous. And so I kept telling my husband, I’m like, I don’t know if I have food poisoning or if I’m coming down with something, but I don’t feel well, I really just don’t feel well.

[00:05:35] And then I don’t know what made me realize, I don’t know if it was talking to somebody may have said something, but it was like all of a sudden the light bulb went on and I was like, this is what anxiety feels like. And I realized like when I, in the middle of the night, the way it usually shows up is I just have a lot of swirling thoughts. But during the day I felt it literally in my gut and I was just so anxious about Corey becoming a driver. 

[00:06:06] And once, as Dr. Dan Siegel likes to say, you got to name it to tame it. Like, once I named it, and I realized what it was and then I journaled about it and I, you know, I had compassion like of course, like this is your baby. This represents a huge transition for, you know, 25 years, 24 at that time it was 24 years. I had been the mom driving kids and. Now, all of a sudden, my youngest child was turning 16. It was the end of an era. I would be driving kids, to school no longer. 

[00:06:48] I also just, you know, I, I have found this with each of my kids when they become drivers. I, just, you know, it’s scary. It’s scary. We live in Houston. There’s a lot of construction all the time. The freeways, you know, there’s big giant trucks whizzing by. I mean, this is a big city we live in. So for a new driver, it feels scary. It feels so, it feels like they’re just like these like little lambs out there in the middle of this highway in this, you know, whatever, however much a car weighs, it’s just like pile of metal. and it just felt so scary to me. 

[00:07:26] So once I could name, oh, this is anxiety, of course, of course you feel anxious. Of course, this is your baby and he doesn’t know how to drive yet and he’s just learning and It’s scary. Like, it is scary and this is normal. Of course you’re feeling this way. It actually might be weird if you didn’t feel this way. And so like I’m normalizing it. I’m talking, I’m not trying to push it away. I’m not trying to change my thoughts about it. I’m just like looking at it and sort of just like allowing it. Right? So I’m just like allowing it.

[00:08:06] And once I named it and once I identified it and then, because I’m me, of course I had to talk about it on ad nauseum, um, oh my God, I thought I was getting sick. I thought I might have food poisoning. I felt nauseous. And then I realized, holy shit, it’s anxiety. Like I’ve never realized that this is what anxiety feels like, right? I didn’t realize that it could be, it could feel like you’re literally coming down with something. So for me, anxiety isn’t typically debilitating, but it does rob me of my sleep, right? And it always shows up delivering a message for me, right? 

[00:08:48] So the message for me was, this is a big transition. This is the first time in 24 years. You’re not going to be driving kids every single day. This is the end of an era. You’ve now moved into the season of life where you’re moving towards, you know, not having kids. Pretty soon before you know it, you’re not going to have, I’m not going to have kids living in my house anymore.

[00:09:14] And I needed to recognize that. I needed to deal with that. I needed to sort of grieve that a bit, right? This being the end of an era. And, um, and yes, there’s been so many positives and Corey’s an amazing driver now, and it’s been fantastic for the last year and a half, not having to like get up and have that mad rush and driving a kid to school and my mornings are my own. It is wonderful. Not gonna lie. It is wonderful. But when I was going through that transitional phase, it didn’t feel wonderful yet. And I couldn’t talk myself out of it. I needed to just allow the grieving process and, and see the transition for what it was. Okay. 

[00:10:00] And so the way I think anxiety delivers a message to me, and I’m hoping that maybe this will be helpful for you. I mean, you probably understand anxiety a lot better than I do, because I kind of feel like I’m late to the ball game and I will say this, you know, for many, many years I was a closet smoker and I actually think my inhales and exhales were my way of keeping anxiety at bay. You know, it was a tool.

[00:10:30] I mean, I, I wasn’t aware that, that I was using it for that. Um, but now if I look at it, I’m like, maybe I didn’t feel it as much because I was doing it, you know, couldn’t wait to sneak away to do the inhales and exhales. It was an unhealthy tool, but maybe it was a tool.

[00:10:45] And so, you know, it’s interesting as I’ve become healthier and healthier, it’s almost like the beer goggles are off and I can see things that I couldn’t see before. So it’s almost like the healthier I get, the more fucked up I kind of seem, but I actually know that it’s the opposite. I don’t know if that makes sense. 

[00:11:04] So anxiety, I feel like it’s always delivering a message for me when it shows up in my life, right? There’s something that I’m worried about and I’m not dealing with. Right? There’s something I’m worried about, but I’m not exactly dealing with. There’s something that needs to shift in my life, but I haven’t yet processed it.

[00:11:25] I’ve been busy doing, doing, doing, and I haven’t given myself the space, the spaciousness to notice why I’m actually feeling drained and depleted, right? I’m just doing and doing or looking at something or listening to something or getting a false dopamine hit rather than noticing, I actually feel exhausted. What is draining and depleting me? Hmm. 

[00:11:52] So getting curious about what is draining and depleting me or what am I feeling in my body or what, what is this anxiety here to tell me? Hmm. I don’t know what, I mean, when, when that happened with Corey, I was like, what is this? And when I was like, what could it be? What could it be? And then I was like, oh. Yeah. Corey’s about to be driving. And I, I had to take a pen to paper and journal and just dump out my brain. And that’s how I got to, this is the end of an era. It’s a pretty big deal, right? It’s a pretty big deal. 

[00:12:30] So I believe that anxiety is – and I don’t have an anxiety disorder. I don’t, I don’t, and I’m not an expert on anxiety, but I believe that anxiety in, in my body, it’s always whispering something to me, something that, you know, it’s like a tap on the shoulder, like, hello? Yeah, you can run, but you can’t hide. Oh, when you’re not dealing with me during your waking conscious hours, guess what? I’ll just wake you up in your sleep and cause you to have ruminating thoughts. Right? So you’re not going to escape me. I’m going to be here to continue to tap you on the shoulder until you’re ready to face whatever it is that you’re ignoring. 

[00:13:13] And I don’t think, I really don’t think that I would see anxiety this way as just like a whisper. It’s just like a reminder, you know, my body trying to say, hey. You say you want to be so healthy. Guess what? There’s some stuff we got to process here. I don’t think I would see it this way if I hadn’t parented a highly sensitive, beautiful boy for the last 25 years. I don’t. 

[00:13:44] Because what, what my son has taught me you know, now as a 25 year old, he’s taught me to understand anxiety and listen, and listen. Right? And because that’s what he does. That’s what he does. You know, he didn’t sit me down and teach me, but just like being a fly on the wall of his process, being his mom, right? 

[00:14:06] So this is how at 25 he knows to eat before he goes to a party, right? Small talk and lots of stimulation takes a lot of his bandwidth. And um, causes him to lose his appetite. So he eats before he, he told us that, I don’t know, a year or two ago. My husband who, is also highly sensitive and only figured out he was highly sensitive after being the father of a highly sensitive son. My husband’s like, brilliant. That is a brilliant. I hate eating at parties. It always gives me a stomach ache. It always feels stressful. Eat before you go to the party. And Alec was like, yeah, I always eat before I go to a party. It’s too much. It’s too much. And I, I don’t even have the appetite.

[00:15:08] When my son Isn’t sleeping well, he knows there’s something he needs to process, he knows there’s something… like if he, if he’s like, ugh, I just haven’t been sleeping well, if I’m like, oh, you have some dark circles, are you tired? He’s like, yeah, I haven’t been sleeping well, I’ll talk about it with Anne, his amazing therapist, on Tuesday, right?

[00:15:27] Like he knows. And I mentioned this because he’s loud and proud about it. He’s like, uh, yeah, of course. Like. This is what you do. Like our, uh, his younger brother was like, I’m, I don’t think I’ll ever need to talk to a therapist. And Alec’s like, well, I didn’t when I was your age either. No, you got to get a little older and then you realize, yeah, there’s stuff on your mind. You got to talk to someone about it. It’s not a big deal. It’s awesome. It’s awesome. Anne’s awesome. Right? 

[00:15:54] Like that to me is, I’m like, you know, we’re all so worried. Oh, one day my kid, what are they going to say about me to their therapist? I’m like, let’s hope that they have the self worth and they know enough about mental health and they prioritize their mental health enough to know, yeah, like I’m a highly sensitive person when I can’t sleep, when I’m having ruminating thoughts or even just to have a weekly check in with somebody that offers a safe space for me to just talk about and process and they’re a professional. Yeah, I’ll be doing that, right? 

[00:16:32] So he knows that, yeah, if he’s not sleeping well, there might be something that he needs to unpack with Ann. He listens to his body, he trusts that it’s, he trusts that his body is always communicating with them even when his mind hasn’t caught up yet. Like he, he’s like, yeah, there’s something, there’s something.

[00:16:53] And the funny thing is, like, anxiety didn’t used to even be on my radar. My own. I knew I knew I was, you know, so busy parenting my highly sensitive son and I knew he had, you know, some anxiety, which, FYI, these strong-willed kids, the way I know for my son, you know, when he was little anxiety showed up for him with not so, you know, it wasn’t like he was like biting his fingernails or crying or letting me know that he was really upset about something.

[00:17:26] No, he’d be mean, he’d be shut down, he’d be jerky, he’d be looking to power struggle or engage in a fight dance with me, you know, his anxiety showed up with like defiant behavior, you know, he was angry, he was pissed, um, he didn’t know what it was yet. And so, it didn’t show up in a way where we’re like, hmm, he struggles with a little anxiety. It was that through educating myself and becoming a professional who really, I feel like, you know, I understand strong-willed behavior and I know all behaviors, communication, and it’s always a sign. And for my son, most often it was a sign that he was anxious about something and there was something to figure out.

[00:18:14] So if I came down real hard on him when he was anxious about something, he just shut down even more. You know, I had to figure out how to let him know that he could tell me all the things. I had to connect before I corrected. Right. So it was a, it was a lot about trust building. 

[00:18:35] and yes, also boundaries and, a certain way that we did things. You know, when he was acting creepy, yeah, we had a rule. You can have all the feelings. And when you take your feelings out on another person, if you harm another person, either, you know, with words or with actions, if you’re hijacking the main areas of the house because you’re having a lot of feelings. Absolutely not. 

[00:19:06] You’re not going to, you’re not taking over these main areas of the house. You can go outside, you can go to your own space in your room, you can go to a calm down spot. You can come to me and let me know that you’d like to be with me, you’d like me to help you with something. But you will not be hijacking the main areas of our household. Like we had some very clear boundaries around that. And when you do, especially with anxious kids, and they know this is the way we do things here, without shaming and blaming them, that ultimately does help them to feel more regulated in their bodies. 

[00:19:46] So, I’m not anxious about anxiety. I’m just curious. When I notice it tapping in the stump, in my stomach. That’s where I feel it the most, like I’ll feel it in my stomach and when I feel that, and a lot of times like my brain hasn’t caught up with it yet. So if I feel this sensation in my stomach, now I know what it is ever since the, when Corey was about to get his driver’s license. So when I feel that feeling, that’s when I get curious and I’m like, what am I feeling anxious about right now? Cause I know I’m feeling anxious about something and, and a lot of times I don’t know what it is yet. Like I really have to bring some curiosity to it. 

[00:20:28] I’ve talked about this on the podcast and I’ve been recording some episodes. I’ve been rereading the Judy Blume books and, um, I got all obsessed after watching her, the documentary about her on Amazon Prime. And so I just read Then Again, Maybe I Won’t, and I don’t really remember reading it as a kid. And it’s about this boy named Tony and, um, he’s 13 years old. 

[00:20:53] The story basically is about, a family that, like it’s them, it’s him and his parents, and they’ve had a tragedy in the family. One of his brothers died in Vietnam and – his older brothers – and then his oldest brother and the oldest brother’s wife, they live basically like, like in the same place, like, so like I think Tony and his parents live downstairs and they live in Jersey. Um, they live downstairs and then the older brother who’s a school teacher and his wife, they live upstairs and it’s just, and the grandma lives with them. So it’s this multi generational household, and the grandma cooks Italian dinners every night and it’s a very connected family. They, I think they have one bathroom.

[00:21:38] And so the dad invents something, i, the dad’s always playing around inventing things down in the basement and the dad invents something and they, they strike it rich. Okay. So the family strikes it rich. They moved to a fancy neighborhood. And when they move to the fancy neighborhood, Tony starts to have these intense stomach pains, right? And as the story unfolds, it’s like he gets these intense stomach pains whenever there’s anything dishonest happening. 

[00:22:10] Okay, so his, his new friend in the fancy neighborhood who seems like, you know, got the fancy like resort style swimming pool, and a full time housekeeper and his mom’s always golfing and his dad’s never home and, you know, this like, super WASPy kid that lives next door that just seems like, you know, he’s away at camp all summer. Just, it was a very different environment from where Tony was from. 

[00:22:37] And then he’s somewhere with his friend Joel and his, this is, that’s the kid’s name. And Joel, the WASPy kid shoplifts. He shoplifts. Just like steals pens from convenience stores and stuff. And then he also, the other thing he like, when he invites Tony over to like spend the night or whatever, he prank calls friends, which… also not going to lie, I used to love. I had a friend and we used to crack ourselves up in like fourth grade. We were, we loved prank calling, It was, yeah, terrible anyway, but when this kid is pulling those shenanigans, when Joel’s pulling the shenanigans, shoplifting or prank calling, all of a sudden Tony gets these intense stomach pains. Okay.

[00:23:21] So they’re in the new house and his mom starts to, like, do the keeping up with the Joneses thing, his mom, Carmela. She like, you know, wants to do everything that the WASPy golf lady next door wants to do. It was like whatever Joel’s mom was doing, Carmela was like, ooh, you know, she wanted to do whatever she was doing. And, and so Tony was like, mom, it was like Tony was constantly annoyed with his mom, like mom, what are you talking about?

[00:23:49] Like to the point that the mom had to get a housekeeper and had to get a housekeeper that cooked for them. And then the grandma took to a depression because the grandma was used to cooking for the family, and, but the mom was so worried about what the neighbors might think, she wouldn’t let grandma cook anymore. And so the grandma then just started staying up in her room because she didn’t feel like she… there was no point. Like she went into a deep dark depression. 

[00:24:13] And so Tony would be bent out of shape about, you know, the mom just wasn’t getting it She just was pulling all this sort of, you know, keeping up, you know, we understand it, she wanted to fit in. She was human. Carmela wanted to find community. Now all of a sudden she’s with the fancy people that play golf and she just wanted to fit in. 

[00:24:35] But Tony kept getting these, these intense stomach aches, like doubled over. And so the story’s climax is when Tony collapses, with such intense stomach pains outside a convenience store after he sees Joel steal some pens and he ends up in the hospital for 10 days and they run all these extensive tests. and then for the rest of the story, Tony mentions – and I love the way Judy Blume tells a story because she doesn’t… and the, her reader, her ideal reader, remember is like a middle school kid. She does not just spell everything out. Like she gives the reader the benefit of the doubt to sort of figure it out. Right? 

[00:25:21] And so the rest of the story, Tony mentions talking to Dr. Fogel. You know, they have these regular appointments and oh, I’m going to tell Dr. Fogel. I’m not sure if I can tell Dr. Fogel about this, Dr. Fogel, Dr. Fogel. And so he also starts to notice when he, like Dr. Fogel starts teaching Tony tools. And he starts to notice when he experiences something that is not okay with him, right? Like, otherwise known as a boundary. When something’s not okay with you and when someone crosses a boundary. Okay, so Tony starts to notice. 

[00:25:54] Like, when his friend, Joel’s sister takes them for a joyride in her new Corvette and she drives super fast, driving all recklessly and she’s smoking, and, and so he starts to, you know, notice, like that’s towards the end of the story. He starts to notice, he starts to get the feeling in his stomach and then he like does some of the exercises that Dr. Fogel taught him and he gets it under control. And he says to himself, like, okay, I won’t be driving in the car with Lisa anymore.

[00:26:25] And he also says something to Lisa, basically letting her know that like, you know, smoking causes cancer. Basically like, my grandmother, the reason she can’t talk is because she smoked and she ended up having to get her larynx removed, which wasn’t even true. But he was just like, you know, now he’s like problem solving.

[00:26:41] He’s got his anxiety in check so much that he’s listening to his body. He’s, you know, scaring Lisa into not smoking anymore. And he’s, like mental note, not driving with Lisa anymore. And I’m going to take some breaths and I’m going to calm my body down. Right? And he does all of this silently. And so he has learned some tools. 

[00:27:04] And so, in the story, Tony says, I got through thinking about all that without getting stomach pains. I’m learning how to handle myself. I’ll tell Dr. Fogel during our next session. See, so he’s using these tools and in the moment he’s saying to him, to himself, like he’s like pausing for applause for himself. Oh. I’m learning how to think about things without getting stomach pains. I’m learning how to handle myself. Which I think was probably just like the 1970’s way of, like, teaching mindfulness practices. 

[00:27:40] And I mean, Judy Blume, was she not so ahead of her freaking times? Like, for her to write a book that really was mostly about anxiety, about a boy’s struggle with anxiety. I think she’s such a trailblazer. Really. If only we had all listened to Judy way back when. I mean, because from the way she describes this main character, Tony, he’s highly sensitive and he was as highly sensitive people and especially kids often are. He was a little truth barometer. Well, except for when he lied to Lisa about the smoking. But other than that, he was a truth barometer, right? 

[00:28:21] Whenever anyone was stealing or lying or doing something that felt out of integrity, he had physical symptoms and, and highly sensitive people are quite often, I mean, this is what happens. Like they pick up on so many different things. So his body whispered to him and he got the stomach pains, right? He didn’t yet have the tools to know how to deal with, when something was out of integrity, when something was going on. And ultimately like what helped Tony get through it? Dr. Fogel, he had a safe adult, right? He had a safe adult to talk to and to learn new things from.

[00:29:05] And so I think that’s pretty common when we notice that our kid is struggling with something, most parents will… you know, I,

[00:29:12] I get this all the time where people are like, I need a good recommendation for a therapist and I’m all for therapy. And that’s one hour a week.

[00:29:24] Like, think about if your kid was having therapy and receiving something different from their adults that made it safe for them to open up at home, right? Like, what if they didn’t have to just bottle it all up and wait for that one hour a week? What if they could talk to their adults too? 

[00:29:44] I mean, my son is a perfect example. He a lot of times will talk to me about things. And then there’s things… like he’s a 25 year old young man. Like, he doesn’t want to talk to his mom. There’s private things, there’s dating things, there’s whatever it is. Like, he doesn’t want to talk to me about all the things. He knows he can talk to me about everything. And he also likes to talk to a third party. 

[00:30:09] You know, in Judy’s books, I’ve noticed there is a theme and I think it reflects after watching the documentary, her own story with her own mom. But like the parents are usually pretty clueless in Judy Blume stories. Especially the moms. The dads don’t, the dads tend to be the good parent, but the moms… 

[00:30:33] in every Judy Blume story, it seems like the mom is just like, does not have her finger on the pulse of what’s going on.

[00:30:40] And I don’t think Judy had, I think Judy had a, a relationship with her own mother where, and she says it in the documentary, where there was a lot of secrets and they didn’t talk about real things. That’s why Judy writes these books because she didn’t have, like she had a really close relationship with her dad, but she didn’t want to talk about periods and masturbation and things with her dad. So she, you know, so she’s written this series of books about, to create a conversation for kids and for kids to, to get the information that they crave, if they don’t have an adult they can talk to at home. 

[00:31:16] Okay. So what if Judy had known about this, about what we’re doing here? I think even better than Dr. Fogel, or in addition to Dr. Fogel would be empowering Tony’s mom, Carmela, right? Tony’s mom, Carmela. You know, first of all, to know that she, there was one story in the book where the WASPy golf mom called her Carol. Called her Carol, and Carmela responds to the name Carol. 

[00:31:50] And when Tony had been playing over at their house, the mom called their housekeeper Millicent. And the kid Joel had said, yeah, her name’s not really Millicent. My mom just can’t remember her name. She says it’s too difficult. She just calls her Millicent. And then Tony hears Joel’s mom say to his mom, oh, okay, Carol and Tony says, mom, and she’s like, shh, she shushes him.

[00:32:19] And the lady leaves and Tony’s like, he, Tony was basically like, what the fuck mom? Like, why are you responding to the wrong name? Like, what is happening here? So he’s like, mom, your name is Carmela. and the mom’s like, it’s fine. It doesn’t matter. It’s just a name, Tony. 

[00:32:39] So, like, what if Carmela had known that she was, just because she moved to a fancy neighborhood, she was just as good as all these people. What if she had received the support? So that she knew she was worthy of correcting her snobby neighbor, and saying oh, actually it’s not Carol. It’s Carmela. C-A-R-M-E-L-L-A. CAR-ME-LLA. Carmela. We can say it together a few times if you are having a difficult time with it, right? 

[00:33:16] What if Carmella had been taught to do that, to step into her own strength, to realize that she didn’t need to, she didn’t need to compromise herself because of this jackass living next door, right? She would find her people and that lady was not her people. 

[00:33:36] What if Carmela had learned better communication tools and skills, and was able to show up as the parent that would have helped her child to deal with his anxiety?

[00:33:50] What if she was his soft place to land so he could say, I get these stomach pains, mom. Sometimes Joel steals things. Please don’t tell anyone. What if he could trust his mom? What do you mean? What does he steal, babe? He steals pens from the convenience store and you don’t like it, huh? Like, if Carmela had known how to talk to Tony about it, and and truly become his soft place to land, right?

[00:34:20] So, if Carmela had learned these skills, not only would Tony have gotten what he needed much more quickly and not probably needed to go into the hospital for 10 days and have extensive tests run, but there would have also been this intense connection between mom and son. Like, that’s the connection that every mom wants. That’s the connection that every kid wants. And that’s what we’re creating here. 

[00:34:52] So when we talk about things like anxiety, when we start to notice what anxiety looks like in a little kid, what anxiety looks like in a teenager, what our own anxiety feels like when we make these types of conversations the norm, no one has anything to hide. There’s not secrets.

[00:35:19] And guess what? Just like Tony’s body, yeah, how his stomach had intense pains when there was dishonesty happening. Yeah. That’s the case for many of us, especially highly sensitive people. The truth is what we all crave. Truth telling is what we all crave. So when we’re lying to ourselves, and when we’re leaving things left unsaid or not discussed, that feels like lying in the body. And quite often, I know for me, it shows up as anxiety. 

[00:35:56] So that’s what I’ve got. As we move into this school year, I want you to notice, I want you to notice all behavior is communication. And if you have a child that is having a hard time with transitions. Maybe you can just talk about it, just like how I talk to myself. Yeah, it’s hard. It’s the end of an era. Of course you feel anxious about your youngest child driving. If you can talk about it… 

[00:36:28] of course you feel anxious about the new school year. You don’t know this teacher yet. It’s a bunch of new kids in your class. Right? You’re getting used to a new schedule.

[00:36:40] Yeah. Everything feels different and it’s new and it’s not familiar and it, it’s hard at the beginning of the year until we get used to things. It’s totally normal. I’m just so glad you’re telling me and not keeping it all bottled up inside. This is totally normal and it’s hard.

[00:36:59] When we start to talk about the things like that. Can you imagine how different it would have been for all of us growing up if we had had adults that shepherded us through feelings of anxiety in that loving, spacious way? That’s what we’re doing for our kids. 

[00:37:21] Pretty powerful. Have a great week. 

[00:37:24] Thanks for listening today, guys. I hope you picked up some tips, tools, maybe some baby steps for creating more balance and boundaries in your life. And I just wanted to let you know, if you want to continue moving the needle forward in creating this for yourself, having a happier household, I want you to go to my website and check out mastermindparenting.com. We have three beginning programs, and if you need some accountability and more support then please look for the one that would be a good fit for you.

[00:37:58] And, as always, we’re on all the social channels under mastermind parenting, on Instagram it’s mastermind_parenting. And, you know, periodically I do pop up on different Instagram lives, Facebook lives where I give you teaching and coaching and I love engaging with you live to help you help your strong-willed kids so that they can feel better, because when they feel better they do better, and I love, love, love getting to know you guys. 

[00:38:31] So thanks for listening. If you like this podcast, please don’t forget to subscribe, rate and review. Super super appreciative

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Creating A Happier Household

by Randi Rubenstein