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264: But Really… Growing Doesn’t Happen Alone

It’s no secret that I love my Mastermind community. The ways we support and challenge each other are just magical. Masterminder Aryn is a perfect example of that. She came to us in total overwhelm, so focused on being available for her family that she couldn’t even let herself close the bathroom door to take a shower. Through honest, vulnerable conversations and lots and lots of empathy, she’s grown as a parent and a person, and helped many other Masterminders to see that they don’t have to do it alone. 

In this episode, you’ll learn:

  • Why feeling seen and understood plays such an important part in helping us feel confident as pack leaders.
  • How sharing our experiences can help us identify and overcome conditioning from our own upbringing.
  • How trying to do better for our kiddos, if it’s not done with thought and care, can lead us to abdicate our role as pack leader.    

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.

Randi’s Web and Social Links

Links & Resources

Thanks so much for listening to the Mastermind Parenting podcast, where we support the strong willed child and the families that love them!

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[00:00:00] Randi Rubenstein: We’re gonna all put our heads together and figure out what was really going on so that you can think differently and prepare for next time. Where if you’re thinking differently about the situation, and if you’ve taken the time to go back in and look at a situation where you didn’t handle it so gently, right? Because you’re surrounded with supportive community, who’s like me too, been there. Oh, you should have seen the shit show in my house. And then we’re like, well, let’s figure out what was really coming up for you. 

[00:00:32] Aryn: in our society, I think that there is so much emphasis on doing it right. That when you have, when someone has told you so many times that this is how you do it, and this is what you say, and then the shit hits the fan and you don’t say that. There’s so much shame and taboo around not saying it right and forgetting how to handle it that I think a lot of people are too scared to even admit that they couldn’t do it right. 

[00:01:00] 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. 

[00:01:09] Okay, we’re just going to start talking because that’s the way I do it these days. There’s no, yeah, there’s no formal intro. It’s just, yeah, fly on the wall. Our listeners are a fly on the wall of our conversation, You cracked me up when you sent me a Vox earlier in the week and you were like, you’re like, can you just give me a heads up what we’re going to talk about? Because everybody else sounds so smart.

[00:01:33] Aryn: They do. They’re awesome. They all sound so good.

[00:01:36] Randi Rubenstein: I just started cracking up. Cause I was like, are you freaking kidding me? Like, I mean, talk about people being a fly on the wall of a real conversation. Is it ever not a real conversation between me and you?

[00:01:50] Aryn: No, never, never, ever. All real things. 

[00:01:53] Randi Rubenstein: All the real things, even down to sometimes we have to be in a fight for 10 minutes because I say the things and you’re like, I’m not ready hear that. I don’t want to hear that. 

[00:02:02] Aryn: Not quite yet, too soon. 

[00:02:03] Randi Rubenstein: Too soon. Too soon. I’m here with Aryn and she’s a mom who has worked for, with me for a long time. We are now like I, what I said to her when she left me that message, I’m like, are you kidding? I’m like, like we’re in each other’s lives, friends for life. This is the benefit of me not being a therapist. Like I don’t have to have professional lines that we can’t cross, like no. Like when you get this deep and down and dirty and personal and, and I share all the things about my life and you share all the things about your life, like I’m, it’s a real deep connection. 

[00:02:47] Aryn: certainly share all the things. 

[00:02:50] Randi Rubenstein: What did you say? I certainly share all the things. 

[00:02:53] Aryn: I certainly share all the things, yes. 

[00:02:55] Randi Rubenstein: I certainly share all the things, too. But also like, I mean you got to listen to the coaching call from yesterday, because I was coaching or on Wednesday, maybe when I was coaching, I won’t name who I was coaching, but I was coaching her on a situation with her kid at school in sixth grade, your accountability buddy. 

[00:03:19] And I mentioned you. And she was so worried because her kid has been like botching his vocabulary tests and, she was all bent out of shape about it. And so we were, I was coaching her and, and he’s so smart, like he’s so smart. And he’s like, they’re teaching me in ways that are boring.

[00:03:39] And like she even said it, she’s like, you know, he’s interested in science and he’s got this mind. And I was like, wait a minute, wait a minute, wait a minute. His dad was, uh, you know, an engineering major, he is an engineer from like a pristine university and he’s now an entrepreneur in the cannabis industry.

[00:04:03] Right. Like using all of his engineering school skills, I was like, you have to bring that up in the meeting with the teachers that, yeah, like it makes sense. Of course he’d be rebellious about taking all these rote memorization tests, but he’s probably like, um, excuse me, AI is going to handle all the misspellings in the future. People, catch up. 

[00:04:25] Aryn: Right, isn’t that amazing that we’re still teaching spelling? I mean it’s important, yes, but like, my kid can’t spell either. I said that to him, like, he has spell check for everything, like, they’re not doing anything on paper anymore. It’s all AI, and it just does, it does punctuation for them, it does like, all of the things. 

[00:04:45] Randi Rubenstein: I was like, it’s almost like he wants to say like, mom, I get it. You really excelled as a sheeple learner. I’m probably going to be like dad, I’m going to be a disruptor. Cause he’s already even said, she told me that he was like, he wants to go into education. Like he wants to, he’s like, they’re doing it wrong. It’s not, it’s boring. It’s not supposed to be this way. 

[00:05:08] I was like, I mean, his dad, I like, I want you to say in that meeting with the teachers, like, yeah, it makes sense that he’d be a little rebellious and not really care that much about how he does on his vocab test. Because I mean, his dad is an engineer in the cannabis industry.

[00:05:23] So like just saying, and she was like, she was laughing. She was like, I don’t know if I could say that. Um, and I was like, you got to say it. You got to say, own it. You know what is that’s the thing is like, own all the things. And I think, because we’ve built this community where we talk about the unspeakable. Like what’s really happening behind the curtains of our homes. Right? 

[00:05:55] And it’s like in our social media culture where it has become the norm to put out the best, the pictures, like this is who I, like, 

[00:06:07] I always like to say, like, this is the parent that I play on TV when the camera is rolling. Don’t we look amazing? Look at my kids. Aren’t we just, like the picture perfect family? And I’m like, but what’s really going on when you pull back the curtains at 7 pm in those homes? Is the parenting so gentle?

[00:06:26] Aryn: No, there’s probably lots and lots of screaming. I used to play that person on social media. 

[00:06:32] Randi Rubenstein: Right! 

[00:06:32] Aryn: And you did not wanna be in my house at 7 pm. 

[00:06:35] Randi Rubenstein: That’s the thing is that when it becomes societal norms and when we’re all, you know, in public, when the camera’s rolling, we’re using all the good words. We’re trying to memorize all the scripts. But, behind the curtain, like we’re not remembering those scripts. We’re not remembering the good words. Like that’s when we face ourselves. 

[00:07:03] And so I think by building a community where it’s like, nobody, like we’re sharing the real things and you don’t have to figure it out all by yourself. Like we’re gonna all put our heads together and figure out what was really going on so that you can think differently and prepare for next time. 

[00:07:24] Where if you’re thinking differently about the situation, and if you’ve taken the time to go back in and look at a situation where you didn’t handle it so gently, right? Because you’re surrounded with supportive community, who’s like me too, been there. Oh, you should have seen the shit show in my house. And then we’re like, well, let’s figure out what was really coming up for you. 

[00:07:46] Aryn: In our society, I think that there is so much emphasis on doing it right. That when you have, when someone has told you so many times that this is how you do it, and this is what you say, and then, the shit hits the fan and you don’t say that. There’s so much shame and taboo around not saying it right and forgetting how to handle it that I think a lot of people are too scared to even admit that they couldn’t do it right.

[00:08:14] They’re like, well, what’s wrong with me? Why am I the only person who can’t remember exactly what to say or how to handle it or not to scream in the moment or whatever it was?

[00:08:24] Randi Rubenstein: Right. Because I think it’s like, all of us are missing the bullshit barometer and so there’s just so much bullshit out there. It’s like everybody’s using the good words and I mean, you know, I’m having a little bit of an existential crisis right now with, 

[00:08:39] Aryn: You and me both

[00:08:41] Randi Rubenstein: Yeah, like, like where I’m just like looking at all of the toxicity on social media and the comments and the, vitriol and the hate and the standing on soap boxes. Um, and I’m like, I don’t know, something isn’t making sense. It doesn’t add up. 

[00:09:06] It’s like people have all of these lofty ideals, but what they’re forgetting is that, real humans when their safety is jeopardized, whether it’s in your home, right? Like when something all of a sudden feels scary in your home, like, you’ve got two family members coming to blows, whether it’s your kids, whether it’s your, your co parent and your kid. Like all of a sudden it’s like, you’re in, you go into a fight, flight, freeze, or fawn response. Which I just had to explain to Aryn. 

[00:09:47] Aryn: Define. 

[00:09:47] Randi Rubenstein: Yeah, which for anybody who’s not, who’s like, what’s the fawn response? The fawn response is, it has been this sort of new addition, which is really where people pleasing comes from.

[00:09:57] So when you went into a survival state at a time in your life, usually during your formative years, when you learned to people please as a way to survive, as a way for a dangerous situation to feel less scary, then that became your, your coping strategy for when life felt unsafe or scary.

[00:10:22] And so now you find yourself as an adult, quite often when the people around you are behaving in scary ways or in some way, it feels scary to you, right? Like inside your body, it feels scary. It feels scary when you have this fantasy that you want. You’re going to be the kind of parent who has a home that’s peaceful and fun and connected and people actually enjoy being there. And then you’ve got people that live within this home and this family at each other’s throats. That feels scary because it’s threatening your fantasy. 

[00:11:00] Aryn: Your vision. 

[00:11:01] Randi Rubenstein: Right, right. And so we go into this survival state. And so that’s when I think a lot of times people go into either fight, flight, freeze, or fawn. And it can look a variety of ways. 

[00:11:16] I don’t even know why I got off on that tangent, but I guess the bottom line is, is that it feels amazing to, especially right now, to be in a community of people that aren’t all exactly like me or aren’t all exactly like you and being able to not feel like we’re walking through a minefield to talk about the things that are heavy on our hearts. Has it felt that way for you too? 

[00:11:49] Aryn: Yeah, for sure. I think in the beginning, I sort of pulled back because I was like, well, how do I address this here? Is this appropriate to address here? Do people, will people, even if they don’t understand, be supportive? And I, and I think that we’re in that part of history where you don’t know who really is your friend. People who you thought were your friend, people who you thought were your social media friends the people who you thought that you, you know shared ideals with you’re not. 

[00:12:23] But I do think that we have that in our community. And I think that you know people have been very open and very honest to like, not knowing what they don’t know. And asking like what feels supportive? How you know, even though I can’t relate. Like, I just I think it’s been an amazing place to be right now because it does feel safe and supportive and like a good learning environment. I think for all of us.

[00:12:51] I mean, I think even you and I have had some conversations where, the things that we have talked about were, I don’t want to say controversial, but it’s almost like, are we seeing the same things and feeling the same way about them? And, I don’t know what you’re thinking in your head. You don’t know what I’m thinking. And, you know, even just with people who you trust not knowing what they’re thinking can feel uncomfortable to, to talk about. 

[00:13:22] And so I think, I’m not sure exactly what I’m saying, but I think that it has felt like a very safe, supportive place to be in the last couple weeks, for sure. All the time, but especially in the last couple weeks.

[00:13:34] Randi Rubenstein: It, it doesn’t actually surprise me because. look, people know in our group how I feel politically because sometimes I say how I feel politically, but we have people with lots of different politics in our group and, and we navigate it. And I, I’ve never felt like it was like, oh, could somebody not say something? I’ve tried to create a space where it’s, it’s like, fine for us not to all have the same political beliefs. We can still see each other. We can, we don’t have to, we don’t have to fight about it. Like we can feel, we can still find common ground. And some things like, I’m not going to convince you. You’re not going to convince me. It’s fine. We’re not going to put our bandwidth there.

[00:14:25] Aryn: Well, we also talk about it civilly as opposed to, you know, so much of what you see, you know, all over the place is just, you know, fighting. And really, I think, like, the fight response that people go into when they feel like their security is threatened. 

[00:14:44] Like, I’m thinking back to, like, certain instances way back when, in the beginning of COVID, when we didn’t all feel the same way. We had different views, different political views, different views on vaxing versus not vaxing, going to school, masking versus not masking, and even then, like, that’s a very heated topic, and it was never unsafe. We were always able to discuss, like, well, I see it this way, I see it this way, and it was always just a very safe environment that we have here, where we can just say all of the things, even if we don’t disagree. Or even if we don’t agree. 

[00:15:19] Randi Rubenstein: You know what? I bet the tone was set because we, everyone that comes in has a difficult kid at the beginning, right? Like somebody, everybody has a difficult kid where it feels like you’re walking around in the world being judged. You’re worried about your kid being judged. 

[00:15:39] Um, and so to all of a sudden come into a space, which is like, nobody’s judging you. Let’s all put our heads together. Yeah, like of course you haven’t figured this out before now because one person being charged with figuring out a human, a little human who Is struggling. It was never supposed to be on one person, right? For thousands and thousands of years It was a whole community helping the little tiny people to grow up. And now it was, it’s all on one person, the mom for the most part, to figure out how to help the developing human? 

[00:16:17] Oh, and you’re a modern mom, so you also have a complicated life. It’s not just about waiting for, you know, your caveman to come home and bring you what you’re supposed to cook, right? Or go, maybe go and help find berries. it’s a much more complicated life. You got a lot going on and you have to help this little person who is quite often acting like a terrorist. Yeah, it’s too much for one person. That’s why we got you. We’re going to all figure this out together, right? 

[00:16:51] So I think because we come together from that place, that’s why we’ve been able to, um, create a safe space where it’s not uniform. We’ve got lots of diversity in all of the areas, you know, from socioeconomic diversity to political diversity to ethnic diversity to, you know, all of… 

[00:17:18] Aryn: Geographic diversity. 

[00:17:19] Randi Rubenstein: Yes, geographic, we’re all over the place. 

[00:17:22] Aryn: Well, I think it’s because, you know, like, the same thing that you’re saying, like, we all bring our humanity and our humility into every conversation that we’re having. It takes a lot to be able to say, like, yeah, there’s something wrong here, and I’ve been to this expert and that expert and the school and… and I still don’t know what’s wrong. It’s still not working. 

[00:17:45] And I think that because we are all so vulnerable with each other, we don’t have to all be in all the same boxes in our life. But we are able to see each other’s humanity and come from that place.

[00:18:01] Randi Rubenstein: Well, I also, if you think about it, like how many times have I, I’ve coached someone and, like you made me, you, this is what came up in my mind when you were talking about the early COVID, and there was a lot of coaching scenarios about people who were going to visit family, you know, like for the holidays who had different beliefs about vaccinating or not. And so navigating with extended family, um, who have different beliefs. 

[00:18:39] And I remember whether it was that or whether it was like, you know, well, I’ll get to that next, but it was like, okay. So I just coached another mom who’s aligned with your extended family’s beliefs and she shared how she was feeling about it and how she was feeling it about it you know, let’s say it was like an anti vaxxer, right? I just coached an anti vaxxer and here I am now coaching a mom who’s a doctor who’s like, I don’t understand it. 

[00:19:15] And I’m like, so look, go back and listen to this coaching session with so and so who has chosen not to vaccinate just so that you can fully understand what your extended family members perspective is. And that way you can arm yourself with the information so that you can go in and find some common ground and have a productive conversation and do it in a rational, civilized way. 

[00:19:42] Aryn: I think it’s that rational, civilized way that gets lost, not here, but so, so much. And I think that when we’re able to see and listen to each other’s scenarios and try to find similarity, I think that we are able to have those rational, civilized conversations that… 

[00:20:03] Randi Rubenstein: Productive. 

[00:20:04] Aryn: Yeah. Yeah. Mm hmm.

[00:20:06] Randi Rubenstein: Productive conversations and, you know, I was also thinking, we’ve even done it where I’ll be coaching someone on a kid situation, right? Like, so it’s about a strong willed kid and then we’ll start talking about the perspective, like maybe two kids have been fighting at each other’s throats and, you know, the other kid, the not as strong willed sibling, um, is constantly getting steamrolled.

[00:20:40] And so the parent is feeling, um, really defensive and wanting to defend the other child who’s getting steamrolled and it’s really hard for them to see their strong willed kids point of view. And so I’ll coach that parent through it. And then we’ll have a mom like Annie or someone chime in and say, okay, so hold up. Because I, I was that strong willed kid. And I am still, in many ways, that mindset as an adult, my family will call me, you know, selfish or self absorbed or all the things. And here’s how I see it, or this has been my experience. 

[00:21:21] And it’s so helpful because it’s like, how are we ever going to figure things out, solve the problems, have productive conversations, if we’re only seeing, our point of view, and we can’t see all the points of view?

[00:21:39] Aryn: Absolutely. I think, that is so often the problem is that we are so stuck in our own point of view. I think it’s hard to want to see somebody else’s point of view sometimes because you feel like it jeopardizes your own safety in some way, or your own sense of who you are.

[00:22:01] And so I think that when you are able to start seeing other people’s perspectives, and when different people chime in it just makes it so much easier to be able to look fully at a scenario, or, you know, at whatever it is, not necessarily even a parenting scenario, but just, you know, a life scenario, and see it in a different way. It just opens up other doors that you wouldn’t be able to have if you didn’t have a community of some sort.

[00:22:32] Randi Rubenstein: But think about it. Like, why do you think, and you can even, you can think about yourself. Why do you think that we have this group of, you know, 90, the active members in this group, which is 99. 9 percent women. Why have we been able to achieve this way of, of all being, you know, lots of differences, lots of diversity. And, we’re still a community who loves each other, believes in each other, and doesn’t have to force our beliefs down each other’s throats. There’s like room and space for lots of different opinions and lots of different, you know, ways of being. Why? Why do you think that we’ve been able to achieve this?

[00:23:29] Aryn: Well, first of all, I think it starts with the tone that you have set. I don’t think that there are necessarily like, you know, when you join a new Facebook group and there’s like community rules, there’s no like Mastermind community rules, but I think that you have set a tone as to what is expected within our groups without even saying it. I think, and I think that we all come into it genuinely wanting to do better. Like, we all know that there are things in our life, with our children that aren’t working. If everything was perfect, we wouldn’t be here. 

[00:24:05] And so I think that when you bring your genuine self into a scenario or into a situation, and you know that everyone has something, not the same, but something similar. You just, I think you just come from a different perspective. You don’t feel as threatened as you necessarily do, you know, on social media or even like out in your day to day life. You don’t feel judged. You just, you’re all coming with a common… goal in a sense, even though our own objectives might be different, our own scenarios are different, our children are different ages, whatever it is.

[00:24:52] We all want a… we, we want happier, you know, I I don’t like the word happy, but we want families that are functioning better. We want to feel more connected. We want to feel more joyful and we want our children to know that they’re safe. I think a lot of us come from families that didn’t feel safe growing up for whatever reason, whether that was physical or emotional…

[00:25:15] Randi Rubenstein: Define, cause we use that term so often that I think it’s just become common for us, but somebody recently was like, ooh, that’s a loaded topic. That word is hard. 

[00:25:28] Aryn: Safe? 

[00:25:28] Randi Rubenstein: Yeah. Like I want to hear how you define that. 

[00:25:31] Aryn: Well, first of all, there’s the physical safety I was lacking up until a certain point when I was able to fight back. Um, but I think, really feeling safe is, is being seen. I think it is feeling like your parents are your people. And I think it is, just knowing that you are loved and seen for exactly who you are. And all of the parts of you are enough. That you can be silly at dinner and make cat noises. You can have a meltdown because something did… that’s ever happened in my house.

[00:26:15] Randi Rubenstein: I was like, I was like, was that you? Did little Aryn get in trouble because she was making cat noises at dinner?

[00:26:21] Aryn: That, that might be happening in my house now that did not happen growing up. But like just knowing that no matter what you are loved and you are cared for and there’s nothing that’s going to break that bond. You don’t have to put on a show and be who I think you should be. Like, you are safe to be exactly who You were put on this earth to be. All of the good and all of the bad and that whatever it is, we will figure it out when we are able to, to talk about it. 

[00:26:55] I mean, I think just even being you know, I I never talked to my parents about anything. Nothing felt safe, you know, and I think that would like break their hearts to hear but I didn’t tell them about boys, I didn’t tell them about, you know, like any, any of those teenage things, the drinking, the drugs, the smoking cigarettes, like that was off limits The first boy I ever brought home was Evan and we started dating in law school. 

[00:27:24] Randi Rubenstein: I remember. Yeah. 

[00:27:25] Aryn: So the end of law school, that was the first person I ever brought home. 

[00:27:30] Randi Rubenstein: I remember. Yeah. Like getting, going over to a friend’s house when we had a dance, cause I didn’t want to get picked up at my house because like, it just felt too vulnerable. Like my parents, you know, I didn’t feel close to them. It felt too vulnerable. I didn’t want them to say anything. It felt creepy for them to know like personal things about my life.

[00:27:57] But the real thing is I didn’t feel like I belonged. Like I didn’t, like they were not my people. Even though they were my family, I’m like, if my kids had, I mean, Corey, now, sometimes he just keeps things a secret because he likes to torture me. But like, you know, like he was like going on a date with some girl and I said, who, who is it?

[00:28:23] He’s like, you’re on a need to know basis. I’m not telling you. I’m not. And I was like, I know, but I, and then, and now he’s just been keeping it from me even though it was one date and it didn’t go anywhere. I was like, why wouldn’t you tell me now? He’s like, because you want to know too badly. 

[00:28:38] And I’m like. But you know, it’s just my joy agenda, like, like if I missed out on my kid’s first loves and how, you know, excited or scared or all the things that we’re trying to navigate, like I would like, that would be so sad for me.

[00:29:01] Aryn: So here’s what I’m thinking though, as we’re talking about this and I, I agree with you, but I think that you, like me, because you’ve taught me to do this, like I ask the questions. I try to make it feel like I want to know. I want to be a part of this. I, you can tell me anything and nothing is off limits 

[00:29:23] And, you know, my parents, I think, put their head in the sand. Like, I say all the time, like, I don’t think they wanted to know what I was doing or who I was doing it with. And so I think they didn’t feel like my people, but they didn’t… if you’re asking me, like I don’t think they tried to be my people either. Where I am, I don’t want to say desperately trying, but I am really trying to be my kids people. I think because I didn’t have that because it wasn’t safe to feel that way in my house. And I think that you know, that’s not something that was intuitive, like that’s something that I learned by doing all of this. 

[00:30:06] Randi Rubenstein: But let’s talk about doing all of this. Cause I do think it all ties in. You didn’t feel that sense of belonging growing up and it didn’t feel safe. Like you didn’t feel seen. And so it didn’t really feel safe to be vulnerable or to share private things about your life because you weren’t, it wasn’t safe to be you in your household.

[00:30:35] And when you did have, you know, whatever, let’s say as a little kid, you were doing what little kids do, which is like, maybe you had a day where you were out of spoons and you were in a shitty mood or extra tired or, you know, picked on your sister or whatever it was. Because, you were shut down and physically and verbally punished, you got the message as a little kid, and tell me if I’m wrong on any of this, but

[00:31:06] like you got the message as a little kid that they think there’s something wrong with me and, and this doesn’t feel safe to like, be an actual human person who sometimes has a shitty day or a shitty moment. They, they think I’m bad. They see me as… 

[00:31:25] Aryn: Well, I think that’s exactly what it was. Like, I don’t think I had all of those other words, but I was bad. I mean, I had the nickname, right? The Big Bad Girl. I was bad. And I think when you have that, you know, reputation, how could I be bad? I was like six old, but when you have that reputation as bad, I mean, where do you, where you go from there?

[00:31:50] It’s not, it’s not safe to be you. You don’t want to share who you are because ultimately like who wants to be themselves with people who just think that they’re, bad?

[00:32:01] Randi Rubenstein: Let’s talk about then when you like came into, you know, when you first started working with me, you came into Mastermind, like what, how that conditioning, you’re the big bad girl, how that looks, how it translates when to like adult version of you, who’s now… you know, if you looked at your profile, probably, on social media, just look like you were a regular mom living the good life. You’d gone to the good schools. You got the college degrees, the law degree, you have this nuclear family of four, two gorgeous boys, like everything, you know, you’re in a, in a, in a marriage with, you know, like everything kind of looks like traditional. Typical. 

[00:32:56] And so people might say, well, shame and blame kind of worked out for you. You went and you succeeded in all the traditional ways and your pictures on social media look great. But the story, you know, the story that pops out in my mind when you first started working with me and you were… somewhere, it came out that you couldn’t even take a shower without being interrupted. 

[00:33:23] Aryn: I knew you were going to say that. I mean, it took a long, I, I, I didn’t, I couldn’t take a shower. I didn’t have a lock on my, on my bathroom door. And even when I got the lock, I didn’t know that I could use it. I had kids walking in all of the time. Like, there was no recognition that I was even deserving of taking a shower on my own. 

[00:33:47] Randi Rubenstein: Right. 

[00:33:48] Aryn: For 20 minutes. 

[00:33:48] Randi Rubenstein: Right. Without like, like entitled to some privacy, um, like just being able to enjoy a shower by yourself, like. They’re coming in. There may be, you know, you’re in that moment now you’re self conscious. Are they seeing you? You’ve got teenage boy, you know, one that was already a young teenager. It’s like now, like, is this appropriate? They’re, like, here.

[00:34:14] Aryn: I think that one stopped coming in at some point. The little one… 

[00:34:18] Randi Rubenstein: Yeah. He’s in there. And, and my hunch is that he wasn’t just coming in to like, tell you a funny story. He had, he was like tasking you with mom jobs. 

[00:34:31] Aryn: Oh, problems I needed to solve. 

[00:34:33] Randi Rubenstein: Yes, so your, your, your job never stops, even when you want to take a 20 minute shower, forget it. Like there is no time off the clock when you’re a mom and you’re not entitled to it. And like, you didn’t even know that it was okay to make your kids wait and to have a boundary around, when I am in the bathroom, that means I’m not available. Right? Like that was foreign to you. You couldn’t even, you were like wait what? I don’t even have a lock on my bathroom door. Okay, well put a lock on your bathroom door. 

[00:35:15] Aryn: I don’t even think I had a door that really closed. We had, like, the over the door towel hooks, so the door never even fully closed. I couldn’t even, like, do that for myself.

[00:35:26] Randi Rubenstein: Like, but I feel like if I did have a door that closed and it locked like I think they would just bang on it. And I was like, yeah, but you wouldn’t respond Like, that’s your time in the shower. It literally was beyond you to even think that that boundary, that very simple, basic, obvious boundary, you as a human were entitled to that boundary. 

[00:36:01] And so what I want to say is, is, for all of the little girls out there, and little boys, but I’m just going to speak to the little girls right now. Um, because 99. 9 percent of the parents who come and sign up with me, even the very well intended great, you know, male parents. Um, 99. 9 percent of the time, it’s really the moms who dig in and, and do this work. So I’m going to speak to the, to the moms and the little girls. 

[00:36:38] So when little girls are not, don’t feel seen, and don’t feel allowed, they’re not allowed to like have normal human moments that sometimes involve shitty behavior when they’re shut down, when they’re called names like the big bad girl. When they ultimately, once they get old enough, they learn the fawn response of people pleasing. 

[00:37:05] Aryn: Mm hmm. 

[00:37:06] Randi Rubenstein: Because that, that worked when they were little tiny girls to eventually get people off their backs. If I just do what they want me to do they don’t really see the real me anyway. And I’m not going to let them see the real me because if they see the real me, they might have something to say about it too. And they don’t like the real me. They’ve already coined me the big bad girl.

[00:37:31] So I’m going to people please. And I’m going to please and appease as much as possible because that sort of keeps them off my back. And it, and it, and it allows me to feel temporarily safe. Safe from judge, right? Safe from judgment, safe from punishment, safe from shame messaging, safe.

[00:37:54] And so what, how that translates in an adult woman is wait, what? Like, lock my bathroom door? Shut my bathroom door? You mean take the towel rack off the bathroom door? Shut it? Get, wait, get a handyman out there to put, install a lock that actually works? 

[00:38:15] So I’m going to shut the bathroom door, then I’m going to lock it. Then if people bang on it, well, I’m going to tell all the people at a non relevant time that this is what I’m doing. This is what I’m doing from now on. Just so you know, when I’m in the shower, I’m not available and I won’t be responding. And then after I do these, these really, you know, 

[00:38:40] Aryn: Crazy, wild and crazy things. 

[00:38:41] Randi Rubenstein: Crazy, right? Like never occurred to me, shut a door, lock it. I’m also going to let them know. I won’t be responding to any banging on the door or knocks. Like I’ll get to you after I’m, my shower’s complete, but not before. Okay. So like, I know it sounds like, like we can laugh about it. It’s ridiculous. 

[00:39:06] Aryn: It sounds so ridiculous. 

[00:39:07] Randi Rubenstein: But I think this is so common, Aryn, in so many different ways. I think you know, it’s what I was saying at the beginning, like we use the good words and the gentle words and the concepts we talk about boundaries and how kids need boundaries and kids need structure. 

[00:39:23] But when you have the mom who is unfortunately the, the one person who is mostly responsible for doing the child raising, which it’s, it was never designed, we were never designed to be that way. And frankly, it doesn’t really work. But when you have one person who comes from that kind of conditioning, and then I’m over here saying pack leadership is important. So you are the leader of your family team, your, your little pack and, and so boundaries are important. Boundaries hold people accountable and blah, blah, blah, blah, blah. Until we go into the roots of that conditioning, and you have a team of people who get it, who are also probably conditioned in some way, shape or form in that way. And, and now we’re all working together, supporting each other to undo that faulty conditioning together. 

[00:40:29] Aryn: Well I think first to even understand the conditioning and to understand how it shows up in your day to day life, because I think that a lot of people who are raised with that kind of conditioning don’t even know it or see it, if that makes sense.

[00:40:49] Randi Rubenstein: I agree. I mean, think about like when you came in, you know, I think a lot of it was you couldn’t see it. You were just in survival mode. It was overwhelm, it was survival. Things were often volatile between the boys. It was stressful. You were just in survival mode. 

[00:41:09] Aryn: I was in overwhelm and I didn’t even know what I didn’t know. I didn’t even know that I was in overwhelm and I was just in survival and I couldn’t even implement anything because I was just living in survival mode. 

[00:41:25] Randi Rubenstein: When we get back to why, why we can have the kind of conversations, productive conversations, even with so much diversity in our small little group. Um, you know, the Dalai Lama, there’s like a famous quote by the Dalai Lama that it’s Western women, the Western, western women of the world are going to save this planet or something like that.

[00:41:51] And it’s like, here we are a group of women who have all learned what it looks and feels like to truly step into this, you know, leadership arena in our lives. First and foremost in our, within ourselves, in our families, right? And um, and what we’ve seen, you know, you and I both have seen is so many people in our Mastermind, you included, like, then take that and go out into the world and do all kinds of things. Whether it’s in their career, whether it’s in organizations that they, you know, they, causes they care about, getting involved. 

[00:42:36] We learn about this and we, we heal in a way where I don’t even want to use that term, but it’s like we undo that faulty conditioning, that we couldn’t even see before. And it’s like this supportive sisterhood that sort of helps us to do it. And then we’re like, oh, really, I just need to like take the towel rack off the door, get a lock put on, lock the door, close the door, oh, and tell the people, hey, this is changing. I will now be taking a 20 minute shower uninterrupted and if anyone interrupts me, I won’t be responding. The door will be locked. Just know, you’re not welcome in there. I’m not interested in hearing from you. You can ask me when I’m done with my shower. 

[00:43:22] And so those, all those simple ways we start to have boundaries in our life and, and see ourselves. Right. See ourselves as the humans that deserve to take a freaking 20 minute shower in peace. And then we start to advocate for ourselves. Like, it’s something so simple and so little, but it’s really not 

[00:43:51] Aryn: I think that it takes being with other people who either have gone through the process or in process of going through the process to really, you know, be there and cheerlead you on and, like, point you in the right direction and say, like, yes, this is okay, because I think that it’s something that so many of us with that faulty conditioning don’t even think is okay. Right?

[00:44:20] Like, I can’t, I can’t do that. Like, my kid could die in those 20 minutes. They might be fighting. They might need new batteries in their, you know, PlayStation remote. They might need, they might need microwave mac and cheese in those 20 minutes, you don’t even…

[00:44:35] You don’t even know that you are entitled to those 20 minutes. Nobody tells you. And you need a lot of times, like a lot of cheerleaders, like in your corner telling you, like, yes, it’s okay. Like, it’s okay to do that for yourself, or it’s okay to go out, you know, to dinner on a Saturday night with or without your husband. Like, it’s okay to do all of these things that when you have grown up… 

[00:45:03] You know, I can only speak for me and my faulty conditioning. Like, none of those things felt okay. Like, I felt like if I was doing those things, I was neglecting something else and disappointing somebody. And my job was to be home and around at every minute for all of those people, 

[00:45:21] Randi Rubenstein: To people please, 

[00:45:22] Aryn: Well, I was going to say prove my value, prove my worth. 

[00:45:26] Randi Rubenstein: Well, that’s, that kept you safe growing up. I mean, that’s that fawn response. It’s a survival… 

[00:45:32] Aryn: I’m not sure it kept me safe, but in theory, yes, it should have. 

[00:45:36] Randi Rubenstein: But it, but that, 

[00:45:37] at some point in your childhood, you learned that survival response and it must have been something that worked to get them your back, to get them to stop shaming and blaming or harming you in some way. And so therefore you were like, I mean, the only reason we have patterns is because at some point they served us and they worked for us, right? They were better than the alternative. 

[00:46:05] Aryn: Yes, I think that’s right. When they worked, they were better than the alternative, and they didn’t always work, or maybe… there were times I think, I can only talk about me, that I was like, yeah, no, like I’m not, like this just is so not okay that I’m going to have a big response and I’m going to suffer the consequences, but I, you know, I don’t know that I ever, like, consciously thought that, but, like, I think there were times that I was like, I’m just not playing this game right now. Like, this is so wrong

[00:46:36] that I’m just going to, like, suffer the consequences and stand up for myself. But it always led to badthings happening. 

[00:46:45] Randi Rubenstein: But ultimately I would say based on your lack of boundaries, giving into constant badgering behavior, in all the relationships in your life, whether it was your dad calling and calling and calling and calling and you not realizing you don’t have to answer. Or the boys like, you know, coming in, coming in, coming in when you’re taking a shower and realizing you get to lock the door and not, respond until your shower’s over, you know?

[00:47:18] Or, you know, or your husband, trying to push you to talk about something and talk about something when you’ve told him I’m not talking about this anymore. Like when we’re all calmer like I am not, this is not this is not gonna work. I’m not talking about this when we’re all upset and heated. This is going nowhere. 

[00:47:37] Aryn: That’s still a hard one. 

[00:47:37] Randi Rubenstein: Right, 

[00:47:38] Aryn: But yes, yes, 

[00:47:40] Randi Rubenstein: But that is badgering behavior. And where does that badgering behavior come from? It comes from you not even being able to see that you can put down a rule where for yourself, like I have a boundary where I will not respond to this and this and this. I will not. Right?

[00:48:05] And there, that is so hard because I think that, for so many people who were conditioned with this fawn survival response, um, it’s so foreign because the fawn, you know, the people pleasing survival response has served you for so long, in some way, that it’s just what feels normal. And so, right, so like, so like for somebody like me to come in and say, like, you’re the leader of your pack, you got to show up in leadership. And it’s like, but what, how? 

[00:48:42] Aryn: What does that look like? How does that even work? 

[00:48:44] Randi Rubenstein: And that’s why I think people stay in our Mastermind for years because it’s like, wait, what? You know? And I think, you know, it’s more than cheerleading. I’ve seen you transform as a human being. But I think the real transformation has been you feeling safe in a community where you show up authentically as you and, you’re incredibly, I mean, you know this cause we’ve said this about you. So many of us picked up on this about you before you even, I think, tell me if I’m wrong on this, but before you picked up on yourself, that you have a skillset. Like you are truly a master of empathy.

[00:49:28] Aryn: Yeah. it’s funny. I don’t even think I knew what that word was before I came into Mastermind, actually. 

[00:49:33] Randi Rubenstein: Yeah. Like we, like, whenever you were responding to anyone else’s scenario, it’s just like the way you responded was always just fully seeing that person and also like really being able to understand what they might be feeling without, 

[00:49:54] Aryn: I think also, I’m sorry to interrupt you, I think that also, I don’t know that it comes from being a people pleaser. I think it was what allowed me to survive as a people pleaser. And I think I’m not thinking about within my family now, the four of us, I’m not even really thinking about my family of origin. I’m thinking more about like social relationships and I think I’m having a 

[00:50:26] Randi Rubenstein: It it, helped you to belong. Like if you saw people, like the thing that was most painful to you, which is not feeling seen for who you really are in your family of origin. You went out into the world and looked for that sense of belonging and the way you found your sense of belonging was by truly seeing other people. The way you wanted to be seen for who you were, you did that for others and you found a sense of belonging with friends, 

[00:50:57] Aryn: Yes, that’s, that’s, exactly right. 

[00:51:00] Randi Rubenstein: Which, you know, so it had served you. So we saw you do that in the Mastermind. And just by like pinpointing that thing and I could be totally wrong on this hypothesis, but it feels like when we saw you and, and how you see other people, how you really are skilled at helping other people to feel seen, it helped you to feel seen. 

[00:51:30] Aryn: Yeah, I think that’s right. I was going to say, I think it also, like, helps define a sense of purpose like, I’m not sure that purpose feels like the right word, but I think it helps, yeah, it helps me define who I am. 

[00:51:47] Randi Rubenstein: Well, I think it’s, your pack leadership, you’ve stepped into more and more and more pack leadership within your family and your own life. Because by being seen, it helped you to remember who you actually really are and always were. 

[00:52:07] Aryn: Hmm. Interesting. Yeah, that makes sense. 

[00:52:11] Randi Rubenstein: And wouldn’t that, you know, wouldn’t that just make anyone feel more confident in themselves? I mean, think about, it, I don’t know if you, cause you might just be too close to it, but like all the areas of your life where, there’s just so much more confidence. I feel so much more confidence coming from you. Like you’re just not swirling and overwhelmed and, constantly like, questioning ever, I remember there was a decision one time where you were like dragging back and forth about like ordering towels or something. 

[00:52:46] Aryn: Oh, the towels, the dog leash, everything. 

[00:52:50] Randi Rubenstein: I was like, I I was like, who fucking cares? Just order some towels. If they’re the wrong ones, then you’ll order more and donate those. Like it’s fine. like put, attach money to the time you’re wasting and, you know, and the service you’re feeling about these freaking towels. Just order some, just make a decision, even if it’s the wrong one, just make one. And so now like you make decisions. I mean, think about Simon’s Bar Mitzvah. You were like, you just started… 

[00:53:17] Aryn: And I think I’m able to teach my kids who saw me sit in indecision for so long and they sit in indecision and every decision to them feels hard. And I think that I’m able to help them say like, okay, this is not a big decision, like, or this is hard because it is a big decision, or you have two right answers, neither one is bad, like, choose the one.

[00:53:40] Like, I have been able to, show them without using those words, but like the areas where I have grown, I have taught them to grow, or I’m teaching them to grow as well. Because I don’t think that I was able to give them skills until I had them. 

[00:53:57] Randi Rubenstein: Yeah, they learn by what we model and you couldn’t fake that. You can’t really fake leadership, you can’t really fake confidence. You have to actually do what you need to do to to get there, and I think that’s what your story, it’s like when I think about yours, you know what this is all about I think this is all about like like stepping into true pack leadership in your family and in your life. But really. But really, it’s about feeling seen and remembering who you really are and always were. 

[00:54:39] Aryn: I feel like that’s still a work in progress, but I mean, it took 40, you know, maybe we’ll say 46 years to get to where I was. And for the last year and a half, I think that that really is like, who am I supposed to be when I grow up? 

[00:54:56] And that’s not just professionally, but I think that that’s a piece of it. But like, all of it. Like, who was I always before I was the big bad girl? And I was like forced into that role. And who am I going to be? And I, you know, I don’t know, like, I feel like that’s sort of like a, a moving target for me. And as things, things in like the rest of the world start to happen, I feel like those pieces are still evolving. 

[00:55:32] Randi Rubenstein: Me too. Yeah. 

[00:55:33] Aryn: And so I’m sort of glad that I haven’t like jumped into something. Because I don’t think that I actually know what that thing is supposed to be yet. 

[00:55:42] Randi Rubenstein: Right. You’re becoming, it’s evolving. I think this is, think this is the human, like this is how we evolve. This is what we’re supposed to do. 

[00:55:52] Aryn: And I think also, like, I’m taking… chances and putting myself into uncomfortable situations that I wouldn’t have done in the past because I, I am more comfortable with who I am and what I have to offer. 

[00:56:09] Randi Rubenstein: More confident. Yeah, Yeah, it’s beautiful. I love it. We could talk all day. 

[00:56:15] Um, okay. That being said, thanks for listening this week. Hope you got something out of this conversation as I always do, anytime I have a chance to sit next to this amazing human who I love, love, love, love, love. Um, until next week, bye for now.

[00:56:32] 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 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.

[00:57:07] 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. 

[00:57:40] 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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by Randi Rubenstein