Holding Space

I believe that the more self-aware we are as parents, the better we are at holding space for our young adults and allowing them the process of finding their way through this beautiful, hard, excruciating, and sweet gig of life. If you are wondering what self-awareness is, it entails being attuned to your inner world and your motives and desires, and having the ability to monitor your behaviors, emotions, and thoughts so that you act more consciously and more compassionately. 

With increased self-awareness, we are able to allow our children more space to grow and evolve without having a set agenda of what we think they need to be to be okay. Their beings are less about us and more about them. We tend to think that they are a reflection of us and our parenting, and I think to a certain degree that is true. But when it comes to figuring out the question Who Am I?, this is theirs to answer and ours to respect and hold space for them to explore. Instead of trying to fix our young wobbly insecure adults, or shield them from the pain and struggle, or solve their problems, consider holding space for them and teaching them how to feel their feelings, go through the hard and messy, and build a skill set to problem solve on their own. What about just letting them be angry, or sad, or scared and not doing anything to take it away, but to be with them as they figure it out. Unconditional love and support, guidance, stability, and reassurance is really the best we can give to our budding adults.

Teaching our children to be comfortable in the uncomfortable, to feel the sad, to express the anger without exploding and inflicting pain on others, and to acknowledge the fear without covering it up. These are the ingredients to build health and wellness and emotional resiliency. As a society, we have taken a path of shielding our children from the hard and not teaching them how to express their feelings and behave in ways that serve them while also taking accountability through their own self-awareness. Many of our young adults are depressed, irritated, and anxious. Is it any wonder?

Instead of fixing the hard, maybe choose to listen instead. Ask questions. Hold her. Hold him. Gently inquire about what is going on and help them process through their emotions. Do they want advice or support? Why are they feeling sad? Insecure? Angry? What are the thoughts that they are having on repeat that are only perpetuating their feelings? Is there another thought that they can have that softens these feelings and allows for some relief? 

One of life’s biggest secrets is that feeling our feelings will not swallow us whole. Sadness, anger, and fear always feel like they will take us down and render us powerless, but once you feel any and all feelings, they eventually release. They move through you, usually within minutes. The gift of having a parent or friend with whom to feel them allows for a bringing together. It strengthens your bond. It builds confidence. Resiliency. And most importantly, it offers the soothing properties necessary to know that feelings are to be felt but they won't stick around for long if we give them their due. Your feelings offer excellent data points for understanding who you are and how you are wired. You don't have to act on them. Learn from them and what they are telling you, and then respond from a place of awareness. You are going to be okay. Even in the struggle, it's all good. 

You Are Not Defective

I have worked with hundreds of young adults who are insecure and do not feel good enough. Just because you feel insecure does not mean that something is wrong with you! In fact, it is developmentally appropriate. It means that you are human and you are in the messy and beautiful business of finding your fit and figuring out who you are. This journey of self-exploration can be glorious and miserable, enriching and painful, sweet and angsty. 

Your job as a human and young adult is to figure out who you are, and in the same breath, appreciate your sense of individuality. It isn't about morphing into who you think you should be or who others might desire you to be. It is about you figuring out YOU and putting the pieces together to create your masterpiece. It is about becoming YOU very well. Find your fit. Understand your leanings. Work with your strengths, and compensate for your weaknesses. If you are struggling with this a bit, find support. Seek therapy. Get excellent medical care. Consider medication if necessary. Own it all. Love it all. Ask for help where and when needed, and get to work! 

Social media is presenting a very alluring but dangerous and inauthentic picture of connection, belonging, and happiness. What you see on your instagram and snapchat accounts is not real. It is an airbrushed version of life. When you stay on the surface, there's no real connection and meaning. Is it any wonder that you struggle to feel whole and good enough with this as your bar? Seriously, people! Stop the crazy. Take a social media hiatus. Fast from your phone for a day. Or two. Feeling defective is commonplace now. You are being sold a bill of goods. You are so far from defective. There is nothing wrong with you.

Wherever you are in this moment, you are exactly where you are meant to be, and it is your job from this day forward to build a relationship with yourself that is about curiosity, compassion, growth, and love. Start journaling. Take walks. Go for a run. Meditate. Get to know the different parts of yourself. The light, the dark, the in-between. It's all good. 

Dig in, be present, conscious, and question everything that isn't working for you. Tweak where needed. Get help. Work hard. Try, try, try again. And all the while, walk this journey with yourself and find the path that honors your gifts, creates connection, cultivates purpose, and contributes to the greater whole. I believe in you! Now, get moving -- the world needs messy and beautiful you! ox

Being Good Company for Others

There are some people that are genuinely a delight to be around. You know these gems by how you feel when you are in their presence. The exchange flows seamlessly. You are at peace. You’re engaged. You feel seen, known, and loved. You look forward to crossing paths with them, and you always feel like the visit was a worthwhile and meaningful use of your time.

What makes these people such lovely company? When someone is comfortable in their own skin, they are able to be with others without judging themselves against others. If they compare, it is more from a place of curiosity and growth, not from one-upmanship. They are open to evolving. There isn't this need to be better than everyone else. They often have their own share of insecurities and desire to be awesome, but they set an internal bar that is about being the very best version of themselves. It is about growth. Potential. Possibility. This kind of mindset allows for acceptance. Vulnerability. Being brave. Real. 

Being around insecure, disengaged, and arrogant people has a way of making others feel small because their need to be on top trumps all engagement and connection. They are not interested in really getting to know you because they are so focused on themselves and how others are making them look. It's all about self-referencing. In short, these people make it harder to be authentic because there is not a nourishing ingredient to their being. It is judgment based which only perpetuates defensiveness, fear, and lack of freedom to be vulnerable in a relationship. 

How can you be that nourishing being to both yourself and others where you enter all engagement from a place of curiosity and love? In friendship, this is where meaningful exchange occurs, and growth ensues. Operating from the mindset that there is always more, always enough strips away the need to be in competition. We're all in this together. 
 
At the core, our greatest fears are about belonging and being good enough. It is soul-sucking to be in a perpetual state of hustle to stay ahead of the curve and in front of being found out. We lose our ability to connect and be seen and known in relationship. The belief is that once we let our guard down, we are stripped naked and lose our lovability. I would argue that it is just the opposite. 

Consider "daring greatly" as Brene Brown would say, and drop the bullshit. Be that person that you like being around. By doing so, you make the world better by helping others be real; and you attract your tribe naturally. A rising tide lifts all boats. Why don't we be more of that for one another? People who are real and vulnerable, kind and curious, brave and scared, engaged and rooted. This is what it is to be human. Go be real. Namaste.