I promised Magnus we could shovel our steep driveway before we left for school because we had our first dump of snow.
Once we finished breakfast, packed Magnus’s lunch, and I had him dressed and ready to go, I slipped into the bathroom to put on my makeup. I don’t wear much, so it only takes a few minutes. Afterwards we’d head outside to play and shovel.
Every 30 seconds Magnus would throw open the bathroom door whining, “Is it time to go outside yet?” or “When are we goooooooing? It’s taking too long,” or “When are you done?”
I carefully put down the mascara wand and felt my heart and mind racing. I was triggered. With every cell of my being I wanted to slam the door and scream at him to leave me alone for 5 goddam minutes!
Instead, I took a few deep breaths and then proceeded to beat the shit out of myself for getting triggered in the first place. After all, he’s not even 5. He’s a kid, he’s supposed to be overwhelming, I reasoned. If I was a better mom, I wouldn’t get triggered or annoyed…I’m not a good mom I’m not a good mom I’m not a good mom…
One of my favorite phrases these days is “yes, and.” This phrase acknowledges that two things can be true at the same time and makes space for self-compassion, which is often in short supply.
Yes, I’m feeling triggered AND I’m a good mom.
Yes, kids are overwhelming by design, AND this still feels hard right now.
Yes, I want to make my son happy, AND I wish I had a few minutes alone.
Holding two things at the same time allows both be true taking away the conflict and blame. By saying “yes, and” you are acknowledging the discomfort of what is upsetting AND offering self-compassion which everyone needs and deserves.
This doesn’t mean I did anything differently in the moment. I still invited my little guy into the bathroom with me to help him regulate while he waited for me to finish putting on my mascara.
However, by acknowledging this felt hard it and offering self-compassion it calmed the emotional charge and my nervous system.
One thing I’ve learned the hard way, because sometimes I’m the slowest learner, is that we can’t hate ourselves better. The more shame and blame we offer ourselves the harder it is to become the versions of ourselves that we want to be.
Self-compassion has loads of studies that shows it helps builds our resilience, helps us see our inherent value while addressing things we want to change, and helps tune out the Inner Critic which holds us back from living the lives we most want to live and becoming the women we most want to be.
Growth and change can only happen when we feel safe and supported enough to do so. We can be that safety and support for ourselves. This is an ongoing practice for me, I hope it’s one that helps you too.
Bonus points if you lay a hand on your heart while you do so. It allows your inner wisdom and heart connect to your intellectualizing mind so they can be in dialogue with each other.
Let me know your thoughts in the comments below.