Gifts Don’t Always Come with Fancy Bows

When we met for the first time I could hardly hear Elaine. She alternated between whispering and crying. As a mom of 4 children, she was upset by the most recent parent teacher’s meeting she’d attended for her eldest daughter. Her daughter’s grades were great, but the teacher pointed out that her daughter’s self-confidence was not.

It was heartbreaking.

Elaine had done everything to ensure that all of her kids would be happy and bright and yet here was Jess, struggling – just like she had.

 

Worse still when she spoke to her daughter, Jess confessed that she was terribly afraid she would disappoint her parents.

That last piece had brought Elaine to see me.

It was all too familiar.

She had lived with the sadness of being a disappointment to her parents her whole life. 

 

Her brother and parents were very close.

Elaine was not. Loving and affectionate, she’d reached out for hugs her whole life only to be told that displays of affection were not something they did. It felt for her as though her brother had received all the love there was, and she had gotten just a drop here and there and now there was Jess.

Elaine had heard that patterns can be inherited, and it was clear to her that somehow her daughter was repeating the insecurity and sadness she had felt. In fact, it still hurt. 

Her mother and father had both come from broken families with distant parents. Their mothers had needed to work really hard to make ends meet. Affection hadn’t been readily available. Somehow her brother could fit in, but she could not. She had always longed to be seen and loved and her heart still ached for what she hadn’t received. 

We spoke about patterns and connections to parents and she became even more upset. There was nothing of value that she could take from them and she didn’t know how to feel good enough about herself to pass that onto her daughter.

Several times she mentioned that all she’d gotten were the odd drops of love.

 

I asked Elaine what she was like as a mother? Distant – cold? 

For the first time she lit up and her eyes twinkled. “No!” she declared firmly. “I have so much love to give and I do! I am the mom who bakes, cooks, loves even though I work a full job. I love my family and they know it.” 

And there it was. The drop of gold.

Sometimes gifts don’t come in pretty paper and our strengths aren’t always grown on easy street. And we don’t always recognize the change agents that we are or the chapters that only we can write. 

 

“Those drops of love?” I asked. “You speak about those as though they were important?” 

“I treasured every little piece I got,” Elaine said softly. “I was determined that my kids would get to know every day that were loved. I am very proud of that.”

“So, you took the drops and grew them into something wonderful.” I pointed out. It really sounds like you treasured them and grew the treasure.” 

“I’d never looked at it that way,” Elaine responded. “I guess I really did, and I give my brother and parents all the love I can. They think it’s silly, but they tolerate it I guess.” Her face fell again. “Maybe it’s all silly.”

“Or not?” I offered. “We live a large part of our lives in response to patterns. Some strong and some limiting and yet we have the ability to change them at any time. You came from a legacy of sadness and withdrawal and yet perhaps the system was looking for another way. It needed someone to bring the love and connection back in.”

“Through me?!” Elaine sat all the way up in her chair. “Oh, my goodness!”

“Someone had to be willing to do it differently.” I pointed out. “Your family was lovingly following a pattern and there’s something special about the way you have brought the love and connection in.”

“I swore I would do it differently,” Elaine said softly. “I still love them though.”

“They sparked your change,” I said. “And for that, you owe them thanks. Showing love is your gift of change to the system. You and your husband bring what they couldn’t but they started your journey.”

 

Elaine got it.

She was the change agent in the family.

She had a purpose and that she could pass onto her daughter Jess. 

 

We often grow in collusion with or reaction to the system and Elaine’s case it was in spite of the system. Sometimes in life the spark that makes us different and special may not come from a place of joy or ease and yet it is no less special. When we can see the gifts that are trying to emerge for and through us, life becomes a place of joy where we flourish. 

Systems are elegant things they are always in service of our highest good if we only look. 

It’s Not Just About Showing Up

I know we are told that showing up in your life over and over again will get you results and while that’s true it’s not the entire secret sauce. 

When you keep showing up over and over again shift will happen but recently I’ve been struck by additional ingredients that can make all the difference.

Elevated emotion, belief that something more is possible here and self-ambition – wanting more and daring to go there.

Together these combine to open the head, heart, and gut which creates a state of increased awareness and possibility. Now what we tell ourselves has a chance to change from the tried, trusted and sometimes limiting systemic beliefs we have to a new possibility.

Once you show up in that state over and over again, you start creating new sentences and new truths. Now you are moving beyond the old family sentences and mindsets, or the ones you have created in response to an event and you are no longer trapped and living someone else’s history.   

If you increase your level of showing up and begin to add in elevated emotions like joy, kindness, love or gratitude, a knowing that something different is possible and the determination to go there, your language changes. Your thoughts and emotions change and with it your actions and self-talk change. Suddenly your world is no longer the same.     

Your Systemic Sentences

You begin to move from:

“I’m not good enough/smart enough/strong enough” to “I am learning/ I can do this/I am doing this/I belong here.”

Now you’re no longer caught in the past but are solidly positioning yourself to write your own chapter and build a future you like. We are stronger self-magic makers than we imagine.  

Love the sentences you tell yourself every day – your systemic sentences. Don’t treat them as limiters. Instead, use them to identify where you may be stuck or looking to move to a higher level.

Then notice what you really want, how you want to feel and then dare to go there. 

 

Here’s a quick exercise to jumpstart your own showing up with a sprinkle of elevated emotion, possibility, and self-ambition. I’d love to hear what happens for you all when you add these additional ingredients. 

Exercise:

  • Please write down one way you would like your life to change/ be more/ grow
  • Now write down all the things you tell yourself that limit you from getting there. 
  • Who said that first? Was it you or does that language/mindset live in your family somewhere? 
  • To whom or to what event might these sentences belong.
  • What more is possible here that you would like to see for yourself?
  • Write down how you will show up consistently
  • Add one elevated emotion that you will add that you can feel as you write it down
  • What can you tell yourself about the way you are changing your life?
  • For the next 21 days, I want you to feel and embody the way you have just designed. 

Come and Find out at the Emotional DNA Workshop

I Won’t Be Okay!

Systemic Sentences

Events in our lives can trip us up.

They happen.

We make a decision.

And never realize that we have just set a mindset in motion that may run our lives subconsciously yet powerfully until we make another decision.

Mindsets are powerful creatures and sometimes they have traveled generations to get to us. I refer to this as inheriting your emotional DNA and studies have now demonstrated what we already knew. That unresolved trauma can pass from generation to generation. And that it can pass down via sentences we don’t even realize we carry or that they have weight.

Let me tell you about James:

James came to see me because he was struggling to connect with his wife.

It had all begun many years ago when his mother died after a lengthy illness. His girlfriend at the time was struggling with her own issues and so he had nowhere to turn for comfort.

This had become a pattern. Every time things were rough he would reach out to the ones closest to him, only to find that they need his strength and he was exhausted. He was finding himself reaching out to anyone however inappropriate because he needed to feel okay so that he could be strong at home.

I asked him two things:

  • How had his father done with the situation?
  • What did he remember telling himself about what was happening?

His father, he said had become both strong, yet needy and he remembered his father telling him that how he had struggled when his own mother died. The children had wondered why their father had so many women so fast after their mother died.

At that moment James could see part of his own pattern. His father had probably wanted someone to connect with for his own grief and had had to be strong for the children.  Then James looked up startled. We’d been talking earlier about language and how the words we say can create a trap for us. 

“When the news of this came,” he said. “I told a colleague of mine I will not be okay.”

He looked at me and said: “And I haven’t been okay since then.”

We spoke about his mother and about really saying goodbye, for now, something he hadn’t been able to do. 

“Just like my dad couldn’t,” he realized. “Now I get it.”

 

Then we looked at gifts from her that he loved and that gave him the strength that he could take with him so that he would finally be able to tell her and himself that he would be okay.

He realized that he’d also been repeating his father’s feelings and living a multi-generational pattern of not knowing how to reach out or be okay when traumatic events happened. Already one of his children was showing signs of withdrawing when things were difficult and that allowed James to see how important it was to break the pattern.

When James could tell his wife what was going on, he found that she’d been longing for him to come to her for support but had given up, deciding she couldn’t change this piece of him, and she was right. He had to do that. 

 

His business began to take a different turn too.

No longer afraid that he would not be okay if something awful happened, James found himself expanding into areas he had deemed too risky. 

“Once I knew I would be okay, everything changed for me,” he said. “My mother would like to see who I am becoming.”

Systemic Sentences

The things we tell ourselves become sentences in our system. We call those systemic sentences and often when we look back through the generations of our family or organizations we can trace the sentences and actions that subconsciously run our lives and careers.

Once we gain insight into those pieces and see them for what they are – simply the meanings we have made and turned into ‘the truth’, we are able to mindfully create a different truth that serves and guides us.

In systemic work and constellations, we say the limiting cycle has been broken. 

Once that happens, you are no longer living your history, you are creating a future.  

Come and Find out at the Emotional DNA Workshop