Much as I love working with my clients and seeing the transformation unfold, there’s one thing I love even more: reconnecting with them and hearing just how much it impacted their lives long-term.
Three years ago, I worked with Chana* to help her learn how to guide her newborn in getting the sleep she needed so they could all have sleep and sanity. I was just developing what is now my trademark KinderWink newborn sleep method, and she was blown away by how well her little newborn (then just 3 weeks old!) was able to learn to sleep in the months we worked together.
I’ve heard from her here and there since, and earlier this week, it was a treat to touch base with her again.
Her “baby” (number 4 in the family) is now nearly 3, and she’s expecting her 5th.
And boy is she tired. And nauseous.
Between her job, her kids, her house and this pregnancy -- nausea, vomiting, exhaustion (you know, all the fun stuff), she feels so drained.
And much as she keeps telling herself that it’s a bracha (it is!) and that her youngest isn’t even that little so it “shouldn’t” be so hard… it’s still so hard.
We talked about some management techniques and then I shared with her the number one thing to do when you’ve got a lot on your plate.
It blew my mind when I first saw it, blew her mind when I shared it with her - so now let’s blow your mind.
Like I’ve discussed in some other posts (like this one and this one), we aren’t living life objectively. Every situation we live with and every experience we encounter is filtered through the lens of our thoughts.
But here’s the thing about our thoughts: we can’t control them.
We have no control over which thoughts we do think and which thoughts we don’t think; Hashem sends our thoughts into our heads, and those thoughts create feelings -- both physical sensations in our bodies and emotional feelings.
(Take a minute to process all of that, please. I know it’s deep and very complex even as it seems simple on the surface.)
What we do choose, though, is how we relate to those thoughts.
Do we dismiss them? Do we beat ourselves up over them? Do we allow them to be there? Do we harp on them? Do we act on them? Do we live in them? Do we wallow in them? Do we accept them and move on?
So many different things we can do once those thoughts come into our lives.
Reality, the objective, unfiltered what’s-actually-going-on-in-your-life reality can be a lot at times.
It could be that you do have a lot of balls in the air. Could be that there’s a major life event, that you have a physical woe or ailment, that you have a lot that needs to be taken care of.
And sometimes (oftentimes) thrown into that mix is a bracha.
For Chana, it was her pregnancy.
For you, it might be having lots of little kids. It might be having a bunch of family simchos all at once, it might be yomim tovim. It might be any one of a number of things -- or could be a whole bunch of things at once.
And, when all that everything is going on, it can feel really hard.
So: It’s hard! our minds begin to chant.
All too often, we try to shush it.
“But it’s a simcha!” we tell ourselves.
Or, “How could I complain -- I know so many people who wish they were expecting/had a baby!” Or -- even stronger: “I’ve waited so long for this baby!”
But shushing usually doesn’t work. That thought just comes right back around - sometimes even stronger than before.
So here’s the thing about those thoughts and feelings: feeling is normal. It’s a normal, healthy part of the human experience.
And it is always okay to feel. Always.
For us and for our children.
(As I tell my twins: it’s okay to be upset that [fill in name of offender] did [fill in offense]. It’s not okay to [whatever nekama she did/wanted to do].)
And the same way that we would balk at hearing someone say “But you should appreciate it!” to our child, to our friend, to our sibling, when something is difficult --- let’s remember that we, too, shouldn’t be speaking to ourselves that way.
So what is that mind-blowing thing that I told Chana?
When things feel hard, and you’ve got a lot going on, give yourself some space for compassion.
It’s okay to feel overwhelmed.
It’s okay when brachos feel hard.
Allow yourself to feel those feelings, think those thoughts, and give yourself some compassion. It does feel hard. You do have a lot going on. It can feel miserable to be drained. It doesn’t feel good to be nauseous and vomiting.
Chana felt like she had to “change” her thinking, give herself new thoughts, not feel so exhausted and icky and overwhelmed all the time.
Just giving her permission to feel that way, and helping her create the space for compassion for her very tired, nauseous and hard-working self was mind-blowing.
What can you give yourself compassion for today?