193: You don’t have to believe everything you think


In this short episode, I’m going to teach you a real, legit, bona fide magic trick.


And unlike most magic tricks which rely on sleight of hand to convince you of something that has happened when it really hasn’t, this one actually works. It helps you to see that things are not as bad as they seem, and that you can cope, even when things feel incredibly difficult and that you’re failing as a parent.


I asked four listeners to help me explain the concept to you, and how it has helped them, and one even went above and beyond and did a live demo for us!


Then I walk you through it step by step, so you can use it when you need it later.



Taming Your Triggers

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Sign up from February 18-28 and we’ll start on March 4. You can also sign up the FREE Taming Your Triggers Masterclass on February 15. Click the banner to learn more!




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Jump to Highlights

00:43 Introducing today’s topic

02:04 Words can influence our perceptions.

04:02 Anne shares three instances where questioning negative thoughts helped in avoiding unnecessary worry and misunderstandings.

09:46 Elizabeth, a Parenting Membership member for two years, highlights how Jen’s advice, using the phrase “I am having the thought that…,” helped her cope with a challenging parenting situation.

11:54 Melissa used self-compassion and questioning negative thoughts to find self-compassion and regain confidence.

13:11 Melissa highlights the core aspect of the “magic trick” by framing these thoughts as “I’m thinking” rather than absolute truths.

14:46 Jen calls listeners to try a mindful exercise where “I’m thinking that…” is added before self-judgments or judgments about others.

20:20 Adding “I’m thinking that…” before judgments can foster understanding, compassion, and better relationships, as demonstrated by Jen’s dishwasher experience.

25:07 Nicole shares how her meditation practice led her to explore the concept of not believing everything she thinks 

27:47 Recognizing our perspective isn’t the only truth can help us shift from self-centered thinking when hurt by someone.

28:36 The concept of not believing everything we think promotes a balanced perspective on our life stories.


Other episodes referenced

113: No Self, No Problem

141: The Body Keeps The Score with Dr. Bessel van der Kolk

175: I’ll be me; can you be you?

SYPM 014: The power of healing in community




Loftus, E., & Palmer, J.C. (1974). Reconstruction of automobile destruction: An example of the interaction between language and memory. Journal of Verbal Learning and Verbal Behavior 13(5), 585-589.





Hi, I'm Emma, and I'm listening from the UK. We all want our children to lead fulfilled lives. But we're surrounded by conflicting information and clickbait headlines that leave us wondering what to do as parents. The Your Parenting Mojo podcast distill scientific research on parenting and child development into tools parents can actually use every day in their real lives with their real children. If you'd like to be notified when new episodes are released, and get a free infographic on the 13 Reasons your child isn't listening to you (And what to do about each one), just head on over to YourParentingMojo.com/subscribe and pretty soon, you're going to get tired of hearing my voice read this intro. So come and record one yourself at YourParentingMojo.com/RecordTheIntro

Jen Lumanlan:

Hello, And welcome to the Your Parenting Mojo Podcast. Today, I want to introduce you to a magic trick. Yes, a real magic trick. It even makes things disappear. But the key thing about this trick is that anyone can learn how to use it. The method is not a secret. And while most magic tricks tend to leave a fleeting result, a moment of amazement at the moment you realize you haven't seen everything you thought you'd seen, the effects of this one are far more lasting, and also way more helpful. So what is this amazing magic trick I hear you ask? It's the idea that you don't have to believe everything you think.

Jen Lumanlan:

Now I totally get that if this is the first time you're hearing this, the idea of not believing everything you think may seem very, very strange. In our culture, we're basically taught that our thoughts are reality. If we think something, then that's how it is. There are optical illusions like the pictures where you see two halves of a white vase at the edge of an image, or a black vase in the middle, or the one of the older woman looking down and the younger woman looking up, which gives us just a hint of the idea that we can look at things from a different perspective. And that what we perceive through our eyes might be open to interpretation.

Jen Lumanlan:

And it turns out that a similar thing can happen with words. Dr. Elizabeth Loftus did some fascinating studies in the 1970s on this topic. In one study with Dr. John Palmer, they sat participants in front of videos of car accidents, and then asked them questions about what they'd seen. And when the researchers asked about how fast were the cars going when they smashed into each other, their participants estimated the cars had been going faster than when the researchers used the words collided, bumped, contacted, or hit instead of smashed. And a week later, the participants who heard the word smashed, were more likely to answer that they had seen broken glass in the film, even though the film didn't show any broken glass.

Jen Lumanlan:

So we might perceive that we're seeing something but our brains are highly suggestible. And it's possible to convince a person that certain things happened in a more exaggerated way, or even that things happened when they really didn't happen using words. But our culture teaches us that the thought in our brain is reality. If we think we've been hurt or wronged in some way, then that's reality. We have in fact, been hurt or wronged. But what if that's not the case? And what if that understanding could make parenting dramatically easier, because you wouldn't have to get so wrapped up in knots about the things that seem so difficult right now? And that getting yourself unwrapped, would help you to be with yourself and your family members in a way that's actually aligned with your values. While all of that is possible, and with the help us some listeners who use this tool a who find it really helps them, we're going to show you how to do it. So let's get started.

Jen Lumanlan:

Let's kick off by hearing it from listener Anne, who has been using this tool for a while and describes the different ways that it helps. She gives three examples, when she's worried about why a friend hasn't been in touch, when she's having a disagreement with her husband, and when her son is getting worked up about not getting the flavor of drink that he wanted.


So I wanted to share three specific examples of how not believing my thoughts has really helped me. I do this a lot. It's extremely helpful. One of the more helpful things I've learned in the membership, and yeah, so super recent examples. One was I had a friend who hadn't reached out very much this summer. And of course, my thoughts, you know, around that were "Oh, she doesn't like me, I made her mad. She doesn't want to be my friend anymore." I knew those probably weren't true. So I didn't worry too much about it. And lo and behold, yeah, she was just really busy. She picked up a bunch of extra shifts. She's in school. She has a son, Nina my kids' age, and there's just a lot going on. So that was really helpful to not have to worry about that so much. Another was ones where they actually weren't true, but it was so helpful when my partner or I had asked him to cook after asking him to go sit in the sun for an hour and watch my son play soccer and a really hot day. He didn't want to cook I hadn't communicated ahead of time. And he was really annoyed. And so I took the dog and walk. And I was thinking, you know, maybe he's not that annoyed, maybe I'm making the most of my head. And so I just put it out of my hand. And I'm like, not gonna worry about it until I know. And lo and behold, he was. We talked about it the next day, but it was still nice, that day, not to worry so much about it. And then the last example I'll share is with my son, I tried to practice it with my son. So my husband bought him a red Gatorade, and he wanted an orange Gatorade. And so he was like, "Dad doesn't like me. He doesn't want me to have the orange Gatorade. Like he doesn't know me." And I was like, you know, maybe the store didn't have orange Gatorade. Maybe they only had red. And so I gave them a few more examples. And so I'm trying to, you know, I'm trying to pass that along as well. So, yes, those are my examples. Thanks.

Jen Lumanlan:

So let's break these examples down, I think it's a bit easier to get the idea that your thoughts aren't always true when you hear someone else's thoughts. We can hear a explain why her friend hadn't been in touch over the summer. And we can immediately come up with 10 reasons why that might be the case. Her friend might have out of town visitors. She might have been out of town herself. She might have had a fight with our partner and didn't feel like talking. She might be supporting another friend who's having a hard time, and so on. We have no idea. Did you notice the common thread and the reasons why Anne thought her friend hadn't been in touch? Here they are again: She doesn't like me. I made her mad. She doesn't want to be my friend anymore. Me, me, me. It's all about me. And this is no bad reflection on Anne. We all want to be the star of our own show so we invent reasons why someone else's behavior is actually about us when from their perspective, it has nothing or very little to do with us at all. And when we think it's about us, we create suffering for ourselves. When Anne thinks she's done something wrong, or maybe that her friend is overreacting to something that didn't seem significant, Anne is creating suffering for herself. She is worrying about it, which is taking up some of her mental time and space, which means she has less capacity to be with her child. Maybe later that night, her son has a meltdown. and because Anne has spent all that time and energy worrying about what our friend thinks of her, she feels more tired, and she snaps her her son instead of being able to be with her son with calmness and compassion.

Jen Lumanlan:

Okay, let's move on to Anne's second example, which was when she thought her husband was feeling frustrated. And in this instance, it turned out that he was. She wasn't wrong. But she got to decide whether she was going to spend the rest of the evening thinking about her husband's frustration or not. If she had, she could have once again created a lot of suffering for herself, thinking about how she should take other people's feelings into account more and not do things that they find frustrating. But if she does that before, she even confirms that her husband is actually feeling frustrated, then at best, she's wasting her time. And at worst, once again, she's getting herself all wrapped up around an idea that may not have anything to do with what's really happening. Later, once she confirmed that he really did feel frustrated, they were able to discuss it and find a path forward.

Jen Lumanlan:

Her final example is with her son and here we can really see how much easier it can be to not believe your thoughts when it's someone else's thoughts. When her son doesn't get the drink flavor he wants he jumps right to how daddy doesn't like me and daddy doesn't want me to have the orange Gatorade and doesn't know me. And astute listeners may see the same thread coming up in an son's language as she uses: the Me, me, me, it's all about me. And in this example, it's actually pretty easy for and to see this probably isn't about you. This is probably about what flavor of drink the store had available. And that turned out to be the case. So Anne is able to help her son understand this idea now that she has only learned in her mid life, which may help to make his life a little bit easier.

Jen Lumanlan:

So next, here's Elizabeth describing situation when I walked her through the exercise that I'm going to share with you in a few minutes. We had a call scheduled to discuss something unrelated and she was a few minutes late and she arrived seeming very flustered very out of sorts. And I immediately abandoned the topic I thought we were going to discuss And I asked her what had happened and she described some of the challenges she had had with her children right before we got on the call. And so I'll let her describe what happened next.


My name is Elizabeth And I've been on the Parenting Membership for slightly over two years now. Recently, I got on a call with Jen. I just had a really difficult time with my little ones. Just bedtime struggles and I threatened, yelled and stormed off and was in pretty bad shape when I got on the call. Jen gently got me to reflect on the experience. We explored what I was thinking, which included things like, I've damaged them for life. I'm a terrible human being and a terrible mother. And then we went deeper in Jen asked me to use the words, “I am having the thought that…” right before my catastrophic statements, so I am having the thought that I am a terrible mother. I am having the thought that I have damaged them for life, that kind of thing. And I think just doing that immediately got me to relax. I could feel my shoulders, like go down. I could feel myself, calm down. And it was like, Ah, this is not the truth. It's just something I'm thinking. It's just things I'm making up in my head. It's just a story that I am creating. And from that vantage point, I was able to relax, I was able to find some self-compassion, I was able to begin thinking about how I could repair. And I just found it to be such a beautiful principle, such a helpful way to approach things to think you know, that it's just a thought that you're having, not the truth. And I've used this tool in other contexts as well. I've used it at work in my personal relationships, and I've just found it so helpful.

Jen Lumanlan:

So let's look at how to use this magic trick. When I put out a request for videos in the Parenting Membership, I didn't know what I was going to get. And I was delighted when Melissa responded with a video where she actually demonstrates the process live. So here's Melissa.


Hi, Jen, I really wanted to make this video for you. And I find a really hard. This is like my 20th attempt. And I realized that I could put into practice and maybe show you my practice. So here it goes. I'm thinking that I have nothing worthwhile to say. I'm thinking that I failed my children, far too many times that I'm such a hypocrite. I am thinking that this is for nothing. And a lot more thoughts. Too fast for me to say them quickly enough. But that's the example. You know, where that is going. And I stopped myself. And I think what if that isn't true? And what if that isn't true. And that settles me. And that gives me room to breathe into letting other thoughts and her kind of voice. And so it helps me practice self -compassion. And in making something that I really wanted to do, which is make this video for you. So I hope this helps.

Jen Lumanlan:

So Melissa starts by telling us just some of the thoughts that are running through her head. And they're coming so fast that she can't actually see them all. Sometimes it really can seem like we have no control whatsoever over our thoughts. And they just come into our brains, and many of them aren't very helpful at all. And Melissa isn't just thinking-- she's judging herself. She's telling herself that she has nothing valuable to contribute. She's not a good parent. And that's what these intrusive thoughts tend to be their judgments. And there's nothing wrong with judgments per se. They actually give us really useful information about what's important to us. And here we can understand that being perceived as articulate and competent and being able to make a valuable contribution to my work and to your learning is important to Melissa. We know that being a good parent is important to her because we hear her judging herself for not being a good parent and for messing up too many times. And that she can't make any changes that are big enough to make a difference to all of her work to be a better parent will end up being for nothing. And once again, you can hear Melissa very much being a star of her own show. This is all about her and her experience. And we're all doing this all the time. You probably also heard Melissa doing something that sounded strange. Instead of saying I have nothing to contribute, and I'm not a good parent, you heard her say, "I'm thinking I have nothing to contribute. And I'm thinking I'm not a good parent." It's basically the same as Elizabeth saying I'm having the thought that the exact wording isn't critical. So use whichever you prefer either way is the central part of this magic trick.

Jen Lumanlan:

I'm going to invite you to give it a try yourself. If you're in a place where you can do this safely. Please close your eyes if you'd like to do it. Obviously don't do this if you're driving. You don't have to close your eyes, but it may help you to focus your attention. So take a moment to get yourself comfortable. Take a breath or two to arrive in this moment. And now bring to mind something you've been struggling with recently with another person. Might be something with your child, or your spouse or anyone in your life. Please don't make it something really big for the purposes of this demonstration. You just want it to be big enough that you can get a sense for how this works without getting overwhelmed. So you might pick something that's about maybe a four or five or six on a scale of one to 10. And if you find yourself feeling overwhelmed, you can open your eyes, you can come out of the exercise. And so once you've brought your situation to mind, just allow yourself to go into story about it a little bit. So you might remember a bit about what you said to the other person, what they said to you, or what you wanted them to say and they didn't say. Now think about what are the implications of what happened? What effect did that have on you?

Jen Lumanlan:

How did it make your life difficult?

Jen Lumanlan:

What does this thing say about you as a person?

Jen Lumanlan:

Now you've brought these thoughts to mind, shift your attention to your body. What's happening in your body. Maybe your shoulders feel tense or you're clenching your hands or your breathing more shallowly. If you're new to checking in with your body, you might make a mental note of what you observe, because it's possible that feeling is a signal for you that something isn't right. And we'll come back to that when we're done with this exercise. For now, just allow your attention to be drawn wherever it wants to go in your body. And note what's happening in that place. And again, if this gets overwhelming, you can always open your eyes and come out of it.

Jen Lumanlan:

And now let's shift gears a bit. So bring to mind the judgment you were making about yourself or about the other person a few moments ago. So for Melissa, that would have been something like, "I have nothing to contribute, I'm not a good parent." Now let's do what Melissa did an insert the phrase, "I'm thinking that..." before each of their statements. So instead of I have nothing to contribute, you'll think to yourself, "I'm thinking that I have nothing to contribute."

Jen Lumanlan:

Instead of "I'm not a good parent," you'll think to yourself, "I'm thinking that I'm not a good parent." So whatever your judgement of yourself, or if the other person was insert the phrase, "I'm thinking that..." before it. Do that with as many of your thoughts as you can remember.

Jen Lumanlan:

And now check in with your body again. Is anything different? My hypothesis would be that like Melissa, you probably feel a little less tension, a little more spaciousness, a little more relaxed.

Jen Lumanlan:

Just take note of how that is showing up in your body.

Jen Lumanlan:

And then feel free to open your eyes whenever you like. And let's talk about what just happened.

Jen Lumanlan:

So you started out with your judgmental thoughts. You saw firsthand the suffering they cause you observed the tension in your body. And a really important thing to understand here is that the situation itself did not create that suffering. Nothing in the world related to your situation has changed in the last few minutes. Except if your situation was about getting interrupted and your child came into the room while you were trying to do the exercise. The only thing that changed was that you started thinking about it. And you got caught up in your judgments for a few moments because I asked you to do that. And then when you use the phrase "I'm thinking that...," you allowed for the possibility that your thought which had seemed like the truth is actually not the truth. It's just one explanation for what might be happening. And when you use the phrase, "I'm thinking that..." you open up the idea that there might be other potential explanations.

Jen Lumanlan:

And one example that I like to use in workshops that I run is about a time when I got sick of unloading our dishwasher. It's been broken for a really long time now, but when it was functional, I would unload it every single morning. And it wasn't really difficult, it wasn't really time consuming. And I knew that because I would do it in the three minutes that took my oatmeal to warm up in the microwave. But I was still feeling really annoyed. And the larger picture is that my husband likes to lie in bed scrolling through social media for a couple hours when he wakes up. And then he kind of strolls out for a leisurely breakfast sometime between nine a 10am. and by then I've done at least a couple of hours of work, and I've got breakfast ready for Carys and for me, and, you know, I'm usually I'm just feeling kind of annoyed. And so I started telling myself a story about how he was lazy, how he didn't see or appreciate the work that I do.

Jen Lumanlan:

And then one day, I picked a fight with him about it. And let's say it didn't go well. And a day later, I went for a long bike ride, which is where I sought out ideas I'm struggling with. And I said to myself, "I'm thinking that my husband is lazy, and that he doesn't see or appreciate the work that I do," which opened up the idea that maybe it isn't true. I'm not actually saying it isn't true, but just acknowledging that it's a possibility, we might find out he actually is lazy. He doesn't appreciate my work, just like Anne found out that her husband really did feel frustrated. Although since laziness is a judgment that one probably wouldn't turn out to be the case. So what if he isn't lazy? What if he doesn't not appreciate my work? What might be possible? Well, perhaps he works late into the night because he's a night owl and he's tired in the mornings, which sometimes really is the case? What if he just likes a slow start in the morning? What if he does see and appreciate my work, but chooses to share that on social media rather than thanking me for letting the dishwasher or acknowledging that I've unloaded it. Any of those things is possible, and maybe other things that I haven't even considered. But they only become possible when I let go of the idea that the story I'm telling myself is the only story and the true story. And "I'm thinking that" helps us to make that transition. From there, I can access a sense of curiosity about the situation. So why doesn't my husband unload the dishwasher. It also helps me to look more closely at my own needs. If I'm stuck on getting my husband to unload the dishwasher, I'm using the strategy of getting him to do that to meet my needs. What needs am I trying to meet? Well, probably for a collaboration, a sense of teamwork, as well as acknowledgement of the load that I'm carrying. And if I've gone to my husband and said something like, I'm really wishing I could feel more like we're on the same team. And I would appreciate some acknowledgement of the work that I'm doing to my face, rather than on social media, would you be willing to talk about ways to do those things with me? Chances are, he would have agreed to do that. And I'm at a much better place in my relationship with that conversation, rather than when I pick a fight. And I described the situation pretty often in workshops, And someone has suggested I get T-shirts made that say on the front, "It's not about the dishwasher." And that led to a long conversation about the massive volume of textile waste that Eurocentric countries produce and how donated clothes have decimated the clothing industries in many African countries, because it's hard for a domestic industry to compete against our free waste. And also, of course, the massive environmental impacts that cotton farming has, which seem way worse when someone buys a t-shirt, they won't wear very often. So at the moment, I'm resisting the it's not about the dishwasher T-shirts, but my husband does regularly throw up his hands in exasperation that we're trying to build a business, when my values and ideals is so counter to a lot of the ways that people make money. So the so that's one way, right? So this thing can help us in our daily interactions with the people around us. And I gave an example with my husband because I think it can be easier to understand these ideas in relation to another adult, but of course, we can use them with our children as well. What if our child answering back doesn't mean they don't respect us and that they're being deliberately obnoxious, but because they're still learning how to express themselves in a socially acceptable way when they're dysregulated? What if our child refusing to brush their teeth isn't about them being defiant and just regarding what's best for them, but it's actually about them wanting to have a say over what happens to their own body? When we get caught up in our version of the story. We only see how it affects us the me, me, me version, and we forget to consider the story that's going on in the other person's mind as well. When we can access that information, we find the curiosity we need to find compassion and to understand the needs the other person is trying to meet with their behavior. And maybe even find a way to meet both of our needs. Let's hear from listener Nicole, who shares how knowing this has helped her.


So not believing everything you think this is something I've worked on for a really long time. And honestly, a lot of it came from a very deep meditation practice. I've been meditator for many years. And a lot of that work is really, it's really that kind of exploration of what is self, I guess? And how do we come up with those ideas?And that's so aligned with kind of the stories that we tell ourselves. I think once, especially in this program, the Your Parenting Mojo program, I hadn't really been able to connect it to my youth and my parenting. It was more like just kind of this internal work for a while. But I realized that doing this internal work, gave me the space to even begin to think about other people's stories. I didn't have the capacity to think about somebody else who had harmed me. I was bitter, I was angry, I was sad. I was like, you know, all the things. I was watching how it impacted my life, like, sorry, for the language was sort of, "Screw you, I'm not gonna worry about your story." And once I was able, I guess, once I started learning other people's stories, as people who had impacted me, I could come from this just deeper place of understanding, it doesn't mean that it has to be leading to forgiveness, even if that's not the space, you know, that somebody is at. It's just having the ability to know somebody else's story, the choices that they made. I think for me, it was very healing, to think about these choices came from a place of their story. And that that story doesn't have to be my story. I get to make a choice in how my story lives out. But my story made more sense. And so that offered a lot of healing. And I think with the you know, not believing everything you think, if your story is only coming from the place of your story, my you know, my personal story, is what I think. And it can't take them the context of everything else. It's just not a full enough picture. And I couldn't get far enough in my own healing. That way. I could get far but not as far as I've come once I was able to kind of shift my story and extend that story. So I think that's all I have to share.

Jen Lumanlan:

When we think that we've really been hurt by someone, it can be especially difficult to find that curiosity about what was happening for the other person. We may not be able to get out of the me, me, me version of our story. When we consider the idea that our version isn't the only truth, then we may be able to find some curiosity about their story. And perhaps be able to see that they really were doing the best they could with the tools they had at the time. And probably as they were caught up in their story as well, and maybe not seeing the full impact that their actions had on us. And from there, we might be able to find a sense of forgiveness if we're in a situation where that's warranted. Even if it isn't the kind of situation where forgiveness is involved, we may still be able to find that compassion and curiosity which is still going to be helpful.

Jen Lumanlan:

So as we wrap up here, I want to connect ideas across a few previous episodes. This idea of not believing everything you think is one that's embedded in Buddhist thought. And I first learned it from Dr. Chris Niebauer in the No Self, No Problem episode. And then I asked Dr. Bessel van der Kolk about it in our conversation on his book, The Body Keeps the Score because a big part of his work is about developing a story about your experience. And there's ultimately a balance we're trying to strike. We're always trying to tell enough of a story about ourselves that it makes sense to us. We get into trouble when our stories don't make sense to us And when it has missing parts. And you can hear me building my own coherent story in the episode about my autism self-diagnosis, where I look at the struggles I've had in my life through the lens of that self-diagnosis and suddenly, everything makes a lot more sense than it did before. My story had more coherence than it had before and that felt really good to me. My self-diagnosis wasn't a burden. It was a huge relief to find an exploration for a bunch of things that had previously seemed like irritating personality quirks, particularly to other people I have to say. But at the same time returning to the No Self, No Problem idea, I have to hold that story with a sense of lightness, knowing that the whole thing is just a story. And Dr. Niebauer describes this idea the end of our conversation as being like watching our child's soccer or football match. And we can know that this game does not matter in the world in any meaningful way. And that it's just a bunch of kids running up and down a stretch of grass, kicking a ball. But that doesn't have to stop us from rooting for our child's team. And for cheering them on, we can know on one hand that it doesn't matter. And still be invested enough to participate. And that's really what we're trying to do in life as well. In the grand scheme of things in the universe, it doesn't matter in the slightest if I finished writing this episode, or if my book sells a million copies, or if I get hit by a bus on the street this afternoon. But that doesn't mean that I'm gonna abandon this episode or not drive to Seattle in a few days to continue the book tour. I'm still gonna play the game. But maybe I can hold it with a bit more of a sense of lightness and not get so caught up in my story that I can't see anyone else's story, which means that I don't feel so yanked around by my thoughts and feelings. They don't have as much control over me as they used to. It's like a bit of distance between me and them. So I can see them as things that will come and go, rather than the one and only truth about a topic. And from there, I really don't feel like everything's an emergency, that everything hurts so much, which means I'm better able to be emotionally regulated. And then from there, I can be with the people in my life from a place that's better aligned with my values. I certainly don't do it perfectly, I still have heated discussions. But for me, that actually represents a lot of progress because a couple of years ago, I would have just shut down, checked out because I couldn't cope. So not perfection, but a good deal of progress.

Jen Lumanlan:

So I hope you did the demo with me a few minutes ago, or you replay the episode and do it with me and then you give it a try when you find you're in a situation where you find you're telling stories, which are all about me, me, me and how much I've been hurt and how I'm messing this thing up. And then you'll know it's a great opportunity to practice this little magic trick.

Jen Lumanlan:

And I also want to point out one more thing that you may not have noticed in the videos that the listener has recorded, which was that in most of the situations, someone was being triggered, or flooded, or being triggered is a clinical definition where something that's happening today is reminding you of a trauma you experienced in the past. And if this isn't happening for you, you can still feel flooded, which may feel very similar, but it's more linked to things that are happening now. Perhaps you're feeling overwhelmed, because you've had too little rest, you haven't eaten enough today, and your child does something that pushes your buttons that by itself wouldn't be a big deal. But when you're already exhausted, it becomes a big deal.

Jen Lumanlan:

So let's cast our mind back through those videos and try to understand why these issues were a big deal for these parents. I was in touch with Anne about why she felt triggered by her friend's silence and she said that she was an only child who didn't have a great connection with her mom. So her friends were really important for meeting that need for connection, especially in her teenage years. And of course, in our patriarchal system, connection is something women are allowed to have. And you might remember from our conversation with Dr. Martina Gornick, that girls in school will often exclude each other from connection as a way of gaining social power. And the typical read on that behavior is that they're being mean. But my view which came to me via Dr. Lyn Mikel Brown is that they're doing this in reaction to the patriarchal system they find themselves in. And friendships are important to all girls in the system, and especially for Anne who didn't have the connection at home that she was craving. And so when a friend doesn't call her now, her response is go right back to those teenage years and to feel lonely as if she's being excluded. In the situation with her husband, she was taught not to rock the boat when she was a child not to inconvenience others. And her husband's frustration tells her she's inconvenienced him.

Jen Lumanlan:

In Elizabeth and Melissa's examples, they clearly care a lot about being good parents. And they're both coming from backgrounds where respectful parenting was not the norm. And so they are constantly fighting against the way that parenting was modeled to them when they try to be with their children in a way that's aligned with their values. And in the difficult moments, it's very easy for us to fall back on the ways our parents raised us, even if we know that's not how we want to parent.

Jen Lumanlan:

Nicole was feeling triggered by the hurts that she'd experienced as a result of this other person's actions. And so she couldn't hear that person's story. And in each case, this magic trick has helped these parents to see that they're feeling triggered or flooded and step outside of that for a moment and see that this triggered or flooded feeling and the thoughts that go with it are not reality. They are thoughts and feelings that are one interpretation of what's happening. And there are likely to be several other potential interpretations as well. And when we can see that, as these listeners said, we feel less triggered. We feel less flooded. Our heart rate comes down we realize acts a bit, we can see this is not an emergency, something that has to be fixed in this instant. And from there, we find a little curiosity. And from there a little compassion for the other person, maybe even for ourselves as well. From there, we can understand what is the other person's need. Why are they doing this thing that we're finding difficult? And what need are we trying to meet? Remember, it's not about the dishwasher. The dishwasher is just the strategy I'm using to meet my need. And when we understand our needs, we can find strategies that work for everyone.

Jen Lumanlan:

If this magic trick has opened up some possibilities for you and you'd like some more of this kind of magic in your life, you're really going to appreciate my Taming Your Triggers workshop, which is open for enrollment right now until midnight Pacific on Wednesday, October 11th. We spend alternate weeks looking at the reasons why we feel triggered by our child's behavior on one hand, and on the other hand, learning tools to feel triggered way less often, and to navigate those feelings more effectively on the fewer occasions when it does still happen. And I actually just realized, as I was writing this part of the episode, that all of the parents featured in this episode have taken the Taming Your Triggers workshop. And they've all been in the Parenting Membership for a while too and the concepts do occasionally crossover. So I didn't realize when I was writing the rest of the episode that this was the case. And Elizabeth created a really profound friendship with her AccountaBuddy. And you may remember that I interviewed her and her buddy, Marci a couple of years ago. We match you up with a buddy because we tend to process information better when we can discuss it with somebody else, as well as have someone we can reach out to when things get bad. Know that we won't be judged. Know that they will reach out to us when things get bad at their house too. And many of these friendships far outlive the workshop. Anne took Taming Your Triggers several years ago now and she has said that it's one of the most profound and impactful things that she's ever done in her life. And that she would have paid 1000s of dollars to do it if she'd known how much it would help her. But it doesn't cost anywhere near that. And we have an options to do just the workshop or to add group coaching calls with me if you want to go really deep. I know the idea of group coaching calls can seem kind of weird, like how much am I going to get out of watching somebody else be coached when their issues are probably so different from mine. But having done this a few times now, what I see over and over again, is that yes, being coached is really helpful. But underneath the exact names and ages and situations we find ourselves in, there's so much in our struggles that's really universal. Maybe you even saw yourself in some of the challenges that Anne, Elizabeth, Melissa, and Nicole described to us in this episode. And when I coach them through it live and you get to watch, you get to see how to apply the same ideas that help them in your own life just like you did here today. And you also develop some incredible relationships with the other folks on the call because they're small and intimate and you get to talk with me directly if you want to.

Jen Lumanlan:

So if things are hard at the moment, and you're yelling or shutting down or walking away from your child's difficult behavior more often than you would like whichever is your particular pattern of dealing with difficult things, then I'd love it if you would come and join me in Taming Your Triggers, enrollment opens right now. We have a money back guarantee. We start together on Monday, October 16th. I can't wait to meet you there. You never know it might end up being one of the most profound things that you'd ever do in your life as well.


Hi, I'm Emma, and I'm listening from the UK. We know you have a lot of choices about where you get information about parenting, and we're honored that you've chosen us as we move toward a world in which everyone's lives and contributions are valued. If you'd like to help keep the show ad free, please do consider making a donation on the episode page that Jen just mentioned. Thanks again for listening to this episode of The Your Parenting Mojo podcast.

About the author, Jen

Jen Lumanlan (M.S., M.Ed.) hosts the Your Parenting Mojo podcast (www.YourParentingMojo.com), which examines scientific research related to child development through the lens of respectful parenting.

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