I’m in LOVE with the Myers-Briggs system and how it’s helped me understanding people and parenting. (As an ENFP, mind you, I love EVERYTHING. Especially emojiis.). ;)
One of the knocks against the MBTI (Myers-Briggs Type Indicator) is how it can stereotype or pigeonhole people. “We are not all the same!”
No, we aren’t.
But the MBTI isn’t asserting that people are all the same, it’s asserting that there are cognitive functions that we lean towards naturally:
How we recharge.
How we take in information and make decisions.
How we perceive and work with time.
Inside those functions we have a lot of personal preferences. I have an ENFP friend who is meticulous in her dress and makeup. Matching earrings. The whole thing.
I’m not that way.
If I even remember to look in the mirror before I leave the house it’s a special occasion. I could blame it on having kids but she has kids too, so….
That being said we are both extroverted (charged up by groups). We both are future-oriented in thinking. We assign meaning to, well, everything. And we have the same rush-around-late thing with time. We have the same “functional stack” going on in our brains.
So what does this have to do with using Myers-Briggs with your family and your parenting?
It’s all about the intent.
Set the intent for Myers-Briggs to give you new insights so you can work WITH your child and your spouse more harmoniously. Set the intent that it opens up better pathways to communication. Set the intent that it helps you love and appreciate who they are and who they are not. Set the intent that it helps you know how to best help THEM to succeed in ways that speak to them.
And then let them be the unique people they are.
That’s the win-win of Myers-Briggs. Understanding AND acceptance. Two fantastic things for a family to thrive.
Note: this is yet another piece of writing from who-knows-when I found. I'll keep posting them when I do.
This sounds silly but seriously...try it.
Feel guilty? Had a fight? Wish you could make things right with your child but:
Child Whispering is a-maz-ing. It goes like this:
You sneak tippy toe into your child's room while they are asleep. You stand near their bed, close enough where you can see them. You put your hands on your heart (OK, that's not necessary, but darn if you won't feel way more heart-felt and connected if do) and you speak, softly, whisperingly, sweet words like:
"I'm so sorry. I love you. I wish I had done things differently, but I was frustrated. I want you to know how much I care. You mean so much to me. When you wake up, I want you to feel amazing. I want you to feel loved. I want you to feel connected. I want you to feel like the world is a beautiful place. You are adored."
Whisper until you feel peace. Whisper until you have tears streaming down your face. Whisper until you are done, in whatever way that looks and feels for you. Then sneak out.
Don't wake them up!
Go to bed and wake up to the miracle of morning. You will be amazed.
I'm a mom and sometimes... sometimes... I lose my cool.
(Really? Nah. Oh yes, it's true.)
The biggest challenge I have found when I'm irritated is that as an extrovert I tend to vocalize when I'm upset. This really, REALLY, doesn't work with kids. No child thrives in a nagging, negative environment. Heck, no adult does either, but at least the adult can walk away and go to a movie or something. That little kid who is just getting more upset and acting out because of the icky vibes will be with you all day. Like right with you. Probably even while you are trying to go into the bathroom and shut the door.
When you have an adult roommate or you live in an open office environment you can usually put up a hand and the person will back away lest they upset the tiger. Little kids? Not so much. They probably forget you are in a terrible mood. They might remember for... say... 30 seconds.
So one day years ago, after realizing the old adage again was true–if you can't say something nice... I had an inspired idea.
What if I put a sticker on my mouth?
That way I would not talk from my non-heart place, and the kids had a visual when they looked at me to remind them that Mommy was not in a good place to be talking to.
Not only did it stop the stem of unnecessary nagging and negative commentary from me, it stopped questions from them which would open the floodgate of nagging and unnecessary negative commentary from me. With this small measure of peace, peace began to descend. Or maybe I just got a chance to breathe through my nose and calm down. One thing happened that was unexpected, though.
It eventually made us laugh.
It's hard to stay mad with a sticker on your mouth. Try it. My favorite stickers are the ones from Trader Joe's. I also like their bacon.
What if you went 21 days in a row of staying open-hearted during your child's bedtime routine?
That means no snapping "hurry up!" or rolling your eyes when they are finally in bed and they ask you to bring them some water.
No chasing behind them with a wave of negative emotion trying to get them into their beds faster.
No saying no to extra hugs and kisses.
No shutting them down, shutting them up, flaring your nostrils, giving a heavy, put-upon sigh or otherwise closing your heart during the entire process.
Only connection. Love. Smiling. Gentleness. Laughter. Encouragement. Appreciation. And I did I mention love?
What do you think might happen if you kept your heart open for 21 days while putting your child to bed?
This world is full of options. That's a blessing. But some days it doesn't feel like one.
Play dates. Classes. Social groups. Outings. Family gatherings. So many things to do.
Are you feeling stressed out by all of the options? Yes, choices are a blessing but when it's play dates, classes, social groups, outings, family gatherings, sports...
How do you eliminate the planning stress?
When I feel put upon, stressed out, or cornered, I have to remember: What do /I/ want?
That changes everything.
Instead of feeling like the world is throwing boulders at me that I have to catch or duck lest I get pummeled, instead I remember: I get to choose.
And not only that: "Look at how many amazing choice I have!"
From there the rest is easy. That's because I've practiced listening to my intuition, and my kids have, too. Intuition is your Inner Being, your Big Guidance, and it never, ever, ever, ever, ever, ever, ever steers you wrong.
It even does scheduling.
I have a 6 month old baby, a 10 year old a daughter and a 6 year old daughter. I have a husband who works from home. I have a big summer ahead of me. What do I want?
Ease, of course.
Fun, oh heck-yes.
I want to be easy. I want it to be in our Highest Good. And I want it to be awesome.
So now, from this perspective, nothing seems stressful. Possible sleepover? Trip to Great America? Maybe. If we want. If it is something our Higher Self says "ooooh!" to.
And if it is not?
There is no pushing. No protecting myself (under the guise of protecting my kids). No guilt for saying "no thank you" and no fear of missing out, doing it wrong, or screwing up.
It is just... perfect. As it is. And as it is not.
So now: bring it.
An email box full of invitations? I can handle it. My Inner Being already knows what my summer looks like, and from that perspective, it is AWE-SOME.
Is more than one person in the room cranky pants at the same time?
Here is one way I shift it, fast!
Sometimes only one of is is off-kilter.
When that happens the happy people usually ignore them and go about their merry way. Sometimes the prevailing joy in the room laughs cranky pants back into happy land. Sometimes the cranky one will go off for some alone time to recharge, reflect, and get back in the groove.
But when more than one person is not connected? And we are all together? That is a recipe for bickering and ick.
It often starts off subtly.
So subtle you don't know it's there.
A "no" here. A half-ask-half-order for something. But soon it starts to degrade. The air gets heavy. Gloves are off. "I TOLD you not to do that!" and "Mom! She..." I jump in with my lemon-pinched face and start to micromanage.
Then it hits me. Oh!
I see it.
I decide I don't want it.
And I take a big breath and shout out, "Who has the vibration in the room?"
"Me!", says the happiest person, beaming, their hand waving high in the air.
"Them," says everyone else, pointing at that shiny, happy person who is waving their hand in the air, beaming.
From there we know what to do. We follow them. We make a conscious choice to match the frequency of their energy instead of our own. My kids know this. I repeat it to them often enough: "Like energy attracts. So if you are cranky and they are not, either you both have to end up cranky, you both have to end up happy, or you have to separate to stay where you are. Which one would you prefer?"
"Who has the highest vibration in the room?" is a reminder that since we are all eating breakfast together, or in the car together, or on an outing together... we get to decide if we want to keep fighting the happy person or start joining the happy person.
I haven't seen a time yet where we decided not to join in.
It's eye opening.
When we play this "follow the leader game" the bummed-out people usually blush when they realize what's been going on. Or nod. Or apologize. Negativity often wants to justify itself. It wants to fight to exist. So if it's around a happy person it will battle with both fists. Happy person makes a joke? Cranky person gets offended. Happy person accidentally bumps cranky person? Cranky person gets all miffed. Happy person doesn't even NOTICE something... that cranky person is all up in arms about.
We realize that we have been beating down the happy. Popping all of the pretty bubbles. Oops.
So, who has the highest vibration in the room?
It's not a contest. We don't keep track. And we don't feel jealous, either. We feel relieved when we all find our way again the way we like it: happy together.
For when your child wants something and you are feeling pressed for time…
...or you have something else to do.
Lately my four and a half year old daughter has been saying, “Just one more book and I promise I’ll go to bed.”
Sometimes I read an extra book. Sometimes I don’t.
And the kicker:
Tonight she asked for an extra book. I didn’t want to read another book.
“No, honey, no more books. Time for bed.”
“Will you lay down with me?”
This sounds so cute. Honestly. Who wouldn’t want to cuddle with their adorable little kiddo?
Except my mind flashes back to when this meant, “I’m not tired and I don’t want you to be tired either so how about you pretzel yourself onto my tiny bed while I do jumping jacks on your head?”
I also thought about the 9,367,851 things I wanted to do before bed. Or the fact that I wanted a break. Or that I still had to get the baby to bed or…
In that brief pause of not answering my daughter an inspired, intuitive angelic message came through. It translated into something like: “You can do anything for two minutes”.
That made so much sense to me I said, “OK” and before I knew it my daughter was scootching over to make room for me.
I pretzeled myself onto her tiny bed and braced for impact.
Wow, she really wanted to cuddle this time.
It was so cute, her arms wrapped around me. I smiled and sighed contentedly. I thought, “What could be better than this?
She says: “Let’s look at the ceiling and pretend we’re seeing fireworks.”
Wow, this is so much better! There we were, our heads together, our arms around each other, pointing out imaginary fireworks.
“Look! A red one!”
“One in the shape of a flower!”
“I like the purple one!”
It was one of the most magical things I’ve ever experienced with my child. It was so simple, so inspired and so real.
The Not Part
Afterwards I realized the most important thing I did was what I did NOT do.
I did not say to her, “Ok, but only for two minutes.”
I simply thought, “I can do anything for two minutes” and so I surrendered to those two minutes. In doing that I ended up with a whole lot more.
We are busy, no doubt about it.
Sometimes we can’t just stop what we’re doing and play (dinner on the stove, baby on the changing table, UPS at the door). Most of the time we might not stop because we really don’t have “all day”.
But what about two minutes? Do you have that?
Not: “OK, FINE, but only for two minutes…”
I am talking about thinking to yourself: “OK! I can do anything for two minutes!” while saying to your child, “YES”.
If you can surrender for just two minutes you leave the door open a crack…
…and magic might just wander in.
If you try this little technique (it only takes a few minutes, max) it will make your outings with kids - of any age - easier, or more relaxing, or more fun, or more in the flow than ever before.
What is it this technique?
I'll tell you!
Set your intent.
Your brain will look for what you tell it to. Unless you don't tell it anything, in which case it will look at what IS. If you love what is, you're golden. If you are late, frazzled, frustrated, faced with untied shoes, someone-forgot-their-water, and other things that hassle you then, well, not so golden. More of a tarnished, rusty color. Covered in dirt. Like your kid dug it up in the backyard with one of your good spoons.
So... tell your brain what to focus on!
We do this out loud in my car. For example, if I am taking the kids to the Aquarium I might say, "My intent is to bring my Inner Being with me. To flow. To feel like the Universe is organizing everything easily for my benefit. To see love. To feel love. And to enjoy my amazing kids, And So It Is."
Everyone repeats, "And So It Is."
We say "And So It Is" so that we know when someone is finished. This way each person has time to think about what they want, listen to their intuition, and say it all without interruptions, even if they pause in between sentences for some time.
And we repeat "And So It Is" because it's our way of saying, "I support you in your intent. Yay!"
We take turns, but not in order. They call it Popcorn Style. "Anyone want to go next?"
And no one is required to set an intent or is shamed for not setting one. Ever. It really, truly is optional.
Sometimes my intent is short.
"My intent is to laugh out loud and have a blast!"
Sometimes my intent is aimed at calm.
"My intent is to feel relaxed."
Sometimes I don't know what exactly to ask for, so I intend how I want to feel when it is over.
"My intent is that I come home feeling amazing, reconnected, and rejuvenated, and totally in love with my family and life."
I use this setting intent process to gage where I am, to hear what my own needs are, and to choose what I want to attract and experience and feel throughout my outing whether it's a trip to the park, a family birthday party, or the zoo.
Do we set intent every time?
No. Not every time. Because for me, "every time" feels like a chore.
We set intent when I feel inspired to. When I can tell we need to redirect our focus (read: people are cranky or fussy) or when we are going on a long trip or Big Outing and I, for one, need to keep my ducks in a row because when mom's ducks are not in a row, it gets really quacky.
Sometimes one of the kids will pipe up, "Mom! We need to set our intent!" They know what's what. They really do.
Not only will setting intent in the car help your outings go more smoothly, it's fun to hear what your child/ren come up with. Plus, it feels so good to see them set their intent to be happy, healthy, and loving.
I don't know about you, but that makes me do a little dance in my bucket seat.
Have you ever raised your voice at your kids? ("Stop yelling!" she yelled.) Haha!
Oh, boy, have I. More times than I care to remember. It's only now, ten years into parenting that I'm really starting to get it.
(And therefor, change it.)
If I notice something....
....it's because I'm either paying attention to it or because it's ME.
Which means that if I'm yelling at my kids to stop yelling, it's definitely me.
This goes back to the only parenting trick that really works.
It's a 2-step process.
1. Make a list of all the things you think should be different or better in your child.
Everything that drives you nuts about them. Everything that keeps you up at night worrying it will kill their success in life. Everything that embarrasses you. Everything that makes your life difficult.
2. Now work on those things in you.
I said that.
If you stop trying to get your child to clean up their room and instead tackle your own clutter issues, everything will change - including them keeping her room neat.
When you stop crabbing at your kids for being cranky and maybe meditate instead and dealt with your own inner ick, everything will change - including how your kids treat each other and themselves.
It's humbling. It's empowering. It's weird.
It can be hard. It can be easy.
But it's just like they always say: when you're pointing a finger at someone there are three fingers pointing back at you.
Right now I'm taking my health to the next level.
I just had a baby and I'm noticing more of what's "wrong" with me than what's "right". (Read: baby gut.) It's taking a lot of discipline not to notice every.last.thing.that.could.be.wrong.with.my.kids.
I'm making up imaginary medical symptoms as I go.
I know as soon as I have peace with my body, I will see peace in theirs. It's good parenting right now for me just to, you know, just shhhhhh.
Sometimes big cures and wide-sweeping change comes in tiny packages.
This one is only 3 seconds big.
I'm a talker. If you are like me your mouth opens instantaneously. When I'm in a good mood the Mouth is lovely.
"You're awesome!" "Thanks so much!" "Hey, I love you!"
But when I'm not in a good mood the Mouth is not so nice...
"No!" "You're making a mess!" "You can get more paper only if you clean it up."
Living with a bad Mouth can make anyone tense.
(Have you ever tried to NOT make a mess when you were tense? Have you ever tried to NOT forget something when you are tense? It's a set-up that readers can see from page one. You know the main character is going to get it in the end. Or your kids, and that's no fun for anyone.)
Not wanting to put up with my own Mouth anymore, I tried to fix it.
I tried to only say nice things. I tried to get more sleep. I tried many, many, many things but they only made me feel worse because they centered on the fact that I'm not always as nice to my kids as I want to be. :(
But even worse, they didn't work.
So I looked at the problem from a new perspective. Instead of trying to fix it so that I'm always in a good mood or always thinking nice thoughts (tall mountain to climb, ya think?) I realized that it doesn't matter if I'm tired, it doesn't matter if I'm cranky, it matters what I say.
So one day I decided to add 3 seconds - just 3 seconds - of silence before I answered a question, said anything or opened my mouth.
This small thing changed my life. It changed my kid's lives.
Instead of knee-jerk "no's" or stress-induced "nagging" I made conscious choices before I spoke. I could say, "Let me think about that one for a moment before I give you my answer". Or I could simply clean up the spilled water without a fuss.
Noticeably and quickly the atmosphere in the house rose but do you know what else happened?
I was in a much better mood and I thought much nicer thoughts! Ha!
The best part yet: it was so easy to implement compared to "fixing" myself. I didn't have to change me. I didn't have to become a better person. I just had to add 3 seconds. And now you can, too. Yay! :)
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Love, Love, Alora
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