Navigating relationships can be challenging, because people are so different! On the Living Joyfully Podcast, we dive into tools, strategies, and paradigm shifts to help you decrease conflict and increase connection and understanding in your most important relationships. We talk about concepts like self-awareness, compassion, context, consent, and so many more. The podcast starts with a 14-episode series which lays a foundation of new ideas and strategies. And every episode comes with thought-provoking questions to explore and share with the people in your life. Let’s dig deep, challenge paradigms, choose connection, and live joyfully!
LJ023: Navigating Connection [Relationships]

We're back with another episode in our Relationships series and we are excited to revisit the importance of connection. Fostering connection in our different relationships will look different, because every person is different, but what remains the same is that connection is an active process. Just being married or just being a parent does not mean that we automatically feel connected to our loved ones. But really focusing on connection makes our relationships stronger and so much more enjoyable.We hope today's episode sparks some fun insights for you and we invite you to dive deeper with our Episode Questions. Join us on Instagram or YouTube to continue the conversation and share your reflections.Let’s dig deep, challenge paradigms, choose connection, and live joyfully!You can follow us on Instagram or YouTube. EPISODE QUESTIONSDownload a printable PDF of this week's questions here.Sign up here to receive each weekly PDF automatically in your email inbox.1. Take some time to think about what you love about your partner. What things light you up about them? How does it feel when you read this list? How does it change your energy towards them?2. Think about the connection you had/have with your parents? Did you feel truly seen and accepted for who you are? If not, how did that impact your feeling of connection?3. Have you viewed connection as a living process? What areas do you see that you would like to work on to improve your connection?4. What ways do you stay connected with your friends? Consider asking what things help your friends feel connected to you. You might be surprised.TRANSCRIPTANNA: Hello and welcome to the Living Joyfully Podcast. Navigating relationships can be challenging because we are all so different. In this podcast, we dive into tools, strategies, and paradigm shifts to help you decrease conflict and increase connection in your most important relationships. We talk about concepts like self-awareness, compassion, context, consent, and so much more.If you're new to the podcast, we encourage you to go back and listen to the earlier episodes. We started with some foundational relationship ideas that are so helpful to have in our toolbox. And if you've already been enjoying the podcast, we'd love it if you would subscribe and share. We really appreciate your support as it grows. You can also check out our website,, if you're interested in relationship coaching or to see what we offer businesses using these same principles.Today's episode is part of our Relationship series, and we'll be talking about connection. Connection is a foundational lens through which I see the world. I think we're here to be in relationship and learn from that process. I think focusing on connection is what brings us the most joy and peace and opportunities for growth and learning as well.Finding the best ways to foster connection can look a bit different in the different types of relationships. So, today we're going to look at the idea related to our relationships with our partners, our children, and our friends. Something that's common across the relationships is that connection is an active process. We don't have strong connections just because we're married, a parent, or a friend. That's the surface-level connection, but the connection we're going to talk about is much deeper than that, and the root of it is truly seeing another person for who they are - honoring that and supporting that.With our partners, often many things brought us together, and as the relationship grows, the years go on and we fall into the rhythm of just moving through our days. And in that, sometimes we can lose sight of the person in front of us, of truly understanding who they are and what makes them tick. In the beginning, we're much more curious about all of that, and that curiosity and excitement is what feels so good, because they're feeling truly seen by us and we're feeling truly seen by them.And so, if things are feeling off, this is most likely the root. We've lost sight of, and the excitement about, who this person we love is. Having a strong connection is what helps a relationship weather the storms that life is going to throw. And while it may not have all of the excitement of the early days, it can settle into this deep trust and knowing. And again, connection is so much about being seen and accepted.And it's helpful to recognize, I think, that our culture tends to have a deficit focus, and if we fall into that in our relationships, it is a pretty quick path to disconnection. One of the first things I ask all my couples to do is to each write a list about what they love about the other person, to keep it on their phone or by their bedside, someplace they can read it every day, just steeping in that.Seeing all of the amazing things about our partner, it changes the energy we bring to them and the situations we're facing together. Because that's the thing. When we have that foundation of trust and connection, we're able to handle what comes along together instead of turning to defensiveness or blaming.We know we're different. We honor that and that we each bring something different, and from there we figure out how do we move through these harder times or this obstacle that's in front of us? Building connection with our partner is about seeing who they are now. And it may be different. We do all grow and change, but taking the time to see them and understand them is key. And finding ways to see each other will be different for each couple. It could be about having adventures together or working on projects together, just talking over a meal, being together and watching a show. It's going to be unique to each person, but understanding what helps your partner feel seen and loved and understood, and being able to communicate what helps you to feel the same, goes such a long way in creating this strong connection that we're talking about.PAM: Yes. It really, really does. And I so much love your point, that connection is an active process, not something that's a given based on some factor, context, like, "We're married." "You're my child." Being in a long-term relationship with your partner absolutely does not guarantee that you're strongly connected with each other. That takes ongoing effort. And yes, I feel more deeply connected to my partner when they see and love me for who I am right now. Sometimes it's easier to take that perspective first. We both grow and change over the years, but when they're curious about what I'm up to, how I'm feeling and what I think about things, that's when I'm feeling more connected to them.And that said, and that thing doesn't need to be all about conversations. There are people who just aren't into conversations as much, and as you mentioned, it can look different for different couples, because people truly are different. And then not only that, it can look different in different seasons for the same couple, because again, we grow and change, our shared interests wax and wane.But what can remain a priority throughout is building and maintaining connection with our partner, however it looks right now. We can always be curious about who they are and what they like to do. We can always express appreciation for their presence in our lives. And then, like what you mentioned, Anna, the things that we love about them, no matter how big or how small, we can always notice and appreciate those pieces.ANNA: Yeah. I mean, just turning our eye to seeing all the things they bring into our life can just really shift energy, especially if you're feeling stuck or disconnected or a little grumpy. And so, when we think about children, it's similar, but there are some differences. We have such a deep connection with our children, but part of maintaining that and bringing it to life for them is understanding that they are on their own path. They are unique human beings. And when we honor that and see them for who they are, that is when they feel the most connected to us.We can probably all think of how it would feel to be truly seen by our parents. Some of us have experienced that and many have not. In some families, love is conditional. And it's really the opposite of true connection. The blood connection remains, but they're left feeling misunderstood or not seen. And I've come to think of tending to this deeper connection as building a bridge, a bridge whose foundation is trust. Trust that we are okay and safe where we are, but that a strong, sturdy bridge is there, that we can both traverse back and forth as needed. Us going to them, them coming to us, sometimes meeting in the middle. The bridge is built with time and understanding, honoring our differences and celebrating them for exactly who they are.So often, I think when a parent wants to feel connected to a child, they will invite them to do something with them. "Hey, come over here to me. Let's go on a bike ride. Let's go camping. Come to the garden." And sometimes those invitations are met with excitement and sometimes groans and eye rolls, which can lead the parent feeling really disconnected or a little bit hurt, but the child's not rejecting you in those instances. They may not like those particular ideas. And when we understand them, what they love, what lights them up, what pressures they're under, we can go to them. We can meet them on their side of the bridge and fill both of our cups. And it means everything to have someone see us for who we are, to understand our capacity in that moment, to love us, even if we have different ideas and preferences. It just makes such a difference. PAM: I know! And I got goosebumps right now just thinking about that. And I really do love that bridge metaphor for connection in a relationship. The image that when it comes to connection, we can go to them, they can come to us, we can meet in the middle or anywhere in between. And that sometimes connecting can be happening when we're both hanging out on our own sides.That can seem a bit counterintuitive, the idea of actively connecting with someone while not being engaged with them. Yet, as we talked about earlier, connecting with someone can be about them feeling seen and heard. So, if your child is needing some space to be by themselves, it can feel connecting to them when they see us actively cultivating that space for them. So, maybe keeping their siblings occupied so that they aren't constantly being interrupted, maybe bringing them a drink and a snack and slipping out without trying to start a conversation.Can you just feel how validating and connecting that could be for them? Just turn it back on ourselves, how, when we're in that space where we want some alone time, how good that would feel. So, it's like, is that what we're needing? We would just feel so supported and seen and active connection will be built without that direct engagement with them.So, the other piece that I wanted to mention is that the ways we connect, the ways we build that bridge, can be different for each child in the same family, will likely be different for each child in the same family. Because that could also be hard if we have a picture in our mind about what connecting with a child looks like. "I'm going to do this. I'm going to do it right. How do we do it?"If we envision connection to look like doing activities together or hugging each other every day or reading books together or whatever that vision is, we can worry that we're not connected with a child if those happen to be things that they avoid, that they don't enjoy. But if we can release that vision and look at the ways each of our children actually enjoy connecting and being with us, we may discover that they are feeling connected and we just weren't seeing it at all.ANNA: Right. We can get in our heads about things so often, you know? And we are so different, and that absolutely includes our children. We really do need to let go of ideas of what we thought it would be like and embrace the child in front of us. And in doing that, what you'll find is that you learn so much more about them and about yourself.And so, we can see that connection isn't a formula, but again, it's this living process. And so, all those ideas, let's just set those aside and just really lean into, who are the people in my life and what does that look like for us to feel connected?And so, when we're thinking about our friends, again, so much is the same in that everyone, no matter what, I will say this a million more times, wants to be truly seen and heard. Most would also like to be understood, but even if that feels hard sometimes, we can honor people, give them the space to be who they are, to move through the world in the way that makes sense to them, even if it doesn't make sense to us, to be there for them, with them. I mean, it really just is the root of friendship, all of these relationships as well.So, I would say that most of us have friends that are different from ourselves. I'm an introvert and, maybe not surprisingly, many of my friends are extroverts. Extroverts make things easy for me in a lot of ways and they challenge me in that we see things so differently, but I can choose to love all parts of them, to see the gift in it, even if I need to sleep for 10 hours after a party and they're still raring to go, and they can appreciate that about me, and that's where we both feel seen and heard. That's where that connection just feels so nourishing.Giving our friends unconditional regard. Listening, being there, learning what helps make them feel connected and being able to communicate what works for us, too, is just all a part of it. And again, it is going to be unique to each person. Some friends need conversations to feel connected. Some need actual physical time together. Others feel comforted knowing that space and time can pass, but that we'll pick right back up and still have that closeness.Taking the time to know this about our friends just enhances those relationships and their ability to kind of nourish us and be a part of our close connections.PAM: Yes. That was such a big a-ha moment for me that my friends didn't need to be super similar to me. We could be different people that enjoy connecting with each other in various ways that feel good for each of us, and that I didn't need to find one super friend that was going to meet all of my connecting needs.I think growing up we can get the impression that we need one bestest, forever friend, that that's the goal when it comes to friendships. And while maybe that happens, it's not the only way to move through the world. It's not the only way to be in relationship with others, because people really are different and those differences matter a lot.It doesn't mean we can only be friends with people that are similar to us, but whether it's our partner, our children, or our friends, it's worth celebrating them for who they are and finding ways to connect with them that bring us closer together, that help them feel seen and heard, and us feel seen and heard.ANNA: Yes. Okay. So, something that just came up for me as you were saying that piece is, it's really important to understand that how we create connection and friendship may not be what our child needs. And so, what that brought to mind for me is, so often we can put on our kids, they don't have the best friend, or why don't they have a group of friends? They're not hanging out with this group of friends and doing all these things, because that's what we love. And why don't they have this best friend? I have this one best friend.And it's like, both, either, and none of it is. Fine. It's so much about what the child needs, the person needs, in their relationships. And so, again, look back at the person, talk to them. Are they happy with their relationships? Are they happy? Because so often, kids can be happy with their sibling relationships and with their family relationships for a big stretch of time. And then there comes a time where maybe they want outside relationships and maybe those are older people that are more mentors that they enjoy. So, I love just what you were saying, just like leaving space for all of it is part of how we build connection and just honor our differences in that way. PAM: And I love the age piece you brought up, too, because we don't need to put constraints on like, oh, we need to find somebody your age. I had wonderful and continue to have wonderful and fulfilling relationships with my children alongside partner and friends. When I could take that piece out and just get onto a level and focus on the connection and the relationship, all those little blood pieces or expectations of relationship just kind of fell away. And it was just about the connection and the joy that we could experience together.ANNA: Yeah. Just another, people are different. We all have our ways of connecting. So, connection is such a big topic and it's so important, and we really have just scratched the tiny surface of it. But I'm hoping that it's given some food for thought and a framework that connection is this active process. It's alive, and it's something that needs our attention to actually thrive.And so, here are a few questions to think about as you turn an eye to the connections in your life.Take some time to think about what you love about your partner. What things light you up about them? How does it feel when you read this list? How does it change your energy towards them when you read it and then go talk to them?And number two, think about the connection you have with or had with your parents. Did you feel truly seen and accepted for who you are at your core? And if not, how did that impact your feeling of connection with them and really even your understanding of yourself?PAM: I think that's a big one, because just to gain some experience with what connection feels like. As we're trying to figure out what it feels like, did I feel connection? Who have I felt connection with? How did it feel with my parents? Everybody says connection and you can have a sense of it, but what does it really feel like? And that's what we're trying to cultivate as we figure out all these different ways we might explore connecting with people.ANNA: That feeling like, okay, when I have somebody that sees me, oh, what does that feel like? How does that feel different when I don't feel seen and heard? So, yeah, I love that for kind of teasing out, what do I want in connection and how do I want to be in connection?Okay. So, have you viewed connection as a living process? What areas do you see that you would like to work on to improve your connection? So, I think this is important too, right? Just taking stock of the important people in your life. Hey, am I seeing them? Do I feel seen by them? Are there things that I want to change in those relationships? I think that could be really interesting to explore.PAM: Yeah, I think so, too. Just the whole idea of it being a living process. Something that can wax and wane and not beating ourselves up or having expectations. That feeling of growing disconnection is just a nice clue. It's like, oh, I want to a little more intentionally find or create or cultivate connecting moments with this person that I'm starting to feel a little bit of distance from, but I want to feel that deeper connection.ANNA: Because it's never about being hard on ourselves. It's just about that recognition like, oh, okay, I am feeling a little disconnected. What's going on there? And checking in about how that feels. And what kind of steps you want to take.Okay. So, last question is, what ways do you stay connected with your friends? Consider asking what things help your friends feel connected to you? Because it might be surprising. And again, just this interesting conversation, because I think sometimes we're just going through the motions of things.We don't actually realize that yeah, I do have a preference. I like to talk to my friends, or I like to see my friends, or I like to, whatever the thing is. I feel like the more we can verbalize what our actual needs are to someone, the better chance we have to truly connect and to be understood.Because nobody is a mind reader. Nobody knows what we're thinking. And, so often, we haven't even given it that much of a thought, but yet we're reacting and feeling it. And so, this is just a little call for some introspection and like, hey, I want to understand a little bit more about what makes me feel connected to someone.PAM: Yeah, I think that piece of just taking that moment to understand ourselves and understand what works what helps and again, playing with that. Because like you said, maybe we don't quite know yet, but we can try all sorts of things that, oh, you know, I think maybe this will feel connecting and then you go try it a couple of times and it's like, no, that's not as much fun or we didn't have as much time to engage with one another as I thought we might. But trying different things and playing around with them is perfect. ANNA: I love it. Okay. So, thank you so much for joining us and we look forward to next time.PAM: Yes! Talk to you soon. Bye.

LJ022: Embrace All Kinds of Learning [Parenting]

We're back with another episode in our Parenting series, in which we explore our relationships with our children. In today's episode, we're talking about embracing all kinds of learning. Most of us grew up hearing that school is where learning happens and that the things that are taught in a school curriculum are the important things to learn. Honoring all the many ways that we can learn and the many unique interests that each person has is another way to deepen our connection with the people in our lives.We hope today's episode sparks some fun insights for you and we invite you to dive deeper with our Episode Questions. Join us on Instagram or YouTube to continue the conversation and share your reflections.Let’s dig deep, challenge paradigms, choose connection, and live joyfully!You can follow us on Instagram or YouTube. EPISODE QUESTIONSDownload a printable PDF of this week's questions here.Sign up here to receive each weekly PDF automatically in your email inbox.1. What are some ways you see your child learning outside the classroom? What about outside the teacher-student dynamic?2. What does your child like to do at home? What interest(s) are they expressing through that activity? Can you think of more ways you can bring that interest into their days?3. Can you think of some ways to cultivate your child’s burgeoning self-awareness? Recognizing they are a different person than you (check out episode 3), how can you help them learn more about how they tick? Can you give them some more space to explore that?4. How are you feeling about embracing and valuing the many kinds of learning that happen outside a classroom?TRANSCRIPTPAM: Hello and welcome to the Living Joyfully Podcast! We are happy you're here exploring relationships with us, who we are in them, out of them, and what that means for how we move through the world.If you're new to the podcast, we encourage you to go back and listen to the earlier episodes, particularly the first 14 in our foundations series, because we continue to reference these fundamental relationship ideas and tools pretty often in our conversations. And if you've already been enjoying the podcast, we'd love it if you could leave a rating and review wherever you listen. That definitely helps new people find us.So, today's episode is part of our Parenting series. The first episode in this series, episode 16, was about how we don't need to bring school home. Life is bigger than school, and a child is more than their grades. School can be school. In the next parenting episode, number 19, we talked about celebrating the child in front. That shift in perspective from trying to shape our child into our vision of the "perfect child" to discovering, supporting, and celebrating the unique child in front of us makes all the difference in cultivating strong and connected lifelong relationships with our kids.So, now we're going to bring both of these pieces together to explore and hopefully soon embrace not just school-based learning, but all kinds of learning. There are lots of ways of learning that don't look like a classroom, that don't require a hierarchical teacher-student dynamic. There are more informal environments like groups who gather around their interests in person or online. And people of any age can learn things on their own through watching videos online, reading books or websites, or hands on play and tinkering.Just because these activities don't look like a more formal classroom, doesn't mean the learning that's happening is any less real or valuable. Kids can learn things both in and out of the classroom. And if the classroom environment isn't a great match for their learning style, their learning accomplishments and environments outside the classroom can really help them feel accomplished and capable.ANNA: I think it's so helpful to think about learning outside of the school context. It's helpful for us as adults and then we can apply that to children, too. I think an a-ha moment can happen when we look at how we learn as adults. We tend to use a variety of methods, seeking out mentors, finding like-minded groups, reading books, researching, hands on, just digging in and doing it.We dive into our interests as they come up, and this could be deciding to keep chickens, building a shed, becoming a yoga instructor, an arborist. Each interest creates an opportunity for us to dive into that interest in a way that works for our brain.So, for me, I tend to like to read about something. I like to make some lists. I like to write down some ideas and then often talk to others who are doing the thing that I want to try. And then I want to start walking in that direction. I have other people in my family who are the dive in head first, start tinkering, touch it, do it, think about it. And then they want to seek some outside resources. And we're all just so different that way.But when we start to examine what that organic learning looks like for us as adults, not in a school environment, we can start to see that it's the same for kids. Then we can be more open to creating the conditions for them to pursue the things that they're interested in, in ways that suit who they are. It's back to being open and curious, right?There isn't just one way to learn, and that is especially true if one is thinking the only way to learn is from a teacher and a school. That can have its place. Great. And there can be room for all the varied ways in which humans learn things.PAM: Yes, yes, yes, yes. And I think not only is it helpful to embrace the all kinds of learning piece, it's helpful to embrace all kinds of interests. So, if the thing they love to do right now isn't directly related to a school subject or a prestigious career, it's still valuable. It's really fascinating to watch a kid in action when they're doing something they really enjoy. They learn so much, and it's almost as if it's by osmosis. They're just soaking it all in. That sponge metaphor is always around. And if they love it, it connects with them as a person. It has meaning for them, even if they or we can't yet explain what that is, but for now, it's coloring in a new area of the map of who they are as a person.And the thing is, when we look back, often we can see the threads through their interests. So, how their love of wrestling with you on the couch became an interest in karate, which became an interest in parkour, which became an interest in stunt acting. But it can be really hard to see those threads in the moment, and even more so to try to predict them into the future, right?But with the freedom to follow their interests, there's a good chance we'll be able to see those threads looking back. There is just so much value in embracing the things our children are interested in, and not just in the act of learning about the interest, but also in the development of a strong and connected parent-child relationship.And if embracing your child's interests is something that you find challenging, I do invite you to check out Roya Dedeaux's book, Connect with Courage, practical Ways to Release Fear and Find Joy in the Places Your Children Take You. So, Roya is a licensed marriage and family therapist, and she has spent the bulk of her academic and professional career learning how recreation, play, leisure, hobbies, interests and passions, impact, and are impacted by mental health. She digs into why wholeheartedly supporting your children's pursuit of their interests and passions is so important, and she shares some excellent tools to help us navigate that when it just feels a little off. It can be a new way to look at things.ANNA: It is really fun to find ways to support our kids and ourselves in digging into our interest areas, because like you said, there's so often a trail of interest that leads to so much learning and then get synthesized into the next pursuits. Looking back, we can see how those trails led to the broader interest or even a passion area, but we don't often see it in the moment. So, trusting that something is popping up for our kids for a reason, a reason we may not see now, is part of trusting them as a person.We can use it as a way to connect and to get to know our kids. What do they love? What brings a sparkle to their eye? What things do they choose to do with their time? Especially for kids in school these days, they have very little free time. So, if they're using that time towards an interest, it's important to them. And us supporting and facilitating that helps them feel heard and valued. And we just learn more about what makes them tick. And I think we all really want to know our children at that deep level. And they definitely want to be seen and known by us. You and I have both worked with plenty of adults who weren't seen or understood as kids, and it really leaves a mark.PAM: Oh yes. Yes. It really does. And I feel like that can come when the parents' focus is fixed on bringing the school home such that their highest priorities are doing the homework, studying for the test, so that you can excel at school, and then rounding out their childhood with extracurricular activities. There is just so little time and space left for kids to discover who they are and how they tick.And I would also argue that a solid level of this kind of self-awareness is as valuable as knowing a general set of facts and skills as they move into adulthood. It's how we find our unique place in the world. Understanding how we tick, how we can care for ourselves, and how we want to engage with the people around us is such valuable knowledge to have at hand as we navigate our lives. So many of us need to figure all this stuff out as adults, precisely because our parents thought excelling at schoolwas the answer to everything.So, embracing all kinds of learning for our kids will go a long way to helping them navigate their lives with just a bit more grace and compassion for themselves and for others.ANNA: So much! I know for me, so I did well in school and it really wasn't a bad experience for me, but I still had a lot of unpacking to do as an adult to figure out what I wanted out of life, what things were interests of mine, not through the lens of cultural or the expectations of the adults around me. And while I know this is a parenting episode, I just want to say it goes a really long way to support the interests of our partners and our friends, too. Trusting that something is pulling them towards an interest, even if it doesn't make sense to us on the surface, it means so much for the people to be supported in the things that they want to do. It really is a critical part of every relationship.PAM: Oh, exactly. Because in the bigger sense, absolutely, it applies to all people. All kinds of environments and all kinds of interests can lead to all kinds of learning at any age. And when we embrace all kinds of learning, our world is richer and more fun. Life is more interesting.We're not just all trying to get on that same path. Building our unique selves and learning how we tick and the things that we love to do and how we love to do them. Our kids just learn so much about themselves that they will find useful their whole lives. That was my experience, too.So, whether or not you had a good school experience or a more negative one, either way, it took up time and it took us down, or was trying to take us down a path that was more generalized as society thought was successful. And I had to do a lot of picking apart for many years to try and figure out who I was beyond that.Because then all of a sudden you're dumped into the adult world and it's like, okay, go do these things. And oh my gosh, to figure out. Do I like to do that? What do I like to do? How do I like to do it? To recognize that life didn't need to be a big ball of stress all the time. That was a big part of it.Okay, so here are some questions to ponder this week. Number one, what are some ways you see your child learning outside the classroom? And what about outside the teacher-student dynamic? Because, so often, that dynamic can also be replicated in places, just because it's conventionally seen as the way to learn. But yeah, just bring a new lens to it. How is your child learning? Think about what do they love to do? Regardless of whether or not you like it or whatever, when they're doing it, when they're doing something that lights them up, look for the learning, see the learning that's happening.ANNA: Yeah, it's there.PAM: It's there. It's there. So, what does your child like to do at home? Now, let's take that in a little bit of a different direction. What interests are they expressing through that activity? So, we're going to look a little bit deeper at it. Can you think of more ways that you can bring that interest into their days.So, maybe it's a show or a game or whatever it is that they like, if you can start to see what it is about that thing that they like. Is it the story they love? Is it the music they love? Is it the challenge? Whatever it is. And then think about more ways that you might be able to bring things into your lives that also meet that underlying interest.ANNA: Yeah, I love that.PAM: Number three. Can you think of some ways to cultivate your child's burgeoning self-awareness? Recognizing that they are a different person than you? And if you want to talk about that more, check out episode three. How can you help them learn more about how they tick? Can you give them some more space to explore that instead of always popping in to tell them the right way to feel the right way to do something, all those pieces? A little bit more space so that they can start making some choices and you can both start learning about how they would approach things, how they tick, what feels good to them.And our last question, how are you feeling about embracing and valuing the many kinds of learning that happen outside of a classroom?ANNA: Yeah, I think I want to say about this one, because I think most of us, as adults, have been through this very long school system and we kind of were sold that that's the way to learn. So, I feel like it was a process for me to start recognizing there were different ways to learn and what that looks like. And so, I do think it's really important to just think about your own journey with that and how it's playing out for you as an adult and how you've branched off in different directions or have you? So, I think it's interesting.PAM: Yeah, I think it's so fascinating to see, not just put that on a pedestal as the one right way to learn, that it's cool and it has its place and they're learning things there. But also it's just as value to be valuable to be learning all sorts of other things that make up them as a whole person rather than just what the curriculum says.Anyway, I think this is going to be a lot of fun for people to start exploring. I'm excited that we shared this, and I thank you so much for listening, and we will see you next time. Bye!ANNA: Take care.

LJ021: Self-Awareness: Triggers [Conflicts]

We're back with another episode in our Conflicts series and we're talking about triggers. A trigger is an intense, emotional, negative reaction to something, whether it's words or actions. Triggers often stem from previous trauma or childhood experiences. Getting a handle on our triggers, recognizing them, and learning to set them aside is an important first step to avoiding and minimizing conflict with our loved ones.We hope today's episode sparks some fun insights for you and we invite you to dive deeper with our Episode Questions. Join us on Instagram or YouTube to continue the conversation and share your reflections.Let’s dig deep, challenge paradigms, choose connection, and live joyfully!You can follow us on Instagram or YouTube. EPISODE QUESTIONSDownload a printable PDF of this week's questions here.Sign up here to receive each weekly PDF automatically in your email inbox.1. Are you aware of your triggers? If not, look for times when you find yourself activated out of proportion with the situation. Knowing our triggers helps us be more intentional with our actions. 2. Can you think of a time when acting from a trigger impacted a conversation? What would it look like if you had a do over? 3. Have you noticed triggers in your partner? 4. What tools do you want to put in place with your partner to help each other navigate when one of you is feeling triggered?TRANSCRIPTANNA: Hello and welcome to the Living Joyfully Podcast. We're happy you're here exploring relationships with us, who we are in them, out of them, and what that means for how we move through the world.If you're new to the podcast, we encourage you to go back and listen to the earlier episodes. We started with some foundational relationship ideas that are so helpful to have in your toolbox. If you've already been enjoying the podcast, we'd love it if you would subscribe and share. We really appreciate your support as it grows.This week's episode is part of our Conflicts series, and we're going to be talking about triggers. It's so helpful to understand ourselves and our triggers and hot buttons, noticing what comes up for us when conflict arises. Understanding how, in general, we deal with and feel about conflicts can help us be more intentional with our words and actions.So, for some context, a trigger is an intense, emotional negative reaction to something, whether it's words or actions. The clue that our reaction is in response to a trigger is that it's often out of step with the actual situation in front of us, and it will also bring about some intense feelings in our body. That's because triggers are actually about us, not at all about the situation in front of us. They often stem from previous trauma or childhood experiences, and they bring this confronting aspect and energy to the conflict for us that nobody else sees or feels.PAM: Yes. I think that's one of the most interesting aspects for me, that the intense reaction I'm feeling isn't being reflected in the other people. Like, why aren't they more upset about this? Why can't they see what's wrong with this situation? I'd get more upset, because it seemed like they didn't care and I'd feel almost compelled to open their eyes to what was going on. So, eventually I began using that mismatch as a clue that my reaction might have more to do with me than the actual situation at that moment. But it can be hard not to get immediately carried away by that rush of emotions. Right?ANNA: Exactly. Getting a handle on our triggers, recognizing them, and learning to set them aside is an important first step to avoiding and minimizing conflict with our loved ones. And to be clear, setting aside triggers doesn't mean ignoring them. Rather, it means taking the time to explore and process them outside of the conflict, to make sure we're truly reacting to the person and the situation in front of us.And the first step to that is to slow down. Give yourself some space to bring your awareness to the moment in front of you and see if others are maybe not reacting as strongly as you are, or if your reaction seems to not fit the situation. If you notice that, you can take a pause and take steps to calm your nervous system.So, somatic approaches are used to engage the relationship between mind, body, brain, and behavior. There are some great somatic tools out there that can help calm our nervous system, allowing us to act with intention again, a simple one being cold water on your wrist. So, excusing yourself to the bathroom for some quick cold water therapy can bring you back into the moment so that you can more intentionally face the situation in front of you. You can dig into whatever that trigger was bringing up later. Right now, you want to be present in the situation with your partner or child and not be confusing the situation with baggage from your past.And so, I want to talk about the 90-Second Rule, which helps us understand some of the physiology that's happening when we have any kind of reaction. So, the concept was introduced by Jill Bolte Taylor in her book, My Stroke of Insight. In it, she describes how whenever our brain circuitry is triggered, could be fear, joy, laughter, anger, the associated chemicals are released and it takes 90 seconds for them to flush out of the body. So, at that point, we have a choice. We can choose to rethink the thought that brought about that physiological response, thus triggering it again, which means we need to actively choose to stay in that place, a place that's now in the past. To keep those feelings of fear, anger, or even laughter going, we have to keep buying back into that thought every 90 seconds.And as you gain experience tuning into this process in your body, you'll start to notice the pause and recognize when you buy back into the thought. It's important to note though, that during the 90 seconds, you will most likely not be able to make a different choice. So, for example, once you've triggered an anger response, you need to let those chemicals course through you for the 90 seconds.Then you'll have a chance to bring yourself to the present moment and make a different choice.And while you may not be able to choose to feel differently during the 90 seconds, you can stop yourself from reacting from that anger, especially when you know that intensity of that moment will pass. It's so empowering to realize we have that control, that our anger doesn't control us, that we have choices along the way to react differently.And I actually had a really interesting example of this just two weeks ago. So, I was in a hotel room and the fire alarm went off. So, it's like wake the dead fire alarm in a hotel. I was in a deep, deep sleep. My whole body, like I sit bolt upright, I'm super activated, my heart's pounding. I'm like, what's happening? There were fire trucks, the whole nine yards, but about 20 seconds in, I realized that the alarm still wasn't going off. The fire trucks had passed by. There wasn't really a threat, but my body was still on high alert. Heart banging, all the things. I tried deep breathing. I tried any tool I can think of, but it was only until about the 90 seconds passed, I felt my body calm down and I took a deep breath and I was able to go right back to sleep.It was such a stark contrast and I think it was easier to notice in this situation, because I wasn't feeling the need to pull myself back into that state of alarm, because I knew that it wasn't that. I didn't need to buy back into it. I think it's harder when you're still mad at that person or that situation in front of you, but it's there. It happens. That pause is there and so, watch for it and it's pretty cool and kind of wild.PAM: Yeah. Yeah, that is such a great example. Yeah. I think it's just so helpful to play with some tools, to see which ones can help us to just calm our nervous system down a little bit in the stress of the moment.I mean, for me, a big one is deep breathing. So, a few deep breaths and not just like a deep breath, but concentrating on a slow out breath and envisioning the tension that I'm feeling washing out with my breath. Right? So, as you mentioned, often I'll excuse myself to go to the bathroom for a minute or two to do that. As you said, we may not be able to make a different choice in those 90 seconds, but we can try not to react. We can try to give ourselves space to let anger, fear, whatever it is, course through us for that period of time.And to highlight what you said, because I don't think it can be said enough, it's about releasing the intensity of the emotions that are brought out by the trigger so that we can focus on the situation or conversation at hand and later doing some work to dig deeper and learn more about the trigger and where it comes from. Because if we ignore the trigger, figuratively stuffing it down, rather than setting it aside to be explored later, chances are it's going to keep triggering just as forcefully each time similar circumstances arise. If we get pretty good at stuffing it down and moving on, we can start to feel like a martyr, which often ends up disconnecting us even more from family and friends and our loving relationships. And if we find it harder and harder to do that over time, we're kind of on our way to burnout if we're not going to process some of this stuff, right?ANNA: Oh my gosh. Exactly. Our triggers are pointing out areas that might need some healing or at the very least, some acknowledgement and attention. So, it isn't about ignoring them, it's just about choosing our reaction in the moment that best aligns with the person we want to be.I think it might be helpful for us to just take a minute to walk through some common triggers, remembering that they are going to be super specific to each person, because it's all about our past and the things that happened and how we process that. But it can give you an idea of the things to watch for and a big piece of that is also going to be that body feeling, so, watching for that.But one of them is getting in trouble. So, this is a trigger that many share from our time in school. Sometimes it can be from our family of origin reinforcing that as well. So, if you're in a situation where maybe someone's questioning you or maybe you realize that you made a mistake, you can have this all-over body reaction and it can cloud your judgment about the next steps that you take.But you can keep in mind that, at that point, you're reaching from a place that potentially is decades past, where as a child you had very little control. In the situation in front of you, most likely, mistakes are viewed very differently and are not caused for such intense reactions. So, calming your nervous system so that you can clearly talk about what happened and ask some clarifying questions is going to serve you and the relationship much more than this oversized reaction that really won't make any sense to the person in front of you.PAM: Yes, exactly. It won't make sense, as we talked about earlier. That can be very helpful too. A trigger that I've explored pretty often over the years is the fear of things going wrong. I thought I was being helpful in pointing out all the challenges that I envisioned that could come up with whatever the other person wanted to do or suggested. It's where my brain quickly went and eventually, I rationalized it as a skill. Let me tell you all the ways this can go wrong, so that you can come up with plans B, C, and D, or just realize right now it's too risky and move on to something else. See how much time I saved you?But when I realized that my help actually created more conflict, I got curious and dug deeper. I found fear consistently being triggered underneath my professed help. I noticed that the fear was generating a kind of tunnel vision for me, in which pretty much all I could see were the things that could go wrong. And when I shared those things, others didn't take them as me being helpful, but as me not trusting them to make reasonable choices or to navigate things if they took a new turn.I came to see that when I let fear trigger my reactions, when I tried to instill my fear into my partner or my children, even under the guise of being helpful, I was hijacking their experiences and learning. So, no wonder it often led to conflict.So, I've gotten much better at instead looking at all the fun and interesting things that could come from the thing they're wanting to. At seeing their choices through their eyes, like we talked about way back in episode four, or even just getting curious and asking them what they're excited about.I also got better at asking if they wanted to hear any feedback about challenges I thought might pop up. So again, it's not about stuffing that down, it's not about never thinking about it. It's like, okay, I'm going to set that aside for a bit and I'm going to look at this first, look at all the cool things and why they're very excited about this.So, what was really interesting to me was asking them if they wanted to hear that feedback and the conversations that came up around that were very eye-opening. I learned that, so often, they had already thought about that same challenge and had a plan in mind in case it happened. And what was super fascinating to me was that their thinking about that wasn't driven by fear. It was just part of thinking about how things might unfold. They were just more clues to me that fear didn't need to be part of the picture, part of the conversation.ANNA: And fear is such a big one for so many of us. And it is interesting, I think, to tune into any kind of habituated responses like that, especially if we notice they're causing ruptures or disconnections in our relationship, because I feel like, just like you found, just scratching beneath that surface will reveal some kind of trigger, some kind of fear, some kind of something that keeps bubbling up that we've kind of put a habit around that really isn't about the moment and just keeping us from looking at it.So, one of my triggers is around control. So, I don't like to be controlled, and if I get a whiff of someone trying to control me, I'm going to start bucking. The challenge for me is that my reaction is usually not in proportion to what is actually. So, I do my best to notice it rising in my body. For me, it's a very physical experience and I like to name it just for myself. So. I'm like, okay, you're starting to feel controlled. Let's take a closer look and see what's actually happening here.And so often, I mean, honestly, I'd say like 99% of the time, it's all about that other person, and they really aren't intending to control me or really even thinking all that much about me at all. And perhaps it's they're not feeling heard about something or supported about something. So, if I spend that time to really listen and understand where they're coming from, then we can find a path through whatever the issue is.But if I start bucking against this perceived control, then the conversation invariably goes sideways. And it's just so often, again, it's just this defensive reaction in me doesn't leave space for any learning about what's actually happening for that person in front of me.PAM: Exactly. Because so often, we can quickly shift the conversation to be about the trigger instead of what's going on in front of us. Like what? And they're like, what the heck happened?A bit of a twist on that for me is that agency is very important to me, meaning choosing what I do. So, what can happen often is I'm intending to do something soon, then someone, often my partner, asks me to do the thing. Well, suddenly, yes, that whole body rush. Suddenly it feels like I've lost my choice, my agency. And now I'll be doing the thing to meet their request rather than doing it because I want to do it, even though I was already planning to do it. Resistance just immediately floods through me, and I need to work through that first, find my choice again, and then do the thing that I wanted to do all along.What that also means is that I am careful with my asks of others so that they aren't received as demands and leave space for a cheerful, "Yeah, I was already planning to do that this afternoon."ANNA: Yeah, I have definitely felt this one, too. And again, for that person asking, either they may just be processing out loud, they may be trying to check things off of our joint list. They're not trying to take away my agency and it still feels like they are. So, recognizing that trigger just helps me not snap back at that and just like, okay, that's about them. I'm planning to do it. It's almost even hard to kind of explain why that triggered reaction so intense. Because it doesn't make sense to the situation.And that's, again, your clue to say, okay, this is not about this person or this situation. This is about something that stems from long ago, most likely.And so, I think another flip side of this is that it can be really helpful to recognize when someone you're talking to is triggered. So, that will help you not take their actions personally. You can see that they're bringing an energy from somewhere else into the conversation and at that point, you can help slow things down. That will give them permission to slow down as well. It's never a time to push a point when you have somebody who's triggered in front of you. It will not go well. Asking for a break for yourself can give them a moment to regroup. Sometimes there's space for gentle questions, but often it's just better to just slow things down and allow them to ground back into the moment.We don't want to meet that with defensiveness or I really think you'd see when you start looking, that's where so many conflicts happen.In our closest relationships, I think it can be helpful to talk about this beforehand and have a plan if one of you is triggered. You can each decide what would feel okay in the moment. Is it moving towards a break? Is it a code word? Is it a somatic tool? Having some tools handy will help you both navigate those moments, so that it doesn't spiral into a deeper conflict. Because when we're in our rational brains, we don't want some trigger from our childhood to be impacting this relationship in front of us.PAM: Yes. When we begin to recognize when we are feeling triggered, it does become easier to notice it happening with others. And vice versa, because maybe we notice it in others first, which then opens our eyes to recognizing when it's happening to us. But either way, our world gets bigger and our compassion grows, I feel.And I also found it really helpful to chat with others about triggering situations outside of the strain of conflict. So, as you mentioned, we can talk about ways to share observations that the person seems triggered without further triggering them or us. And that can definitely look different for different people.How would you prefer someone to share that kind of information with you? And we can chat about different tools to play with to help release some of that intensity and bring us back into the moment with clearer eyes. Which tools work better for each person? How can we keep those tools close at hand and easy to access? That is another fun thing to play with. If it's a spray, if it's a smell, we can keep those things in our pocket. Put them in a basket in a main room, those kinds of things, because these are positive things, these are helpful tools. It's not like, oh my gosh, I'm failing, so I need to go and do this thing. Right? Not that at all.And we can also chat about different ways to approach conversations that have a better chance of just not triggering the other person's trauma or bad memories or fears. We don't want to trigger that so that it rushes to mind for them. So, it could be something simple as a change of phrase or Tone, as you mentioned, or energy. That can sometimes be all it takes not to trigger a trigger in the first place.And we can talk about how each person likes to process things like challenges and triggers. So, are they or you more of an external processor wanting to talk about it as they or us peel back the layers? Or more of an internal processor wanting some quiet time and space to think things through on their own? Or is it more of a mix dependent on the circumstances?And of course, all of these are not one and done conversations. We'll learn more and tweak things along the way. We'll try out a tool. It helps. It doesn't help. Maybe it helps for a while and then it stops helping as much. But this deeper understanding of ourselves and our loved ones most definitely can help us navigate conflict and triggers with more grace and compassion.ANNA: Oh my gosh. Absolutely. I mean, it's a process, but with this greater understanding of ourselves, with this shared language that we're talking about, we'll be able to cultivate an environment where we can stay connected. We don't take things personally and we can remain open and curious.And I think, again, as we've been talking about, just bringing awareness changes what's happening in the home, because we have this language, we have this understanding, so it's not just running through the motions and kind of repeating the same fights, or repeating the same triggers or getting triggered every time something happens. So, I really love just these simple things that just bring new language and new awareness to the situations.PAM: Yeah. I feel, for me, the biggest thing was it helped me not take things personally. Understanding the nuances of all these different situations and how all the different pieces of who we are play into the relationship and conflict and conversations and triggers and all those pieces help me understand that, oh, this isn't all about me. And it's not them doing something wrong. It's just who we are. And that was so valuable to me in navigating relationships.ANNA: 100%. Okay, so let's talk about a few questions to consider this week. First, are you aware of your triggers? If not, look for themes when you find yourself activated, that seems a bit out of proportion with the situation. And be honest about that, because sometimes we're like, no, it was that serious. But the feeling in your body, you'll start to recognize it. Knowing our triggers really helps us be more intentional with our actions. PAM: It's feeling it in our body and like as you mentioned, it's like, no, it's not the trigger. If it happens multiple times. Like if it keeps happening over and over in similar situations like that, because the first 10 times, it's like, no, it's the thing. Yeah. Why does this thing keep happening?ANNA: It's not the thing! Oh my goodness. Okay. Number two. Can you think of a time when acting from a trigger impacted a conversation and what would it look like if you had a do-over? And I think that'll be interesting as you kind of recognize like, oh yeah, that tone, that something, is a trigger for me that then we kind of have this escalation or this same conflict.PAM: And I like the idea of thinking of it as a do-over, as in it helps us to more easily bring to mind choices in the moment. Because so often, when we're triggered, we just see the one thing. We're very focused on the one thing. So, we do our little bit of help to get us through those 90 seconds, through that first thing. And if we've thought about other possibilities, other ways we might choose to react, other kind of questions to ask in the situation versus declarations, if we've got that, it's closer to top of mind. So, over time, we can get to them a little bit quicker so that we can change, make a different choice, in recognition that we have a choice. And then as we talked about over time, we can tweak that and play with it.ANNA: Definitely. So, number three, have you noticed triggers in your partner? And so, this is interesting, because like you said, as we recognize it in ourselves, we start recognizing it in others, but it's also that repetition that you're talking about. So, it's like, oh, every time I ask them about this thing, they kind of get snappy with me or whatever. Okay. Most likely, that's not about your question or what's happening. There's a trigger that's being set off that would be helpful to understand. So, look for those, again, repeating things or repeating energy even, like the same energy's coming. What's the common denominator?PAM: Yes. I love that so much, because what we can do when we can start to recognize that repetitive reaction was seemingly over the top, because we can get stuck in, that is just over the top! I should be able to ask that question, so I just keep asking it again because their response is wrong.ANNA: If I just keep asking, it's going to get better.PAM: They'll figure it out. That might be a trigger. It's almost a response that they aren't able to control. That's when I can start thinking, oh, I'm going to play around with my tone, the energy, the timing of the question, the wording of the question, like there's so many ways that we can communicate something, that we can start to play with that and learn more. And then maybe in an off time have the conversation and ask them why are you feeling like that?ANNA: We're bringing more compassion to it. And again, these are the people that we love. This is who we want to be in these relationships, even if we get a little like, that's over the top and too much. Okay, so question four, what tools do you want to put in place with your partner to help each other navigate when one of you is feeling triggered?I really do think this is a cool conversation to have, especially if you notice some of these repeating fights or things happening, just like, "Hey, let's figure out, how do we take a timeout? How do we do that so it doesn't end up triggering that." Because we have abandonment triggers and then somebody feels if somebody's taking a break, then that can trigger something. But if we have some agreements ahead of time, if we have some plans in place, then we don't have to take it personally. It doesn't have to feel like that. And we can just give each other the space we need to be present and be intentional about what's happening in front of us.PAM: Yeah. I feel like with those conversations over time around it, it just helps lighten the weight too of the moment, to have somebody just recognize that we're triggered, recognize and not escalate back to us even. You could just absorb it for us and just show compassion, as you were saying. That's where we're going.ANNA: We want to cultivate that. For sure. Anyway, thank you so much for joining us this week and we look forward to next time. Take care!PAM: Bye.

LJ020: Bids for Connection [Relationships]

For our first episode in our Relationships series, we are excited to dive into the idea of Bids for Connection. This term, coined by Drs. John and Julie Gottman, describes a wide range of attempts at connection and conversation that many of us don't even notice. We have the choice of turning towards a bid, turning away, and turning against. Noticing and intentionally responding to bids for connection from the people in our lives can be an easy way to increase connection and strengthen our relationships.We hope today's episode sparks some fun insights for you and we invite you to dive deeper with our Episode Questions. Join us on Instagram or YouTube to continue the conversation and share your reflections.Let’s dig deep, challenge paradigms, choose connection, and live joyfully!You can follow us on Instagram or YouTube. EPISODE QUESTIONSDownload a printable PDF of this week's questions here.Sign up here to receive each weekly PDF automatically in your email inbox.1. Does looking back on the last week through the lens of bids for connection change how you see any of your interactions with your partner or children?2. This week, when your partner or child asks something of you, take a beat to consider the motivation behind the ask. Is it possible it’s a bid for connection? How does that change your response?3. Have you found yourself turning against recent bids for connection? Are you feeling overwhelmed? What are some things you might do to help reduce your overwhelm?4. Do you recognize some of your recent requests of others as bids for connection? Did they turn toward you? Are there ways you might tweak your bids to invite a more positive response?TRANSCRIPTPAM: Hello and welcome to the Living Joyfully Podcast. We are so happy you're here exploring relationships with us, who we are in them, out of them, and what that means for how we move through the world.If you're new to the podcast, we encourage you to go back and listen to earlier episodes, particularly the first 14, our foundations series, because we continue to reference these fundamental relationship ideas and tools pretty often. And if you've already been enjoying the podcast, we'd love it if you could leave a rating and review wherever you listen. That definitely helps new people find us.So, today's episode is part of our Relationships series, and we're going to talk about bids for connection. This concept comes from Dr. John and Dr. Julie Gottman, who have been studying relationships for decades. And it can be a helpful lens through which to look at our interactions with the people we love.So, a bid for connection is a small action that shows that a person would like to connect with us. It could be like, "Look at this," or, "I'm exhausted." Or just a hug or a request for help. Or even I have heard these, a loud sigh. It's an opportunity for us to make a choice in how we respond. The Gottmans described three possible directions that we can take.So, "turning towards" means enthusiastically meeting the bid with connection, looking towards the person, responding with validation, increasing those feelings of connection. The person feels seen and heard, and the relationship is strengthened.Now "turning away" could look like staying mostly unengaged. So, maybe continuing to look at whatever you're working on, glancing up for a second to say, "Mm-hmm," or replying, "In a minute." Sometimes it feels like that's the most we can do, but over time this type of response often leads to disconnection in the relationship. The person feels a little rebuffed, like you're uninterested in them.And "turning against" is usually the result of actively being in a state of overwhelm. It looks like more aggressively rejecting the bid for connection. "Can't you see I'm busy?" "Oh, here we go. What now?" Or even just rolling your eyes rather obviously. Turning against the bid damages the relationship and makes it more likely that the person won't make future bids for connection with us.ANNA: Yeah. This concept has been so helpful for me. It helps me see the moments where more connection is possible. And I know the person that I want to be is one who turns towards those bids for connection from the people in my life. But we do get busy and in our heads, and it's not always super clear that it's a bid for connection, because it rarely looks like, "Hey, I want to spend time with you."And so, I do really like keeping this idea top of mind as much as I can so that I notice the more subtle cues that someone's looking to connect. Because it really is one of the easiest ways to keep relationships in a good place. Connection is the foundation of any healthy relationship, and the stronger and more secure the connection, the easier it is to navigate the ups and downs. So, finding ways to keep the connection strong is so helpful and we don't want to miss these easy ways to do it.PAM: Absolutely, absolutely. And something I've found helpful is using this idea of bids for connection to look at those requests from my partner or kids, like you said, they don't always look like what they are. And it's particularly when they request something that we know they could do themselves. So maybe they ask you to bring them a drink or a snack or bring them their phone. At first, we may think or even say, "You can get it. You're closer." But if we instead get curious, we can take a moment and ask ourselves, if it's something they can do for themselves, why are they asking me to do it?So, maybe it's about the act of getting the thing and we realize they're busy with what they're already doing, or we learn they're resting a sore leg, or that they're feeling a little bit under the weather. But if none of those fit, it may well be a bid for connection. Not that they can likely name it that way, as you said, but they are feeling a need to connect and this felt like a way that they could reach out.And it's super important to note that meeting the request is not the same as meeting that need for connection. So, for instance, getting the drink doesn't mean their need has been met. So, if you bring the drink and immediately go back to what you were doing, 10 minutes later they may ask you to bring them a snack. That's another clue that it's not really about the thing, it's about connecting with you. The request is actually an invitation for you to join them for a few minutes to connect, to ask about what they're up to, and listen to their answer, to wholeheartedly join them in their activity for a while, something that fills their connection cup.And it really helped me to remember they aren't trying to frustrate me. They are trying to meet a need. And the need for the drink is just a surface need. We know that, because they could meet it for themselves if it was just about that. The deeper need they're expressing is more likely for connection or maybe for reassurance that we value them and our relationship with them more than the thing that we're occupied with. It also helped me to remember that even seemingly negative behavior can be a bid for connection. So, particularly if regular bids have been ignored, they can get louder and more negative in an attempt to express how important it is for them to connect with you, to feel seen and heard by you.ANNA: I love how you mentioned those odd requests that clearly they could do for themselves. It's like, "You're a lot closer to the kitchen," or the light switch, but it doesn't take much scratching below the surface at all to see that it's not about the light or the glass of water at all, but about needing that moment of connection. And like you said, that need will most likely not be met by just getting the light or the drink. Especially if I add a tone to it, like, "Here's your drink," or, "Fine!" The requests will just keep coming, like you said, and they could turn a little bit more negative or they'll move on to some other way, which could just be even harder to understand.And for some reason this piece is kind of interesting to me because asking for something that they can do for themselves, we seem to have a harder time offering grace around this to children. If a neighbor were to ask us for water, we'd hop up and happily get it, but if our child does, we can start the, 'You can get it yourself," kind of lecture tone, and somehow then we'll tie it into this independence agenda or assigning some kind of future significance to this one little ask. "They're never going to learn to do things for themselves," which of course does not hold up to much scrutiny at all. But you see parents go there all the time. And the thing is, they really will learn to do the things for themselves. And most likely already know. But the request is, again, not about the water or the snack or the act itself. It's about this need to connect with you.And I just always want to keep in mind the person I want to be in the world. I want to show kindness and consideration to the people I love, really to most people. And what I find is that I do receive it back in turn. So, instead of thinking, they will never learn to do anything for themselves, you can reframe it as, they're learning how to be kind and a loving person in a relationship, an incredibly helpful skill that will serve them the rest of their life. Because the thing is, if I would do something for a friend or neighbor, why wouldn't I do it for the people I love most in the world? It was just such an interesting question for me to ask myself. And it always reminded me that I wanted to be giving my best to the people that I love. I want to assume positive intent, even if it isn't clear in that moment.And when we were talking before about HALT, I mentioned how the L for Lonely often ties into the bids for connection, and it's more along the lines of what you were talking about when it can kind of get a little surly or grumpy. If we have this grumpy tone, sighing, maybe some stomping about, it really can be about feeling disconnected. So, checking in and making sure, am I paying attention to what's happening? Have we been separate? Have I been engaged in my thing and maybe they're looking for me to kind of see what they're up to?I want to ward off any escalation that could then lead to a conflict, because again, if someone gets extra surly and then they get snappy, then we can get locked into some kind of a conflict. And I actually think that once you have this idea as just part of your relationship, as part of your family, as part of just the culture and the environment you're in, then the negative bids lessen, because you have some language and recognition around feeling disconnected and can then find those positive ways to connect.PAM: Yes. It gives us that language so that we can start just communicating more through it. Because connection just becomes part of the fabric of the family, I feel, weaving through all different kinds of moments. So, from those deeply connecting joyful ones, to disconnecting conflict, to bids for connection, and the varying responses in between. It's so rich. It's so rich. And then, like you said, when we can communicate more through that lens, there is less chance that it escalates to go off the rails. And of course, we can also make bids for connection, inviting our partner or child to join us in an activity or asking to join them in what they're doing, or opening up space for a conversation that's interesting to both of us. Just don't have expectations of their response or take their response personally, because that's not helpful. Their response is about them, not about you. That said, it doesn't mean ignoring it. If we're feeling ignored after a few attempts to reach out, it's helpful to have a conversation with them about how we're feeling. Because so often we're drawn to telling a negative story about what's going on, when actually, we're missing some information from their perspective.Maybe I say, "I've been trying to connect with you the last couple of days, asking you to watch that new show with me. I'm starting to feel like you don't want to spend time together," and their response may well be, "Oh, I just didn't want to watch that show. I heard it's boring. I didn't realize you were looking to connect. Would you like to go for a hike together on the weekend?" "Sure!" or not. Suggestions like this, it's an opening for a conversation so we have the opportunity for everybody to share what things are looking and feeling like to us and then we can find a path forward together that is meeting all of our needs.So, I just wanted to share that in my experience, the story that I've gotten stuck replaying in my head, that keeps me even more disconnected because I'm in my head, right? And it often really isn't how the other person is seeing it. So, it is so worth taking a step in and just saying, "Hey, something's up and I'm not seeing it this way. What do you think?" ANNA: The stories are so powerful and they so often derail us. Being more clear on stating the needs instead of jumping to a solution can help us define the ways that feel better together. The need in this situation being to spend time together or to feel connected. The proposed solution was watching the show. But we know that there's all kinds of ways that we can reconnect. And so, we don't want to tell a story around that.And again, I think just keeping this top of mind helps us communicate the need more. And so, instead of being like this kind of subterfuge like, "Okay, we're going to make this little bid," we can be more aware of, hey, I'm asking about the show because I want to be with them, so then I can be more clear. So, definitely watch for any stories you're telling. And whenever you find yourself assigning thoughts or feelings to another person, you are telling a story. So, when that story is making you feel disconnected, just take that step back and ask some questions. Be more clear about what your needs are, and then you'll get a better sense of what's going on for the other person. And you can both work on finding solutions that feel good to everyone to see if the hike makes sense, or if something else, another activity makes sense. But it's that conversation, right? We're starting the conversation and we're being more clear.It's hard when we have to guess about people. And again, I think just bringing this language into our lives helps us communicate more clearly and really understand better what is driving our behavior and the behavior of those around us. And it doesn't have to feel like such a mystery when we do that.PAM: Because people, particularly those we love, don't need to be the unpredictable puzzles we to make them out to be. And we don't need to be an unpredictable puzzle to the people that we love. That's relationships, connection, conversation, language. Just learning about each other is just so incredibly valuable.And these bids for connection, looking at things through this lens, I just found really helpful for me to just take the pulse of the relationship. So, here are some questions around bids for connection to ponder this week.Number one, does looking back on the last week or so through the lens of bids for connection change how you see any of your interactions with your partner or children? It's just really interesting to use this lens and look in and see, oh, you know, maybe they meant this. Maybe they were thinking this.And now, this week, when your partner or child asks something of you, try to take that beat to consider the motivation behind the ask. Is it possible it's a bid for connection? And how might that change your response?Number three, have you found yourself turning against recent bids for connection? Are you feeling overwhelmed? What are some things you might do to help reduce your overwhelm? So, recognizing that we're turning against bids for connection isn't about beating ourselves up or, oh my gosh, you did something wrong. No. It's a wonderful clue that, oh, there might be something for me to look at. Am I feeling overwhelmed? Right?ANNA: Right. And I would say it's often assigned to the relationship and it's often about the context. So, if you're rejecting bids for connection, you may just be like, ah, I'm really struggling with this person and they may be thinking, they don't love me, they don't want to be with me. When really it is this overwhelm and stress at work. There's some kind of contextual pieces like we've talked about before. So, just look at it as that clue, that little red flag of like, hey, I want to tune in a little more before this becomes a rupture in the relationship.PAM: Yes. Because there is so much subtext that we're communicating with our actions. So, recognizing that they may be seeing our actions differently than what we're meaning by them. So again, language and communication is so helpful with that.And our last question, do you recognize some of your recent requests of others as bids for connection? Did they turn towards you? Are there ways you might tweak your bids to invite a more positive response?Because you know the other person. Coming out and explaining, I really want to connect with you, spend some time with you, is that a helpful way to approach it? Or one thing that was really helpful to me was recognizing, you know what? What I really want is to connect with them. I don't really care how. So, that helped me get to a mindset where I'm happy to just sit by them and join them when they're doing their fun thing. I'm just going to soak in their presence and their joy, their laughter, whatever it is. And that's going to fill my cup. It doesn't need to be, I want to connect with this person and I want to do it through something that I love to do. We can put so much inside our relationship!ANNA: We can. But I think that's that self-awareness piece, too, and I think this is an important piece, because again, it's about the clarity of the need. So, right. You were able to identify in that situation, hey, just being close by feels good and just knowing what they're into and what they're laughing about, that feels great. And sometimes it might be, no, I want to have a deep conversation, or I want to talk about this thing that's coming up or that just happened. But then we can be more clear. So, then it's not, we're sitting down with the expectation of this big conversation when maybe the child or your partner's involved in something.So, again, more clarity around what your needs are, and I feel like that's our responsibility, right? To understand our needs and to communicate them clearly. And so, all of these things, and just looking through this lens of bids for connection over this next week, I think you'll see some of these pieces and then you can kind of fine tune like, hey, am I being clear and am I being open to what they're trying to communicate to me as well?PAM: Yes. Which brings up just one other piece. There's lots of pieces, but something that I learned over the years that clarity is just so incredibly valuable, because at first we can think, oh, you know, we love this person. They love me. They should understand me. They should know when I am feeling a little left out, or that I'm feeling like I want to connect. They should sense through my body language or something and they should make the effort. You know, that is a lot of expectations to put on someone. And can we really do that for everybody else?So, being clear about our needs doesn't say that they don't love us that much or whatever. They don't understand us. They don't know us. Being clear is just so valuable so that other people know where we are and can respond in ways that are helpful, because, you know what? They love us, too, and they also want to be, they're in relationship with us. It's not a one way thing. Right. But they need to know what's going on.ANNA: Yeah. None of us are mind readers and so, yeah, I love that point.PAM: Okay. Thank you so much everyone for listening, and we will see you next time. Bye!

LJ019: Celebrate the Child in Front of You [Parenting]

We're back with another episode in our Parenting series, in which we explore our relationships with our children. In today's episode, we're talking about celebrating the child in front of you. Most of us bring ideas to parenting about what childhood should look like and what our children should be like, but this can create disconnect in our relationships and make it harder to see the real, amazing people in our lives. Giving space for our children to be themselves and to be different than we were expecting leads to all kinds of amazing places!We hope today's episode sparks some fun insights for you and we invite you to dive deeper with our Episode Questions. Join us on Instagram or YouTube to continue the conversation and share your reflections.Let’s dig deep, challenge paradigms, choose connection, and live joyfully!You can follow us on Instagram or YouTube. EPISODE QUESTIONSDownload a printable PDF of this week's questions here.Sign up here to receive each weekly PDF automatically in your email inbox.1. In what ways have you celebrated your child for the person they are?2. What does your child love? How do you see that as part of who they are?3. What visions did you hold of having children? How has that vision helped or harmed your relationships with them? 4. Take some time this week to think about your family and how you are all individuals, see and celebrate the differences. THINGS WE MENTIONEDThe Gardener and the Carpenter by Alison GopnikTRANSCRIPTANNA: Hi! And welcome to the Living Joyfully Podcast. We're happy you're here exploring relationships with us, who we are in them, out of them, and what that means for how we move through the world.If you're new to the podcast, we encourage you to go back and listen to the earlier episodes. We started with some foundational relationship ideas and just really have enjoyed how they're all building. And if you've already been enjoying the podcast, we'd love it if you would subscribe and share. We really appreciate your support as it grows.Today's episode is part of the Parenting series, and we're going to be talking about celebrating the child in front of you. Parenting can bring up a lot of things for people. And we want to do our best. We want to do all that we can. We want to do right by these children. We want to make sure that they have every opportunity to live their best life. And while all of those things and more come from this very loving place, it can sometimes lead us to developing expectations for our children and pushing them towards the things that we think are best. All the while, we're holding out this endpoint, this goal of a child successfully raised and a job well done.When we bring the lenses we've been talking about on the podcast to this idea, it can really help: being open and curious, there's plenty of time, consent, connection. All of the topics we've talked about before are critical to bring it to this relationship with our children or we may miss who they actually are and what they want from this life.PAM: Yes, yes, yes. Everything we talk about on the podcast applies fully to all our relationships with the people we love of any age. Now, I do imagine that for some listeners, while it's been interesting to consider these ideas with regards to relationships with other adults, for the most part, they might not seem very applicable to relationships with children. And if that's you and yet you're still curious why you might want to consider doing things differently and what that might look like, I invite you to check out the book The Gardener and the Carpenter: What the New Science of Child Development Tells Us about the Relationship Between Parents and Children by Allison Gopnik. And we'll put a link in the show notes. She's one of the world's leading child psychologists, a professor of psychology and affiliate professor philosophy at the University of California at Berkeley. And in this book, she explains how the familiar 21st century picture of parents and children is profoundly wrong. It's not just based on bad science. It's bad for kids and parents, too.And I do love her gardener and carpenter analogies for parenting styles. So, with the carpenter model, parents are working with a goal of producing a particular kind of adult. They are essentially trying to shape their child into a final product that fits the vision that they had in mind, their blueprint.So, for them, parenting is about control. On the other hand, gardener-style parents work to create a protected and nurturing space for children to flourish. She explains that a good garden is constantly changing as it adapts to the changing circumstances. And a good gardener quote, "works to create fertile soil that can sustain a whole ecosystem of different plants with different strengths and beauties and with different weaknesses and difficulties. In this way, being a good parent won't transform children into smart or happy or successful adults, but it can help create a new generation that is robust and adaptable and resilient, better able to deal with the inevitable, unpredictable changes that face them in the future."And she also dives into the rewards of being a parent. And it's not your child's grades and trophies. She writes, "They come from the moment by moment physical and psychological joy of being with this particular child. And in that child's moment by moment joy in being with you." And by the end of the introduction, she sets us up with this. "So, our job as parents is not to make a particular kind of child.Instead, our job is to provide a protected space of love, safety, and stability in which children of many unpredictable kinds can flourish. Our job is not to shape our children's minds. It's to let those minds explore all the possibilities that the world allows. Our job is not to tell children how to play. It's to give them the toys and pick the toys up again after the kids are done. We can't make children learn, but we can let them learn."Okay. I think that shift in perspective from trying to shape a child into our vision of perfect to discovering, supporting, and celebrating the unique child in front of us makes all the difference in cultivating strong and connected lifelong relationships with our kids. That's the difference. You are going to be in relationship with your child far beyond their childhood, right?ANNA: Yes. That's the hope anyway. And it really is such an apt analogy, and I think it helps us to step back a bit and actually just kind of see how it's playing out. We can think about how it felt in our childhood and what kind of relationship we want to have with our children beyond those expectations. What do we want that relationship to feel like? Something that compounds this tendency to control or have expectations is that we often come into parenting with these preconceived notions about what childhood is like. This could stem from our own childhood, which maybe we loved, or maybe what we bring is in reaction to our childhood, what we want to do differently. But either way, it's a reaction to, from the past, not a response to what is actually in front of us, the child and the family we have right now.Sometimes we think our child will be like us. It goes back to how people are different. Our children are different. And if you have three kids, each one of them is their own unique person with their own way of being in the world. We don't want to hold this image we have in our head of them over top of the person that they actually are.And this goes to ideas about family culture, too, which you'll hear, "We are an outdoor family," "We're a family of travelers," "We're a family of," whatever you finish that sentence with, it deserves a second look, because it's oh so very rare that an entire family wants to move through the world in the same way. Instead, we can embrace the idea that we are a family of individuals and together we support one another to live our best lives.PAM: Yes, yes. I love that image. Supporting and celebrating each family member, especially children, as the unique individual that they are in this moment. We're not trying to mold them into an individual.They are an individual right now, and that actually better fosters a family atmosphere of joy and harmony than, "Our family is," or, "Be nice to each other, you're family," all those phrases that just come rolling out of our mouths.I also find that another common way that parents lump their children together and thereby undermine their individuality is by how they measure fair. The idea behind fairness is definitely an important one. To be fair is to be free from bias, is to not show favor for one child over another. But how do you measure fair? I find, and I remember, many families measure it based on quantity. And we strive for equality. We give all our kids the same number of gifts for holidays, or we spend the same amount of money on their birthdays, or we sign them up for the same number of rec activities. We can cling to this equality paradigm. But the scorekeeping can get so tiring. You just have to keep track of all this. And when you think about it, equality in what you give each child really isn't a helpful measure of fairness, because what each child actually needs, each individual, is likely different. And to see this individuality in action, it helps to move past that image you were talking about that we have conjured up in our minds of that perfect child.No longer trying to cajole each of our kids into that mold with varying levels of success and instead just look clearly at the individual child in front of us and engage with that person. When we can do that, each child feels seen, loved, and accepted as part of the family, even if what that support and engagement looks like is wildly different for each child.So, at any given time, maybe one child needs more of your attention because they're sick or they're injured while another is in the midst of a busy season with our favorite activity and need you to provide supplies for it or transportation and maybe a third is in a social season and wants your blessing to invite friends over regularly. So, you may be giving each child very different things that take varying amounts of time, effort, money, energy, all those pieces. But when their unique needs are being met, they each feel seen and secure and celebrated for who they are as a person.ANNA: Gosh, I love that reminder that fair isn't the same as equal. We want to help each person in our lives pursue the things that they're interested in, and that can look, as you said, just wildly different.People feel much more seen and loved by tailoring our engagement and our resources to what suits them and helps them along their unique path over what an equal share of something they may not even want is.And I think it can be a really helpful framework to realize that what your child loves is who they are.So, using the things we've been talking about to connect with your child, listen, be open, have the conversations, really lean to learn what they love and why. It may be that they love art or soccer or video games. Taking the time to understand and support their interests shows them that you see them and that you're celebrating the things that they love and in that, you're celebrating them.And it's such an incredible gift to give the people in our lives that we love them without judgment. And I think it's so important, because I think so often for many of us, love had a judgment piece attached to it, and we can let that go. For many reasons we feel, I don't know, comfortable judging children it seems, how they spend their time, what they're doing, how they're doing it. And I think perhaps we feel like it's coming from a place of love. It's an attempt to give our best advice, but more often than not, it's so disconnecting and it harms the relationship. But that doesn't mean that we can't share the things that we've learned over the years, but with an understanding that those were our takeaways and theirs may be very different, and they may have to learn it all on their own.I know we can wish to save them from some of that hard work, but it just doesn't work that way. I'm sure we can all think back to times that our parents thought they knew what was best for us and they wanted to save us from this problem that we were running headstrong into, but it just never landed well, and I actually believe it creates what we're fearing, because then our kids are less likely to come to us as they're figuring out things, because they're fearing our judgment or our direction, or that we're going to co-opt whatever it is they're doing.If instead, we can stay connected and curious, we can act as that trusted advisor and a sounding board as they find the past that make the most sense to them.PAM: Yes. It is so interesting, isn't it, how we feel more comfortable judging our children than other adults. And I think that ties back to that carpenter parenting style, right? Which I think for many parents is the adult-child relationship we know, because that's how we grew up. We compare the child to the blueprint, we judge how close they are to that ideal, and then we have to use control tactics at that point to make the adjustments that are needed to get them back on track. And absolutely not as starkly negative as that sounds right. We love our kids and we want what's best for them, but the real question is, who gets to define what is best?As a carpenter-style parent, we want to define that, right? It's our blueprint, our vision of the best path from naive child to successful adult. They're our child. We want them to listen to us and learn from our mistakes so they don't have to go through similar challenges.But, as you said, that's just not how human beings are wired to learn. And we differ from our children in many significant ways, right? And regardless of age, we all want to learn through our own experiences. Think about how we like to learn. We all want to explore the things that we find fascinating, and our children will feel more supported and cared for when they know that we have their backs, that we love them and celebrate who they are. They feel safer coming to us with questions and to process things that have happened, knowing they won't be judged or scorned, but that we'll do our best to help them figure things out for themselves. So, we're not there to tell them direction, but we are there to help them process and think things through to understand it for themselves. That's where the real learning is. When they see the context, they see the choices, they see how things unfolded.Now definitely, we can share our experiences with them as information that they might find helpful. But we can do it without that expectation that they adopt it wholesale. Again, we're different people and we're all in different places in our lives, too. When we were at that age, what life was like at that age is different than what life at that age is like for them, too.And my goodness, the lightness and the joy that comes with celebrating the amazing child that you love is priceless versus the weight we carry when we're always judging and trying to get them back on our track. Just night and day.ANNA: Absolutely. And we can take that weight off of ourselves and off of our children, and it frees up energy to create these amazing relationships that last throughout our lives. And I think the other piece that can't really be overstated, too, is that when we're coming in with that judgment and control, we're really short-circuiting the learning. We're really not allowing them to learn about themselves.So, if they love something intensely, but we're saying, "Hmm, that doesn't align, that's not as academic as we want it, that's not as sporty as we want it," whatever the thing is, then they're left doubting what they're loving, what they're thinking. And so, this process of them discovering who they really are is just being tamped down and short-circuited by us, which then just spills into their adulthood.PAM: And what they're learning is about us. They're learning that sports is important to us, that we love hockey or we love soccer or we think that's important. And back to our last episode, the self-awareness piece. We are not helping them gain any self-awareness when what they're learning is about us and what our priorities are.They're not having a chance to explore the things that they like and what their priorities are, and to have those experiences. There's nothing wrong with an experience that they afterwards say, "I don't want to have that experience again," That's learning. ANNA: Right! And it just makes for a richer experience. Again, we've talked about in the last episodes, when we go tunnel vision with this outcome or solution, we're missing the richness, we're missing the tapestry that comes from all the uniqueness of the people around us. And so, I'm excited that we're talking about just celebrating our child and all the people around us really. This is just about celebrating the people around us and their uniqueness.So, a few questions to consider for this week. In what ways have you celebrated your child for the person they are? What does your child love? How do you see it as a part of who they are?I think that's a big one, because sometimes it's hard. The things they love, maybe we don't understand it. Why are they so fascinated by that? Why do they keep wanting to go down that one path? But really sink in with that.PAM: Those are great questions for us to ask ourselves, as we're talking about, peeling back those layers. If we don't understand, that doesn't mean immediately stop them. It means, oh, why? Why is this very interesting to them? And yeah. It's amazing what you discover when you start peeling back those layers for yourself.ANNA: And just lean in, lean into that excitement from them and just bask in that piece and you'll learn a lot. And then, what visions did you hold of having children? How has that vision helped or harmed your relationship with your actual children?PAM: There's a distinction.ANNA: There's a distinction for sure. The children in our head are not always the children we have in front of us. Take some time this week to think about your family and how you are all individuals. See and celebrate the differences. And again, this is for every member, adults and kids alike. How different does that feel to think we're all celebrating the uniqueness? They're in it together supporting one another. It's just such a different feeling.PAM: Yeah. And I think that is a place where we can all connect, too, as we're talking about connection, is that we can each find the things that light us up and we can connect through the fact that they light us up. We can celebrate that joy, that fun. "Oh, you love that so much. I love this just as much. It's so fun when we get a chance to do it and we don't want to do anything else," and conversations can go there. Connecting with our kids or our partner doesn't mean that we have to love the thing they love as much as they do, but it means seeing how much they love that, celebrating how much they love that, supporting them to do it as much as they would like to be able to do it, all those pieces.It really is when you can peel that apart. I don't have to love it as much. I can celebrate that they love it that much. And then I can think about the things that I love that much. It's just so rich. The world opens up for the family as well.ANNA: And I think what you'll notice very quickly is how people respond to that, how they open up more and tell you more and feel more trust and feel more seen and heard. So quickly, that will happen when you start to celebrate the things that they love and really take an interest. Again, that doesn't mean you have to jump in and join them, but just taking an interest, whether it's a video game or a sports thing, or a music thing or an academic thing, whatever it is, just giving that time for that connection is just so rich and important.PAM: Yay! ANNA: All right. Thank you so much for listening, and we hope to see you next time. Take care.PAM: Bye!