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!
LJ029: Examining Have To's [Relationships]

We’re back with another episode in our Relationships series and we’re talking about examining our have to's. We often use the words, "I have to," or "You have to," without even realizing that we're saying them! But those words add weight to our lives and they take away our choices. If, instead, we get curious about our language and start questioning all of the have to's, a whole world of possibilities opens up. It's then that we can learn more about ourselves and our loved ones and really tune in to what we want and need. It's powerful!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.Find our coaching and courses, including Navigating Family Gatherings, in our store at LivingJoyfullyShop.comYou can follow us on Instagram or YouTube. Let’s dig deep, challenge paradigms, choose connection, and live joyfully!EPISODE QUESTIONS1. Look at the places you are using the words “have to”, find the why and identify some different choices. How does it feel? 2. What areas are you telling the people in your life that they “have to” do something? How does it affect your connection? Initiate a conversation with them to find the why and see if that changes the energy around the request. 3. Use the lens of everything being a choice this week and see if you notice any shifts or recognize any resistance.   TRANSCRIPTANNA: Hello! And welcome to the Living Joyfully Podcast. Navigating relationships can sometimes be tricky because people are so different. Thanks for joining us as we dive into tools, strategies, and paradigm shifts to help you decrease conflict and increase connection in your most important relationships.If you're new to the podcast, we encourage you to go back and listen from the beginning, particularly the episodes in our introductory Foundation series. If you want to dive deeper, we also have courses and coaching, which you can explore at our living joyfully shop. Follow the link in the show notes, or you can go to, so this episode is part of our relationship series, and we will be digging into the idea of have to's. Have to's are an interesting idea to deconstruct. It's part language, part intention, part external noise. And I feel like language is probably the best place to start. When we use the words "have to" for so many things, like it's so ubiquitous. It really has become such a common phrase that we don't even realize the weight it's adding to everything. "I have to go to the store." "I have to call my mom." "I have to do the dishes." "I have to, have to, have to." And then the weight of that is actually even, I feel like, compounded when we put have to's onto our children or to other people in our life. "You have to brush your teeth." "You have to go to bed." "You have to finish the food on your plate." "You have to go to school." "You have to cut the grass." "You have to finish that project." And on the surface, those things may seem like have to's, but orienting to the idea that everything is a choice can really help empower and bring a lot of clarity about our actions.We're going to dive more into that in a minute, but bringing some intentionality to our language can really change the energy. And understanding the why behind the things we're viewing as have to gets us to the root of what's going on and is often where the choice lies.PAM: Yes, yes. I think intentionality can make all the difference in how it feels to do so many things.I think the phrase "have to," is often used as a shortcut. So, skipping right past the intention and into expectation. The language that we use, both when we're speaking to others and when we're speaking to ourselves can make a huge difference in the energy with which we approach the task at hand.So, when I notice myself saying, "I have to do X," I notice that it often feels like a weight and I immediately start to build some resistance to doing that thing that I need to overcome before I can even get started, because apparently I don't like being told what to do.So, to play with that, I just try to change up my language, maybe saying something like, "I want to do X," and just see how that feels. Sometimes my first reaction is no, I do not want to do that. But I can still stay with that for a moment. I might ask myself, "Why might I want to do that?" So, exploring those reasons can help me move from those expectations back to my intentions. I suspect there were originally some reasons that made sense to me that shifted my language into that shortcut realm of "have to," and rediscovering those can help me lean back into, "Oh yeah, that's why I want to do X."So, the language we use, both with ourselves and others, can just be so helpful in more gracefully navigating the ins and outs of our day. I mean, that shortcut, oh, that's going to save me time. I'm going to be more efficient. But eventually, we forget about the intention that was behind it. And that can drag it out. It's definitely worth exploring.ANNA: It starts to carry as a weight. I think that's where the weight comes, because suddenly we're like, "Oh, we've got all these have to's. Where is this coming from? What's happening?" We really have lost sight of why we're there and why we wanted to be there and what was the whole purpose in the beginning. And I just feel like language makes such a difference with that.And I will say that I know saying everything is a choice is something that can sometimes raise hackles for people, because I've been saying this for a very long time. But as soon as you start to break things down, the choice is more evident. And it's often rooted in the why, why we want to do something. I don't have to brush my teeth, but I do because it helps them to remain clean and healthy. It's not the only way. It's one way. And once I understand that, I can make an active choice about how I want to address my, why my need for clean and healthy teeth. Then I'm in control. It's not happening to me. I've regained my agency.And as humans of any age, we want agency over our lives. And yes, this applies to children as well. So, taking that time to find the choice with our children paves the path for learning, growth, and empowerment. They don't have to go to bed. They might want to, if they need to be up early the next day, or they might not. They might be fine with a couple nights of getting less sleep and then they may want to sleep in longer the next night. They might try it and learn that it didn't feel good the next day and they tease out what works for them.But the learning in that is so much more robust than being told what to do, where what we're learning at that point is that they have no agency and are supposed to do what someone else thinks they should do. And when we walk that out just a tiny bit, we can see what a slippery slope that is, disconnecting them from that understanding. And we'll talk more about autonomy in our next episode, but it just wanted to plant that little seed for now.The important piece, I think, to consider today is, what does it feel like to realize that everything is a choice? What I know for myself is that as soon as I think something isn't a choice, I need to stop. I need to take a breath and get back to my why, because there is a reason I'm doing whatever task is at hand.It serves some purpose in a bigger picture. And as soon as I can identify my why, I can start to see the choices.So, I can stare at a full sink of dirty dishes and think, "I've got to clean these dishes." The reality of it is, I don't. I could go out to dinner. We could use paper plates. I can throw all the dishes away. And while I might not do that, sometimes it's helpful to take it to the extreme because again, it highlights the choice. Then, if I do the dishes, I know that I've decided it's the choice that best serves me in that moment.And so, even if we look at jobs, because this one I'll come up a lot with the jobs are important. They are. If my job is feeling like a have to, though, I really want to examine what's going on, because of course I can quit. There will be consequences to that, but I don't have to go to work. And if we look on the smaller scale, let's say I don't have to go to work that particular day. If I was sick or there was an accident, I wouldn't be there and the world wouldn't end.If I find that I'm feeling bad as an ongoing pattern, then I want to look at the bigger picture to find my choice and my why again. Maybe I choose to go because it's an easy commute and the hours work well with the rest of my life. Okay. I'm back to understanding my why.When the time comes that those things aren't enough, then maybe it's time to look beyond that job and start to find the priorities that are bubbling up in my life at this current moment. But if I stay in that "have to" place, I just end up resenting the job, probably not doing it very well. And then that discontent bleeds into the rest of my life.I want to catch that as early as possible and ground back into my knowing that everything is a choice. It may take a minute to see it, and I might still end up making the same choice that called it all into question, but it will feel so different. And that energy makes all the difference in my overall engagement and just joy.PAM: Yeah. I find it so interesting to remind myself that I have a choice, particularly at those times when I feel like I don't, right? At first it can be confronting, but it can definitely be fun and enlightening to find the choices that are buried underneath all those expectations that we've brought in.And one that comes to mind for me is attending family gatherings through the holiday season. It can sure feel like I "have to," but again, it's really, really not. Do I actually want to go? I can ask myself that. As you mentioned, if I was sick in the hospital, I wouldn't be going and nobody would be hassling me about not being there.And you mentioned going to the extreme as well. And it's interesting that we sometimes need to do that to remember that our wishes have value in this choice. But it can also be such a great way to just knock loose that initial "have to" pull. "If I broke my leg and I'm in the hospital, I wouldn't have to go to work.I wouldn't have to go to the family gathering," all those pieces.So, what I find really interesting is that once I can just release that "have to" my resistance to it also fades, and I can actually start contemplating the choice itself. So, I start to envision what I would do instead of doing that thing and what I would miss by not going.So, that leads me to ask myself why I might want to go. And again, once the expectation is released, those intentions have space to start bubbling up. Now I can acknowledge, maybe there are a couple of things that I enjoy about attending and I can start looking forward to actually going. And even more interesting, if I choose to go, as you mentioned, I now realize what I enjoy about it and my energy when I show up is anticipation rather than feeling put upon and looking to leave as soon as possible. "I have to stay for two hours and then I won't get in trouble," etc. And when I'm there, I'm also intentional about engaging in the things that I was looking forward to, because I've thought about it now. Maybe it is striking up a conversation with a particular cousin or an aunt who's going to be there or leading a fun game of charades for whoever wants to play, or just enjoying the food that we don't normally get to eat.So, I can soak in the pieces that fill me up, enjoying the whole experience much more than if I just showed up because I have to. There's another tick box that I filled. So, even if I do that expected thing, my experience can be very different just because I remembered that it was my choice to go.ANNA: Oh my gosh. I love that example, because I'm sure it's one that many of us can identify and have. faced, probably, at some point over our lifetime. And understanding our choice and operating from that place really does allow us to move through a holiday season with intention, more joy, we aren't being dragged around and controlled by have to's. We're choosing with intention and that energy changes everything.And I think it helps to realize that, so often, these have to's are actually external voices weighing in with agendas or prescriptions and those voices tend to champion a singular path. "You have to go to college, you have to get married, you have to buy a house, you have to play sports, you've got to play an instrument, you have to learn a language." But you can see with those how it's saying way more about the speaker than it is about you or your child.So, people have their biases and there's a comfort in moving other people towards the path that feels comfortable to them. I'm sure I've been guilty of it, too. But like we've been talking about since the beginning, people are so different. And there are so many different paths to learning and growth and for just being a human.Being aware of where the voices are coming from gives us so much information. We can start to see that it is more about the other person, and perhaps that's something that they want in their life. And then we have a choice, if we want to take that on as our own, or if our inner voice is leading us in another direction. And I have found 9 times out of 10, have to's are coming from these external sources and I really don't want to be buffeted around by other people's expectations of me. I want to tune in to my inner knowing and decide on the path that makes the most sense to my life and to the relationships that I want to cultivate.And again, it's just bringing intention to that and recognizing that, okay, that's outside of me. What is in me? What do I want to do going forward?PAM: Yeah, yeah, that's definitely been my experience with so many of the have to's that bounce around my head, and as you said, sometimes come out of my mouth, have much more to do with expectations from others that I have just absorbed over the years.So, basically a mix of all of the conventional wisdom that surrounds all the things I need to do to be successful in society's eyes. And it really can take a while to tease that apart from what I actually think and feel, because they have become so intimately intertwined. And, in fact, it didn't take long for examining my have to's to become questioning my definition of success, right?I realized I have absorbed what success looks like over time, but what does success actually mean to me? And that really helps me tease apart the things that I actually feel motivated to do. And I could be motivated to do things I don't particularly enjoy, because they help move me along a path to a bigger picture goal.And I find it more helpful to recognize that bigger picture than try to keep beating myself up with, "You have to do this," over and over and over. Just remembering why I'm choosing to do this. Even if I didn't really feel like getting up early to do the thing, or I didn't really feel like working on it this afternoon, et cetera, but recognizing that bigger picture can really help me realize that it's not a "have to," it's an, "I choose to." And as you said, Anna, there are just so many different paths, because people are so different. That one-size-fits-all approach of the conventional path doesn't actually fit well for very many people. So many outliers.ANNA: True, and it can take years to unpack that and to find the path that truly makes the most sense to us, especially if it happens to be a bit more alternative or not fit into the narrow lines that we've been told. But I think understanding all of this that we've been talking about in this episode, we can bring intentionality to our language. We can release the agendas that are being handed to us and find our own unique paths. We can understand and help articulate our why and help our children find and articulate theirs. Through that process, we learn more about them. We learn more about ourselves. And I've just found it really empowering. And it's just also a red flag that I look for when I'm feeling a little disenfranchised or a little dysregulated, or just not feeling happy with what's happening in my life, this is usually a good place for me to go. What am I putting as weight or have to's? What's happening? And to find that why, to find those reasons, to look at that bigger picture, like you were saying, and then suddenly I'm like, oh, I've got it. I know why I'm here. I know why this is feeling that way. And here are the things I can change. So, there's just a lot there.PAM: I know it, it really is. It's such a simple concept, such a simple idea, when you notice yourself saying "have to," especially if you don't go, "Oh, yay!" it is so worth digging into. Because it doesn't have to take a long time. Some are a little bit harder to dig into than others, a little bit more challenging. But it's just so worth taking that extra minute or two to reground ourselves in why we want to do the thing, because literally it changes our energy, because we found our intention.We bring a more intentional energy to it. We can appreciate the act of doing the thing, whatever it is. Even if it's doing the dishes, remembering that I'm choosing it. Ah, now I'm going to set myself up to enjoy this a little bit more or I'm going to more intentionally bring some zen energy to it or whatever it is that I have found that I can appreciate. Or maybe it's like, Ooh, what I appreciate is having it done and let's see, how can I speed it up? It brings back that playful energy that we talk about so much, right?ANNA: Exactly. Open and curious. What can we do to change that feeling that weight that we're carrying around about a particular thing? And I think you're right. It's that combination of finding that why and then, like, okay, what can I do to make this feed me and be more interesting or bring in something different? And so, yeah, I love that point as well.So, just a few questions to ponder this week. First, let's look at places where you find yourself using the words "have to." Find the why and identify the different choices. And how does it feel? What does that process feel like to really dig in there a little bit?And second, look for areas where maybe you're telling other people in your life that they have to do something. Step back a bit and look at how is that impacting your connection, maybe initiate a conversation with them to understand their why, to talk about your why, and see if that changes the energy around the request in general.And then I would just say, let's use the lens of everything being a choice. Even if your hackles were raised when you heard it at first, just bring it in and see how it feels this week. And just see if you notice any shifts or if you recognize the resistance and then look at that. Because again, when I'm feeling like I don't have a choice, that is my red flag to like, whoa, I want to understand where that's coming from and look at what can I do? What can I do to release some of that weight?PAM: I really do find that is such a fun question. What if I didn't do that? What would happen? It is really interesting, because so often we've got that weight of, oh, there'd be so much trouble and all these people would be mad at me. And it's so interesting to just contemplate, because then, even if you're sure you would never not do the thing, it's that shift to realizing, but it's a choice. Everything is a choice.ANNA: Right. I absolutely want to do it, because this is what feels best to me. And then, oh, my gosh, it's just so different to just go, "I want to do this." And so, right. I just find it such a valuable process. I'm so curious how that lands for everyone and what they uncover over the next week. But anyway, thank you so much for listening. And we will see you next time. Take care.

LJ028: Validating Children [Parenting]

We're back with a new episode in our Parenting series and we're talking about validation again. And this time, we're diving into what it looks like to validate our children. It can be hard to understand or identify with our children's big emotions sometimes. But even then, validating our children's emotions and experiences is such a powerful way to connect with them and help them move through challenging moments. Making sure that children feel heard and seen helps them better understand their internal experience and leads to stronger communication skills. Validation really is a game changer for any age!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. Explore our courses and coaching at QUESTIONS1. Similar to a question from the previous validation episode, over the next couple of weeks, practice seeing moments through the eyes of your child. Not just ones where they’re upset, but also ones where they’re excited or happy. Can you see why they are expressing that emotion in that moment?2. Do you find it hard, particularly with your children, to not project their behavior in this moment into the future? If so, take some time to ponder how that may interfere with navigating this moment and try out some new self-talk to help you transition back into the present moment.3. Do big emotions feel triggering for you? It’s worth taking some time to dig deeper into that to help detangle your feelings from their feelings, which can be really helpful when we’re trying to validate someone else. You can check out episode 21 to explore triggers specifically.TRANSCRIPTPAM: Hello! And welcome to the Living Joyfully Podcast. Navigating relationships can sometimes be challenging, because people are so different. Thanks for joining us as we dive into tools, strategies, and paradigm shifts to help you decrease conflicts and increase connection in your most important relationships.If you're new to the podcast, we encourage you to go back and listen from the beginning, particularly the episodes in our introductory Foundation series. If you want to dive deeper, we also have courses and coaching which you can explore in our Living Joyfully Shop. Follow the link in the show notes or go to episode is part of our Parenting series, and it follows from the recent validation episode in our relationship series, episode 26. Today, we're gonna look at validation specifically through the lens of our relationships with our children.In the earlier episode, we talked about the importance of seeing through the other person's eyes to help us empathize with them, and that is just as valuable with our children. I think sometimes our society devalues and minimizes children's feelings, thinking they get upset over silly things. But in my experience, that is just not true.To experience that yourself, we need to bring two of the tools we talked about last time into our interactions with our kids and that's seeing through their eyes and not having an agenda. Their actions and reactions often really do make sense when we look at the situations through their eyes, when we consider their experiences so far in life, their perspective on the situation at hand, their goal in the moment, and the different aspects of their personality.Very often, when we bring those all together, when we see what this moment looks like through their eyes, their actions and reactions make sense. This is their truth. Regardless of what it looks like through our eyes, this is what it looks like through their eyes. Full stop.And also, how we would process and move through this moment may well not work for them. When we meet them where they are, when they feel seen and heard, and when we support them in moving forward in ways they want to explore, we help them learn so much about themselves. Of course, that means releasing our agenda around what that looks like and helping them find what it looks like for them.When it comes to our children, we often think we need to teach them what it looks like, but they are different people than us. Again, different experiences, goals, personalities. Chances are what works for us won't work well for them.ANNA: Oh my gosh, it's so true. And I'm very excited that we're talking about validation related to our children. When people are wondering, how do I improve my relationship with my child or teen, this is it.And so, I want to start with a quote from Brené Brown that's kind of related to this, and it's just a simple quote and it says, "In order to empathize with someone's experience, you must be willing to believe them as they see it and not how you imagine their experience to be."So, just another twist on what we were saying about seeing through their eyes, but it's such a critical step. So, however we can get it to land for someone, because many times, what someone is feeling in the moment may not make sense to us. And when we're talking about children and big emotions at times, it can be truly baffling.We can wonder, how did we get here? But what we can do is trust that what they're expressing in this moment is their truth. Full stop, like you said.PAM: Yes. It's not manipulative at all. This is what they're seeing and what they're feeling in this moment. It just is.ANNA: Right now, in this moment. And when we can hear that and reflect back our understanding, it helps them move through the big emotions.They aren't put in a position of defending why they're feeling a certain way. And if, in fact, we hear them start defending, you can be pretty sure that we're making it about us. And that defending we're hearing is about our lack of understanding. And that's the red flag, and it isn't helping them process the upset in front of them at all.So, it's important to start from the understanding that with validation, we're not trying to solve it. We're not trying to downplay or tamp down their emotions or anything about the experience at all. We're tuning in to understand their feelings and the intensity around what is happening for them without agenda, without judgment. And as you said, this is a critical piece, because it's very easy to fall into judgment. It's very easy to go, "Why are they so upset? What is this about? This is ridiculous." But we need to quiet that judgment because that is just going to escalate, escalate, escalate, and disconnect.And validation is such a wonderful tool, and it's absolutely critical for these strong connections so that we can all feel heard and understood.PAM: Yeah, it really, really is. And to meet our children with empathy and validate their experience, it is really helpful to have a sense of the underlying needs they're trying to meet and the context of how that is playing out in the circumstances of the moment.We talk about underlying needs so often, but it's so valuable, right?And for me, that follows along from seeing things through their eyes. That gets me asking myself the question as to what need is underneath there. So, not just that they're upset because their sibling won't give them a toy, but noticing that the toy they're wanting is say a stuffed tiger that over in the far corner you see, they've placed blocks three high into squares, and that two of the squares hold a stuffed bear and a plastic ostrich respectfully while a third pen is empty, which reminds you of your family trip to the zoo last week, and you go, oh, they're playing out that scene.You also know that this child in particular likes to process things through play. So, now it's making more sense that they're so intent on the stuffed tiger, remembering how much they enjoyed watching the tigers at the zoo last week over the big pile of random stuffies on the floor next to the kids. "Why does it have to be this stuffy?" It's going to be easier to validate them now that we better understand what this moment looks like to them and what it feels like to them.That is such an important step because we want to avoid making those dismissive statements like, "It's not a big deal. Just grab another stuffed toy." Or, "Why do you get so upset at such little things?" Because comments like that can leave a child feeling misunderstood. Definitely not feeling seen and heard and loved for who they are.Having spoken with lots of parents over the years, when it comes to upsets, it's pretty common to think, but I don't want to validate these big emotions. It feels like I'm giving them permission to do it even more, but you're really, really not. Over time, our kids develop tools that help them navigate hard moments by being heard and working through these kinds of hard moments as they arise with a trusted person.Validation and working through these moments is what helps them develop the self-awareness to notice when their emotions are rising and explore some tools for their toolbox that help them take action before they bubble over. That is what helps lessen the frequency, not being told they're overreacting and have to stop it right now. We're expecting them to figure out on their own how to stop their emotions from spilling over, just because you told them to stop. Right?So, another aspect of validation to consider is, it's less about validating the emotion itself and more about validating the circumstances that led to the emotion, because that's where the richer learning lies. So, for example, maybe they're playing a video game and get upset when they can't accomplish something they're trying to do. If, wanting to validate, we say, "Oh, I see you're so angry." Well, yes, they're expressing anger, but once we focus on the emotion, where does the conversation go from there?Maybe they respond with an even louder, "Yes! I'm so mad!"But if we can bring more context in, we might say something like, "I know you were so excited to try that level today. I'm sorry it's been so frustrating." And we sit with them. We're sending the message that it's okay, their feelings totally make sense.Maybe they were feeling angry and we helped them notice the underlying frustrations. See, notice that I had used the word frustration instead of anger. Maybe their feelings felt a bit over the top to them, even. They were like, why the heck am I so mad about this? And we helped them see how they got there, that they were extra excited about playing this level and that's why they are extra bummed right now. I mean, right there, there's so much learning.ANNA: Oh my gosh. So much learning for everyone. And I want to talk a minute about examining our language, because it's so important that we want to use language that will help us get to the underlying need and make sure that we're maintaining the connection. And to that end, avoiding those definitive type "you are" statements is a great place to start.We want to be open, we want to inquire, we want to reflect back what we're seeing from the person and the situation, like you were talking about there, that frustration, knowing what they were wanting to do with the game.And we can give language to emotions, but not in a way that feels like we're defining who they are. And that's an important nuance. It can be phrased like, "It sounds like," or, "What I'm hearing," or, "I remember that you were wanting to do this and that's feeling frustrating. Is that what's going on?" Or, "Tell me more about it.I really want to understand." And just that piece, that earnest, "I really want to understand" can bring down intense energy, because they know they don't have to fight to be heard or understood. They can see that we're engaged and present and trying, and you can then rephrase in whatever way feels good to you.But it's about being clear in our intentions of trying to understand, of seeking clarification, that helps the person know that we're engaged. And that we know their feelings are valid, even if we don't fully understand them yet. And that's okay. We don't have to instantly understand. But it's that willingness, it's that earnestness, it's that care.And so, I'm just going to run through a quick example from siblings. So, "I hate my sister!" Okay? So, this is one that some of us have heard. And it can spark this kind of protective instinct that can end up bringing more charge to an already charged situation. But if instead we can hear that type of language and come into the room like, "Whoa, how is everybody? It sounds like maybe you've had enough. Are you wanting to be alone?" And then that kind of questioning can lead the child. Maybe they say, "Well, I don't want to be alone, but she's not listening to me," or whatever the thing is. And then we might say, "Okay. So, I really want to understand. Is it about what you're playing now? Or that she's not hearing you? Or you're done with this game? What do you need her to hear?"And then that drills us down to the issue and it becomes something that we can actually find a solution for. Because, "I hate my sister," doesn't really provide a path forward, but dismissing that with, "Oh, but she means well," or, "You love her," or, "She loves you," or even worse, judgmental language like, "That's not nice. We don't say things like that," all of those dismissing phrases, it puts the person on the defensive and humans just double down when we're on the defensive.But if we can get to those issues, if they feel heard, and then they can move forward with some solutions. If it's about listening, we can help facilitate a conversation that moves us towards a solution. And just in case HALT is involved, which we talked about, hungry, angry, lonely, tired, I would just move those discussions to the kitchen for a snack while we sorted things out, just in case hungry was involved.And I also wanted to be really aware of avoiding dismissing statements like, "You're too sensitive," or, "This is not a big deal." Or, "Why do you get so upset at everything?" Or, "You can't take a joke?" These are things that some of us heard, especially sensitive people, in our childhood, and it just feels terrible. All of those statements and anything like them are so disconnecting. And it just leaves the person not feeling understood, not connected, and you feel like you'll never be connected, because they'll never understand you.So instead, we can offer kindness. We can offer love and support. That is what helps maintain our connection and it allows the person space to move through their emotions knowing that they're valid.But here's the thing, our emotions are valid and nothing good comes from stuffing them down or denying them. And if we have the space to process, we will learn the tools and subsequent situations may not be charged, because like you said, people may think, "But I don't want to validate these big emotions, it's just gonna be more."And maybe it seems like a paradox, but it isn't, and you mentioned it too. We develop the tools by being heard and by working through the upset, especially with a trusted person as a child, working through with a trusted advisor, a parent who hears them and acknowledges, that helps them find the tools to move forward and to even understand their own emotions, because that's what it's all about for little kids, especially as they're trying to understand the emotions.Everything feels big and they want to know what's happening? How do I move through it? Because it can feel so unsettling and scary even. And by being validated and heard, it allows them to process all the big things that they're feeling. And it can be really valuable in the process of helping them find words.For example, we've talked about before, angry behavior is often an expression of another emotion. It could be frustration, like you talked about with the video games, or it could be hurt or loneliness. And digging into that can help a person move forward. So often, when we uncover that underlying emotion, it removes the block that we're seeing. People can stay stuck in that emotion, that kind of higher level, that angry type of emotion until that underlying emotion is identified and understood. And they really don't even understand why they're stuck there until we start to identify it.Reflecting back what you're seeing, being open and kind, and helping them uncover that underlying need and feeling, gives them the tools to excavate that for themselves as they grow.And the more clearly we can express our needs, the easier time we have in all of our relationships. So, it's such a valuable skill to practice with our kids, both for their growth and honestly for our own.PAM: Yeah. Really. We all grow. Getting into these conversations and really seeing through their eyes and validating their experiences can help us learn so much as well.So, something else that can trip us up as we try to validate our children's experience and emotions is projecting this moment into the future. When we start thinking things like, "Are they going to get this upset every time they don't get their way?" we can feel like we need to nip this in the bud right now. And that is fear talking.You can feel the or else hanging off the end of that thought, right? Or else they'll still be acting this way when they're 25 and they won't have any friends. When fear gets into the mix, tunnel vision soon follows, and we are much less able to see the bigger context of the current moment.Where can we most help them understand themselves and explore other ways to navigate these kinds of challenges? Well, right now, in this moment. Projecting into the future definitely makes this much harder.And one other thing I want to mention explicitly is that the ways we validate different people can look very different. Which, I mean, if you've been listening to this podcast past for any length of time is not much of a surprise right now. How can we help THIS child feel seen and heard in THIS challenging moment? So, for some it's about joining them where they are, reflecting back to them, our understanding of them in this moment, validating the intense feelings they're feeling as they're feeling them. That helps them feel seen, heard, and more able to get to a place where they're ready to move forward.For others, it may be about holding space for them without words, in the heat of the moment. Conversations are for later, but even holding that space can feel validating to someone. Our calm presence can communicate that they aren't being judged for having these big emotions or being rushed to move through them to make others comfortable.The energy of a loving and compassionate space being held for them can feel validating, and then more validation and processing can happen in conversation later when the intensity has passed. So either way, in those later conversations, we can also ask them what they'd like us to do to help them next time they're feeling overwhelmed with big emotions. We can try that next time and then check in again to see how it felt. We can tweak it and try the new plan next time, over and over.I just think it's so helpful because when people start thinking about validation, so often they think it's something they need to say, but our actions, even silent actions, can be validating as well.ANNA: Oh my gosh, yes. And I feel like this is where it's so important to know your child, your partner, and honestly, yourself. Because, for many people in the heat of an upset, they don't want words, but they also often don't want to be left alone. So when we have those big emotions, it can be scary, especially for children, but really for anyone. When people run away or try to stop the emotion, it just feels terrible.So, if instead we can show that unconditional love and stay present, it helps the big emotions wash through without the added weight of, how are they landing on this person I love? We don't have to feel bad about the feelings. And that can help us move through them. And when verbal validation is not welcome in the heat of the moment, there are so many ways to be present and validate without words just being that calm presence, like you mentioned. Some may want to physically be held, others may just want us sitting nearby or on the other side of the room, but still there. It could be fetching a comforting toy or something that feels good to them. It could be moving them to a quiet space, because we can tell there's some sensory overwhelm in that particular situation. Or maybe it's clearing the room if they're not able to move, maybe shepherding other people out to something fun so that we can bring the sensory input down in that way. It can be getting food and water.We had this thread in the Living Joyfully Network where we talked about what we needed personally to feel heard and validated and seen in an upset, and it was fascinating. Everyone was so different. I personally want to be alone. I need to process before I'm ready to have anyone else's energy in that situation. But others wanted someone there the whole time, even if they said they didn't want anything and didn't want them to stay, which I thought was fascinating and a little bit confusing.But it's so important and it's why it's so helpful to have these conversations outside of the heat of the moment, so there just aren't misunderstandings and we can be present for the people we love in the way that they need us, not necessarily in the way that would feel good to us. Understanding those nuances of how we move through things can really help.And I think what I loved about the thread was it showed how different we all are, and recognizing those differences in us as adults who were the people that were responding, helps us see that it's different for our kids, too. Each of our children are going to have their own ways that feel validating for them and the things that they need in any given moment.And for people who prefer non-verbal, again, there's so many things you can do. So, whenever I hear someone say, "Well, my child doesn't like to be validated," I'm just like, hmm. We need to get curious and tweak our approach a little bit, because it's probably not tuning into what feels validating to them. Because I think what's often easiest is we do what would feel validating to us in the moment. Again, we're putting ourselves in their shoes versus seeing through their eyes, because I will firmly stand on the belief that every human wants to be heard and seen in a way that feels good to them.And so, let's figure out what helps them feel good. Let's figure out what helps them move through an upset. And we do that by having conversations outside of the heated moments and just learning about one another.PAM: Exactly. I mean, learning how to validate my children was one of the biggest game changers in my relationships with them. I do think absolutely, we all want to feel seen and heard and loved for who we are. I mean, even for myself, any age, any age. I feel it makes all the difference when it comes to cultivating connection and trust in our relationships.So, here are some questions to ponder this week around this idea. Number one, similar to a question from the previous validation episode, over the next couple of weeks, practice seeing moments through the eyes of your child, not just ones where they're upset, but also ones where they're excited or happy. Can you see why they are expressing that emotion in that moment? That should be fun.Number two, do you find it hard, particularly with your children, to not project their behavior in this moment into the future? If so, take some time to ponder how that may interfere with navigating this moment and try out some new self-talk to help you transition back into the present moment.ANNA: That's an important one.PAM: I know, right? Yes, that just got me thinking about all the times. That transition is very familiar, because it is so easy to go, oh my gosh, you know?ANNA: Is it always going to be like this? No, just come back to the moment in front of you.PAM: That's where we can have the most impact.ANNA: And the learning, right? That's where the learning is on their part. On our part. That's where the practice is. That's where the trying on the tools are, and that's how we shape the future, is by tending to the moment in front of us.PAM: Exactly. Beautifully said. Okay. Number three, do big emotions feel triggering for you? It's worth taking some time to dig deeper into that, to help detangle your feelings from their feelings, which can be really helpful when we're trying to validate someone else. So, you can check out episode 21 to explore triggers specifically, if this is something that you're finding as well.ANNA: Definitely.PAM: Thanks so much, Anna, and thanks so much everyone for listening. We will see you next time!

LJ027: Self-Awareness: Assume Positive Intent [Conflicts]

We're back with a new episode in our Conflicts series and we're talking about assuming positive intent. It's so common to take someone's words or actions personally and assume that they are trying to irritate, thwart, or hurt us. This happens because we naturally see things from our own perspective. But going into a conversation with those assumptions is pretty much guaranteed to put the other person on the defensive, making productive conversation and connection basically impossible. Assuming positive intent means assuming everyone is doing the best they can in the moment, and that mindset shift can improve our communication 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. Explore our courses and coaching at QUESTIONS1. Think back to a time when someone gave you the benefit of the doubt and contrast that with a time when someone assumed the worst in you. How did you feel? How did you react? How did it impact your relationship with that person moving forward?2. Think of some recent exchanges - were you feeling defensive? Did you notice the other person defending? Think about how assuming positive intent could have changed that. 3. This week, notice the stories you’re telling yourself about other people’s actions.  How often are you assuming positive intent? Do you find it hard to do? Why?4. Think of a recent exchange with someone in which you felt defensive. Did you notice the other person defending in response? How long were you stuck there? How might have assuming positive intent and holding space to learn more changed how things played out? 5. Are there particular people in your life to whom you don’t typically give the benefit of the doubt? Try on assuming positive intent for the next while. How does that shift things?TRANSCRIPTANNA: Hello and welcome to the Living Joyfully Podcast. Navigating relationships can sometimes be challenging because people are so different. Thanks for joining us as we dive into tools, strategies, and paradigm shifts to help you decrease conflicts and increase connection in your most important relationships.If you're new to the podcast, we encourage you to go back and listen from the beginning, particularly the episodes in our Foundation Series. In them, we talk about our favorite fundamental relationship ideas and tools. If you hear us mentioning a concept over and over again, chances are it has its own episode in the Foundation Series. You can also visit our shop and find the Foundation Series in a podcast collection bundle to be emailed to you weekly, including transcripts and questions.You can find the link in the show notes, or you can go to There you can also find information about our coaching, as well, so if you'd like to talk through things that are happening in your relationship and find a healing path forward, that's the place to go. We both work with individuals and couples and again, link in the show notes, or you can go to, this episode is part of our Conflict Series and our mini-series inside of that about developing our self-awareness. So, today we're diving into assuming positive intent. This principle is a quick tool that helps us stay connected and open.I think, culturally, we tend to assign negative intent. Our first thought is that someone is doing something to thwart us or irritate us or that they don't have a clue. But so often, that's not the case. And whether it is or isn't, going into a conversation with those assumptions is pretty much guaranteed to put the other person on the defensive, which makes having any sort of productive and connecting conversation basically impossible.And as with so many things we talk about, this plays into being the person we want to be in the world. I want to assume the best in people, because I've seen when I do that, it's often what I find. We are all doing the best we can at any given moment. And that best can change dramatically based on the contextual pieces of life.When we are under-resourced, our ability to think clearly and act with intention is clouded. I want to be a person that allows space and grace for that, because I know there have been plenty of times that I've been there and I've needed that from others. So, assuming positive intent can be assuming that the person is doing the best they can in this moment with the circumstances as they are.PAM: Absolutely. I just love that piece about how doing their best can look very different from one day to the next, or one moment to the next. It's not about thinking what their theoretical best looks like, measuring them in this moment against what they would do if they were feeling fully resourced, fully rested, fully fed, in a great frame of mind, and so on. They really are doing their best in this moment. This is what it looks like. It's the best they can muster. Let's meet them there with as much grace and compassion as we can muster.Over the years, assuming positive intent has become such a helpful touchstone for me when it comes to relationships, particularly with partners, kids, longtime friends, where we have a history. And I can be quick to assume I understand them and tell myself a story about why they're saying or doing something.And as you said, I am apt to tell a negative version of the story about the situation or to feel put upon or ignored or misjudged. And it's not surprising. We are looking at the world through our eyes and evaluating what's happening around us through that lens. How does this affect me? But what assuming positive intent does is remind me that there is almost always more to the story than just my perspective, knowing that they're doing the best they can right now, whatever that looks like to me at first, encourages me to widen my lens and get curious. So, so, so many times over the years, this buffer step has saved me from actively jumping in, misinterpreting things, blaming others, which all create even more rifts in our relationship that need repair.ANNA: I mean, it is such a great reminder to look through their eyes, which I know we talk about a lot, but it's so important. It just helps so much.And we're going to make some assumptions. But starting from that place of assuming the best, or at the very least, giving the benefit of the doubt, just sets the stage for us to learn more and to not fall into that blaming or writing stories that can get us off track.And another piece I think that helps with assuming positive intent is to understand that underneath every behavior is a need. We had an episode on this idea as it relates to parenting, episode 25, and as we mentioned there, this is true for everyone. We try to meet our needs through our behaviors, and while sometimes the somewhat linear process, "I'm thirsty and I'm going to get a drink now," sometimes it's a bit harder to recognize, especially from the outside.But part of assuming positive intent is understanding that the person you're dealing with is trying to meet a need. At that particular moment, your needs might not be aligned, but if we can slow things down and give some space to find the underlying needs, that's the space where we can find solutions. That surface-level conflict that seems insurmountable and at complete odds, that can just melt away as we figure out the needs involved and address those.So, let's say if a person's working for you and they haven't turned in a report, instead of assuming that they're irresponsible or don't care, look for that underlying need. Have an open conversation with the energy of wanting to understand. Maybe you find out that they've had several fires they've been putting out that took priority, or they didn't understand the request, or that they were waiting for some information from a third party before they could finish it.Being open and not jumping to conclusions gives you a chance to find out what's happening under the behavior of not turning in the report, and then you can both work together to solve the problem at hand instead of creating friction or a rupture by making a harsher assumption. And there may be things that need to be addressed or systems that need to be changed, but you're only going to get there if you can have that open conversation where the person's not on the defensive and really telling you what's going on.And part of what we can practice with our partners, children, and the people in our lives is providing additional information. But the space for that to feel safe is in the space of assuming positive intent. There, we can have these clarifying conversations. We can explain how things are feeling to us and really hear what the other person's experiencing.PAM: Yeah, exactly. Because if we assume that the first story that pops into our head is the right one, so often what we're doing is putting the other person in the position of having to correct us. And that is a hard thing to do in any relationship, whether with a loved one or a supervisor, or even a newer acquaintance.So, assuming positive intent helps us cultivate that space for further conversation where we can just learn more about what's up, where we can discover the underlying needs they were trying to meet with whatever words, action, behavior they used. The valuable thing about focusing on the needs is that there are often multiple ways to meet them, some of which may have less negative impact on others.So, we can also share our needs in this context and all this bigger picture information helps us work towards a plan that everyone involved is reasonably comfortable with.And I wanted to mention, while it may seem that assuming positive intent and having these conversation takes up precious time we don't feel we have, not doing it is likely to take up maybe even more time down the road, as we continue to butt heads, because we're missing some fundamental understanding of each other's needs and goals. Then you add the time to repair the relationship. Or if you don't, the extra time things take in the future because one or both of you are dragging your feet because you just want to avoid engaging with each other in the first place.ANNA: Oh my gosh, so much. I'd much rather spend the time upfront in a connecting conversation with an eye to understanding each other, rather than dealing with hurt feelings and misunderstandings on the back end.And I really think, in the end, it's more efficient, because we're actually getting to the needs and solving any roadblocks, versus pressing ahead with made up stories and assigning malicious intent that ends up creating these huge disconnects that take time and effort to heal and we still may not be addressing the need underneath. And so, it just keeps repeating.Another big aspect of this is releasing any defensiveness on our part. A person's actions say way more about them than about us. They give us a clue as to what's going on for them, and we can assume positive intent. They have the space and the desire to let us in on what those things are, but if we react with defensiveness, communication just shuts down every time and it becomes this attack and defend tit-for-tat dynamic or a stalemate, and then we're stuck. So, we aren't learning anymore about the needs driving the behavior or what contextual pieces might be at play. We're not learning anything about those pieces that are so critical. And all of this draws out the conflict and doesn't move us towards solutions.So, assuming positive intent leaves space to get to the bottom of things faster without sparking that defensiveness in the other person and we can own our own pieces, too, to not get defensive. And I think we can all think of how nice it feels when someone gives us the benefit of the doubt and doesn't assume the worst, even if we're not at our best, or especially if we've made a mistake. Because usually, we're so hard on ourselves. We're beating ourselves up about the mistakes. So, then having that compounded just creates this cycle. Recognizing that's at play, it just makes it easier for me to give that gift to other people in my life, whether we're in a close relationship or it's just transactional.For me, again, it boils down to being the person I wanna be in the world. And the bonus is that it really just makes everything go so much more smoothly. We move through and often avoid conflict, and we get to the root of things without that defensiveness that can feel so unpleasant and without those misunderstandings that can cause a lot of hurt feelings.PAM: Yeah, so much. Things unfold more smoothly and often more quickly when people aren't feeling judged and defensive. And it makes sense. Getting stuck in that repetition of attack, defend, attack, defend, slows things down so much, while also not getting to the root of the issue or the underlying needs.And along those lines, I find it helpful to remember that assuming positive intent isn't about, instead telling myself a positive story and acting from there, because that is still making it about me and my interpretation, my need to infer a story and to be right about it.But as you said, Anna, their actions really are all about them. It's their story. So instead, for me, assuming positive intent is more about knowing there's a story and not jumping to conclusions, particularly the negative ones, because that just makes moving through the moment even more challenging. Getting curious instead of getting stuck in defensiveness helps create that space for the kinds of honest, non-judgmental conversations that will help everyone better understand the needs at play and find interesting ways to meet them.ANNA: Yeah, I think that assuming positive intent, it's just a way to give some space around things. We aren't writing a story at all. We're acknowledging that there's more to the situation than just what we're seeing. There always is more. There just always is. And leaving space for that. Asking for clarification without any negative energy or agenda just puts us in the best position to learn more and move forward.And to say it again, we are all doing the best we can in any given moment. Keeping that in mind, assuming positive intent helps us uncover the needs that are driving the behaviors that we're seeing.All of which helps us stay connected to the important people in our life and avoid unnecessary conflict with them or anyone we come across.PAM: I just go back to that for the nth time already, but doing the best we can in any given moment, I think it can be challenging for people to believe. Like, "I've seen them handle this so much better before."ANNA: Or, "They should be able to," when we catch ourselves saying, "They should be able to," that's a red flag.PAM: That's always a great clue. But also when, in our mind we're like, "Okay, I could do this, which would be like better. But I do this other thing anyway. It's what I reach for." So, even if theoretically we could choose something better in the moment and we don't, that's still okay. We may not be able to express why we made the choice in the moment. But we made that choice in the moment. And maybe these conversations after will help us better understand ourselves, better understand what was going on in that moment.It might help us recognize some other weight we were carrying or some other thing that was going on that we just couldn't take that extra 10 seconds to think of something else to do and we just needed to do this thing in the moment. So, we don't need to judge things as best. We don't need to figure out any scale or spectrum of what could be better, better, better, better. This is what happened in the moment, and oh my gosh, I can meet you there. And we can just have conversations.ANNA: And figure out the next steps, because we never know, and there's so many contextual pieces. I'll just say it over and over again. We cannot judge a relationship without taking into account these contextual pieces that changes peoples behaviors because of a myriad of reasons. We see it in ourselves, like you said. And so, just watching for those words, the shoulds or the judgment or the kind of standing back and then realizing like, hey, that's really disconnecting and I'm not getting the full story. And when we open up for those conversations, that's when we can learn. Do we have a systems problem here? Do we have a communications problem here? Do we just have a, we're all hungry problem here? Let's get some food and then we'll tackle this afterwards.It can be from the simple to the complex, but you're never going to get at what it is if you don't assume the positive intent, start having the space for the conversation, and then have that clear communication between one another.PAM: Yeah, exactly. And back to what you say, the person that I want to be in the world. And as far as I can reach for that in the moment, giving myself that same grace and compassion we want to give to the other person.ANNA: For sure. Okay, so, we're going to give some questions to reflect on this week.So, number one, think back to a time when someone gave you the benefit of the doubt and contrast that with a time when someone assumed the worst in you. How did you feel? How did you react? How did it impact your relationship with that person moving forward? Because we've all gotten both sides of this, and so, I think we can all think of some examples and just really sit with, "Hey, how did that feel and how would it have felt differently?"And number two, think of some recent exchanges where you or the other person was feeling defensive. Think about how assuming positive intent could have changed that. And so, for me, defensiveness is just that red flag either on their part, or if I'm recognizing it in someone else or seeing it in myself, it's like, okay, we can change that energy. We can change the way this conversation is going, because neither one of us need to feel defensive. We're here to understand.PAM: Defensiveness is such a great clue.ANNA: Yes. Such a great clue.PAM: It's pretty easy to feel once you're starting to look for it. So, that's what we're trying to encourage here, is just to start noticing these things even just that little bubble of oof, there it is. ANNA: Right. It's just that little, there it is. And even if you can't make that change in that moment, recognizing it to reflect on it later, then you can notice like, okay, I see what's getting me there. Now maybe I can think of some steps to not go to that place of defensiveness.Okay. So, this week, number three, notice the stories you're telling yourself about other people's actions. How often are you assuming positive intent? Do you find it hard to do? And why? Are you writing some stories? Are you assigning some more malicious intent? I think that will be really interesting to just see, because I think, like we talked about earlier, it comes pretty naturally. We're just running through and it happens. And so, just that awareness gives us that little pause, that little space. Okay. And four, think of a recent exchange with someone in which you felt defensive. Did you notice that the other person was defending in response? How long were the two of you stuck there? How might have assuming positive intent and holding space to learn more changed how that played out and how that tit-for-tat was going?And number five, are there particular people in your life to whom you don't typically give the benefit of the doubt? Try on assuming positive intent for the next bit and just see, does that shift things in what can be some difficult relationships or some areas that you get stuck? It's just something to play with and again, will give you more information about that relationship and about some ways that maybe you can tweak a few things.PAM: To me, that trying on things, seeing how they go, just doing it for a little while and seeing how things unfold, that is such a valuable approach for me. Rather than like, oh, I should be assuming positive intent. I'm going to do this all the time or I've failed. None of that helps me either as I'm learning this stuff and trying to figure it out and play with it. I need the experiences, the gathering of experiences for me to understand how it's working. Because when I see something, like you said, you have seen this over the years, we both have, play out in such a sense that it's something we've chosen to adopt because we found it as a helpful tool. So, we're sharing it as a helpful tool, not as a rule that you must do this now.ANNA: There are no edicts or "have to," it really is play with it and see if it shifts things, because it also may just open up to other ideas that shift things or other conversations with the people in your life where you're learning more about one another. And to me, that's the goal. Learning about ourselves, learning about one another, and just improving our relationships along the way.All right, so thank you so much for listening, and we will see you next time. Take care.PAM: Bye!

EU026: Validation [Relationships]

We’re back with another episode in our Relationships series and we’re talking about validation. Validation might just be the most valuable tool in our relationship toolbox, yet it’s not something that a lot of people have experience with—most people were not validated as children.It can take practice to develop the skill, but that work is worth it. Every person wants to feel seen and heard, which in turn paves the way for smoother interactions, less conflict, and more learning about the important 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.Find our courses, including Navigating Conflict, in our store at LivingJoyfullyShop.comYou can follow us on Instagram or YouTube. Let’s dig deep, challenge paradigms, choose connection, and live joyfully!EPISODE QUESTIONS1. Do you feel the difference between sympathy and empathy? Think back to a challenging time you experienced and how others engaged with you. Did you feel a difference between sympathetic and empathetic responses?2. Over the next couple of weeks, practice seeing moments through the eyes of your partner or a good friend. Not just ones where they’re upset, but also ones where they’re excited or happy. Can you see why they are expressing that emotion in that moment? If you put yourself in their shoes, would you feel the same emotions?3. Do you find it hard to release your agenda around how someone else moves through their challenges and emotions? Try some different mantras or self-talk and see what helps you transition from seeing the path to your expected outcome to being curious about and supportive of their path to their outcome.4. What feels good and validating to you when you’re experiencing a challenging situation? Let your partner or friend know and ask them to try that with you next time you’re frustrated or upset about something.TRANSCRIPTPAM: Hello, and welcome to the Living Joyfully Podcast. Navigating relationships can sometimes be challenging because people are so different. Thanks for joining us as we dive into tools, strategies, and paradigm shifts to help you decrease conflict and increase connection in your most important relationships.If you're new to the podcast, we encourage you to go back and listen from the beginning, particularly the episodes in our Foundations series. In them, we talk about our favorite fundamental relationship ideas and tools. If you hear us mentioning a concept over and over, chances are it has its own episode in the foundation series that you can check out to learn more.And before we get started, we just wanted to let you know that we recently released a course titled Navigating Conflict. It will help guide you through different aspects of conflict and give you some concrete tools to help you more gracefully navigate conflicts in all your relationships. Because conflict isn't a zero-sum game where one person wins and the other person loses in equal measure. Often we can find win-win paths through the situation. All of the course content is available in both text and audio formats, so you can dive into whichever works better for you. Maybe you're listening on some days and reading on others. You'll find the Navigating Conflict course in our store at You'll also find the link in the show notes. Check it out and see if it's a good fit for you.As for today's episode, we're diving into the art of validation as part of our relationships series. Okay, so let's just take a moment to situate ourselves. In the sense that we're talking about it, defines validation as the act of affirming a person or their ideas, feelings, actions, et cetera, as acceptable and worthy. And I think that's a pretty good place for us to start.It's important to note that validation isn't about praising the person. Praise is a judgment that we're expressing. It makes the interaction about us and what we think, taking the focus away from the person we're wanting to validate. Affirmations are nonjudgmental observations that we're sharing. See the difference? How sharing an observation can help a person feel seen and how taking the time to notice and share can help them feel worthy of our attention and care?For me, validation is about being in an authentic relationship with another human being. That's it. It's not at all about control or coercion or subtle manipulation. There is no ulterior motive. The only goal is connecting and learning more about each other as human beings.ANNA: I'm so excited to be talking about validation, because I really believe it's the most valuable tool in the toolbox. I say it so often, but every person wants to feel seen and heard, period. And understanding that paves the way for smoother interactions, avoiding conflict, and like you mentioned, learning more and truly understanding the person in front of us, all of which leads to deeper connections with those we love and easier exchanges with those in our lives for any reason.And I feel like validation is not something that a lot of people have experience with. Most people were not validated as children. And it can take a bit of practice for it to be that first tool that you reach for, which I think is so often where it needs to be. Instead, a lot of times defensiveness is where we go first, and if we start there, things can derail. So, when we reach for validation, it allows that space for energy to calm, for the person to feel heard, for us to learn more about what actually is going on in the whole situation.PAM: Yeah, it's true. It can take a while to gain experience with moving through our reactive emotions to get to the space where we can actively listen to and validate the other person and to just get reasonably comfortable with how validation works, right?So, I think it will help us to take a moment and look at how sympathy, empathy, and validation weave together in our relationships, because those are pretty common terms that we hear, but it can sometimes be hard to tease them apart. So, I think this will help us get a better sense of what we are talking about when we say validation.So, sympathy acknowledges emotion in another person. We feel bad for them having to go through whatever challenge they're experiencing. We wish things were better for them.Now, empathy is about feeling WITH another person. Theresa Wiseman is a nursing scholar and she talks about four characteristics of empathy. Number one is seeing the world as the other person sees it through their eyes, not putting yourself in their shoes. Number two is being non-judgmental, recognizing that this is their truth. Three is understanding the other person's feelings. And four is communicating your understanding through words or actions. So, as you just think about those right off the top of your head, at this point, you can see this is our processing work to do. So, I just want to quickly step through them in a little bit more detail.So, the first step is seeing the world as the other person sees it. I think this piece can really trip us up, because it's not about putting ourselves in their shoes so that we can take stock of the situation as it looks to us, asking ourselves what would we do in similar circumstances. Rather, it's about looking at things through the other person's eyes, understanding what they are seeing in this moment, what their needs and challenges actually are. This includes the context of their life from how their day is going, to how their unique personality is woven in, to what they find challenging and easy and frustrating. And it can even be how they prefer to process things. We just want to get into their head and see things through their eyes, to be them as best we can. And I think that's the distinguishing difference.Now the second step is the non-judgmental piece, which is really about recognizing that the way they're seeing and feeling in this moment is their truth, full stop. Right now, this is the truth to them. It's not that the way we see the moment is wrong, it's that their perspective isn't wrong either. We are different people and this is their truth.The third step is understanding their feelings, which I think is pretty self-explanatory. Bringing together seeing through their eyes and recognizing that this is their truth, we are now more able to truly understand their feelings, how they got to this moment.And this brings us to step four, which is where validation happens. It's where we connect with them and communicate our understanding, so that as you say, they feel seen and heard.ANNA: Oh my gosh. I love those steps. And that first step of seeing how the other person sees it is so critical. And it's the hardest, I think, because we tend to think people see and experience the world in the same way that we do, and it takes a pause and some intention to instead view the situation through their eyes. We may not understand why someone is reacting the way that they are. Because maybe we don't see it as a big deal at all, but trusting that it absolutely is a big deal to them, and being there to hear and reflect that can quickly dissipate any kind of charge energy that you're experiencing. And then they don't need to get louder and louder to convince us. And we are open and we're listening.When we're validating, it can sometimes be helpful to offer words that dig down a bit deeper. For example, angry behavior is often an expression of another emotion. It could be frustration or hurt or loneliness. Digging into that can help the person move forward, and often we can uncover that underlying emotion. When we do that, it can remove any kind of block. And when you hit on the correct emotion, it really helps the person feel understood. And that alone can dissipate the anger. And then you're able to move towards some kind of resolution or even a conversation to understand more. That really isn't possible until the person feels heard.And so, this is often the place arguments start or ruptures begin. That attack, defend, get louder, withdraw, repeat, come back, and just we keep going, going, going. We can start with something simple instead, "I can hear how frustrated you are and I really do want to understand," there may be some more loud communication, but you'll start to see more about what's actually bothering them.And then you can affirm like, "That makes sense. That is frustrating. I understand." And, "That makes sense," is an honest communication in that moment, even if it wouldn't feel the same to you, because you can see that it makes sense to them.And this is not the time to be defensive. So, if it's coming at you directly, this is the time to lean in and try to understand. There will be time later to share your experience of the situation if that's appropriate. Creating space and letting the big emotions just wash over you, tuning in and recognizing the struggle of the person in front of you, can soften you and then you're in a position to genuinely say, "I want to understand," and start reflecting back what you're seeing.PAM: Oh, yes, yes, yes. It can be so helpful to note too that reflecting back what we're seeing doesn't always mean repeating what they're saying. Reflecting back the actual emotion they're feeling versus the one they may be expressing can not only help them feel understood, it can help them better understand themselves.So, another thing that's important when it comes to validation is not having an agenda. We can't, we really can't. Validation is all about supporting the other person while an agenda is about us. So, that means no agenda around their process for moving through their emotions and no agenda around how quickly they move through that process.if we're harboring an underlying agenda, while we might be saying words that we think are validating, like, I can see you're upset, our underlying energy, maybe even the cadence of our words, is more likely to be communicating something more judgmental and maybe condescending. Like, that's such a small thing. Just get over it already. You can do that with tone.So, for me, noticing that I have an agenda in mind, an end goal on the horizon is a clue that I need to dig a bit deeper. Even if I've done the work to understand the situation and circumstances, made the shift to empathy and seeing through their eyes, I'm still gazing to the future through my own eyes.Now again, that doesn't make me wrong, for me. Maybe I, as the unique butterfly I am, would have moved through it by now and beyond to something else. But again, this moment isn't about me, is it? Absolutely not. Sometimes I found it helpful to remind myself that I don't know how this will unfold for them, that I don't know how long it may take.Repeating this to myself a few times can just help me release my expectations, my agenda, and return to this moment with curiosity and love. I begin to wonder, hmm, how will this unfold? How might I help them feel loved and supported in this really hard moment for them?ANNA: Right, because agendas can be so sneaky, right? They're just right there and they definitely take us out of the moment that's in front of us, and pretty much every person, no matter the age or relationship to us, will pick up on it. And it just creates more disconnection and keeps us stuck in that place of them feeling like they need to express themselves dramatically and us trying to figure out what's going on.And like you said, it is so unique to each person and it's also so contextual. Something that typically would roll right past our partner can create a huge reaction when they are hungry or tired or overwhelmed with outside stressors. Even more reason to not make it about us and to offer empathy.Often, we don't know the context, but just reminding ourselves that there is one can bring our energy down and help us connect with the upset of the person in front of us.Being intentional about language can help so much, too. Using "I" statements and avoiding "you are" statements helps us have clear communication. We can only know for ourselves. With our closest relationships, we can work together to use "I" statements, and it just makes such a world of difference. You are attacking me versus I'm feeling attacked and I need a minute, holds a very different energy and can elicit a very different response than the other person.And I like to remind myself that no one can make us feel anything. Only we have control over our feelings and actions. So, something happens, we have a feeling about it, and we take an action. The thing we can't control is the thing that happened. Often that's out of our control. From there, we get to decide though how we feel, and we may run through some feelings. We may have all different kinds of feelings at first, but giving some space and observing and then acknowledging them and not getting stuck there puts us in a better position to take action that's in alignment with the person we want to be. So, it's not that having feelings is bad or that there's any particular bad feeling. We want to acknowledge all the feelings as they come up, but understanding that we don't have to get stuck on the first feeling that comes up can just be really empowering.And so, your partner could be coming at you with some angry energy about something you did or didn't do, and you may be feeling attacked or hurt or defensive, but you can acknowledge and breathe through those feelings and move to a place of validation.So, it might look like, okay, I understand why that's super frustrating. You thought I was going to get the car fixed today and I didn't get it done. And so, now we're in this pinch needing the car. Keep validating until they're able to move through their initial flush of emotions, and then you can both move to solving it together.What do we want to do now that we're in the pinch and the car isn't ready? Together, you can figure out the next steps. But if you start defending, oh, but this happened, but that, but this, but that. Then they're going to up the volume until they feel like they're heard and that we understand how frustrated they are. And you don't get to that stage of finding a solution together. Instead, now you have a rupture and, and not only do you have the initial problem, now you have this rupture to heal and solving the problem is so much harder when you're not on the same page like that.Because the thing is, we all make mistakes. We miss the mark sometimes, and that's okay. Validation is just a great first step in understanding one another and moving back to the place of connection. And sometimes the big expression will actually have nothing to do with you, and it's still a time for validation. And perhaps it's easier in those situations to just give them as much time or space and validation around their experience and emotion. Again, without that agenda that we're going to move through it quickly or at any kind of pace that are determining, but with a genuine desire to connect and understand what's happening for them.PAM: Yeah. For me, that's what I need to get myself back to and remind myself of that genuine desire to connect and understand.At the top of the episode, I spoke of validation as an art, and that's because I don't see it as a science, as a repeatable process. Of course, there are some principles involved that will consistently help us. That's what we've been talking about. Talking about seeing things through the other person's eyes, shifting from sympathy to empathy.But beyond that, whenever the opportunity to validate someone arises our choice of words and actions in the moment need to weave together with our understanding of the person involved and the circumstances of this particular situation and the moment. So, to me, it kind of feels like an art. And when it doesn't feel rote, doesn't feel like a script of things we're supposed to repeat every time, that also helps a person feel seen and heard in the moment. Because, that moment really is unique to them, right? It can be disconnecting if we say exactly the same thing, it's like, you're not seeing me. Right?ANNA: Because we're not present. We're not present in that moment when that's happening. And again, people pick up on those type of things, that agenda that you're not really hearing me and then there we have the divide that we have to figure out how to cross.PAM: Exactly. Exactly. So, here are some questions to ponder this week around the idea of validation. So, number one, do you feel the difference between sympathy and empathy? I use the word feel instead of think, because we want to focus in on our body. Embodying ourselves in the moment.Think back to a challenging time you experienced and how others engaged with you. Did you feel the difference between sympathetic and empathetic responses?Number two, over the next couple of weeks, practice seeing moments through the eyes of your partner or a good friend or your child, not just ones where they're upset, but also ones where they're excited or happy. Can you see why they are expressing that emotion in that moment? If you put yourself in their shoes, would you feel the same emotion? I'm just excited for people to play with those questions. Just because it really helps, I think, to separate and to understand how people are different.ANNA: Anytime we can get to more understanding about how different we are and how different we see and experience the world, it just opens up this space for understanding.PAM: It really does. It really does. Okay, number three, do you find it hard to release your agenda around how someone else moves through their challenges and emotions? Try some different mantras or self-talk and see what helps you transition from seeing the path to your expected outcome, to being curious about and supportive of their path to their outcome.And lastly, what feels good and validating to you when you're experiencing a challenging situation? How about letting your partner or friend know, and ask them to try that with you next time you're frustrated or upset about something and see how that feels? What difference does that make?ANNA: Yes, because again, we're all so different and what feels good and validating will be different for each of us. So, open up these conversations, play with it, talk to the people in your life, and I think it'll be really interesting.PAM: Oh, I think so. I'm very excited. Thanks so much for listening, everyone, and we will see you next time. Bye.ANNA: Bye.

LJ025: Behaviors [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 behaviors. A lot of mainstream parenting advice focuses on children's behavior and the best ways to stop unwanted behaviors and increase desired ones. What that approach fails to acknowledge is that behaviors are always an expression of underlying needs. And without digging in to understand those needs, very often, the problem remains. By getting curious and figuring out our loved ones' true needs, we can solve problems together and strengthen our connection at the same time.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 QUESTIONS1. This week, notice your own behaviors and take a moment to contemplate the underlying need you’re trying to address. Often we act or react the same way over and over without thinking because it’s become a habit. Let’s bring some intentionality back in by considering the need at play.2. Next week, with some more self-awareness under our belt, try narrating a choice or two a day, including the need you’re taking care of, to your child/ren. Just a sentence or two, lightly, with no expectation of a response.3. Think of a behavior from your child/ren that is rubbing for you and list out some possible underlying needs they might be trying to satisfy. Use that lens the next time it happens and see what you learn. Did one of those possible needs make more sense?4. Thinking back over the last week or two, has something happened at home that impacted your child/ren’s behavior? This can just help you bring awareness to context and not focus only on behaviors and their impact. TRANSCRIPTANNA: Hello and welcome to the Living Joyfully Podcast. Navigating relationships can be challenging, because we're all so different. On the Living Joyfully Podcast, we dive into tools, strategies, and paradigm shifts to help you decrease conflicts 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 your 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 learn more about all that we're doing at's episode is part of the parenting series, and we're going to be looking at behaviors. Much of conventional parenting advice is centered around changing behaviors. That's usually attempted through punishments or rewards, which are really just two sides of the same coin of control. What's missing is an understanding of what the behaviors are telling us.Behaviors are at the surface. They are the clue to what's going on at a deeper level. When we focus our attention on that surface-level behavior, we're missing what's really happening for the child or person involved, and it's frustrating and usually fruitless practice to try to manipulate behavior without understanding the why behind it. This is especially true if you want to have a healthy, connected relationship with the person. It's true that we can change behavior through coercion and bribes, but often at the expense of our connection and our understanding of one another.PAM: Yeah, definitely behaviors stem from something. We have reasons for the things we do, as do the other adults in our life. And the same goals for children. They are people, too. Whether or not they can explain why they did something is different. Sometimes adults can't explain their reasoning either. But yes, the behaviors are clues to what's going on at a deeper level.ANNA: Right. It's important to understand that behaviors are outward expressions of needs. We do things in order to meet our needs. We make food when we're hungry. We may call a friend when we're upset. We may stomp through the house when we're mad to get some energy out. Those things we do are behaviors. When we understand that behind every behavior is a need, we start to see that the behaviors are a clue, just a piece of the puzzle.If we want to understand the person in front of us, we want to understand the need driving the behavior. If the behavior happens to be undesirable, for whatever reason, the most lasting way to get rid of it is to meet that need. And while we're focusing on parenting and children in this episode, it's really the same for every relationship.When we think of behavior as a clue, it changes the energy around difficult exchanges. We're bringing an open, curious mindset to the situation to solve the puzzle. What's driving this behavior that's causing problems? Problem behaviors can range from fighting with a sibling to not brushing their teeth.Turning first to HALT gives us a quick check-in about needs that often drive behaviors, and we've talked about it before, but just a quick reminder is to see if the person is hungry, angry, lonely, or tired. These are contextual things that impact behavior and meeting the need will stop that behavior quickly.The thing is, kids want to fit into a family system. It's biological, because it's needed for survival, but things can get in the way. Things that they may not be able to articulate, and that's what we want to help them discover. What's driving a particular behavior? Not only so we can eliminate the behavior that might be causing disconnection or even harm, but so that they can start to learn about how to recognize the need themselves and choose ways to get that need met that actually help them stay connected, which furthers the goal for them.And I would say HALT is probably at play with like 75% of issues. But there can be so many other things, too. A tough day at school, a mistake made earlier that they keep replaying, worrying about something in the future, stress in the family, worrying about things that are happening in the world.Needs can range from things like needing certainty, needing to feel safe, needing to feel connected, needing to process, needing to be alone, needing to be heard, and on and on.There isn't a formula, but the better you know one another, and as trust is built, the easier it will be to uncover the needs through inquiry and conversation, keeping in mind that these are not like long sit-down conversations, but gentle inquiry with the energy that you want to help and understand. Even just saying, "I'm here, I want to understand," can go a long way. Remembering there is always an underlying need, and that's where we find the solutions to address any behavior we're seeing.PAM: Yes. It is really helpful to remember that exploring behaviors to uncover needs is a process. It's often not solved in a one and done, long, drawn-out conversation. I love that phrase you used, gentle inquiry.So, maybe in one passing conversation we validate their frustration, how their action or reaction was their best choice in that moment. We love them. Maybe another time we share an observation like, it was the end of a long day and a few things had already gone sideways. Maybe next time we won't try to do another thing. And each time we can leave space for them to continue the conversation or to move on. And we can pay extra attention to any time they approach us, maybe wanting to talk about what happened. We want them to feel our support of their processing, whatever it looks like. And in the meantime, we can be doing our own processing as well.ANNA: Exactly. Whenever we're reacting to a behavior, it is a very good time to take a look at what's being triggered in us, because ultimately our reaction is our responsibility. Nobody is making us feel a certain way. We are responsible for how we feel. And that is a whole other episode that we'll get into because it's really an important nuance.But when we're seeing a disturbing behavior or behavior we don't understand, it's so helpful to look at the context. Our first inclination is to look at the person, what's wrong with them? Why are they being so difficult or mean? Why are they doing this thing? But so often, context is playing a role. How was their day? Did something happen at school? Is there something going on with friends? Are they worried about something that's coming up? Starting from a place of curiosity and assuming positive intent allows us to look beyond an offending behavior to see the person in front of us, a person who might be hurting or in need of help. And understanding the context helps us not to go to that place of condemning the person or the relationship, and it helps our children learn to understand and articulate how something is impacting them instead of just lashing out. They can start to give words to what they're feeling.And it's really helpful if we start using the language of context in our days. And I like to call it narrating. It's things like, it was such a long day today, I did not eat enough. And I can tell already I'm feeling snappy. I'm exhausted and I can tell I might lose my temper if I don't go to bed soon.Narrating what's going on for us does a couple of things. So, it helps those around us to know that our foul mood isn't about them, and it helps model for our children how to understand context and communicate about it and the impact of it with the people around them.Our job then becomes to listen when they communicate to us, when they tell us that they're too tired to do something or they've had a tough day, listen, and give them space or an extra cuddle or a listening ear. While we don't always understand why someone feels the way that they do, we want to trust in their knowledge and honor it. And again, it goes so far to helping build our connection and our understanding.PAM: Yes. Just to help them feel seen and heard in that moment. Because yeah, the underlying need is just more context that we can gain for that behavior in question.When we judge the behavior as bad, we send the message that we don't love them when they behave that way. So, they're feeling misunderstood. They're feeling unloved for who they are, and they're feeling alone, most likely. Because when we keep the conversation focused on the behavior, we miss the opportunity to help them process what happened, to maybe uncover the underlying need, or at least just get a little bit closer. It may take a while to find the route and then more time to find other ways to meet the need. Again, it's a process.And I definitely found sharing my own processing to be helpful, not in that big sit-down conversation way. But in sharing bits and pieces here and there, as in your great narrating examples. It definitely helps them see that my behaviors are about me, not about them, and also about how I process things. Not with the expectation that they process the same way. What it's communicating is that processing has value. It helps us understand ourselves and each other a bit better. It helps us move through the more challenging times, a bit more gracefully, with a little bit less damage to our connection. And that having hard times isn't just a kid thing. Adults have them, too. It's a human thing.ANNA: Oh my gosh. Absolutely. It's kind of strange, actually, how we seem to have this expectation that kids are going to always act with intention and make choices that we deem as right when so often, as adults we do not. So, it is an interesting kind of double standard to keep an eye out for.Sometimes the issue is a behavior that isn't happening. So, teeth not being brushed, homework not being done, plates not being brought back to the kitchen. When we're facing a behavior that isn't happening, it, it helps to ask what's making it hard. Again, bringing an open, curious mindset means we're open to hearing about their experience, and that helps us find solutions together. Because it's under the behavior or lack of that we gain a better understanding and find the solutions. Adjusting at that surface level really can only happen through rewards or punishment, and you not only impact the relationship, but you're much less likely to have a plan that sticks, because you haven't identified or addressed the needs or the barriers at all.And so, I remember reading this story from a popular psychologist who's a fan of gentle approach to parenting. And the question that was posed to her was, my child refuses to turn off the light, and I feel like it's a waste of energy and money, but nothing I'm saying is working. So, the advice of the psychologist was to remove the light bulb. And then she went on to explain that the solution worked because the child became scared and then learned her lesson.I think this is a really great example of where we can peel back and look at what it would look like to explore the underlying needs instead. So, if we don't get anywhere from asking a child specifically about a behavior or to stop doing it, I want to start looking more closely and watch for clues. It could be something where she simply forgets. If that's the case, well, we could work on figuring out a reminder together. Maybe a sign on the door would be enough. It could be that the light is hard to reach. She's leaving the room and books in her arms, and she can't reach the light. So, maybe rigging a string to the light or push button light might solve it.What's interesting in this case is that we were given the additional information that she was scared and that's why she quote "learned." So, knowing that she was scared, I would really want to explore that piece with her. Hey, do you feel safer with the light on? Is it that you don't like entering a dark room?I don't always love entering a dark room. A question along those lines can serve two purposes. It helps me get to the bottom of the behavior, but it also connects me with the child. She knows I'm interested in what her experience is, and then I can learn how she's seeing the world and what her perception of the situation is, and I can gain a better understanding of how our perceptions may differ.And at that point, we can look at, what about a nightlight that comes on automatically when the room gets dark or switch to LED-type lights that don't cost very much and meet my need for energy efficiency and meet her need for a light. And in the end, I might just say, you know what? Those few pennies a day to leave the light on, I'm okay with that for my child to feel safe.And I think what's key with any kind of conflict is to move beyond the surface. With this example, we have one person who wants the light on, one person who wants the light off. Those seem like diametrically-opposed views, but if we peel back and say, okay, but what's happening underneath of that? Then we can find solutions that feel good to both parties and that actually meet both of their needs, even though that solution was not the solution that worked, the turn it off or leave it on.And that's what I love about looking beyond the behavior to the underlying needs, because I think so often, we feel like we're faced with these situations that seem completely unsolvable. How are we ever going to bridge this gap? But when we start looking at the needs that are driving the behaviors, we can usually find, oh yeah, what about this? What about that? Oh yeah, that would work. It opens up this creativity piece that just is a game changer.PAM: Yes, because it's that creative piece that I love so much now. When we have two or more needs that are at first pointing in different directions, what are other possibilities? And I just love your light example. What if I don't want to scare my child into doing what I want them to do?And, as you were talking about that, it reminded me of the general parenting conversations around the idea of natural consequences. Sometimes parents seem to be setting up their kids for what they call natural consequences, almost wanting things to go wrong.It just feels like another guise for punishment to teach them a lesson. But there really are so many other possibilities. And we don't need to first find the right answer and then implement it. Each time we try something, we learn a little bit more through the experience. So, how did it go? Did it work for you? Did it work for me? What felt a bit off? Knowing what we know now, how might we tweak it?So, maybe at first it's like, oh yeah, I just forget to turn off the light. So, we put up the sign and it's still happening. Oh. So, maybe it's not just forgetfulness. And then we can dig a little bit deeper and a little bit deeper, and we try different things. And then eventually we really do get to that fear piece because subconsciously not wanting to turn it off doesn't bring to mind to remember to do it right. So, you can absolutely see how, at first we can think it's just a forgetfulness thing. But really once we get underneath and find what that root need is, it's a whole different set of possible solutions that can come up for us. Again, it is a process. I think that's a really big takeaway.ANNA: It really is. It's a process and one that I would say is so much more enjoyable than this kind of bickering and power play business. Because again, there's just such a different energy about, hey, let's try this, or, this isn't feeling good to me, so let's try these things. And yeah, okay, that worked, but that part didn't. It becomes this exchange we're having with the person in our life to get to a place where we both feel good.And I mean, that's just such a different energy than this punishment and reward and anger and bickering. And so, I would much rather spend my time working with my child than arguing. And that goes really for anybody. That's the happy, connecting work and it's just the energy that I want to cultivate in my home and in my life and with the people in my life.PAM: I know! Because the people in my family, they're the ones I want to feel like we're a team together trying to figure things out, not at odds with each other. It doesn't mean, again, that we don't argue, that behaviors and things don't happen that feel disconnecting or are hard for us. Yet, we can still bring that energy of figuring it out together. It doesn't need to come to a head as a conflict where one needs to be right and one needs to be wrong. Or, as a parent, I need to have power over my child and tell them to do my answer, because I think it's right and it's right because it would be the right answer for me. And our kids are different. And our kids are people. And what the underlying need for them that they are trying to meet is important and is valuable.And when we come at it with that energy of being a team and figuring it out together, oh my gosh. It changes the energy of the home. It increases connection, cultivates that connection that we want to have with them. And they learn so much more about themselves. And that's something that will last them their whole lifetime. ANNA: Yeah. It's really true. And it is so important to remember that what solution makes sense to us may not make sense to our child or to our spouse, or to our friend. We're all different. We're going to keep saying it. And it's not that our idea's wrong. It's the right answer for us and it's okay to present it and let's have it as a conversation piece, but always remembering that it may or may not resonate with the person in front of us. And if I want to learn and be connected to this person, I want to give space to understand where they're coming from. So important to remember that.Okay, so here are some quick questions and ideas to think about this week. So, this week, notice your own behaviors and take a moment to contemplate the underlying need that you're trying to address. Often we act or react in the same way over and over again without thinking about it because it's kind of become a habit. So, just bringing some intentionality back to considering the need at play, I think, can just be a really helpful process, because like, hey, what am I trying to meet with this need of this behavior that maybe even a behavior that I do all the time? So, I think that could bring that intentionality.PAM: Yeah. I do think it's a lot easier to start with us, because we're making the choices, we're doing our things and we're behaving in the ways that are working for us. But I do find it so interesting to start with things that maybe have become a habit for us. Because they were a habit back when, when that was maybe the best way for us to meet that need, but to take a little bit of time to remember, because once we have the habit and the action, we do that without thinking pretty much. That's kind of the definition of a habit. So, when we can take a moment to think, so why am I doing it that way? And going back to the underlying need, we may find that there is a new way or a different way to address it that makes more sense for us now. So, even if we don't extend it anywhere else, it can be helpful.ANNA: And it's going to help you communicate about it, too. So, if someone doesn't understand that behavior and you figure out what the need is, that's much easier to communicate to someone else than a behavior maybe they don't understand.Okay. So, number two, next week with some more self-awareness under our belt, try narrating a choice or two a day, including the need that you're taking care of, to your children. Give a sentence or two lightly, no expectation of a response from them. None of that, but just start to narrate a little bit more about your day and why you're feeling a certain way or why you're doing something and just see how that feels and how it lands and how that can definitely smooth things. It just helps people understand where we're coming from or what's going on for us.PAM: It made such a big difference for me, because I just always imagined people were reading my mind or everybody felt the same way. So, there's this reason why I'm doing this thing, why would anybody else wonder about it?ANNA: That's a big thing. I think we get told like, well, nobody can read your mind, but we really do think that people think the same way that we do. And so, of course they would make the same exact decision. No, they will not. Oh my goodness.Okay, so three, think of a behavior from your children that is rubbing for you. List out some possible underlying needs that they might be trying to satisfy with these behaviors. Use that lens the next time it happens and see what you learn. See how that fits. Did one of those possible needs make more sense? Did it help you understand why the behavior was happening? And so, I think that will be very interesting.And lastly, number four, thinking back over the last week or two, has something happened at home that impacted your child's behavior? This can help you bring awareness to the context, to not focus only on the behaviors and their impact. And so, with this question, what we're asking again is just, yeah, let's look at that broader context. And how could it have impacted the behavior of the child in front of you? And see how that feels to think about those pieces.PAM: Yeah, I mean, for me, once I would think bigger picture context for just regular every day behaviors of things going wrong. I really found that often I had more compassion or more empathy for the other person, child or adult, when I realized that we've been really busy these last couple of weeks. I've been having to wake them up in the morning to go do the things or to get ready for school or whatever it is. And maybe we discover it through HALT, if we're looking at it that way. Or maybe we're just looking at the bigger picture in general. But it's amazing how much that context influences behavior.ANNA: I think if anytime we feel that little tweak of a behavior that happens, can we just do a quick like, oh yeah, they had a lot of tests at school this week, or they had that big tournament over the weekend, or they didn't sleep well last night. Or they're worried about their grandmother or their whatever. Just that quick moment to think, you know what? There are some things that could be impacting why they're a little snippier, why I'm a little snippier, why we're all feeling that way.And again, then we can narrate and bring those things out into the open and we can say for ourselves, I didn't get a lot of sleep last night and I'm feeling really tired. Or I was worried about your grandmother, because I know she was having this whatever. And we can start having those conversations, which then just opens us up for that compassion for one another, for that greater understanding.PAM: And from there, just as we finish up, let's plant that seed of capacity, just as you were talking about it right there. Our children have capacity. And when all their things are going on around them or other stresses, they have less and less capacity. That was a big a-ha moment for me with my kids, too, and their behaviors was that something sets them off which would not have set them off yesterday or a week ago or a month ago. And all of a sudden I'm like, what the heck? Why is that bothering them? Why is that setting them off? But recognizing that there were a number of other things that went wrong during the day up to that point. And that they had basically just lost their capacity to absorb something else going sideways this day or this week. So, capacity applies to children just as much as it does adults.ANNA: It does! And how that energy and how bringing that compassion, how that person feels heard, how that child feels loved and understood and how it keeps us moving towards having a calmer home, a more comfortable environment. And anyway, okay, I'm going to stop. But there's so many things here. Obviously, we keep talking about it. So, thank you so much for listening, and we will see you next time. Take care.