How to Change Your Situation
When your son’s life seems to be spiraling out of control, it is so normal and natural to get sucked into that vortex of believing it will never get better, he will never change, and you’re doomed to a life of fear and frustration and worry ~ and if you’re lucky enough, there might be occasional moments of happiness sprinkled along the way.
But, what if you’re wrong? What if your best days aren’t behind you? What if the sun could shine brighter on you without your son doing anything different? It is totally possible. Seriously. Because, while you cannot make him do things differently (if you could, I already know you would!), you, my friend, are the only one who gets to decide how you view your situation with your son.
Stay with me! I am not talking about turning a blind eye to all his shenanigans and pretending nothing bad is happening. Nor am I suggesting that you just write your son off as a complete lost cause and move on without any concern for him. I’m sure there are moms in the world who simply survive their situation with their sons by ignoring what’s going on or cutting their son loose, but those aren’t my moms. My Find Peace in Parenting moms ~ like you ~ would give their right pinky if it meant their son would start making better choices and straighten up his life.
But what if you could keep all your fingers and find peace (and maybe even some joy or hope) in the midst of this turbulent time with your son? You totally can. And the way to do this is simple: change the way you think about your situation.
Now, please notice I said the way is “simple”; I did not say it is easy. This is not about finding a nice-sounding mantra; it is not even about desperate or wishful thinking. What I am challenging you to consider is this: look at your problem from a slightly different vantage point because how you view your situation makes all the difference… for you.
When our son ran away from home, I had lots of different thoughts about it:
When I thought, “He is an ungrateful brat who simply doesn’t know how good he has it,” I felt aggravated.
When I thought, “Oh my gosh, people are going to think we are horrible parents,” I felt embarrassed and ashamed.
When I thought, “He’s going to ruin his life forever,” I felt scared and uptight.
That first evening I even thought, “Well, at least there won’t be any blow-ups tonight,” and I felt selfish.
Different thoughts will always evoke different emotions ~ and that is where your power lies. It’s all about how you tell your story ~ whether you are talking to yourself or to others.
I challenge you to consider the possibility that you could genuinely think about your experience with your son differently. The first step is just noticing how you think about it right now. How do you talk about your son to others? When someone asks about your son, what is your most common, consistent answer? If your best friend only knew your son from the way you talk about him, how would your friend label your son? As you take the time to really answer these questions, you will be ready to move along the path to finding more peace even as you continue to navigate these difficult times with your son. Are you ready to create your own different experience?
SOME SPECIFIC EXAMPLES:
Questions are a great way to open your mind to possibilities you might never have considered otherwise. How to Change Your Situation helped get you started on your journey of a new story about your son. The next step is finding some alternate thoughts that are at least slightly different but also believable. Let me show you what I mean.
Last week I shared with you some of the thoughts I had when our son ran away. Watch what happens when I change those ways of thinking just slightly:
Instead of, “He is an ungrateful brat who simply doesn’t know how good he has it,” which made me feel aggravated, “It kind of makes sense that he doesn’t know how good he has it,” left me with a more understanding heart.
Instead of, “Oh my gosh, people are going to think we are horrible parents,” which left me feeling embarrassed and ashamed, “Some people will believe we are horrible parents, and that’s OK; they could be wrong about us,” left me feeling slightly hopeful.
Instead of, “He’s going to ruin his life forever,” which left me scared and devastated, “He might ruin his life forever, but he might not,” left me feeling like there were several possibilities.
Instead of, “Well, at least there won’t be any blow-ups tonight,” which left me feeling selfish, “It’s OK to appreciate a blowup-free night,” allowed me to have some compassion for myself.
Notice that I didn’t change any of my thoughts to fairyland thoughts. This is not about finding a different story that sounds wonderful but is beyond the realm of possibility for your mind.
How can you shift your current thinking about your situation and your son to something different that is still believable but also feels better?
A PIECE OF MY HEART ~ Believable Thoughts v. Mantras
When our son ran away from home the first time, I was in the beginning of my coaching certification. Life coaches are known to ask, “What if this is how it was always supposed to be?” Well, I tried that thought for a few days, but it was way too far of a stretch for my mind at the time and I felt like a big, fat liar every time I said it. I couldn’t keep pretending that I believed it was all meant to happen like this.
Mantras don’t generally work for me unless they are believable. So, while I knew I didn’t want to stay stuck in the story that none of this should be happening, it took baby steps for me to get to where I am today.
From “This shouldn’t be happening,” I moved to “This is happening and it’s going to be OK.” When that started to feel believable, I moved onto, “This is an opportunity for learning and growth ~ for him and for us.” This worked for me because I truly believe no experience is a complete waste if I can learn something from it. And then, eventually I got to the thought I fully believe today:
“This is his journey and he will figure it out.”
This thought brings me peace; it also reminds me that we are all on a journey and it’s OK that he nor we have it all figured out yet. When things get dicey ~ and they still do sometimes ~ I have much more compassion for my son, and for us, when I remember: This is his journey and he will figure it out.
I can never teach you how to control your son or how to ensure things work out exactly like you want them to. But the next best thing is knowing you do have a lot more power in your own experience as you consciously decide how you think about what’s happening. Which means, peace is always an option ~ even in your situation.