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How To Make Something Easier Without It Needing To Change

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My 18-month-old daughter does this thing every time I want to make food or a cup of coffee where she walks into the kitchen whining, with arms outstretched, wanting to be held. And until I hold her, she clings to my legs and whines louder. This often escalates into full on sobs and throwing herself around the kitchen in what appears to be profound distress.

She’ll be playing perfectly happily downstairs on her own with her dad, lying on the couch reading, but the minute I come onto the scene it’s meltdown city.

These are not moments I savor. These are not moments I’m going to miss one day. These are the moments I wish would go faster, in fact. (Well-intentioned mothers of older children tell me to enjoy every moment, but the truth is, I just don’t. Some moments of motherhood are not enjoyable.)

Occasionally I have the presence of mind to do something different in these moments of kitchen chaos.

I let go of my agenda, sit down on the kitchen floor, pull my girl onto my lap, look her in the eye, and breathe. This rarely makes her stop crying or thrashing around. In fact, sometimes it continues for 20 minutes or more.

But getting present with what is right there, rather than clinging to what I wish it were, makes the moment instantly easier.

I’m still hungry and craving coffee. She’s still feeling really big feelings in a tiny body.

What’s different, though, is that I’m no longer adding friction to an already grating scenario by resisting the reality.

When I surrender to what is, nothing needs to change, yet it’s instantly easier to deal with. twitter-logo

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I don’t remember to (or want to) do this every day. There are plenty of days that I plow through with my own agenda and curse every moment of wailing while I sauté the mushrooms.

And there’s the occasional day when my surrender actually does calm Penelope down, and suddenly she’s off to the next activity, not caring what I’m doing.

But if I need or expect her to be different and make my letting go about that, I know it won’t work. Then I’m just hooked to a whole new agenda, priming myself for inevitable disappointment.

I have never felt as out of control as I have since becoming a mother. It’s so hard for me to let go of how I want things to be.

But when I do it, when I get down on the floor with her and breathe, I can sit in the chaos and enjoy the fact that what I do have control over is my attachment to things needing to be different. And when I can unhook from this need, things get easier without anything actually needing to change.

It’s still messy. It’s still not what I want to be doing. But it is easier. And I’ll take it.

 

OVER TO YOU:

What do you do when you’re in a situation you wish were different but you have no control over changing? Have you also found things get easier, even though they’re the same, when you let go of your expectations? I’d love to know about it in the comments!

 

P.S. Ever sat glued to your computer screen trying to ignore your incredibly full bladder for an hour or two?

Ever lie on the bathroom floor at work in massive pain with menstrual cramps because taking a day of rest didn’t feel like an option?

We’ve all been taught that our bodies are a hinderance to our productivity. There’s a billion-dollar industry devoted to seriously dampening, and even silencing, our bodies’ signals.

Our culture has become profoundly disconnected from the fact that there’s an entire universe going on below our necks.

Watch the video below to find out how your body and its innate wisdom can fuel your productivity and how to use it as a guide to thrive in business.

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  • Jess says:

    Kate thanks so much for writing this!! I am becoming a mum for the first time in May and I just love (a) that you’ve named you don’t have to love all of it, regardless of what anyone says haha and (b) that being present rather than trying to necessarily change is STILL easier – it doesn’t make it go away but it makes life smoother. Love love love this, thanks so much for writing :)

  • Maria says:

    Those mothers of older kids who tell you to cherish every moment? We all have selective amnesia. I have a 16 year old, and I do not miss diapers or meltdowns one little bit. I do miss chubby baby hugs and snuggles and the good stuff, but not that.

    • Kate Northrup says:

      So true about the selective amnesia! I can already feel that coming on and it’s a blessing!

  • Deb says:

    I find that my expectations are always more than what I actually get. This is true especially with people that I am around. I expect a certain behavior from them because I feel that is what I give them and I am almost always (always) let down…

  • I resonate with the body video. ❤️ Great message. When I feel overwhelmed, I tell myself everything passes and I am already ok. Therefore I’m not resisting anything in my life.

  • Hi Kate,

    While I agree that’s it good modeling what your doing with your child for her to learn how to calm herself in her meltdowns, after three grown healthy daughters, as they grow they learn how to calm themselves down, its good for kids to figure out where they can go learn where they are comfortable to go calm down for themselves, (often kids can learn to use their bedrooms as a safe zone to get calm. )while it’s frustrating for you to watch them reach that potential, knowing they can do it gives them the confidence they can without you observing is just as beneficial for both of you, because then she can learn how to get calm without mom around, as she might do kindergarten later on. Trusting a child to do what she can do, is a part of being a great mom.

    • Maria says:

      I completely agree. Once they get a little older and have some language, it gets easier to teach them how to manage their emotions. Also important to remember that what you reward with your attention, even negative attention, is what they will repeat. Sometimes just clearing the space for safety and letting them have their big dramatic moment is the way to go, especially when they are able to speak as an alternative. Staying calm and acting as if you can’t hear them until they use their words is a lot easier said than done, but it helps extinguish tantrums.

  • Beautiful and timely message Kate – thank you! As we’re heading into spring my mind races with all the plans for the coming season, and I need to stop and breathe – check in with my body and emotions…then pace myself and focus on what needs to be accomplished now and what can wait for another moment. Set the schedule based on our own needs and not some arbitrary outside force pressing for ‘more…more MORE!’💚

  • Javon Wing says:

    Whenever I am in a situation that I don’t want, but have no control over, I immediately call upon and welcome my creative spirit. I look for abundance in any form, and creative ways in which I can better navigate about the situation. I don’t necessarily need to know the answers or have to find a way out, but I do like to know that I have another perspective I can choose from. This gives me freedom of choice in a situation where I might not have one otherwise. The moment I let go of expectations, I feel at ease and I feel like I’ve opened the flood gates to any other opportunities or ways of looking at a situation. I’m constantly assessing and looking for ways in which I can be free, whether emotional, physical, or spiritual. This approach has greatly impacted my life and is my way of taking back control over my life…to the extent that I can, and to the best of my ability. :)

    • Kate Northrup says:

      Such a beautiful practice!

    • Laura says:

      This is true for me also Javon – This gives me freedom of choice in a situation where I might not have one otherwise. The moment I let go of expectations, I feel at ease and I feel like I’ve opened the flood gates to any other opportunities or ways of looking at a situation.

      This is also been my experience Kate: letting go of expectations, getting present with what is right there, rather than clinging to what I wish it were, makes the moment instantly easier.

  • Sandra says:

    I had the same situation making dinner this evening, my two year old wanted to be held. He missed his nap today and was tired and hungry. I managed to distract him for ten minutes and get dinner on the table in record time! Once he was eating he was happy and we all got to enjoy dinner together :)

  • Tina Forgues Walker says:

    Thanks Kate for this message 💛
    My daughter is nonverbal, 22, and has Autism. Specifically the last two days I have been lost during her meltdowns that I normally can ride out. It’s made me the yoga/meditation Momma that I am but I have struggled lately with the moments she is overwhelmed and having behaviors. Allowing it to be and listening to your experience of your daughter’s behavior has made me feel supported
    Thank you!
    Tina

  • marianne says:

    My dear Kate, I wish I had your wisdom when my three boys were small. One of them was diagnosed with ADHD and I a widow with little money had no patients with his behavior. He is all grown up now and we have talked about this and he smiles and say, I know I was every mothers nightmare, but you wanted to be the perfect mum. And wanted me to be perfect. You put a lot on you. And we all do so want to be the perfect mothers or we feel quilty. Quilt seem to be part of motherhood. You are doing great Kate, this was just what I needed to hear today on a differtent matter. Just finished tapping on that and found your tweet.
    love to you and your high spirited daughter. xxx

  • Hey Kate! Thanks for this piece. You are indeed a wise mother – especially for a woman with such a young one! I wanted to share one of my pieces with you, and maybe others in your community about what acceptance (and combatting shoulditis) has very recently looked like for me: http://inessencecoaching.com/acceptance/ We are clearly on the same wavelength! xx Alex (an Origins Member)

  • Paola says:

    Thank you Kate for sharing your feelings as you grow together with your daughter. I appreciate your open and honest sharing, and believe me, you’re not alone! I bet all parents can relate to the precious moments and wish the less precious ones would pass right away. Something
    that helps me besides also breathing deeply like you, is EFT. Tapping has an immediate effect on myself and on my two young boys. When it gets tougher I also try to remind myself of this quotation that I love: “Where there is love, nothing is too much trouble, and there is always time” -Abdul-Baha.

    • Kate Northrup says:

      Oh that quote is amazing! Thank you so much!

      • Paola says:

        Dear Kate, I just saw in your instagram that you shared this quote. Isn’t it a wonderful one? It comes from a key figure from the Baha’I Faith. I apply this quote when it comes to caring for my family, but also in my work and lately I’m trying to apply this to myself as well… trying to make the time for myself on a daily basis. Thank you so much for sharing your latest videos on managing our energy and cycles. They were brilliant!

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