From Inner Critic to Inner Mentor


How many modern parents identify their own inner critics as the main cause of overwhelm, stress, guilt and worry? I can't tell you the number of parents I talk with who tell me that the biggest obstacle to their having a life filled with joy and fun is their own inner critic constantly riding them about what they should be doing, how they aren't quite hitting the highest standards, telling them to work harder and harder to keep up with perfection, achievement and success, externally-defined, in order to "make it" and to be sure their children will succeed as well. What if I told you there is a way to decrease the volume on this inner critic voice? What would it feel like instead to hear, identify, understand and transform the inner voice of criticism, perfectionism, worry and fear to a more empowered, centered, grounded voice of wisdom, guidance, inspiration and hope? One area of work I do with parents as a life and leadership coach is to support them in transforming their inner critic into their inner mentor, whose purpose is not to protect using fear and shame, but to guide and inspire with visions of their own true life calling and purpose.

I coach clients with visualizations, meditations and journaling exercises which lead to a stronger, more grounded relationship to their inner mentor. This inner mentor is us in the future, reaching back, helping us understand and live up to our true visions of the life we most want to lead.

When we can mentor ourselves to live the life we know we are meant to live, rather than beat ourselves up with the ways we are not measuring up to an external standard, we show up for our kids as mentors rather than as critics. This work on ourselves completes the parenting circle, beautifully.

Click here to schedule your free From Inner Critic to Inner Mentor Strategy Session today!

Non-Violent Communication Can Save Your Marriage!

The Connected Family Parenting Family NVC
The Connected Family Parenting Family NVC

Do you find yourself having yelling matches with your spouse, in front of or within earshot of your kids, frequently enough that you and your spouse know it’s time for a change? Most of the time when couples yell in fights, it’s because either one or both of the people in the couple have strong feelings which arise because a deep-seated need is not being met.

For instance, let’s say that a woman asks her spouse daily that before he go watch television after dinner, he clean up the counter and dishes there after she has done the cooking.  The cooking partner has to ask several times, nagging, and the frustration builds up.   More often than not, the evening erupts into a yelling match over dishes.  But we all know it’s not about dishes.  What it is about is the fact that the irritated partner feels ignored, disrespected, unheard, dismissed, unloved, and has needs for cooperation, consideration and equality that are not being met.

This is how Non-Violent Communication (NVC) works:  first off, the person who wants to communicate her feelings starts off by identifying the moment/behavior/action of the person she is communicating with which most causes her to feel these strong feelings, in an objective way.  In this case, it’s the moment when her partner gets up from the table and goes to the couch instead of spending some time clearing and cleaning up after dinner.

In NVC, you start off a conversation with this identifying action.  You say, “When I see you get up from the table to watch television without clearing dishes or cleaning up…”  This wording has the feel of looking through a camera lens.  You simply communicate what you see, without judgment or hard criticism.

The next step is to clearly identify how this behavior/action makes you feel, and to be specific.  Rather than saying it makes you mad, say it makes me feel dismissed, ignored and disrespected – much stronger and more specific feelings which land with more clarity and emotional strength for the person listening.

Then you add to the statement of communication:  “When I see you get up from the table to watch television without clearing dishes or cleaning up, I feel ignored, disrespected and dismissed…”

Then you identify the underlying need that is not being met, and which is causing the strong feelings to erupt:  “When I see you get up from the table without clearing dishes or cleaning up, I feel ignored, disrespected and dismissed because I need cooperation, equality and consideration…”

The last part of the statement is a request.  After you explain what happened and how it makes you feel, what needs are underlying the strong feelings, you request if the person would be willing to act in a new way to correct course and prevent this hurt in future.

A final NVC statement would look like this:  “When you get up from the table and start watching television without clearing dishes or cleaning up, I feel ignored, disrespected and dismissed because I need cooperation, equality and consideration.  In future, would you be willing to help me to clear the table and clean the dishes and countertops before you turn on the television?”

This is very clear, it is not accusatory, it is not said while yelling.  It is straightforward, specific and proactive in what it communicates and requests gently a new action/behavior which is supportive and appropriate.

So the next time you and your spouse are veering towards a yelling match, stop, take a deep breath, and try this NVC methodology out:  describe the action objectively, state the feelings that arise when this action occurs, what the underlying unmet need is, and what if he or she would be willing to act differently in future so this hurt/feelings can be avoided.

You may be surprised at your spouse’s willingness to change when you approach him/her with calm, clarity, specificity, vulnerability, proactivity and gentleness.

Wishing you all the best as you consider using NVC to redesign your marital communication!

What's Your Type? The Enneagram for Parents

nine personality types on blackboard

The Enneagram is a robust system of personality, self-awareness and personal growth. As parents, we are challenged daily to grow ourselves into our best selves so as to meet the developing needs of our children in a peaceful and loving manner. The Enneagram can offer a path out of ineffective parenting patterns such as reacting to children with shortness, yelling and using punishments.  Once you identify your core personality type, it can be studied, practiced and incorporated into one’s behaviors to show up for our children and the rest of our lives with more grace and effectiveness. The Enneagram is different from more commonly known personality typing tools, like the Meyer’s Briggs, because it provides more than a static snapshot or box that people fit into in terms of their tendencies and behaviors.

The Enneagram is an ancient personality system which aims to capture the 9 personality types present in the human family. The types include The Reformer (1), The Giver (2), The Achiever (3), The Individualist (4), The Investigator (5), The Loyalist (6), The Enthusiast (7), The Challenger (8) and The Peacemaker (9). The names of the personality types come from the ways in which each type attempts to make its mark on the world, and respond to its need for love and recognition. Each type behaves in specific ways to gain approval and earn the love that we all seek as human beings, starting from a young age.

In addition to providing a current view of how a person is behaving, the Enneagram system is built upon the idea that personalities, and people, evolve over time. The more a person knows about him/herself and his/her behaviors, takes conscious action to untangle misconceived ideas about love and belonging, and becomes fully self-accepting, self-realized and effective in the world, the more each type evolves to become their highest self.

I came across the Enneagram many years ago when I was having challenges in a relationship and at work, with people who often seemed to speak a different language than I did in their behaviors and assumptions.

At that time, my father had just passed away and I had just begun the arduous journey of becoming an inner city public high school teacher. I was under stress and was typed as an Enneagram 8 — the Challenger. I was focused on being in charge of projects, often with strong, dominating energy to get the job done.  This was how I needed to be to be a successful teacher, so I thought, and it "worked" in terms of helping me to feel confident and effective at that point of my life.

I came to realize when I began my coaching program two years ago, that I had been mis-typed. Each Enneagram personality not only has a type that we evolve to, but also a type that we go to under stress. I am actually an Enneagram Type 2, the Giver. The Giver is most concerned with, well, giving to others.  There is a genuine desire to be helpful.  There has also been a learned habit to tend to the needs of others in order to feel loved.  The work of the 2 is to decipher between this pattern of giving in order to feel worthy and lovable versus taking the time to love oneself, to make time for one self, to fill one's own cup through appropriate self love, and then to support and help others from this abundant place.  It is freeing for a 2 to have permission to take time for oneself, to put one's self first and to arrest the pattern of putting everyone else's needs ahead of one's own in order to feel loved.  Most 2's eventually reach burn out from this pattern.  Starting with the self, really taking the time and space to attend to one's self first is like learning a new language for a 2.  Over time, it becomes second nature and a 2 learns that he/she was lovable all along, just for being, not because he or she became indispensable through strings-attached giving.  Free at last, free at last, thank God almighty, free at last...!

All personality types have wonderful qualities, but they also have patterns which can create problems, especially around self-criticism and perfectionism.

It is my self-development work to evolve to a Type 4, The Individualist, to overcome my patterns and assumptions about people and how to go about gaining love. In fact, when one evolves to their highest self/type using the Enneagram system as a tool, life no longer is about approval and seeking love from the outside, but rather about being true to oneself, living from a place of deep authenticity, integration, peace and flow.

It can also be enlightening to understand the Enneagram types of your spouse and your kids as well as people you interact and collaborate with on a regular basis at work, in the community, etc.  Once you know what another person's type is, typical communication patterns and styles of work can be better understood and people can tailor their interactions to be most effective.

Call me today for a free 30 minute You Can Be the Parent You Want to Be Breakthrough Session!  We'll discuss your ideal vision for parenting and personal growth and I can provide you with a free Enneagram assessment to get started uncovering old patterns and developing yourself into the best you can be, today.