One thing you’re never short of as a parent of young children is change. Young children are constantly changing and at times it feels like you’re running to keep up with their needs.
As children change they force us, as parents, to change too. But we rarely have the time to reflect on how we have been affected or what impact this may have on us in future.
It’s like trying to keep up with a runaway shopping trolley!
After my youngest started school this September, I found myself desperately wanting to get my Fast Start Up e-course finished and out there, but some days my progress was painfully slow. I knew that I’d just hit another life change and I had some work to do if I was going to get through this ‘stuck’ feeling.
So I picked up a few of the books and resources I’d used when I did my coach training back in 2002-5. (Yes, most were still in my loft!)
This exercise has helped me a lot so I thought I’d share it with you as it may help you too. It comes from a book called Prospering Woman: A Guide to Achieving a Full and Abundant Life by Ruth Ross, which is out of print but you can still pick it up second hand from Amazon.
There is a theory that we all have a dozen or more sub-personalities. We show different personalities to different people in our lives, for example you may be a teacher, mother, wife, judge, banker, pessimist or even a child depending on who you are with at the time. You probably even have more than one personality operating at any time.
The exercise is to sit with a notebook and ask yourself ‘Who am I?’ over and over again, up to thirty times. The write down whatever personality comes up.
I had around fifteen different sub-personalities on my list, but the really dominant ones were the Entrepreneur, the Banker, the Mummy and the Career Girl. And I had a real battle on my hands!
– The Banker was using scare tactics to get me to earn as much money as possible and take as few risks as possible.
– The Mummy was preventing me from doing anything that didn’t put my children at the top of the list.
– The Entrepreneur was constantly telling me to try one business idea after another because the current one wasn’t working fast enough.
– The Career Girl was giving me a hard time for ‘not having achieved very much’ since I had kids.
It was no wonder I’d got stuck with so many conflicting voices in my head!
All of the voices had a point – I did need to earn money, I do want to feel a sense of achievement without compromising on my family commitments. Lots of ideas are not a bad thing if handled well.
But I wasn’t keeping these in balance. If I allowed the Mummy to dominate, my kids might not get as many opportunities to develop independence. If I allowed the Banker to dominate I might as well just go and get a job. The Career Girl is just looking at external measures of success such as getting a promotion, which are hard to come by if you’re self employed and don’t tell the full story anyway.
Ruth Ross says that if one of our sub-personalities doesn’t get the attention it craves it can become a real nuisance. She suggest sitting all the sub-personalities in a circle and allowing them to have their say. So that’s what I did. I listened to the concerns of each and tried to prioritise them while making sure nobody was left out.
If you’re thinking all this sounds a little wacky, well I’m inclined to agree with you. I don’t know if the psychology behind this is sound, but it did give me some clarity that had been missing for a while. Even though my oldest child was born over five years ago, I’m still working out how my role as Mum fits with the parts of me that were here in my LBK (life before kids) . Most of the time it’s not an issue, but at times it does pop up and need some attention.
So if you’re feeling stuck, I’d say this exercise is definitely worth a go.
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8 Replies to “This might just get you unstuck”
Thanks for sharing this Helen, as a mum and a freelancer I completely relate to this. Will be very interesting to get my ‘personalities’ in a circle. I suspect that the writer and the banker in me might have a fight!
You’re welcome Toni! I think you might be right about that fight 😉 but I also think you can get them to live in harmony too!
Once again, the voice of reason… despite being able to talk about what should to others, arranging others, i still struggle to get on and DO for myself, constant battle! concerned just how many voices in my head are having a go…eek… may still be worth a try though!
I can really relate – you know what needs doing but somehow getting it done is a struggle. Don’t worry too much about the voices in your head, if you pay them just a little attention they tend to quieten down!
This is really helpful for me right now Helen and I’m going to give it a try just as soon as I’ve cooked tea! Seriously though, our family life has just changed again and I am feeling a little bit lost and out of my depth, so this exercise may help to give me just the clarity I need. Thank you for sharing it with us. R x
You’re welcome Rachel, hope it helps. I think we often just ‘get on with it’ with all the family changes and it’s only later that it all catches up with us. Take care.
thanks for this, it is sooooo good to know that i am not the only one going through the same struggles! sometimes i feel totally insane & that no-one else gets it as they all seem so calm!! No1 daughter started school this year & it has totally changed everything, i feel like i have less time now not more!!! hard to adjust, too many hats & all that. So a circle sounds like just the plan!
You are absolutely not alone here. Yes, you think that your youngest child starting school will solve most of your challenges and although it does make things a bit easier, it’s not the breeze you thought it would be. 🙂 I know exactly what you mean. I hope this helps a bit.