In the midst of a pandemic, it might seem like a stretch to imagine that we are being turned into glittering diamonds, but hear me out. Think of how a diamond is formed. Regular carbon converts into the beautiful dazzling stone we all know, after the application of tremendous heat and pressure.
Without the pressure, carbon would remain an unattractive lump of coal.
Did you know that stress and pressure can be a good thing?! I’m not saying that things like the pandemic aren’t a big deal. But doesn’t it help to know that as a human being, you are meant to be a stress handling machine? Most of us need help to get on the diamond-producing path, so we don’t get stuck feeling like a lump of coal. But thankfully we literally have many adaptations that enable us to take stress and pressure and make the equivalent of diamonds in our lives.
Are you feeling a ton of PRESSURE in your life right now? Bear in mind that there’s actually an Upside of Stress! (Which happens to be the title of a wonderful book by author Kelly McGonigal.) Like so many so-called “negative” emotions, pain, stress, and pressure are critical for a healthy and successful life. Pain in all its forms is meant to be a tool to move us to make changes in our lives. Pain is meant to signal what is wrong. That signal is critical for motivating us to make things better. Pain is necessary for amazing things to occur.
The cold hard truth is that we are naturally hard wired to move AWAY from pain. We wouldn’t have survived as a species if we didn’t see pain as something to avoid. It’s why we have the fight-or-flight instinct; we don’t want to keep experiencing the feeling of pain or pressure and we avoid it at all costs. But pressure is not the bad guy. How we view and respond to pain and pressure is what drives us either to wither or grow.
There has to be a reason why you’re in a funk with parenting right now. Perhaps the immense pressure you are feeling is a nudge to shake things up, to see your situation from a different perspective, and to muster up the courage to change. What if the way you lived pre-Pandemic could be way better and the Pandemic gave you this cause to pause and reassess?
Chances are you have reached out for parenting help BECAUSE you felt pressure to address some issue in your family. You may have been in a considerable amount of pain. You may have felt the tension between how you want to be as a parent and the daily battles to get out the door on time without yelling or punishing your kids. The stress of things not going well resulted in you making a positive choice to search for and read this information.
The good news is there are many actionable tips for harnessing the power of pressure. You can use this pressure as a TOOL for betterment and growth.
Can you see some areas of your life where MORE pressure would be better?
Are you working out enough?
Do you stray away from deadlines?
What else would you like to do less or more of?
Are finding it hard to change?
If you don’t understand the value of pain, you may be tempted to reduce it. If parenting is causing you pain, perhaps you are choosing to look the other way at behaviours, convincing yourself that this is the way kids are nowadays. But it doesn’t have to be like this. You can use this unfavourable baseline as a motivator to make long-term changes for the better.
There are several ways to make pressure in parenting work for you.
Get an accountability partner.
Confess to someone that you are struggling. The act of admitting you are not living up to your own expectations is pain enough to start the process of change. Tell your partner what you are committing to doing, and then check in regularly to give a progress update. For many of us, accountability is the missing link that gets us into action.
Create a village of support.
This reduces pressure on you (and your co-parenting partner if you have one) and helps teach our values. Our kids don’t have to have another deep alignment person, but we need support so we can focus less on managing our emotions and more on being the parent we want to be. Support also gives us the opportunity for vital self-care.
Establish strong family bonds.
Less family conflict leads to conflicts being solved more easily, which in turn creates a much happier and healthier family life.
Aim for B’s.
Lower your expectations. You don’t need to be perfect all the time. So, what if the house is messy but the kids (and you!) made it to all your Zoom calls on time?
Practice rejuvenating self-care.
Your sanity is the most important thing. Sometimes it can seem like the only choice is to put yourself and your needs on the backburner. Parents are working too hard to be everything to their kids and to be perfect. This is why support is critical; you need to be able to set boundaries and reset your mental health by taking a break.
Question your thoughts.
Are you aware that you have an internal spin doctor in your brain weaving a story and convincing itself and you that it is in full control? If your story is that you don’t have enough time, will you see ways to free up time? Try to see your thoughts as entities outside yourself and question their validity. You can achieve much more than what your brain might be telling you.
Pressure is not the enemy. What you do with it is!
If you can learn to manage pain and harness the power of the pressure, you can make all sorts of diamonds in your life going forward. May the force be with you! Don’t you love how that takes on a new meaning now? *Great Parenting can be simplified! For the more in-depth discussion, check out our Private Facebook Group.