by Karen Caton-Brunings

I was scrolling through my Facebook feed yesterday. Someone posted a question that got my attention. "What does it take to be a good mother?" I read the question three times. Before looking at responses, I answered the question for myself. Then I began to read.

"A good mother gives everything to her children."
"What makes a good mother is sacrificing your needs and wants for the betterment of your child."
"A good mother is the type of woman that puts her children first without question."
"She loves her children more than anything or anyone in the world."
"Good mothers provide their children with every opportunity to have a better life."
"Being a good mother is about sacrifice and doing everything possible to bring love and happiness to your children."

One by one, I read the passionate and loving words on the screen. I read them over and over, and I began to cry as I envisioned beautiful women falling on the sword of motherhood. I have significant scars from my own motherhood sword. I jabbed it into my chest for years in the name of being a good mother. My mother did the same. So did my grandmother. I willingly bled out in the name of motherhood because it's what we were all supposed to do. That is what makes a good mother.

Ten years ago, this girl was tightly bound to the stake of mommy martyrdom, and the flames were whipping up my legs. I would have guffawed at a blog like this. I would have said something like, "Shut up, blog writer! You don't know shit! I willingly give my kids every piece of me! There is nothing I won't sacrifice for my children's happiness." My selflessness seemed a small price to pay to be a perfect mom. I believed this idea like I believe the sky is blue.

We cook, clean, hold the heart of the family together. We throw ourselves in crippling debt to give them the opportunities and things we think will provide them with a leg up. Multiple sports, cultural experiences, piano, and language classes help make them well-rounded and confident. Whether you're working from home or have a career outside of the house, I bet you are giving every last drop in the name of motherhood. It's a badge of honor to burn the candle at both ends. Complete self-sacrifice is acceptable and expected. Ninety percent of our energy is distributed outward. If we are lucky, 10 percent is left to connect to ourselves. We either hold on to that 10 percent like our lives depend on it, or guilt creeps in, and you find yourself doing 3 loads of laundry and volunteering to drive another shift of carpool. Ever have your partner or husband roll over and make moves on you, and you think, "Don't even think about it! Touch me and die! I have given enough already."? Yep. Me too. That's us holding on to our precious 10 percent. The "good mom" sacrifice can leave you feeling like everything is an act of service to others.

Many of us struggle with depression, anxiety, sadness, and loss under our selflessness. We lament over it while drinking a bottle of wine with our closest friends. We talk about it in whispered conversations at book club and at the grocery store. Heaven forbid anyone knows we feel thoroughly exhausted because of our selflessness.

I handed my girls my heart, my dreams, my hidden courage and said, "Go! Take this. Do better than I did. Dream big. Take chances. Set boundaries for yourself and others. Say yes to the things that are meaningful in your life. Live your best life. Be kind to yourself and be confident. Be brave. Above all, love yourself."
Meanwhile, my selflessness told them that the path to being awesome is to give every last bit of yourself away. I asked them to do something that I was not doing myself. I wanted to teach them to do what I could not. We want our sacrifice to teach them confidence, bravery, self-regulation, boundaries, personal power, and self-love while falling on the sword. This, my sweet loves, is impossible.

Prioritizing yourself and following your passions outside of motherhood leaves you feeling unexplainable guilt and shame. We fear that doing so will be the downfall of our children. Who would choose a yoga retreat over a soccer camp? Who would go back to school when saving for college for your kids? Family vacations are more important than time with your partner or a solo adventure to Southeast Asia, right? To choose yourself, to pursue joy, feels like you're throwing up two middle fingers to motherhood and dropping the mic.

It even leaves our peers asking, "How can she do that?" because we bond over the collective exasperation and exhaustion that is motherhood. We want to choose ourselves more but get swallowed by the "good" mom myth. A refreshed mom is a selfish one. This is one of the biggest myths of all.

My girls watched me burn on the stake in the name of loving everyone but myself. My boundaries flexed and broke, and I frequently disregarded myself. I didn't chase dreams and navigate failures. I was too afraid not to be good. I asked them to be brave, try new things, and then became frustrated when they were gripped with fear. How could they understand self prioritization when their mother repeatedly said "no" to herself and yes to everyone else? I asked them to swim while standing on the shore, yelling at them to swim harder. Beautiful mothers of the world, we have to swim. It is not us or them. It's first me and then you. They will become what they see.

I started to swim 10 years ago. I was petrified that I was taking away their opportunities. Missing games and track meets for my own pursuits felt like social and parental suicide. I carved out just a bit more space for my physical and emotional health. I began to say no to volunteering opportunities and to the kids. I said yes to myself. I strengthened my boundaries. I felt more !
alive, a little less exhausted, and more grounded. I took 20, 30, and sometimes 40 percent of my energy. Amazingly, I began to see a shift in them. They started to paddle around in the water. And I swam with them. They began to trust themselves. I began to trust myself too.

This is not some kumbaya-I-got-it-right-everything-is-perfect-hallelujah blog. Hell no! I am not telling you that I am a good mom, and you are not. Hardly! I still struggle with guilt and shame. I wonder if I do enough. I wonder if I should give more. I frequently put the Good Mom Kool-Aid up to my lips and chug it down. But I know that is just the myth of motherhood whispering in my ear. So I pause, and then I pursue my joy so they may learn to seek theirs.

What makes a good mom? We are all good moms. Who we are is what makes us good moms, not what we sacrifice. A good mom raises her middle fingers to the notion of dying on the vine and calling it love. I wrote this blog to remind us to swim. Love yourself, down deep, big-time, all the way, and swim. They are watching and waiting to see how it's done.

*mic drop*
If you need a little help jumping in to the proverbial lake, reach out and set up a 30 Minute Discovery Call to see if coaching could help you take the plunge

By: Karen Caton, certified Life Coach
Editor’s note: This blog post was originally written in November of 2019 while the author was in the midst of a 10-day voyage of personal discovery in Cambodia.

I would not consider myself a world traveler or a writer even as I sit here in Koh Russey at the Alila Resort in Cambodia, writing a blog. How weird is that? Well, it's way less weird than you think. These are limiting beliefs that I have about myself. Here is how it usually plays out:

I am not a writer.
No one will want to hear what I have to say, and if they do, they will pick out all of the imperfections in my thoughts and writing, and I will look foolish.
There are better writers. I don't deserve to call myself a writer. Sometimes I wonder why I try.
I am not a world traveler.
World travelers can whisk off at a moment's notice, and I have too many responsibilities to do that.
I have traveled out of the country less than eight times. I can't call myself a world traveler. Please!

I know. I hear you grumbling. "Yes, you are Karen! Don't say that about yourself. Look at all you are doing and all that you have done!"

Oh, I know. That is how powerful our limiting beliefs can be. They can take what is true and real about us and make it disappear like Band-Aids when you have a three-year-old.

My limiting beliefs are not limited to writing and travel: work, athletic pursuits, money, relationships. I find them in many areas of my life.
How about you? Do you have limiting beliefs? I suspect you do. We all do.

What are Limiting Beliefs?

They are the things you believe true about yourself, the world, or about others that hold you back from saying “hell yes” to the things that excite you, otherwise known as your true purpose. (For the record, your purpose can change many times over your life!)

For example, you are an accountant. You have always wanted to do stand-up comedy. You're hilarious. But you tell yourself that you can't do stand-up comedy because there are some funny-ass people in the world, and you are not one of them. People may not like your kind of comedy. But when you think of doing comedy, you feel something: part fear, part exhilaration. However, you are an excellent accountant. It's safe and comfortable. So you convince yourself you should probably stay with that. If you find yourself saying I can't, I do/don't, I am/am not, I will/will not, I should/should not, or others will/will not, you might need to check yourself. Those statements are the perfect cover for limiting beliefs.

Limiting beliefs are your brain's way of keeping you safe. They extinguish the flames of vulnerability that flicker in your heart, and they keep you in comfort zones where things are predictable.
Brené Brown defines vulnerability as anything that involves risk, uncertainty, or the potential for emotional exposure. That pretty much covers everything that is outside of our comfort zone. Let's face it. The best shit happens outside our comfort zones.

No one says, "Geez, I am sure glad I stayed on the couch watching Grey's Anatomy again and didn't try that new hiking trail," or "I'm so happy I didn't go to graduate school. That would have been lame to study something I love."

That is, of course, unless Grey's Anatomy lights a fire in your heart. If that is the case, I apologize for the reference, but our limiting beliefs try to keep us on the couch of our lives.
Imagine running toward what your soul wants. Now imagine running toward what you desire with a pair of concrete boots? Sounds exhausting, uninspiring, and unsafe, right? We are more likely to stay in one place with oppressive limiting beliefs shackled to our ankles. That, my friends, is precisely what limiting beliefs do to us. They keep us comfortably, uncomfortable.

We repeat and reinforce old stories, years in the making, through our choices and thoughts. Ever feel anxious, sad, disappointed, or unsettled and have no clue why? Yeah. Me too. You're locked in a mental battle between your limiting beliefs and your desire to do the badass stuff you keep buried underneath them.

How do Limiting Beliefs work?

Limiting beliefs make you feel the same fear you feel when you're actually in danger, like when a creepy dude is following you down an alley. When your brain can't see the outcome of a situation, it sends a tsunami warning to your body. The mind cannot distinguish between something new and different and something genuinely deserving of a full stop. Fear responses to vulnerability served a great purpose when we needed the physiological effects of fear to protect us as a species. It's a terrible pain in the ass when you want to try soul-expending things like starting a business, writing a book, or carving out time for your yoga practice or fitness pursuits.

How many times have you wanted to try a class, take a soul-inspiring journey, or learn a new skill and thought, "I shouldn't do that? It will take time and resources away from my family." Spoiler alert: You, my friend, are your most valuable asset and theirs. But when you don't karate-chop your limiting beliefs and do what your soul is calling for, you only give people you love part of your story.

Think about your favorite book. Come on. Imagine it. Now think about reading it halfway through. It's hollow. Disjointed. Incomplete. That is you when you stay tangled in your limiting beliefs. We all want to be seen and to share our unique gifts with the world. That requires vulnerability.

Limiting beliefs are a temporary solution to fear and pain avoidance. I hate to break it to you, but using limiting beliefs as a smokescreen to avoid vulnerability makes it impossible to see the big magic in front of your face. Limiting beliefs disconnect us from the trueness of who we are. They put a big, thick glass ceiling on our self-awareness and happiness. They cut us off from everything that vulnerability affords us: love, joy, passion, purpose, creativity.

We form limiting beliefs throughout our lifetime. These nasty buggers are created by our experiences, inferences, and deductions and by accepting things we see and hear as truths. We develop this from our family of origin, school, friends, society, and now, social media. We are bombarded with information from a very early age, and we begin to integrate that information into the fabric of our being.

Have you ever been listening to the radio, and a song comes on from high school? You haven't heard “Poison” by Bel Biv DeVoe in 27 years, yet the words fly out of your mouth with no effort. That is how limiting beliefs work. They burrow into the recesses of your mind and become truths about you. Then you spend your life looking for moments, experiences, and people who will mirror that belief.
The good news is you can replace the song. You have to be willing to trade in your cassette tape for streaming music.

Brave: The Vulcan Grip for Limiting Beliefs

I would love nothing more than to say, "Here, follow these simple steps, and your limiting beliefs will cease to have power over you!" I would be a millionaire if I could figure that one out. But our lives, our history, and our limiting beliefs are as individual as our fingerprints. So learning to put limiting beliefs in the back seat is different for every person.
However, we all have a vital tool: bravery.

Have you ever seen Star Trek? Spock uses a pinch grip at the base of the neck to render people unconscious. It's called the Vulcan Grip. Bravery is like the Vulcan Grip for your limiting beliefs. It doesn't get rid of them. It just makes them useless. No superhuman strength or mind melding powers are required. No phone booth to transform into something you are not. You already have it inside you.

I hear you, "I am not brave." Au contraire. You are.

Bravery is feeling vulnerable and afraid and moving forward anyway. Have you ever told someone you loved them? Brave. Have you ever created a special dinner or handcrafted a gift? That is brave. Anytime we share ourselves with the world, we are brave. Every moment you authentically show up, you are performing an act of bravery.

Sometimes it's brave to get out of bed. It is brave to smile when you're happy and let yourself cry when you're sad. Brave exists in so many little moments every day. Yet, we tend to focus on the moments that our limiting beliefs try to sucker punch our brave in the face, not the moments that our brave is in direct alignment with our desires for ourselves.

Think of one thing you want to say hell yes to right now? Think of the soul-expanding shit! What ignites a fire in you? What is outside your comfort zone but exactly where you want to be? Now, what turns hell yes into no way? Are there some legitimate challenges? Maybe. There could be obstacles, but what are your limiting beliefs about this thing that your soul is craving? What is the story you keep repeating over and over again in your life? Where have you seen it before?

We don't usually want things: a better body, a published blog, money. We want to feel something: confident, intelligent, safe.

Bravery allows you to ask the question, "What do I want to feel?" instead of stating everything that you don't want to feel. Use your brave and connect to yourself and ask the profound question. Bravery allows us to look at the answers and not turn away. That, in itself, will subdue your pesky limiting beliefs like Spock.

So what do you want to feel, and how can you take one small step toward that feeling?

My limiting beliefs were self-fulfilling prophecies.

"I am not a writer," permitted me not to write. By not writing, it became true.

“World travel is reserved for worthy, free-spirited people, not people like me.”

A cornerstone of my story and belief is that self-indulgence is selfish. That limiting belief has held me back so many times in my life.

Writing this blog is my brave move to hush my old stories and limiting beliefs of inadequacy. I want to share myself, my thoughts, and my passion with the world. My trip to Cambodia was the salve on old wounds of not-enoughness because I want to feel strong, confident, and capable of navigating uncharted waters and challenges.
You are not as broken as your limiting beliefs will lead you to believe. You don't need fixing.

You need to be brave.

Pull those limiting beliefs into the light. Honor their intention of safety. Thank them for their service and then grab them by the neck and render them useless.

Want to start investigating which limiting beliefs might be holding you back from your true potential? Book a free 15-minute Life Coaching consultation session with Kaanect’s certified life coaches.

Party With A Purpose started when we,  the founders of Kaanect, were asked to plan a birthday party for a friend and we realized that after Covid and with the struggles we were all facing, we wanted a party that meant more. While wine and cheese sounded okay, we all felt a need to go deeper, to really connect and to focus on personal growth... not your typical birthday party!

Of course we’re a group of life coaches, so we focused on what we know best and Karen put together a moving presentation about being “Better Broken” and a workshop to go along with it. Our friends showed up and we listened to Karen speak her truth and then together looked at how living through the universal struggle of Covid-19 had impacted us, what we wanted to take away from it, and how we wanted to grow from it. It was an evening of connection, authenticity and love, and we all left feeling inspired, empowered and purposeful. The experience was so powerful we realized that this was something others could benefit from, and Party With A Purpose was born.

We now have three different topics that can be presented to your friends, family or office coworkers. As we slowly emerge from the Covid pandemic, we see the need to learn who we are now, connect with the people that matter to us, and get tools for personal growth. Our Parties With A Purpose help create a safe space where authentic connections happen organically and give us tools as we start this post-Covid journey.

 

Three different topics allow you to choose the focus that will appeal to your group:

 

Better Broken

Leader:: Karen Caton

Better Broken is an amazing two-hour look at how many of us don’t put our authentic, beautifully broken selves forward. It gives us permission as we come together to explore our “cracks” and look at how to fill those cracks to make ourselves that much better. This is an opportunity to really connect to your fellow party goers in a safe and authentic way.

 

Make it a Habit

Leader: Andrea Ross

How many times have we tried to create a habit and just not been able to make it stick. It turns out we all process expectations differently and we all have proclivities that impact the way we develop habits. In this two-hour party we’ll talk about habits and their impact on our lives, and then run through a workshop to learn more about ourselves. By knowing ourselves better, we are set up for success in habit forming.

 

What is Your Travel Language?

Leader: April Cole and Andrea Ross

Constantly bombarded by travel shows, travel influencers, the travel media and that amazing trip your neighbor took, it can often be hard to sift through all the images and information and create the right trip for you. The problem is that many travelers allow themselves to be influenced by all the media noise and don’t take the time to think about what really suits them.  This two-hour party is a celebration of the world, but rather than focus on the where, we’re going to focus on the who and the why. By learning who we are as a traveler and why we want to travel, we set the foundation for a trip of a lifetime, every time!

 

How It Works:

You host the party, you invite the guests, you handle the food and wine... we bring the entertainment! We will attend your party for two hours and after a short talk, we jump right into workshopping, sharing and learning from each other, based on the topic you chose.

To book your party or to learn more, email connect@kaanect.life or call 877-454-3672

Be sure to follow Party with a Purpose on Facebook and Instagram!

 

 

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