Ep 43 – Three Lessons I’ve Learned From My Mothers

Welcome to another episode of the Health Begins With Mom Podcast, this is Dorit Palvanov your host. If this is your first time listening, welcome! And if you are a regular listener, I want to thank you for spending the next 30 minutes or so with me today. If you are a busy mama believe me I know the value of time, and how scarce it is because I am currently in the trenches right there with you. I am also a busy mama, I have three girls under age 8, married and on a mission to build a business that will bring my family financial freedom as well as inspire and touch women and mothers all around the world. My goal with this podcast and my work is to help mothers understand that before raising their children, they have to raise themselves, feel good in their female body, live up to their fullest potential, thrive as women and parent and mother from that empowered place. In order to raise really good kids, you must first understand that raising children is not a stand-alone project. It is a life’s mission you do with intention and deliberation, especially if you want to do an amazing job at raising good human beings that we need more in the world.

It all starts with you. This podcast is called Health Begins With Mom for a reason. The word Health really means all the various aspects of life that make up our humanity – physical, emotional, spiritual and mental health. Specifically, things like spiritual practice and connection to a higher power, sacred work & career, romantic relationships, great relationships with your family & friends, physical health and feeling vital in a female body, cultivating health and abundance with your finances as well, emotional health, happiness and inner joy, creativity & self expression.

All of those things make up who you are, therefore I believe that looking for work-life balance doesn’t work because you are not only two things. You are all of the things I’ve just mentioned. Putting work-life one against the other is like putting them on a scale with work on one side and all of life on the other side. Does this seem like a fair equation to you? Is it even a sustainable equation? My answer is not. I’ve tried to live this way believe me. It doesn’t work.

Today on the show it’s me solo speaking to you from my heart. I think this is an important conversation that not many people talk about, and today I want to open it up for you and me. so let’s dive in.

If you’ve been following me for a while you know that I am interested to know how to thrive in my life as a woman, wife, and mother without sacrificing my health and wellbeing. How can I live up to my fullest potential as a woman without feeling like I am putting myself on hold? How can I have a meaningful and connected relationship with my husband, daughters and other people in my life in a way that nourishes and fills me up as opposed to draining me?

I want to make it very clear here that I am not talking about feeling happy all the time, nor am I looking for ways to avoid pain. Nope. That is not the intention here.

I understand that this is unsustainable either, and I do understand that there is beauty and wisdom in pain as well. It is all a matter of perspective. I want to learn how to have the right mindset along with some strategies to help myself evolve as a woman through life feeling like I am thriving, progressing and feeling joy in every stage of my life.

One thing I’ve been doing since I’m a little girl is learning through observation and asking questions. I’ve been observing my own mother, grandmothers, aunts, and other women in my life and seeing how they’re living their lives. I can vividly remember myself seeing how they live and thinking to myself NOT THIS. This is not how I want to live my life.

I am going to take you on a short trip around my family’s maternal lineage and show you how these women have suffered throughout their entire lives. My great-grandmother was a beautiful woman who’ve lost her husband in World War II and was left alone with three kids. Because of her youth and beauty, she was able to still get married (at the time women with children were considered as damaged goods and I’m saying it lightly). Her second marriage wasn’t very good but she chose to stay in it because she didn’t believe in her ability to sustain herself. Eventually, she passed away in grief and sadness. My grandmother (one of her daughters) physically lost the ability to walk at around age 70, and eventually suffered a brain seizure which led to a long and painful death. My own mom, who I love dearly, had denied her needs so much and that eventually physically manifested as a depression at age 40 which she had for a full year.

Now, this trend of women who are manifesting dis-ease in their body is not unique to my maternal line. I’ve seen other women, aunts, women on my father’s side and husbands side who’ve had very similar verdicts. Women everywhere are suffering as a result of not fully discovering themselves, their needs and because of their inability to communicate them to other people.

I know what you must be thinking. You can’t really compare our generation to past generations, they didn’t have the opportunities we have today. Which is true. But each generation had opportunities related to their time. For example, I know women from that generation who’ve chosen to move to a different province and go to school even while having children at home. They relied heavily on other people’s help and were able to eventually sustain themselves and the kids. I know this is a sensitive topic and it is difficult to say these things without judgment so all I’m going to say is that I want to learn from all these women’s mistakes to which I refer collectively as ‘my mothers’ and hopefully create a better life for myself, my daughters and you!

Today I want to talk about three most profound mistakes I’ve learned from my mothers and I’m also going to talk about what I think you should do instead in order to avoid unnecessary pain.

Mistake number one is the inability to identify your own needs and then to communicate them to other people. Last episode I’ve spoken about the importance of mastering relationships because as human beings, and especially women we are wired for connection. People are in connection with other people, whether they are your spouse, your children, your co-workers, other family members, friends, etc. The premise here is understanding that it is your job to communicate your needs, and you cannot expect other people to understand you or read your mind. This is not their job. This is your job. Communication is skill number one you must learn. And yes, this is a learnable skill!

Why do most people prefer not to go there? Why do most women prefer not to communicate or state their needs? Why didn’t and don’t my mothers state their needs? Well, that is for two reasons. Reason number one is they don’t know what they need, or at least they think they don’t. And reason number two is because we are not taught how to do this effectively. We are not taught how to be in conflict or respond to conflict. Now, here’s what I want you to understand, in order to succeed in life and relationships, you must embrace conflict. We must come to peace with the idea that when two, or more people are in connection, there will be disagreements. This is just a given. A reality of life. If you want your relationships to nourish and fill you up you must embrace conflict and learn how to communicate your needs effectively and respectfully.

In a minute I will mention a tool you can use in order to help yourself state these needs, but before I do I want to talk about mistake number two.

So, mistake number two I’ve observed my mothers do is that they live and lived the majority of their lives without knowing how to regulate their big and scary emotions. Most people and I’m not talking about children here, I mean adult people, don’t know how to bounce back after feeling fear, embarrassment, disappointment, shame, feeling of inferiority, feeling small and not respected, or feeling unseen. All of these are emotions, and as human beings, we are emotional beings. We feel things. Do not let your emotions to drive your car. Emotions by nature are temporary, which means that they come and go, and we must learn how to feel in control of our emotional state. When we don’t learn how to process our emotions, we feel stuck and unsuccessful, we feel weak and as a result, numb ourselves.

Numbing is a coping and soothing mechanism we use to feel good, to bounce back. However, most of us are using the wrong soothing mechanism. Do you know what I mean by numbing? Some people numb themselves with destructive things like alcohol, drugs or sex. But the majority of people numb themselves with subtle things like TV, sleep, gossip, working too hard and too much, getting themselves busy with mundane things just to fill up their schedule and time in order to not feel the discomfort.

Learning to regulate your big and scary emotions is crucial for your own health and wellbeing and of course is extremely important to teach this to your children.

So, mistake number one is not knowing what you need and communicate it, and mistake number two is not knowing how to regulate your big and scary emotions. I promised to share a great tool you can use to initiate this process and start practicing it. In the show notes, I am attaching two links to two wonderful resources you can use, the first one is called the Needs Inventory and the second one is called The Emotions Inventory. I haven’t created these, these are created by the Centre For Nonviolent Communication and the goal is to teach you to communicate effectively. So, here’s what you can do for starters, go through the needs and feelings lists, and in your journal write down how you’re feeling and what do you need. Ask yourself what do I feel right now? And then ask yourself, which need is not being met? Now is the hard job – communicating what you’ve come up with. In order to do so, you need to articulate a clear sentence using the need you’ve identified. Example: “Right now I feel irritable and overwhelmed because the laundry is overflowing and the sink is full of dishes and I have a strong need for order and harmony otherwise I cannot feel centered. Can you please help?”

This work is not easy but so important! It requires a lot of courage and willingness to be vulnerable. If you feel like you need help with identifying your needs and feelings and communicating them either with your spouse or your children, please reach out to me. I offer intensive one-on-one coaching sessions for women where we do this kind of work together, and then you go out there and practice it with people around you. You can email me at dorit@healthbeginswithmom.com.

Alright, let’s get into mistake number three I’ve learned from my mothers. That is giving so much to the point of depletion. I call this “unconscious giving”. Why unconscious? Because behind this giving there is fear. Fear that if I don’t give I will suffer. If I don’t give I am not going to be accounted as a good wife, mother, woman, employee, friend, etc. By the way, this kind of giving is another form of numbing because in your head you’re feeling like you are being of service (or saving someone), but in reality, this is only taking away people’s power. Unconscious giving is a negative kind of giving. This kind of giving is one-sided because energetically it shuts off reciprocity. Energetically, you are not allowing the other person to give back to you, to do the same to you. Because you don’t need anything back from them.

Say your husband got sick. Obviously, you are going to take care of him, bring him food and drink, change his sheets, or do whatever you can to help him heal faster. At which point does this become unconscious? When you are sick, and no one comes to help you. He doesn’t bring you tea and food, he doesn’t reciprocate. Why does this happen? Because you haven’t taught him how to reciprocate to you, how to treat you. Because you haven’t communicated to him what you need or what you expect of him. See how crucial it is to know what you need? If you don’t know and understand yourself, how can you expect anyone to understand you?

Stop saving people, stop feeling like a hero. You’re not. You’re only depleting yourself and robbing them of their ability to give back to you and themselves. It’s like you don’t believe in their ability to take care of you or themselves.

That’s how this may sound: “Don’t worry about me, I’m fine, just make sure you are ok”, or you cook for them, clean for them, but ask for nothing in return. This kind of giving raises selfish spouses and children. So, in order to eradicate this from your life get intentional about giving and also pointing out that it would be nice if they did the same for you. Here’s an example: “honey, I am happy to help taking care of the kids and house while you work, and I’d appreciated if you could give me the weekend so that I can catch up with my own work as well”. This is something you could say to your kids: “Sweetie, I am happy to pack your school lunch, and I would appreciate it if you could empty the dishwasher when you come back home from school.”

Do you see how by communicating like this you are allowing for reciprocity? This is very important!

So, as you can see the three mistakes I’ve learned from my mothers are basically skills they didn’t learn. What’s good about skills is that they are learnable that you can practice and master in order to enhance your life. In order to live your life the best way possible, in order to thrive in your life as a woman, wife, and mother you must prioritize yourself as a human being. After all, you are a child of God and you deserve to feel respected, seen, heard, taken care of, nourished, and so on. You owe this to yourself and to your children. Only when you thrive as a woman and human being can you raise children who know how to communicate effectively, embrace conflict in a way that nourishes them and anyone who’s in contact with them. That is what I want for myself, my daughters and for you.

I hope this has been helpful and insightful. So your action task for today is to start practicing stating your feelings and needs, first to yourself and then to people you’re connected to. If you need help or support feel free to reach out to me, you can email me at dorit@healthbeginswithmom.com.

Show Notes 

Needs Inventory 

Feelings Inventory 

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