A good friend called me yesterday with a dilemma I thought I'd share with you. Her teenage son has an opportunity to go to a sports camp this summer but she wasn't sure how she felt about him going. He sometimes has trouble making friends, and due to injuries, he hasn't been able to play sports much the last couple of years, so my friend worried that he might have a tough time at camp.
What was plaguing her the most though was that she really wanted to feel OK about him going, but she couldn't figure out how to let go of these worries she had on his behalf. I asked if HE was worried about it, and she said, "no, he's actually really excited. But I can't help but be scared that someone might give him a hard time. He's my son and it's my job to protect him from stuff like that."
My friend was absolutely right. As his parent, it's her job to do her best to ensure his safety and happiness in life. Unfortunately, this "job" manifested itself in the form of worry and anxiety within her. And in reality, she and I both acknowledged that by simply allowing this worry and anxiety to exist within her, she was impacting her son's experiences as well, often finding that her worry and anxiety end up influencing him, completely unintentionally. Her worry tended to turn into his reality in the form of tricky and disappointing social interactions. A mom-fulfilling prophecy.
What I helped my friend to see over the course of that conversation was that as a mother, she had another responsibility to her son besides protecting him from external hurt and disappointment. Having now identified and brought awareness to the fact that the worry and anxiety exists within her, and by acknowledging that it doesn't serve her or him in any sort of positive way, and in fact probably holds them both back in life, it was now her DUTY as his parent to LET IT GO. For him, and also for her. To ensure his ultimate happiness and to ensure that she could feel peace. Her "job" to protect her son included this responsibility to let go of her limiting beliefs about him.
This revelation caused a complete shift in her thinking. Just like that. The motherly duty went from worry and anxiety to pride and freedom because she now saw the ways in which her feelings were impacting her son in the exact ways she'd feared he'd be impacted by others. By holding onto that fear on his behalf, he sensed it, felt it and he lived it for himself. But by shifting her fear to pride and love and FAITH that he'd be just fine, she could send him off to camp with a renewed sense of confidence. She could look at him and say, "you are going to have the BEST time! You're going to make so many new friends, those kids are going to be blown away by how fun and hilarious you are." and they'll both KNOW that it's true.
Below are some steps I recommended to my friend that helped her continue this process of letting go. Do you have an area in your life where you're limiting yourself or holding someone else back because of your own limiting beliefs? Try the steps below to work on letting some of that go yourself, and then share your experiences in the comments section; I'd love to hear how this worked for you. If you like what you've read, or the steps for letting go worked well for you, please share with your friends as well using the "share" button on the page.
- Identify the thought, feeling, belief or action that isn't working for you
- Acknowledge the impact it's making on your life or the lives of those around you
- Decide and commit to letting it go
- Act as if you've already let it go - in my friend's case, I suggested she think about how a mother who wasn't worried about her son going to sports camp would behave. What would she say to her son? What would her thoughts be? How would that be different from her current thoughts or actions? Once she'd identified that "opposite" behavior, she would embody it herself. And if she had to "fake it to make it" at first, so be it. With practice, new behaviors eventually become like second nature.
- Revel in the new thoughts and actions as they become easier and easier to incorporate into your daily life
- Rinse and repeat with a new limiting belief!
With love and inspiration (and a renewed sense of peace),
PS... Quick epilogue; our mom-hero from the story above sent me a follow-up message this morning that read, "It worked! I'm free! And feeling great!" Can't wait to read your epilogues too. xoxo