Every time she shrugs her shoulders and says those two magic letters, my mind monkeys (my inner critic committee) go APE. Like: whip-out-your-cameras-and-film-the-wildlife-having-an-all-night-rave kind of APE.
It can’t possibly be that easy. I can’t really let myself off that lightly. There must be more to it.
“IT’S TOO SIMPLE!!!” they shout.
Or is it? What if, just what if (for a minute) it WAS that simple?
I’m starting to think it is, and the relief is immeasurable.
Let me backtrack: the “she” is my parenting coach, Leslie Potter. I’ve often said that she’s our family’s angel. I’ve been blessed by her constant presence and love for six years and I wouldn’t trade her insight for anything in the world.
Finding her and building a massive trust meant I could release my frantic death-grip on parenting books fuelled by my desperation to do ALL THE THINGS the best way possible for my girls. Reading those books was exhausting, confusing and never, ever helped with the specific situations we found ourselves in.
We’re an international family raising third-culture kids, negotiating complex blended family dynamics and coping with 50% of the parenting staff almost perpetually absent. The book theory is nice and all, but in my real life??? Not so helpful.
So when Leslie first suggested that I just shrug my shoulders and say those two letters in the face of my less-than-ideal behaviour, reactions, words, decisions, heck… SELF???
It blew my mind.
Those two letters cut the mind monkeys off at the knees. Pulled them right off the ceiling and calmed them down. The monkeys didn’t like it. They still don’t.
But that’s tough because I. FEEL. SO. MUCH. BETTER.
Here’s a smattering of ways that the shoulder shrug/OK combination has come in handy for me in the past few years:
- Putting the girls to bed in the clothes they’ll wear to nursery (and later to school) as the only (and brilliant) way to be on time and dressed? OK!
- Feeding the kids breakfast in the car so they’re on time for school?? OK!
- Choosing to spend time working instead of doing crafts and letting (some of) the guilt drop off as I expand into my business from a space of delight? OK!
- Shutting it all down and relishing in 15 days of work-free family time even though I feel like I should still be working? OK!
- Having a nap in the middle of the morning on a school day despite pressing deadlines, a messy house and so much to do? OK!
- Deciding not to register my daughter for a competitive team because the timings don’t work for me or the whole family, despite her wanting to join? OK!
- Putting my kids in day camps they loved for half the summer so I could build my business? OK!
- Resigning from the PTA and the local resident’s association and the nursery’s board of directors and not being a class parent for the 5th year in a row so I have more time for myself and because I was hating the constraints? OK!!!
There are squillions of other situations in which I’ve used “OK!” as a guideline. Sometimes I say “OK!” and quickly realise that actually, for me, it’s not.
That’s useful because the squirmy feeling is a B-I-G sign that it’s time to change. In that moment I get to decide if I want to keep things as they are, with all the ensuing consequences, or if I’m ready to change something to obtain a different result.
Either way, everything is “OK.” Really, it is. Accepting that is one of the most radical forms of self-love I’ve ever practised.
What can you say “OK!” to instead of fighting with yourself to change, or worrying what other people could think? When’s the last time you said “OK!” and cut yourself a break? Tell me in the comments below.
And if you’d like to explore “OK!” as an extreme form of self-love (it’s SO good), book a Nurture Session with me. We’ll spend an hour diving into what’s alive in your life right now and how you can find easy places to enjoy a little more “OK.”
If you’d rather take things at your own pace over a number of weeks, then check out the Centered Mama’s Self-lovathon where you’ll learn liberating self-love techniques like this and more.
Can’t wait to hear where you’re going to get radical with your self-acceptance. Tell me in the comments below, I’d love to learn from your “OK!”
Big love, mama.
PS: If you’d like to learn more about Leslie, visit her site here and tell her I sent you. She’s absolutely brilliant.