Why am I doing all the work?


Why am I doing all the work?

Dear Torie, Why am I doing all the work? I know I do too much for my family but December is pushing me past my breaking point. I am so overwhelmed trying to shop, clean, finish up my work projects, help kids with school projects, and make the holidays special for my family. I know I should require more of my kids and my husband. He SAYS he is willing to help but I hate having to ask him and I don’t have the energy to deal with complaining kids. I don’t like believing that I’m controlling or micromanaging, I WANT them to step up, but it just feels easier to do it all myself. How do I break the habit of doing all the work myself, getting resentful and then losing my cool? I feel embarrassed and guilty when I break down, yell and cry, but it seems to be the only way my family steps up to help me. Thank you,  Stephanie

Parent Educator Answer:

What we have here is a co-mingling of chores and emotions. What will help this tired Supermom is to separate out her emotions from the distribution of labor in the house. If we had a group of attorneys sit down at a boardroom table, they could work out who does what with no drama or emotion. Even if it’s not fair and equal, they could still come to an agreement without yelling, crying, or getting resentful.  Let’s talk about “emotional childhood.” When you are a young child, you are completely dependent on your external environment to feel an emotion. You need your parents to act a certain way to make you feel safe and loved. You needed a stimulating environment to keep you from boredom. When you are lonely, you want instant attention and companionship.  Emotional childhood is a normal and appropriate state for children. It is a powerless, helpless, dependent state that wants immediate gratification. No matter how old you are, if you are blaming others for your EMOTIONAL STATE, you are coming from emotional childhood. It becomes a problem when we carry emotional childhood into adulthood. As moms, we blame our families for how we FEEL.  We think “If they would help me out more, I wouldn’t feel so overwhelmed.” We put our emotions in the hands of others.  We say things like, “I can’t relax until all my work is done.” When we do this, we blame our to-do list or our messy kitchen, for feeling anxious.  In order for Stephanie to feel better, she’s got to take responsibility for her emotions.  Emotional Adulthood is taking responsibility for our own emotions. We feel powerful. Instead of blame, we take ownership over how we feel. We can delay gratification because we are in our frontal lobes instead of our reactive emotional brain.  The answer to Stephanie’s question, “Why am I doing all the work?” is because she is operating from emotional childhood. If she switch emotional adulthood, she would have an easier time advocating for herself, asking for help and cutting herself slack.   When we ask for what we want with no apologies, we have to believe we are worthy of receiving it. It comes from knowing you are deserving of help and support. Stephanie would probably feel shame admitting she can’t do it all and vulnerable because she might not get what she asks for.  These are some uncomfortable emotions that she doesn’t want to feel so it’s easier to stay stuck in the blame and resentment that goes along with emotional childhood.  To get out of this cycle, Stephanie would need to take responsibility for what feelings she is creating inside her own mind.   

Life Coaching Answer:

What gets in our way is cultural programming that a good mom should be able to do everything and never ask for help. I don’t know where and how this programming infiltrated into our psyches but it seems pretty universal. Admitting you need help feels vulnerable. Requiring more of your children means you have to believe you are deserving, and tolerate their negative emotions without making it mean anything about you. When we make our kids do chores and they grumble or complain, we think thoughts like, “I can’t handle this” which sends us right back to emotional childhood. We want our families to step up and help us without being told. We want them to notice when mom is working hard and immediately jump in and rescue us from our negative emotions. We don’t want to ASK for their help because then we’d have to be in emotional adulthood, asking for what you want without shame. When we try to control and micromanage things, it’s always because we are scared. Scared of what our inner critic is going to say to us about our worthiness. We think the only way to feel safe is to “do everything right”. We don’t realize that the feeling of safety comes from being an emotional adult. When we are in emotional adulthood, we can allow things to be done imperfectly, we can wait a day before doing the dishes and it doesn’t derail us. We can hold our kids accountable and not have to yell and “lose it”, because we know it’s good for kids to do chores. What gets in our way from emotional adulthood are thoughts like, “it’s too hard” or “I’m too tired”. We think that believing in our worth, asking for help, being vulnerable and willing to be rejected is too hard. This thought will kick you right back to helpless victim every time. The best way to shift into emotional adulthood is to ask yourself, “How do I want to feel and how do I want to think about this situation?” It’s December, Stephanie has a lot on her plate. How does she WANT to feel about all the things going on? Excited about the holidays and a break from school? Grateful to have something to look forward to? She gets to decide. But if Stephanie is like a lot of my clients, as soon as she hears this podcast she will go down a shame spiral…”Oh no, I’m in emotional childhood! I’m doing it wrong! I should be in emotional adulthood! I’m terrible and failing…” THIS IS NOT HELPFUL. In fact, it’s the GUILT that keeps her stuck in the same “I’m not worthy of  help” place. If you can’t get yourself out of the guilt-shame-unworthy spin cycle, get yourself into life coaching right away. In order to get her kids to help out, Stephanie needs to…. 1. Step into her power and authority with calm assertiveness. 2. Feel worthy and deserving of help. 3. Ask for what she wants with no minimizing or justifying. 4. Be ok with an imperfect result. This will feel uncomfortable. She might tell herself she’s being “mean” or “rude” or “selfish”. She might decide it’s not worth the effort. This is not true. Emotional Adulthood is ALWAYS worth the effort.Taking control of your emotions and believing you are deserving of what you want, will free you in ways you cannot believe.  

Supermom Kryptonite:

I notice there are certain people around whom I am more likely to shift into emotional childhood. When I am near someone with strong, competent, “alpha” energy, it’s amazing how quickly I will revert back to emotional childhood. I get weak and confused and I just want them to come and rescue me. Whenever I’m teaching or coaching, I’m always in emotional adulthood. It doesn’t matter if I’m teaching children or adults, I will step outside my comfort zone and take full responsibility for the energy I create. It’s really helpful to look at yourself with curiosity and notice when you slip into emotional childhood and when you stand in your power and emotional adulthood?  

Supermom Power Boost: 

Are you surrounded by people but craving alone time? Do you need a break but can’t figure out where to go to get one? Many of my clients are learning to make their car their sanctuary. I have clients who sit in their parked cars in their driveway to take their coaching calls. Sometimes they drive to a beautiful park or place with a nice view, sometimes it’s the Target parking lot.  If you have a car, you have a mobile sanctuary at your disposal. Keep your journal in the glove compartment and a cozy blanket in the back. Listen to your favorite song or podcast. Linger outside the grocery store and play solitaire on your phone. Have a heart to heart phone call with your friend. Watch a movie or show that is inappropriate for kids but fun for you.  Once you believe you are worthy and deserving of rest and relaxation, you will be amazed at how creative you can be in making it happen.   

Quote of the Day:

“Give yourself permission to want what you want.” Torie Henderson 

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