So, the other day I made a parenting foul.
It started with me having “a day” where I was feeling scared about the pandemic and what could happen and so sad about being in quarantine and what we could no longer do. What I really wanted was to spill my guts to my husband of my deepest, darkest fears so that they wouldn’t just be swirling around inside of me.
(I share the story in my video, but read below for some extra coaching tips).
So, I shooed my 7 and 3 ½-year-olds upstairs and told them to go watch a show. They ran upstairs, as they normally do, but then… (little did I know) sat at the top of the stairs to listen in while I spilled my guts.
I should have guessed they might do that (I think I invented that move!).
But, I didn’t think about it at the time, and they HEARD ME share some scary stuff.
I realized it when my 7-year-old came downstairs and asked directly about what I said and whether or not it was going to happen.
That’s when we needed to have a conversation about FEAR.
I asked her, “You know how your little sister is afraid of monsters in the closet?”
She nodded her head.
“And to her, those monsters are real. They’re real and they’re scary, right?”
“But, we know they’re not real, right? We can’t find those monsters. They’re in her head, but to HER they’re still real and still very scary.”
Made sense to her.
“Well, I have monsters in my closet too. Except, my monsters are the scary stories that I tell myself in my head. My monsters are the things that I told daddy. And, sometimes, I think those monsters are very, very real and they scare me. But, I’m realizing right now that they’re not real. None of what I said has happened. I’m just imagining it, just like your sister is imagining her monsters.”
As I explained this to her, I felt my fears drain from my mind and body and a wave of peace come over me. The whole parenting misstep of having her hear my fears suddenly felt PEACE intervening for her benefit and mine.
A lot of us are feeling afraid right now and not realizing that our fears are actually like “monsters in our closets.” The fears are created in our imaginations and not actually happening right now.
They feel REAL. They feel TERRIFYING. But, if we look closely, most of our fears are about what “could” or “might” happen, which means… they’re NOT REAL.
You might be asking, but don’t we need to think about what “could” or “might” happen to keep ourselves safe?
Sure. But, the difference is whether or not you can take any ACTION. A squirrel, for example, can pack away nuts for the winter but isn’t imagining a shortage of nuts and then taking out other squirrels for their nuts.
You can buy toilet paper, food, masks, etc, but if you begin to imagine what could happen then you’re creating a “monster in your closet.”
These monsters create fear and make us feel powerless, which (side note) is a terrible state for problem-solving and taking appropriate action (hello fistfights over toilet paper!).
After I recognized the “monsters in my closet” I started to LOOK for them. Anything that was created in my mind that scared me was a “monster.”
If you’re feeling afraid, ask yourself if what you’re experiencing is REAL in this moment or if it’s a “monster in your closet.”
If it’s real, look for the next action step. If you recognize a “monster” then notice what IS REAL in this moment.
Sending you a wave of peace.