I’m pulling a thread from my last blog post about “evolving” and how I witness personal growth blossoming from one generation to the next. My inspiration comes from my daughter and the book she recently gave me entitled Inward by Yung Pueblo as well as the most endearing “present moment” comments from my 3 year old grandson.
My 3 year old grandson, Tank, was in his happy place — a dirt filled construction site with a small mountain of freshly turned soil, a Tonka dump truck and a bright yellow excavator assessing the big job. I overhead his conversation to himself. “You can do this Tank. You’ve got this.” I turned to my daughter who was nearby and said “wow, that is great self-talk.” At that point he looked at me and said — “I am just telling my brain, Gigi.” Out of the mouth of babes, right? It seems so natural and so easy — assess a challenge and feed your brain the positive messages to tackle it.
One day he was playing in the same construction sight, his little leg outstretched in the cool dirt. He was busy digging away, filling a truck with soil, when he looked at me and said “I love the warm sun on my skin, Gigi.” “You know, buddy, that is one of my favorite feelings too,” I replied. That moment really touched my heart since I often share my little present moment delights with him — the happy chatter of the birds, a welcome cool breeze on a hot afternoon, the rich colors of the sky at sunset. Perhaps I have nurtured his awareness of his own little present moment treats. I hope so, because it is the moments when we are not distracted but fully steeped in the experience that enrich our memories. Children seem to learn so much by osmosis — which is really just observing us and where we focus our attention.
My daughter discovered Yung Pueblo a few months ago and read his book Inward while she and her family were on the road for a few months. When we reunited recently, she handed me her copy of the book saying I think you might like this, mom. She was right — I loved it. Yung Pueblo offers wisdom that comes from his own personal growth journey, his activism and life experiences. You’d think he was my age but this remarkable inspirationalist is only 32 years old! For young people like my daughter, he is relatable — and he leads by example. I am so delighted that she has found her very own resource for inspiration and learning. Here are just a few of his insights shared on his Twitter account in recent weeks:
Maturity is realizing there is a big difference between what you think you want and what you actually want. Your cravings can twist your mind and make elaborate fantasies that seem good but in real life they aren’t worth all the trouble. Align with your goals, not your cravings. –Yung Pueblo
Are you being yourself or are you being your past? Immediate reactions are often old patterns. Real authenticity is removing the power away from the immediate reaction and giving it to the intentional behavior that aligns with how you actually want to show up in the world. — Yung Pueblo
Find a partner who realizes how their emotional history impacts the way they show up in your relationship. They don’t need to know themselves perfectly or be fully healed, they just need enough self-awareness to see when their past is getting in the way of loving you right. –Yung Pueblo
A few days ago, my daughter came home from running an errand, eager to tell me about a podcast she had just listened to with Yung Pueblo on “radical authenticity.” Just like the moment with my grandson and his awareness of the warm sun on his skin, I found myself soaking up this moment. I often listen to podcasts while running errands or out walking — and I am usually excited to share some nugget of incredible insight when I return. Now here I was — the benefactor of something remarkable my daughter was discovering through her own resources.
Little does she know, but that brief conversation we had about radical authenticity was such a gift to me. As a parent, I’ve strived to foster all the goodness and potential I see in my children even though they themselves may not fully see it. My 33 year old daughter is now both my child and a mother of her own children. Through her own parenting lens, she is exploring more fully all that she wants to instill in her own children.
Some of my greatest growth spurts happened during my 30’s and 40’s and they were borne of the desire to be at my best for my children. I wish that I had discovered a “Brene Brown” to help me back then. What I know for sure is that I often was not my “authentic self” as I navigated my marriage, parenthood and my career. It took me til my 60’s to realize that people pleasing, conflict avoidance and pushing myself to the point of exhaustion were some of the roadblocks to being my authentic self.
I am elated that my daughter is embracing radical authenticity and allowing that big-hearted personality of hers to shine. She strives to bring her best self to her children every day — the real and honest version of herself. The conversations that she has with her young children touch my heart in a very deep way. They do not shy away from hard conversations and the realities of life. (This past year of pandemic and quarantine made this a necessary part of life.). They honor feelings, no matter what they are. They explore these emotions and how best to respond to them in healthy ways. They work out problems together with respect and understanding. Often when the kids are playing alone, they naturally use these whole-hearted skills to solve an issue with a dispute over a toy. My daughter stays out of it and allows them the space to put into practice what they are all learning through their interactions with her.
I marvel at the self-awareness that my young grandchildren already possess at the tender ages of 3 and 5. They can describe very accurately their body’s responses to emotions and situations. They are being taught to trust their intuition and make choices that are best for them. They recognize their individual differences and are learning to just accept that what causes a strong emotional response in one simply doesn’t hit the radar screen in the other.
When they offer an apology, they also explain what they wanted and how they were feeling. Just this morning I heard my grandson tell his sister that he was sorry for pouring water on her. He explained he was upset because he was excluded from her tea party. She accepted his apology and said very plainly “There are better ways to get an invitation, Tank.” What I love about this interaction is the framework my daughter has given them for a sincere apology. They acknowledge their actions, explain their frustrations and respect how that affected their sibling. It’s often just a matter of minutes til they’ve resolved their issue and are enjoying each other’s company.
In my generation’s childhood, we were often dismissed or even punished for expressing our emotions. As a result, we developed coping mechanisms that were more problematic than helpful. Brene Brown has taught us that all this armor we use to protect ourselves just gets in the way of being our beautiful authentic selves. My generation’s parenting style evolved where we often tried to soothe hurts with ice cream, and rescue our children which often meant they didn’t get a chance to solve their own problems. I don’t think we fully understood that though our intentions were good, we were still impeding the process of living authentically.
My generation did not have the tremendous influence and social pressures of social media to contend with either. Constant comparisons and a high demand to portray a “perfect life” on Facebook and Instagram just create more pressure and roadblocks to being present in the moment and being your authentic self. Brene reminds us that living authentically means embracing all of life — the messy, complicated stuff as well as the happy, lighthearted share-worthy moments.
It is a source of great comfort and inspiration to me and my friends to watch our adult children evolving in their own lives and in their parenting skills. They are doing a better job than we did in many cases and it gives me great hope that future generations will not be bogged down with baggage, armor and ineffective coping skills. Imagine harnessing all their energy in creative, resourceful, compassionate and respectful ways. The future we all hope for begins in the home, with our family and what we teach each other.
Let Your Inner Truth Shine: How the Children in our Lives are also our teachers: click the link below for this Mindful Magazine’s Weekly Wakeup: