What does it take to be a resilient mom?
This was a question a woman asked me not long ago as we sat together on an airplane flight. The answer is a beautiful overview of what we are doing here as we study resilience together. In this episode, I unfold the five core practices that empower resilient moms, beginning with the transformative power of self-awareness. Understanding our thoughts and emotions isn’t just self-improvement; it’s about laying the foundation for emotional maturity, which echoes into our children’s lives. Through the art of emotional regulation, we’re not only fortifying ourselves but also teaching our little ones how to navigate their inner landscapes.
Listen in as I discuss how resilient moms embrace their personal power and make intentional choices, especially when faced with life’s inevitable hurdles. Resilience is less about flawlessness and more about the continuous practice of nurturing self-trust and joy in the face of adversity. For every mother searching for support and inspiration, this conversation illuminates the path to not just surviving motherhood but thriving within it.
What you will learn on this episode:
– Five core practices that resilient moms embrace
– How we come to know ourselves by practicing self-awareness.
– How we learn to direct our attention by practicing mindfulness.
– How we learn to hold things loosely by practicing flexibility.
– How we nurture our bodies and practice taking care of ourselves
– How we practice being imperfect and embrace “growing”
– Understanding that resilience is an ongoing practice rather than a state of perfection
*This transcription below was provided for you or your convenience; please excuse any mistakes that the automated service made in translation.
What does it take to be a resilient mom?
This was a question a woman asked me not long ago as we sat together on an airplane flight. The answer is a beautiful overview of what we are doing here studying resilience together. This is leadership parenting, episode 42, five things that resilient moms do. Did you know that resilience is the key to confidence and joy? As moms, it’s what we want for our kids, but it’s also what we need for ourselves. My name is Lee German, I’m a therapist and I’m a mom. Join me as we explore the skills you need to know to be confident and joyful. Then get ready to teach these skills to your kids. This is leadership parenting, where you learn how to lead your family by showing them the way. Hi there, and welcome back to leadership parenting. I’m so happy to be with you today.
I have been doing a ton of traveling. I know maybe some of you have too, with the holidays and all the all the kind of gatherings going on. I’ve been on airplanes a lot, and recently I was on a flight sitting next to a woman who was traveling for business and we started talking and she was explaining her job and the conference she was headed to and she told me all about her family, and then she asked me what I do, and I always hesitate for a minute wondering just how detailed I should be. I used to tell people I’m a therapist, and then I would spend the rest of the flight listening to my new friends problems, and so usually I don’t mind, but lately I’ve been a little bit more deliberate. If I’m gonna talk with people about the pain or problems they’re experiencing, I want to start it off on the right foot, and what I mean by that is the powerful foot, the one where we’re talking about personal power and choice and hope and light, and I love talking about the path out of pain. So I’ve been practicing my elevator answer to the question what do you do? And this was a great time to give it a try. So I told her I help moms be resilient so they can teach it to their kids.
She was quiet for a minute and then she asked me hmm, what does it take to be a resilient mom? Well, that was a big question and I didn’t really have a quick answer for her. And this was not a transatlantic flight, of course. I’ve been teaching the skills of resilience for years and I have a huge library of knowledge in my brain. I’m thinking of the dozens of episodes where we’ve gone into the resilience pillars and all of the skills and the tools we’re studying and I doubt she was ready for that whole earful of deep explanation, so I came up with a shorter answer.
Resilient moms do whatever it takes to face challenges, trusting that they’re enough and that they can do it. They know they can’t control the challenges they face, but they can choose how they react to them, trusting that as they show up they get stronger and more resilient. Well, she liked the answer, but it wasn’t enough. It was too vague, too general. Yes, but what do they do to be resilient? Okay, she asked for it. It was such a great question and it did lead to a pretty deep conversation for about an hour A great overview. So I thought I’d share it with you all here because it helps to see the path that we’re on, get an overview of the purpose, why we’re on the path and what we’re learning from kind of a 30,000 miles up view. Hopefully, if you’ve been with me on this podcast journey, you’ll recognize these concepts and maybe you’ve even started to implement them in your life. I hope that’s the case, because we have so much research that tells us that these resilience skills make huge differences in how we feel and in how we parent. And this isn’t an exhaustive list, of course, but I thought of five core things that we, as resilient moms, we do. So let’s go over the characteristics of a resilient mom in my five things I identified quickly on an airplane ride.
Number one resilient moms practice self-awareness. Self-awareness wow, that’s a big word, a big concept. What it means is we’re in touch with our internal world, where our thoughts and feelings live. The more we can know ourselves, especially our hurts and our needs, the more we can bridge that distance between where we are in our emotions and our thinking and all of that where we are and where we want to go, where we wanna be. That self-awareness is the foundation of building emotional maturity, and in the beginning of our lives we start out with very little of it because, as little children, we’re not aware of the thoughts and feelings we’re experiencing.
Your children when you look at them, they’re thinking in concrete terms. They can’t hold those abstract thoughts. They have very little insight and impulse control. Babies feel what they feel. They let you know about it when they cry. Toddlers demand an often tantrum when they don’t get what they want. Hitting, biting, kicking, screaming all examples of meltdowns where a child’s internal world is in battle with what’s going on in his external world. And when we see this happening, hopefully as adults we can have compassion because inherently we understand that our child has not yet connected those dots. They don’t have the ability to put words to their feelings, they can’t track their patterns very well that help them predict that they might be disappointed and be prepared for it.
Well, those things I just listed, those are the things that happen for us as we gain self-awareness and we help our children do this by modeling for them. We set boundaries that become predictable and we respond to their needs. So ultimately they understand how to begin to do that for themselves in an acceptable way. That’s the goal that we are modeling it for them, and I have a lot of moms who are still kind of stuck where their toddlers are. They don’t understand all the big emotions they have inside of themselves and they aren’t very good at controlling those emotions or regulating them, as a better word. Basically, as adults we aren’t much different from our toddlers, except that our brains have matured enough to be able to practice this self-awareness. It’s kind of the vehicle that helps us have the capacity to think through those abstract thoughts, notice them, track them, even talk back to them, and the ability to consciously choose how to cope with our feelings and to put words to our needs, make requests that the needs be met and even meet those needs ourselves. So, we have the capability to have a high level of emotional awareness and control because our brain has matured. Now you may think that this should all come to you very naturally, just because you get older.
And while it’s true that some people do seem to naturally understand how to work with their feelings, most of us do not. Most of us just think what we think, feel what we feel and do what we do, without really connecting those dots. And this is what our kids’ brains do. Most of us adults are still doing it like our kids, me included at times, coming from the state of being unaware. So easy to live in our adult bodies with adult brains and keep living with a curtain drawn across our awareness, hiding ourselves from ourselves. And this isn’t anyone’s fault, it happens to all of us. But the good news is that every single one of us can improve our ability to be more in tune with ourselves and gain increased control or regulation over our moods and then our behaviors and even, ultimately, our overall happiness.
So, we study self-awareness. We learn to pay attention to ourselves, how we’re feeling, what we’re thinking and what we’re doing in any moment. You know how many people have a hard time just pinpointing what they’re feeling. This lady and I talked about that for a few minutes, like sometimes I don’t even know what I’m feeling, she said. Of course, it makes sense. We don’t usually teach this to our kids, so you probably didn’t learn it officially from anyone, but here together, we learn it and it goes a long way to stabilize us and connect us to ourselves. When you study how your brain works, how your body works, how they work together, we learn to work with a combination. So generally we’re getting to write a little user’s guide for ourselves, and this brings us into a much more powerful place to deal with our challenges. I think becoming aware of our values is part of it too the things that matter most to us, so that we understand what the source of our joy is and how we can use it to guide us and why we get upset.
The second thing. Resilient moms practice is mindfulness. Basically, what this means is that we learn how to direct our attention, ultimately to stay in our present moment, truly the only place we have any power or choice, and what I’ve learned over the years is that the human mind actually has a really hard time doing that. It likes to travel, to go back in the past and rethink things, study them, relive them, and it likes to travel to the future and anticipate, imagine and predict mostly bad outcomes that could happen. We have a wandering mind and it takes our attention different places, often to places that don’t service or help us. So one main scale of resiliency is learning how to tell our attention where to go, to direct it, and this takes some awareness and some practice, and I don’t think anyone ever gets it to a level of mastery where we do it perfectly. That’s just not how we work as humans. Instead, mindfulness is a tool that we’ll always need. It helps us build that muscle of directing our attention toward the things that serve us and help us, so we can redirect our attention whenever we get knocked off our desired path.
You know I talk a lot about intention and attention, and when you can understand that your intention is where you get to set the vision, set the destination for your attention. Then it really doesn’t matter if you get knocked off your path, for instance. I know who I am, I know my value and my inherent worth and my intention is to stay connected to that because when I do I handle things, not just some things, but everything, because no matter what happens, my wholeness and wisdom isn’t going anywhere. I’m protected and powerful with that knowledge. But then life happens and my human brain and I wander. I wander to the past, I wander to the future, I have what ifs and I do all those other human things like compare and judge, and I get lost a little bit in the negatives and the scaries. I find that I can easily lose sight of my value and my abilities and the messiness of life can really turn on that threat system in my nervous system. And when my threat system is on, I often lose touch with my ability to think clearly, logically and remember all those things that I know are true. So of course, number one, self-awareness helps us notice this and number two, mindfulness helps us gently bring our attention back to our intention. That’s why we study concepts like essential self trusting, our core wellness, that we aren’t broken, and we use mindfulness to get back to those concepts when we get distracted. So resilient moms are using a self-compassion to help them do this, so that we understand and are gentle with the wandering or the missteps of our mind. It saves us, literally saves us. We don’t have to do it perfectly either. We just have to keep returning to our intention to remember we are whole, valuable and wise. Number three resilient moms practice flexibility.
Okay, she said the lady on the plane. What is flexibility? I’m sure she was thinking yoga poses, stretching. I think an easier way to envision flexibility is to look at its opposite rigidity. When we’re rigid in our thinking, our actions, we have a distinct idea and concept that needs to be followed. Things have to be a certain way, and that gets defined in our expectations, in our mind, and then we compare what’s happening to what our expectations are, and that’s when the problems arise internally for us, because how much of what you plan goes exactly the way you plan it? Sure, it happens sometimes, but more often than not we deal with situations that really don’t match our ideal. She literally laughed out loud at this one Ideal, my ideal goal, my ideal self, the ideal I’ve built in my mind. I know I said it’s like never, right? Well, flexibility means that we learn to hold things loosely instead of tightly. The thoughts we have they’re just words, stories in our heads, and some of them really service and some really don’t. So we practice understanding how thinking works, that we are not our thoughts, that we have thoughts and we can learn to work with them, but they are not defining us. Flexibility means that even when our expectations aren’t met, we’re going to adjust, we’re going to shift, to work with the situation. Is anyone perfect at this? Always flexible? Not possible. We all get stuck in negative thought patterns or comparisons or shoulds, but knowing about the concept of flexibility is the thing that actually helps us get unstuck. That’s kind of a magic key that way.
Number 4, resilient moms practice taking care of themselves. Yikes, this is kind of a hard one, right? Because even as I say this, I can hear my rigid thinking starting to should me All the things I’m not doing to take care of myself. That self-critic actually is trying to keep me motivated, kicking me in the behind. Well, this is why we are forever students of resiliency. Not a problem when this comes up. It’s just a signal that we’re working on our expectations.
Taking care of ourselves is an important part of being resilient, because it gives us some fuel in our tanks and reminds us that no one, no living thing, not even the machines in our world, keep going without fuel, without the things they need to be well and work. It’s okay that our body needs things. In fact, we’re trying to better understand our body’s needs so we can love it better, take care of it better. We’re talking inner strength here, and that’s what resilience digs into to get through the challenges, and part of building inner strength is seeing and accepting our own basic physical and emotional needs and giving ourselves things so that those needs get met, maybe even learning how to say no sometimes or ask for help and getting support from other people. So we set boundaries, we protect our sleep, we eat food that fuels us and sustains us, and we move our bodies. We know how to soothe our upset heart and bodies with breathing, with visualization or connection with others. And, I might add, we don’t always do these things all the same time, hopefully, nor do we do them perfectly. We just know that we need things and we can give ourselves those things so we can feel strong. Okay, it was almost time to land. I think she was overwhelmed, but I was so deep in she wanted to hear the end.
Number five. It’s more even specifically about you and me and about all of us as resilient moms. We’re practicing, growing, growing our hope, growing our mindsets of benevolence, trusting in ourselves, growing love for ourselves and seeing and using our power. We’re far from perfect, but we embrace it. Maybe we even rock it, even though sometimes it gets us down at first. We’re working to be more buoyant. You know, like a ball filled with air, when it’s thrown into a pool and you push it down, it goes under with all that force and pressure, but inevitably it pops back up. It bounces back, as the positive psychologists like to say. We learn to be buoyant and come back up when we get knocked down and I get knocked down a lot. I get disappointed, I make mistakes, lose my temper, I act in ways that sometimes go against what I value, but I always have an opportunity to come back around, to pop back up when I’ve gone under and we all do. You do too. Knowing we’re all going under and popping back up is such a comfort to me because we are connected. We’re not alone. In this. We’re training to love ourselves, be compassionate, be brave, be tender and, ultimately, to trust ourselves. And this, dear friends, is what we are teaching our children, the next generation of men and women, who will face challenges and will learn that they are more than enough to handle those challenges.
So my short list that didn’t end up being very short was this the five things resilient moms do. We come to know ourselves by practicing self-awareness. We learn to direct our attention by practicing mindfulness. We learn to hold things loosely by practicing flexibility. We nurture our bodies and practice taking care of ourselves, and we accept our imperfection and practice growing.
So this is the answer I gave to the women on the plane. I don’t know. I expected her to have eyes that were glazed over maybe. Instead they were filled with tears. I’m a mom, she said. My life it’s crazy. Sometimes I needed this. Well, I thought of my life, especially when I was raising kids. Even now, as I’m a trained, experienced and completely imperfect student of resilience, me too, I need it too, I agreed. Don’t we all need it? You may have noticed that my list of five things all had one word in common practice.
Resilience is a practice. It’s not a destination. It’s a way of life. It makes room for us to live life with hope and some peace, and I just love it. I’m so thankful for it because we aren’t perfect and we don’t have to be. That’s the best part of resilience training and the reason why I believe in it, so so much.
So thank you for studying resilience with me, and to the woman who I met on the airplane, who just might be listening today, thank you for your very tender and wise question and for the opportunity it gave me to put together a short list of what we do as resilient moms. What a joy it is to have answers to our questions, to have solutions to our problems, to have hope for the things that we most worry about and for the opportunity that we have to teach all of these things to our children. Stay open to your wholeness and your wisdom and stay with me. Practice with me. The world is a much brighter and more joyful place because of the work we’re all doing here together. I look forward to talking to you all next week. Take good care.
The Leadership Parenting Podcast is for general information purposes only. It is not therapy and should not take the place of meeting with a qualified mental health professional. The information on this podcast is not intended to diagnose or treat any condition, illness or disease. It’s also not intended to be legal medical or therapeutic advice. Please consult your doctor or mental health professional for your individual circumstances. Thanks again, and take care.