Big Changes: How to Thrive, Not Just Survive

Cassandra Worthy

The changes we’ve had to embrace this year were monumental and caused many of us to feel overwhelmed. But what if you could cultivate a growth mindset that could help you enjoy—and thrive during—times of significant change in your life?

Today’s episode of Women Amplified, which is a replay of a session from the 2021 Texas Conference for Women, will help you do just that.

We will explore strategies that will help you leverage your decision-making skills to champion change. This framework will help you quantify your strengths and areas of growth, as well as the softer skills required to effectively manage change.

Learn how to embrace change, and ways to find your power and resilience during turbulent times.

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Posted in Podcasts, Transitions, Women Amplified: A Podcast from the Conferences for Women Tagged |

Put Fear in its Place: A Conversation with Luvvie Ajayi Jones

Luvvie Ajayi Jones

We should all have a friend like Luvvie Ajayi Jones: a woman who is joyously bold and doesn’t let us get away with thinking: Oh, that’s just the way she’s made. We could never be that bold.

In an exclusive conversation with the Conferences for Women this month, the two-time New York Times best-selling author of I’m Judging You and Professional Troublemaker reminds us: We all have the power to speak up in our own way.

The conversation, which appears below, has been lightly edited for clarity and brevity.

Q: Your first book, I’m Judging You, was about inspiring people to leave the world better than they found it. Your new book, Professional Troublemaker, is about how to do that. But let’s start with why do we need more professional troublemakers, especially in business?

Because those are people who will speak up and say what needs to be said, even if it’s difficult, and because they are the people who will make sure we don’t create that public campaign that will cause a backlash. They are the ones who are going to call it out in a meeting and say we should rethink that. So I think we need to start encouraging people to challenge us to be the best versions of ourselves and do our best work.

Q: That sounds so great and fits well with someone with your character. But for people who don’t have that kind of courage, how do we get that?

Honestly, I don’t think courage is a character trait. I think it’s a habit. I think speaking up is a habit; truth-telling is a habit. And I think everyone can do it. You don’t have to be bold to speak up and challenge something. You can challenge something thoughtfully in your way. And you can do what is in your power in your way. I think it’s a habit for everyone who can make that decision: next time I feel compelled to speak up about something, I will push past the fear.

Q: Speaking of fear, you don’t believe in people becoming “fearless,” even though we see so many books about that. How would you characterize a healthy, realistic relationship to fear?

I think we are always going to have fear about something. That is a deeply human emotion. And instead of expecting ourselves to stop being afraid, we just need to accept that we are not going to do less because of our fear. You will do hard things and know you’re afraid, but you’re going to do it anyway. It’s not that it’s going to stop being an emotion you feel. I don’t care how bold you are, how audacious you are in this world; you are going to feel that. But what’s important is what you do with that fear. You move forward and do the thing any way that feels important, that feels necessary.

Q: There is much to fear in the world right now. We are all familiar with that dynamic. But you say that we also fear ourselves. What do you mean by that?

I think we fear the fullness of ourselves because we fear the judgment that comes with it. We’re afraid of people not liking us. We’re scared of being demonized and weaponized. And I think we shouldn’t be afraid of ourselves. We should be who we are, knowing that some people won’t like us. You will make mistakes. It’s part of the human experience. And if we are fighting against it, we are fighting against being a regular person navigating this world. So, doubling down on ourselves and our values is important because when we aren’t sure who we are, we can absorb all the things that people say we are.

Q: When you say it, it sounds like such common sense: not everybody will like you. But it’s so common. So why do we get caught up in what other people think?

I think there is power in knowing that not everybody will like you. You don’t even like everybody, so how is everybody going to like you? Instead of worrying about the people who don’t like you, worry about deepening connections with people who are your tribe. I think we spend a lot of time trying to win over the people who don’t like us. We weren’t put here to be liked by everybody. It’s just not possible. So, release yourself from the pressure.

Q: Let’s talk about speaking up. Many people in the workplace are concerned that if they speak up, they might put their jobs at risk. How do you evaluate whether to speak up in any given situation?

I think it is important to figure out: What is the worst-case scenario that you are afraid of? And then be logical about it. How likely is it that this worst-case scenario will happen if you say something that is thoughtful if you say something that honors your character? How likely is it you will get fired because you challenge someone in a meeting? How likely is it that if you get fired, you’ll get no other job? How likely is it that you’ll lose your home because you just can’t get any other job? I think what happens is we attach those hike stakes to every situation, and then we say I was afraid of speaking up. But a lot of us are walking around with a lot of power. So, if you’re the person who runs a department, your speaking up is not going to get you fired. If you’re the person who has been there for 20 years and has deep alliances in the company, there is very little at stake for you to challenge something that is happening that is not OK.

Q: Your mission is to empower a million people to fight their fear – because that will change the world. Given what we have all been through over the past few years, do you think women are now more or less ready to do that now?

I think women are more ready to do it. I think we’re tired of a world that is constantly telling us we’re not good enough, that we don’t have what it takes. I’m really encouraged by the fact that we are in this transition period where we are all starting to understand that there are absolutely systems that are working against us, but we also don’t have to make it easy for the system to cheat us. We don’t have to enable patriarchy. We don’t have to enable a lot of these things. We might still have to fight against this big machine. But we have power. And we have the power to fight in numbers. Women doubling down on connecting with each other is really important now, and the power that we can create by those numbers can actually shift a lot of things.

Luvvie Ajayi Jones will speak at the Massachusetts Conference for Women on December 2, 2021. Register now!

Posted in Speaker Articles, Life on Your Terms Tagged |

How to Bring an Entrepreneurial Mindset to Any Position

Rebecca Minkoff

You don’t have to own your own business to think and act like an entrepreneur. Being entrepreneurial is a mind set and a skill set that can be applied to any position at any level.

Fashion mogul and social activist Rebecca Minkoff talks candidly about her journey and shares the top attributes most important to her success and in overcoming the challenges she faced along the way.

Whether you are starting a business or leading a corporate team, this episode will arm you with experience-based advice that allows you to take the driver’s seat of your career and life and unleash the fearless entrepreneur within.


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Posted in Podcasts, Marketing Yourself & Your Small Business, Women Amplified: A Podcast from the Conferences for Women Tagged , |

The Double-Bind Facing Aspirational Women | That’s A Good Question

elevator going up

When men put themselves out there they are rewarded for their assertiveness. But for women, they face a backlash, and are often labeled as aggressive, bossy or overbearing.

The double-bind facing women aspiring to advance is real — even in 2021. Today’s listener is a 20-something woman in a male-dominated industry and one of the youngest in her position. There are many open doors for advancement within the organization, but between her gender and age, she isn’t quite sure how to get noticed without becoming a self-fulfilling prophecy of negative gender stereotypes.

In this episode of That’s a Good Question, we will explore how she can manage up, advocate effectively and gain visibility among senior management. Through active problem solving, practical advice and shared experiences, you will leave inspired, confident, and armed with tools to seize advancement opportunities without negatively impacting your reputation.
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Posted in Podcasts, Job Advancement, Women Amplified: A Podcast from the Conferences for Women Tagged , |

Burnout & Recovery from the Stress Cycle

Emily Nagoski

It’s no secret that our stress has gone through the roof in recent years. More and more women are reporting feeling overwhelmed, exhausted, and burned out, and the external stressors we face are unlikely to change anytime soon.

Instead of asking us to ignore the very real obstacles and societal pressures that stand between women and well-being right now, we need to understand what we’re up against and learn how to fight back.

This episode of Women Amplified is a replay of a session from the 2021 California Conference for Women. We will explore the difference between stress and stressors and talk about practical, research-based steps to complete the stress response cycle and avoid or recover from burnout. Read More

Posted in Podcasts, Health & Wellness, Women Amplified: A Podcast from the Conferences for Women Tagged , |

Cecilia Muñoz on Raising Children While Working in the White House

Cecilia Muñoz

For eight years, Cecilia Muñoz served as the highest-ranking Latina in the White House under President Obama while raising two daughters. Now a senior advisor with New America, she spoke with us recently about what policy changes we need to support families—and how she managed parenting and work. Muñoz is the author of More Than Ready: Be Strong and Be You…and Other Lessons for Women of Color on the Rise.

Q: COVID set millions of women back professionally and financially as millions were forced out of the workforce, in part due to their role as primary caretakers in their families. What do we need to do to create more balance and better support women in the future?

We need to invest in workplace policies: paid leave, sick leave, time away. And we need flexibility—to give people the space to be caretakers.

But the way we set the tone about leave policies is also important. So, for example, if employers say you get to leave, but you know they don’t want you to take it all, that doesn’t work.

I worked on the Biden-Harris transition team, which was done entirely online during the pandemic. There was a culture of waving at the kids you could see in the background. It sent a message: Don’t be embarrassed by your family responsibilities. That kind of tone is very important.

For employers, being involved in policy conversations also sends a signal. It’s a very good thing for companies to have generous policies, but they also should be saying there should be a standard for everyone.

Q: You raised daughters while having a very high-powered job. And you write that at times you didn’t think you could do it and other people didn’t think you could do it. How did you manage?

I had a picture-perfect mom and home, and I agonized over the differences in experience for my kids—not the least of which was that I would be out of the house 10 hours a day and working frequently from home. As a consequence, our meals were different; our house was different.

In writing my book, I asked my children what it was like for them, and they didn’t understand the question. They found it hilarious that I agonized. Their experience was that I was just Mom, and things moms and dads do include going to work every day.

But they understood—we managed to convey—that they were the most important thing. And that turns out to be everything. The fact that my house didn’t look like my mother’s house, and my garden didn’t look like my mother’s garden didn’t matter.

Our daughters noticed that we had healthy dinners together all the time. They understood that we made that effort and that that was special. Now they both are women who cook and enjoy eating and see meals as a joyful thing, not just as fuel.

They also noticed that we shared labor. There were no real “mom jobs” and “dad jobs.” They saw us figuring out how we were going to manage the household and transportation as a team. They had those experiences where gender does not dictate what the labor is, and I think that’s a very big deal.

Q: You’ve said that you needed to learn how to work and how not to work. What do you mean by that?

This is something I’m still working on. My working-all-the-time muscles are very well developed. I have to be deliberate about going for a walk and not listening to a book on tape. I’m the kind of person who still says on the weekend: I’m going to sit on the sofa and read a book. My husband looks at me like, ‘Why are you telling me that?’

There’s no real formula to finding balance. We have to get to it in our own way. But my number-one suggestion is to be aware if you were cramming stuff from your to-do list into every day and not achieving balance. You get to be on the list—and things that give you joy. It’s not extra. It’s essential to being human.

Q: How do you stay strong enough to focus on making a difference and not worrying about whether other people like you?

A friend shared the advice: Get your love at home. I think about that anytime I’m making difficult decisions. If my goal is to get everybody to like me, I will take the actions I need to make them like me. But they may not be what needs to happen to get the job done.

In public life, you have to endure criticism. I still endure it. It doesn’t mean I get to be disagreeable. But it matters a lot to me that my people know who I am no matter what. Then I can make tough decisions because work is not where I’m looking for love.

Posted in Speaker Articles, Career Choices, Life Balance Tagged |

3 Ways to Develop the Emotional Agility to Help You Thrive

Susan David

Despite the difficulties of our times, many people squash what Susan David, award-winning Harvard Medical School psychologist, refers to as “so-called negative emotions,” such as grief, sadness, and frustration.

But people who are open to the reality of human experience are better able to foster innovation, creativity, and the wholehearted capacity to be themselves, says David, author of the number-one Wall Street Journal bestseller, Emotional Agility.

And given the enduring challenges in both our work and our family lives, emotional agility may be more important than ever.

David defines “emotional agility” as a process that enables us to navigate life’s twists and turns with self-acceptance, clear-sightedness, and an open mind.

It is the opposite of emotional rigidity, which she defines as getting hooked by thoughts, feelings, and behaviors that don’t serve you.

Emotional agility, she says, makes room for all thoughts, stories, and emotions, including the so-called negative ones.

“There’s nothing inherently wrong or damaging about having a so-called negative thought like I’m an imposter,” says David. “There’s nothing inherently wrong with having a so-called negative emotion like grief, stress, anxiety, or frustration. And there’s nothing inherently damaging about having a story about who we are and what we’re capable of.”

The danger comes, she says, when we allow these thoughts and emotions and stories to dictate to us what we should do next.

Using the pause between stimulus and response

Victor Frankel, the late psychologist, and Holocaust survivor, famously wrote: “Between stimulus and response there is a space. In that space is our power to choose our response. In our response lies our growth and freedom.”

When we are emotionally rigid, there is no space between stimulus and response, says David. But when we are emotionally agile, we can move into and stay in that space.

“Our emotions are designed to help us address and adapt to stress,” she says. So, when we experience thoughts, emotions, and stories, we need to know these are just normal ways of being. They are the way our bodies prepare us to respond to the world appropriately. There’s nothing wrong with them no matter what social media tells us when they implore us just to be positive.”

How to cultivate emotional agility

  1. Show up to how you and others feel with acceptance and compassion.
  2. “One of the great myths about self-compassion,” says David, “is that it involves being weak or lazy or letting yourself off the hook. But what we know is that people who can be this way with themselves are more honest, courageous, and risk-taking.”
  3. As leaders, we also need to show up with acceptance and compassion for others, according to David.
  4. But when we feel stressed, we often harden our expectations of ourselves and others. So at times like that, David recommends trying to soften the edges. Of course, this doesn’t mean not having expectations of others. But it does mean seeing what people are genuinely experiencing.
  1. Develop the ability to step out of your emotions.
  2. “Emotions are data. They are not directives,” says David. “Just because I feel a strong emotion doesn’t mean I’m right. Just because you feel undermined doesn’t mean you have to shut down. We own our emotions; they don’t own us.”
  3. To step out of your emotions, David recommends using more precise language to describe what you are feeling.
  4. “Often, we use very big labels to describe what we’re feeling,” she observes. “‘I’m stressed’ is the one I hear most often. But there is a world of difference between ‘I feel stressed’ and ‘I feel depleted.’ ‘I feel stress’ and ‘I need more support.'”
  5. So, try to label your feelings with greater accuracy. This will help you better understand the cause of your emotions and what you need to do about them.
  6. She also recommends not defining yourself by your emotions. Instead, just notice your thoughts and emotions and stories for what they are: thoughts and emotions and stories.
  1. Recognize that your emotions contain signposts to who you most want to be in the world.
  2. “Life is always asking us, ‘Who do you want to be?'” says David. “Emotional ability is about having a lifelong correspondence with your values and heart.”
Posted in Speaker Articles, Health & Wellness Tagged |

Readers Write: About Work-Family “Balance”

Mom distracted by small children while working from home

Thanks to our readers for sharing their experience of work-family issues this month. Here are some positive ideas from two of our readers.

Next month, we will explore how to fight fear. If you have a story to share, please send it to [email protected].

Employees Finally Have the Power to Choose by Mboone Umbima

I have been thinking about this a lot lately, and my thoughts over the years have evolved. I am now at a place where I believe there is nothing such as work-family balance. The secret lies in employers and employees creating an environment of fluidity, industry withstanding.

The world of work (“post-COVID”) has changed, and the pandemic created space for deep reflection on how we work in addition to how we tend to our children and families.

For me, one thing is clear: For the first time in many years, employees finally have the power to determine what kind of working experience they want. Especially if you are good at what you do, you truly have the power and can choose the employer that will meet your needs.

Women will need to use their voices, level up, and ask for what they need because it just won’t be handed over on a platter. This is the time to do so.

Balance is Elusive. Focus instead on Your Top Three Priorities –Sohee Jun

I’m allergic to the word “balance.” It’s an ever-elusive goal with an end-post that keeps moving.And as a leadership coach to high-performing women, I see most of us trying exhaustively to attain work-life balance; it keeps us tired, trying to spin all of the plates in the air perfectly and simultaneously.

It wouldn’t be such an overwhelming task if the ‘plates’ were true priorities in our lives, grown out of our values.But, instead, we spin the plates of obligation, shoulds, perfectionism, shame, and the biggest one of all: the plate of comparison.

Ready to drop those plates and spin ones that are authentic to you? Here’s what I’ve learned:

  • Reframe how you think of work-life balance to one of work-life integration. Integrate only those activities, projects, tasks, events, etc., that align to your top three priorities.
  • You can identify the priorities that matter to you by getting clear on your values.Once you have your top three values, all priorities start to shift and become clear in terms of what matters most to your work and life.
  • Then, look at your weekly calendar.What can you integrate more of and take away from your day-to-day that will help you align your days with what matters to you most? For example, if creativity is one of your core values, look at your weekly and daily schedule to see if you’ve made room for it.

This is a continuous practice in aligning your life to make it authentic to what matters to you most! Start, learn, iterate, and most of all, love the process!

Posted in Speaker Articles, Life Balance

Solutions for the Overscheduled & Overwhelmed Woman

Erin Falconer

Women feel a tangle of cultural pressures when facing down a to-do list — pressures that many men simply do not.

Now, add a pandemic to the list and what do you get? A whole lot of women, pushed to the brink physically and emotionally as they try to juggle it all at the same time, with no break or escape.

Overscheduled and overwhelmed women need solutions right now, and that shouldn’t mean we have to lean out nor should we need superpowers. In this episode, we talk with Erin Falconer, the author of the first productivity book for women written in over a decade to explore the current state of women, work and family, including how the pandemic exposed and intensified the inequities between men and women.

Learn simple actions that will help you immediately gain better control of your days short-term and identify what we can do to achieve systemic changes necessary for long-term results so that we put an end to the antiquated aspiration of becoming superwoman.


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Posted in Podcasts, Life on Your Terms, Women Amplified: A Podcast from the Conferences for Women Tagged , |

How to Build Mental Strength in 2021

Amy Morin

What do mentally strong people do—and not do? This question became a burning one for Amy Morin after she suffered a series of personal losses early in her career as a psychotherapist.

It also led her to write several books, including the international bestseller 13 Things Mentally Strong People Don’t Do, and 13 Things Mentally Strong Women Don’t Do.

We caught up with her recently for a conversation (from her houseboat) about how developing mental strength can help us meet the unique challenges of living through a pandemic.

Morin—the editor-in-chief of Verywell Mind, the largest mental health website—will speak at the Texas Conference for Women on October 5th.

Q: You distinguish between mental health and mental strength. What is that difference, and why is it important?

Think about the distinction between physical health and physical strength. Becoming physically strong might help prevent health problems, but it doesn’t guarantee it. We also know that being healthier and stronger are interrelated. The choices we make every day can prevent and reduce symptoms of existing problems. But it doesn’t guarantee we won’t get health problems. As a therapist, some of the strongest people I’ve ever met battle depression.

Q: We’re facing a staggering growth in mental health issues due to the pandemic. What practical steps can women take to address this when there is still no clear end in sight?

First, research says that when you are struggling with a tough time, just remembering it’s tough can give you a huge boost. Second, it helps to have something to look forward to. Put it on your calendar: Watch this movie on Friday at 7. Most people think that’s ridiculous. But research shows it gives a boost. A third strategy is to schedule time for worry. Tons of studies say that putting 15 minutes on your calendar to worry helps. It takes two weeks. But people notice a huge difference in mental well-being.

Q: A recent report suggested that businesses are sleepwalking into a mental health crisis, because many employees feel they have to disguise what they are experiencing. Why is it bad to hide their struggles, and what can employers do to create healthier workplaces now?

We do tend to hide mental health issues. There is still a stigma that it may be a sign of weakness. Or that if you’re struggling, it means you have a lack of mental strength. People worry they may get penalized. They won’t get a promotion. The truth is that mental health affects everything we do: how we stay on task, perform, and perceive things.

But it’s OK to talk about it. To come back to the office now and pretend you’re fine, pretend all of this didn’t happen is bizarre. Many people are distressed, and substance abuse is rampant. It doesn’t do any good to hide it. Employers can provide access to free screening tools from Mental Health America, so employees know that struggling and talking about their struggles is OK.

Q: You’ve written several books about what mentally strong people don’t do. What are some recommendations you’ve found most helpful in your own life since the pandemic?

Through the pandemic one thing I have appreciated is the strategy: Don’t focus on what you can’t control – on what the government or other people are responsible for. Focus on what you can. And you can control whether you wash your hands, mask, where you go, how you spend your time, who you spend it with, even how much news you want to consume and how.

Q: There are some misunderstandings about mental strength. For example, you’ve written that it doesn’t mean acting tough or ignoring your emotions. Can you explain that?

I see the memes: I’m tired of being the strong one all the time. This doesn’t make sense. We don’t get tired of having big muscles. But people get tired of being tough. Mental strength is about being courageous enough to say you could use a helping-hand or acknowledging that you are in pain.

Q: You’ve also said mental strength is not about positive thinking. What is it about then?

Positive thinking says it’s probably good you didn’t get the job because something better will come along. It’s a way to avoid being disappointed. But mental strength isn’t positive thinking. It’s about being realistic in your thinking rather than assuming everything will turn out well. If you’re overconfident, it can be more detrimental than having a lack of confidence.

Q: Some people have suggested if there is a silver lining to the pandemic, it is that more people are choosing mental well-being. Do you agree?

While this has opened the door to considering mental health for many people, and the stigma is decreasing a little, I also realize how fragile mental health is now And, there is a need for coping strategies. There are plenty of struggles, and they won’t magically go away. I hope that, coming out of the pandemic, we will have more tools and strategies for working on mental health.

Posted in Speaker Articles, Health & Wellness Tagged |

How Yoga Can Help You Find Your Balance (or Accept Your Imbalance)

Jessmyn Stanley

Jessamyn Stanley—who describes herself as a fat, queer, Black person—is refreshingly honest and self-accepting. She also has a lovely way of bringing self-acceptance out in others. We had a conversation with her this month about the transformative possibilities of yoga—even if you start with a free three-minute video.

Stanley is the author of Yoke: My Yoga of Self-Acceptance and EveryBody Yoga: Let Go of Fear, Get on the Mat, Love Your Body. She will speak at the Pennsylvania Conference for Women on November 10th.

Q: You’ve shared that you came to self-acceptance and wellness during a dark period in your life. Do you see a parallel opportunity for good to come from the challenges so many are facing now?

There is much suffering in life. It’s a constant we can expect. However, most people are drawn to a specific wellness practice –distance running, Tai Chi, yoga, for example –invariably come to a commitment through some struggle.

We are collectively going through intense struggles now. We’re being forced to accept the struggles that have always been and those from climate change and COVID. But if you can acknowledge that you are struggling or have any source of sadness, that is always the space on which to build a wellness practice.

Q: Your new book is Yoke: My Yoga of Self-Acceptance. What is “Yoke,” and how can yoga help us develop self-acceptance?

Yoga means to bring together. Yoking is the same idea – joining together. I have found I yoke not just when I am doing Downward Dog but when I am accepting internalized racism or remembering what it is to be sexually assaulted. So, ultimately yoga is truly the practice of acceptance—acceptance of everything as it is. The book’s goal is that anybody who reads it can find the confidence to accept themselves through the example of another human being.

Q: We live in a time when so many challenging things are happening; it can be hard to hold both the dark and the light, as you say. Why is it important to try, and how do you recommend doing it?

Yoga offers the opportunity to practice this on a practical level. You have to think about where you put your weight, where your hands go, and where your feet go? What do you do when you experience struggle? How do you stand, knowing it is not always going to look pretty and happy? All any of us can do is the best we can. Submission is the hardest part. We are so thoroughly trained to wear armor and stand strong for other people. The ironic twist is true power is in submission, in putting down your shield, in standing with the power given you on your first day of life.

Q: Many of us feel we don’t have the time to slow down enough to practice something like yoga. What do you recommend?

It’s very hard when you’re going a million miles a minute to stop. So, just start wherever you are with whatever you have access to. If you can do a free yoga video for three to five minutes, that’s perfect. Take small incremental steps, and don’t beat yourself up about not following a specific schedule for 30 days. Be easy on yourself, go slow, and find something that fits you right now.

Q: Many women struggle with perfectionism. How do you deal with that?

A couple of things are helpful for me. One is letting myself feel whatever I feel whenever I feel it and not scolding or chastising myself or falling into a perfectionist loop. Also letting myself get tired and feel all of the perfectionist sadness. I beat myself down, and from that place, breathe and practice the postures. From there, I start to move forward sometimes without even being aware of it.

Q: You’ve said that yoga is the perfect container for us to deal with systemic racism and other systemic issues. What do you mean?

Yoga is the base on which we can have all these hard conversations. What is needed when talking about systemic racism or any systemic problem is compassion for everyone. You can’t experience compassion with other people if you are not experiencing it yourself. That is what practicing does. When you accept yourself, there is no other thing to feel but compassion. And when you practice compassion for yourself, you have to practice it for other people.

When we say we want to dismantle systemic racism, everyone plays a different role in that—all people of all colors on all stages. As a fat queer Black person, I have a lot of feelings about this. It makes it hard even to hear someone else. But I know they experience strong feelings too. The person who is taught to hate Black people is also someone I can have compassion about. I don’t have to agree with them. That’s not what’s important. What’s important is to hear each other and know that every other person is deserving of life and goodness. Then we can come to a place of creating a different world.

Q: Your first book, which came out before the pandemic, was Every Body Yoga: Let Go of Fear, Get on the Mat, Love your Body. What is the most important new thing you learned about letting go of fear lately?

If fear is there, I know it is good. I know it is something I need. Every good thing in life is scary because it is unknown. Fear is also an incredible motivator, the stimulus of so much. We think life would be so sweet if you never felt sad or afraid, but I don’t know if that is the case. I think life is sweet because of fear. It challenges us and allows us to see ourselves.

Posted in Speaker Articles, Life Balance Tagged |

How to Raise an Adult in Times of Crisis

Julie Lythcott Haims

Is it more challenging to raise a child during the pandemic than at other times?

On the one hand, the answer seems obvious: Of course!

But on the other hand, it is also easier—and an excellent opportunity for parents and children alike, says Julie Lythcott-Haims, author of How to Raise an Adult: Break Free of the Overparenting Trap and Prepare Your Kids for Success.

“This crisis is allowing us to step back and give kids more responsibility and more accountability—what they need to develop into whole, healthy, happy adults,” says Lythcott-Haims, who is also a former corporate lawyer and Stanford University dean.

Put another way, the pandemic is an opportunity to stop overparenting—which research increasingly shows contributes to anxiety and depression among young people and deprives them of developing a feeling of self-efficacy.

Types of Overparenting

There are three types of overparenting, according to Lythcott-Haims:

  1. Being overprotective. Parents tend to do this when they feel the world is scary, unsafe, and unpredictable. Therefore, they think they need to prevent anything from happening to their children and protecting them at every turn—thereby depriving their children of learning how to deal with difficulties they will inevitably face on their own.
  2. Being fiercely directive. When a parent attempts to orchestrate a child’s life, the child does not feel unconditionally loved. Instead, they think a lot of stress and worry that they may not live up to their parents’ expectations.
  3. Holding kids’ hands for too long. Lythcott-Haims describes this kind of overparenting as behaving like a handler for an A-list celebrity. This kind of parent might, for example, know when all homework assignments are due and bring in ones a child has forgotten. They are trying to make their child’s life easier, but they are robbing them of the ability to learn from experience.

While overparenting may come from a good place—the desire to love and protect our children—it prevents them from developing the confidence that they will be able to figure things out independently, as they will eventually need to.

So, what’s the solution?

Three Core Competencies Children Need to Develop

To grow into capable, healthy, happy humans, children need to develop three core competencies, says Lythcott-Haims. They are: agency, resilience, and character (ARC.)

  1. Agency: Agency is the sense that I can do the task in front of me. I am capable. To develop this, children need to do things for themselves. Picture your child learning to walk, for example. You didn’t walk behind with your hands under their armpits, Lythcott-Haims says. Instead, you cheer them on while they fall and get up and get stronger.
  2. So, figure out what skill kids are on the verge of learning and provide them with learning opportunities. Maybe it’s making their lunch or learning to wake to an alarm, or helping with dinner.
  3. Resilience. Resilience is the sense that I can cope or handle things when they go bad, as they will. But when you are curating the perfect childhood, things never go wrong, and children are deprived of developing resilience.
  4. “We’re supposed to let them have their feelings. Our instinct is to take bad feelings away,” says Lythcott-Haims. “But we need to let them have their feelings and let them know we care.” It’s not about fixing things, she says. There’s a lot we can’t fix. It’s about letting them have their feelings, letting them know you see they have feelings and letting them know you are there if they want to talk about them.
  5. Character. Character is knowing there is more than you in this world, knowing that others matter, as well. In the pandemic, parents can teach that because there are many people in need—perhaps including you. So, ask your child to pitch in, Lythcott-Haims says. “When a child handles something that isn’t their chore or job, that is a perfect time just to smile and nod and say I saw what you did. Nice job.”

“This is a tough time, but so much is actually under our control, says Lythcott-Haims, including how we show up in our children’s lives, exhibit confidence they’ve got it, and model good character. So, this pandemic is an opportunity to stop swooping in and therefore an opportunity to get a little bit of healthy adult life back.”

In short, says Lythcott-Haims: “When you stop making children the center of the universe, watch how they thrive—and you thrive, as well.”

Julie Lythcott-Haims spoke at the 2021 California Conference for Women. This article is based on her session, How to Raise an Adult in Times of Crisis.

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