No matter how organized and productive you may be, if things aren’t right in your family life and relationships, it’s hard to feel good about what you’re doing. So often, we may feel we are the only ones struggling with parenting our children or bonding with our spouse. The truth is, many of us struggle for a variety of reasons. Join Lynyetta Willis and me in this episode of the Productive Living series as we discuss how to empower ourselves, refocus our energy, and be our best self for our family.
Productive Living: Family Empowerment and Productivity
Dr. Lynyetta Willis is a psychologist, family empowerment coach, speaker, and author who helps frustrated families break free from stable misery and unhelpful habits in their parenting and partnerships, so they can create more harmony and joy with those they love. She lives in Georgia with her husband and their two children.
Lynyetta has been in the mental health field for 20 years, specializing in trauma healing, family and couples work, and parenting. She had her own practice for many years but has since closed it and is now coaching, working with families all over the world. Her clients (mostly women) tend to be very high achievers who feel like they are doing well in so many areas of their life, but when it comes to things like self-care, parenting, and partnerships, they feel like they are failing. This is an area Lynyetta refers to as stable misery: a place where we can get stuck in unhelpful patterns, often with those we love, making us feel unhappy.
Another phrase Lynyetta uses is stable misery minions, meaning the things that keep us in those habits, such as a sense of feeling disempowered.
One of the things Lynyetta really focuses on is family empowerment, as she has always been interested in family work in general. When we feel disempowered as parents or partners, it can really cause us to stay down in that place of stable misery. Lynyetta works with couples and families who just want to break free from that place so they can feel more in sync with who they want to be–and know they can be.
One of the ways Lynyetta helps is by helping people find the tools they need to feel empowered in their most important relationships. She wants her clients to feel empowered so they can show up in the best, most aligned way possible, for those in their lives. And when Lynyetta says she wants you to feel empowered, she doesn’t mean over people, but by having power within yourself and with people. She wants you to ask yourself, “Where is my power in this moment”, and then use that in a healthful way to shift the moment, or shift yourself, to positively affect what’s going on around you.
Creating self-awareness and recognizing triggers
Lynyetta runs a 12-week program for parents called Trigger to Transform, in which she helps parents with transforming their triggers so they can overcome their unhelpful habits and become the parents they want to be. What often happens is that parents will read books and do other things to become the best parents they can be, but will then get into a situation with their kids that will trigger them and the book they just read will ultimately not be useful to them. This often makes parents feel worse about their situation. When we get triggered, the part of our brain (frontal lobe) that holds all the knowledge from the books we may have read gets locked up and we become emotional. We are put into a “fight or flight” mode and we fall back on old patterns that no longer work for us, such as yelling or shaming. Lynyetta talks about the Four Horseman Mindset in her work, and those four horsemen are pain, blame, shame, and avoidance. Those are the four default emotions we can fall back into when we are feeling triggered and disempowered.
Lynyetta says the best way to change these patterns of behavior is to realize that you (and your kids) are not broken and that you are going to do things that you don’t want to do. Think about what you may have learned from this situation.
Also know that you are a product from the legacy that was handed down to you. Your Legacy Tree includes both legacy blessings and legacy burdens. Prune as many burdens as you can, and nurture as many blessings as possible for your children. But remember, you may not get it all and some burdens and blessings may be missed, and it’s okay. Shift your mindset around what it means when you don’t do as well as a parent.
Using P.A.T.H.S to transform your parenting
In any kind of relationship, if certain dynamics are out of whack, it can lead us to feel disempowered, unhappy, and stuck. Lynyetta has created a personal evolution framework, an acronym called P.A.T.H.S, which she uses to recognize patterns in her clients’ behaviors and relationships.
- Perspective. When we are in stable misery, we need to get clear on the story we are telling ourselves because where our thoughts go, our actions go.
- Awareness. Be aware of your feelings and don’t shove them away and ignore them. What feelings come up for you when you are in stable misery? What sets you off?
- Tools. Whenever you are in a relationship, you are always using a tool. Is the tool you are using helpful? What kinds of tools do you tend to use and is there a way that you can expand or decrease the tools?
- Healing/honoring. Parents can get stuck in the memories of childhood experiences. Sometimes when we are reacting towards our children, we are really reacting towards something from our childhood that is triggered by our children. As moms, we need to learn to honor our needs as well. We aren’t meant to sacrifice ourselves for others all the time. When we honor our needs, we teach our children to honor their needs too.
- Self-empowerment. Find your power within various situations. We need to always be thinking about where our power is and how we can apply it in the best way possible.
Lynyetta recommends that you pick one of the above things and focus on it for a week and take note of what changes and shifts within you. Don’t try to do them all at once!
Lynyetta’s advice for moms who want to find joy and harmony in parenting
To find joy in parenting your children, Lynyetta says that you first have to recognize (and honor) that your needs matter and you have the right to have rest and renewal each day. Joy is the opposite of stable misery and when we fall into the stable misery pit, it’s often because we have ignored our needs. This can lead to resentment, which can keep us locked in the past and bring up feelings of anger towards others. The more you start honoring your own needs, the more joy and fulfillment you will feel in your relationships.
Joy is an inside job and it is up to you to find joy within yourself, not depend on your children to provide it.
What do you do to get back on track on a day when everything gets away from you?
When Lynyetta has days like this, she tries to transform the story in her head and pivot to something more positive. She stops and breathes and thinks about one thing she can do right there in the moment to be more productive. It doesn’t have to be anything big, but something that can give her the sense of empowerment that she needs.
She’ll also go back over her to-do list and reconfigure it to incorporate anything she may not have gotten done today, but will also include any lessons she may have learned.
Finally, Lynyetta will forgive herself, bless, and release.
Lynyetta’s last words for the listener
One thing at a time. It sounds cliché but it’s important. And, if you can get someone else to do something for you, let them do it. You don’t have to do it all yourself. If you don’t enjoy something or you’re not the best at it, let someone else do it.
What do you think? Questions? Comments?
Do you have questions for Lynyetta or me? Please share them in the comments section below or in The Productive Woman Community Facebook group, or send me an email.
Connect with Lynyetta
- on her website
- on Instagram
- on Facebook
- on LinkedIn
- check out Lynyetta’s book
- get Lynyetta’s Release Stable Misery Roadmap here
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