In keeping with our current topic of Identifying and Relating to Facilitate Personal Change, I offer a personal example that represents the interplay between identifying and relating to our change.
In this example, the difference between identifying and relating is clarified. It also represents what can happen when we aren’t aware of the power the way we identify and relate can have on our adaptation to the change.
In our next and final post on this topic, I’ll introduce an exercise that can be used to accelerate our mindset to fit with our desired way of identifying and relating, which, when regularly put into practice, can result in a much faster adaptation and alignment to our change.
My story - welcome to parenthood!
As is the case with most parents, becoming a Mother was an exciting and new experience for me.
I had a fairly good idea about what motherhood entailed as far as taking care of our child was concerned. Well at least with respect to the concrete things such as basic needs. Things like general physical and emotional care, clothing, basic growth-related activities and such were covered.
What I was unaware of at the time was that I had a very specific image in my mind as to what being a mother was about. It was with this image I identified.
The problem was, unlike some new parents, I didn’t really have a current example of modern Motherhood. Most of my friends either didn’t have any children, or their children were much older.
I had no idea how to be a Mom in today’s environment, because the image with which I had identified was one devised from my childhood from my own Mom, my Grandmothers, and a few other Moms along the way.
Those were very different times. Kids roamed free without helmets and knee pads. There were no child-safe devices to keep us out of the cupboards. We could eat whatever we wanted because there were no allergies.
Our back yards and neighborhoods were our summer camp, with very few counselors. And everyone, I mean everyone, rode a bicycle. If we fell down, as long as we could still walk, we were fine.
I quickly learned that how I identified with being a Mom directly affected how I related to motherhood in my new world.
I found myself thrust into student mode (taking the persona as student/learner), asking every Mom I could find questions about how things worked nowadays.
I had a full-fledged anxiety attack (which I refer to my Mrs. Nesbitt moment, a reference to Toy Story and Buzz Lightyear’s experience at a tea party), when searching for a costume for a princess birthday party to which our daughter had been invited.
I thought my reaction was merely the result of my being so out of touch, but it was really an early indicator that something else was amiss.
Relating by accommodating social norms.
As the years passed - yes years - I started to realize how strong of a pull perceived social pressure had on my behaviors.
I was making choices based on what I perceived was expected behavior instead of what I believed was right for our child.
Certain things regarding our child’s social development created huge anxiety and stress for both my husband and I because we did what we thought we should do, rather than what we truly believed was the best course of action for our family.
I’ve since come to realize that making decisions based on what I believed to be social expectations represented how I related to motherhood.
The way we relate can influence how we identify.
Because my original image of motherhood, with which I identified, was shaken early on by newer and more modern trends, I began to replace that original image with an updated version based on what I heard and saw in my world.
How I related began to drive how I identified, rather than the other way around. And this is an important point. Sometimes how we relate does drive how we identify, and other times it’s the other way around.
The thing is, it really doesn’t matter. It’s a chicken and egg sort of thing. In this case relating influenced identifying, but when I left my professional job to become a student, it was the other way around. I identified as a student, and it took quite a bit of time for that mentality to shift in the way I related to my outer world after graduating.
Making a shift for the better.
Once I realized the way I was relating to the world of motherhood was negatively impacting me and my family, I made a shift.
I took a step back and determined what was truly important to me as a Mother. I sculpted a new image of motherhood that I felt much more aligned with and could easily identify.
Once I had done that, the way I related also shifted. No longer did I bow to social pressure or expectations of others. If we aligned with those expectations, fine, but it would be by choice, rather than feeling it was out of necessity. If it went against the grain, so be it.
Our decisions were based on whether or not it felt right for my child or our family. I became fully grounded in my own sense of motherhood, and a true advocate for our child.
The short and sweet of it.
As a summary, here’s what happened:
In essence, this is how we shift from a vicious to a virtuous cycle.
Even though this example is about motherhood, anyone can make such a shift for a faster and smoother transition to change using a technique that will be described in the next post, so stay tuned...
About the Author
Megan Rounds, Ed.D. is owner and principle perculator of perculcha, llc.
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