This time of year when work gets busier with year-end deliverables, school’s back in session, in some climates, like here in New England, the days are quickly getting shorter, and the busy holiday season is just around the corner, it’s no surprise that you’re feeling drained.
Before you chalk it up to life’s busy day-to-day grind, I invite you to slow down to ponder, is that really all that’s operating here making you feel depleted? Or is it something else?
Is it possible that you have an energy leak? If you’re finding yourself more tired than usual, stick around because this is exactly what we’ll be exploring today!
Do you have an energy leak?
A few weeks ago in a previous episode, I invited you to get intentional about what you want the end of the year to look like and where you want to be spending your energy.
I shared an exercise to use on yourself and several important people and aspects of your life to detect what you want more of and less of going forward to create a life of true alignment and joy. Find the show notes for that episode at synergisticstepparenting.com/53.
That episode touches briefly on the concept of energy leaks. But today we’re discussing a specific kind of leak that might go unnoticed. It is a leak that occurs right under your nose. It’s in your home.
It’s the tension that happens between you and your partner or between you and your stepchild. These leaks can occur due to hurt, disappointment or resentment.
Meet Jenei who came to me saying …
“I’m turning into the parent I never wanted to be. The stress and fatigue are overwhelming. Every day is a power struggle, and I am losing it! I resort to yelling and threatening to get my daughter’s attention which causes her to become distant and disengaged.
Our relationship is suffering, and I have no idea what to do.”
Can you relate?
These are common dynamics, but they wreak havoc on all involved. Oftentimes not only the stepparent and the child, but also the bio-parent/partner as well and any other children present in the household.
Have you ever walked into a room, and you don’t know what happened before you got there, but you could feel the tension or negativity right away like a bad stench? You most likely had a visceral response to it both emotionally and even physically.
That’s exactly what these tense dynamics cause for the other members of your household.
Why tension in the home is particularly damaging
And because it’s taking place in the home, it’s particularly damaging. Why?
Because your home is your oasis. It’s the place you’re supposed to go to for respite from the rest of the world, it’s your safe space.
Home is where you relax, recuperate, rejuvenate, fill your cup, cocoon and nurture yourself. None of which is truly possible to do when there is tension and negative dynamics at play.
How do you address these energy leaks?
Someone might choose to deal with these issues by saying “Oh, I just won’t go home, I’ll do other things.”
But the idea is not to just escape. Because if you don’t deal with it and don’t clean up the mess, you still have an energy leak and a resource leak.
Another way someone might choose to deal with this situation is to break away from these people and this life in a more permanent way.
Now, I’m not advising anyone to stay in a situation that you recognize is toxic, not for you or doesn’t serve you. Maybe you find yourself here because you didn’t realize that it was toxic from the beginning. Or maybe it turned toxic.
Either way, staying in that is not something I’m advocating for.
However, is that truly what’s going on?
Things to Consider
Think of the family and life you’ve been building. Is throwing all of that away really the only option?
Afterall, “Wherever you go, you take yourself with you.” – Neil Gaiman, The Graveyard Book
Has saying that it’s a toxic situation a convenient way to look at it – which is to blame others?
Could it be that that’s what’s operating there – just blaming others and looking at things through a negative lens?
Are you forgetting the reasons that you fell in love with these people to begin with? Because you did fall in love with them. At one point, you did choose them.
Can you see them through that lens again? If it were possible, do you want to try?
Is there a belief that’s operating in you that’s preventing you from seeing things for what they are and keeping you stuck?
Is there a pattern that’s operating where you and your partner or your child are stuck in a response cycle that you can’t seem to get out of?
In the case of the latter, it may be a pattern that might not have started in this relationship. It’s possible that it started years before from a prior experience.
So how do you get to the bottom the energy leak?
Usually, beliefs and patterns are closely related. But there are subtle differences.
Beliefs are thoughts that you think for a long time.
So, for example, if my partner is carefully choosing their words around me, then they are lying to me and aren’t telling me the whole truth.
When in fact, this belief might be wrong. Maybe they deeply care about you and are really invested in not hurting your feelings and want to preserve the relationship. Or maybe you’ve given signs in the past that you’re not open to their shares and don’t welcome them.
On the other hand, patterns are how each of you responds in situations that come up and involve not only how you feel but also how you act in response to those feelings.
Most often these patterns occur in unpleasant, uncomfortable or negative situations because those are times you feel most vulnerable, and your response is your brain’s way of protecting you.
These misunderstandings are very common in all relationships but especially so in blended families because not only is the couple still getting to know each other, but the stepparent is still working to build trust, rapport, and understanding with the child(ren).
Not to mention when it comes to beliefs and patterns, you have blind spots – we all do. Sometimes you might not be aware that a particular belief is operating, when in fact it is.
There are several reasons for this …
- You’re not aware that not everyone shares your particular point of view on the subject.
- These are not things we typically talk about or explore in school or even as part of our regular conversations societally.
- You’re too close to the situation to see the forest from the trees.
- The situation is too emotionally-charged and you’re caught in a swirl, oscillating between 2 or more viewpoints, stuck not knowing how to get out.
- You’re too invested in the outcome.
How do you resolve the energy leak?
To truly resolve the energy leak, you have to address it at its core. And to get to the core, it needs to be addressed on 3 levels:
- Identifying and address the belief at the core of the emotional response
- Identifying and address the pattern of behavior in response to said emotional response
- Create a disruption in the cycle from your highest self of how you want to show up in the relationship and from honoring the truth of the relationships you want to have
Though this process can be simple it is not easy, because most of these beliefs and patterns have been operating for a long time. The mind creates strong attachments to operating the same way as the brain loves to go on autopilot to conserve energy.
Which is why having a guide, partner and cheerleader on the journey is so beneficial and often it’s the difference between reaching your goals and desired outcomes or not.
This is exactly what Jenei got after working with me. Here’s what she has to say …
“Maria was a most positive and supportive ally during my parenting struggles, giving me tools to establish a much closer, less stressful relationship with my daughter.
I took away how to take better care of myself and give myself a break so I can be more fully present in my role as a parent.
The more I worked at building trust with her in a non-reactive, non-judgmental environment where she felt safe to share her thoughts, the closer and more fulfilling our relationship became.”
Of course, I have some action items for you! If you find yourself struggling and would like to learn more about what you can do, head on over to synergisticstepparenitng.com/work fill out a brief questionnaire and schedule a complimentary clarity call.
I’d love to help you identify the next best step for you to start moving towards creating the life and relationships you dream of.
Until next time, be well!
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