(conversation with Simona Vivi H and Dr. Nicole LePera)
Have you ever found yourself entangled with a difficult relative (mother or others), a challenging co-worker, or a high-conflict neighbor? Sometimes we find ourselves in high vigilance relationships, and yet, despite the difficulties, we may have reasons that we choose to maintain the relationship.
Dr. Nicole LePera, the holistic psychologist and #1 New York Times best-selling author sat down with Simona Vivi H, founder of reMothering.org to record a segment for the next reMothering Masterclass. In the full interview, Dr. Nicole delves into the intricate connection between our past experiences and our present relationships, customized for our reMothering Community. (thank you, Dr. Nicole!)
In today’s article, we’ll look at an excerpt from that conversation. It’s a topic that comes up a lot going into the holiday season: what tools can we lean into if we choose NOT to go no contact.
We Can’t Change Other People
We don’t have to go ‘no contact’ to experience peace, but we do have to acknowledge WHAT IS and navigate accordingly.
Here’s the tough news, that’s actually good news: we can’t change other people. But what we can do (and this is why it’s good news) is notice the times we wish we could, and then lean into that awareness as a clue that it’s a good moment to turn within.
As humans, we carry patterns from our early relationships into our current interactions until we unlearn them. That urge to want to change another person (even when we very understandably want them to stop being so difficult towards us), helps shine a light on some of those patterns.
I wouldn’t have believed that if you had asked me in my first many decades of life. I remember believing that relief and freedom would only come if I could explain myself well enough that my mother would get that it shouldn’t need to be a choice between loyalty to her and having my own preferences, wants, and needs. In other words, I believed my mother needed to change for me to experience relief.
Fortunately, the remothering journey doesn’t require another person to change in order for us to experience that sweet relief. Phew. How do we unlearn those patterns that no longer serve? A great place to start is turning within.
Attuning To Our Bodies
While it may sound overly simplistic when you first read it, attuning to our bodies is a powerful, yet challenging foundational step for unlearning outdated relational patterns.
One of the challenges is that during discomfort or stress, we can shift into adaptations such as distracting ourselves, without even noticing that we are no longer present in our bodies. In the full interview, Dr. Nicole shares a personal story to illustrate the way we can go into thinking mode and THINK about our feelings rather than actually feel them and allow our bodies to move through the experience.
In her books, and in our full interview, she shares tools for attuning to our bodies, including suggesting a practice of intentionally tuning into our bodies’ stress signals, such as breath, muscle tension, and heart rate, especially before or during challenging interactions.
Notice Our Patterned Ways of Relating
For those of us that were raised with “be a good girl” conditioning, our bodies may still carry a misguided belief that we are responsible for another adults’ big feelings. That becomes the filter, and in some cases the blinders, for our patterned ways of relating.
Our conditioned response may be to try to manage the situation through behaviors like fixing, helping, or doing things perfectly, so that we feel more comfortable from the outside-in.
When we spot those patterns, what we can do is learn to become more comfortable navigating the discomfort we are feeling. This is where the tools in Dr. Nicole’s newest book, How To Be The Love You Seek, can come into play. We can learn to how to regulate through the discomfort that so many of us are trying to avoid.
The Remothering Moment
In addition to reaching for the foundational tools, like remembering we have a body. We can also lean in for the remothering moments, those moments we remember to be there for ourselves with the nurturance, guidance, understanding, acceptance, and all of the other mother qualities we humans naturally seek.
The remothering work is a journey and a practice. No myth of arrival, we aren’t going to do it perfectly. But with repetition, we can break free from outdated patterns that no longer serve. And then, from that grounded and centered place, we get to experience safety from the inside-out.
Even when someone challenges our peace and tests our emotional resilience, we can self-regulate and remember we are safe in this moment even in the midst of challenging interactions.
Here’s to building healthy, loving, authentic relationships… with ourselves & with others!~Simona
How To Be The Love You Seek (book): HowToBeTheLoveYouSeek.com
Dr. Nicole LePera and the reMothering Community, find more clips on the reMothering YouTube Channel
Part of the “how do I remother myself” series. This article is a step-by-step overview of the remothering roadmap