Full disclosure: In my attempt to help YOU find your strong & kind, I lost mine.
I get sucked into serving others... Sigh. This is why I call myself a "recovering" people-pleaser.
But - the ONLY way to be strong & kind with others is to be first strong & kind to yourself.
What does that mean for me? My strong (my boundaries) that lead me to be ABLE to be kind are: sleep, nature, exercise, time with friends and quiet.
When I don't do those things - I get sick, I get grumpy, I get stretched AND I say "yes" to everyone else's needs (and am blind to my own).
You guessed it - ALL those things have been going on lately!
So today, after a good night's sleep (finally!), it snowed (finally!) and I went for a run, in nature, with calm music on.
Back on the horse.
The root of your strong & kind is you. If you can't find YOU, you can't be strong & kind. It's that simple, and, that complicated - all at once!
#stongandkind #kathleenhilchey #boundaries #backonthehorse #balance #selfcare #kind #findyourvoice #findyourvoicefindyourpower #selflove #womxn
Can bullying end without violence?Read Now
There's been an interesting dialogue online recently about whether bullying can actually end without physical violence.
My thought? It can ABSOLUTELY end without violence. I see it with my clients 100% of the time.
But, here's the thing, the way to do it is by playing a completely new game. Instead of choosing to Power Over the bully (using BIGGER threats, acts of violence, fear or manipulation) or Powering Under (walking away, ignoring, avoiding, or hiding) we can Power With.
A person bullying is looking to make you scared. When you either lose your temper with them (scared) or walk away with your head lowered (scared) they get the jolt of power they were looking for.
Instead, I want you to consider what it might be like for you to be brave in the face of their assaults? Hard. I know, I get it. Keep reading, I think you'll see how!
Powering With means that you are being BOTH strong & kind. When we meld those two things together, we stop playing the bully's game. Stopping the game means that you stop giving them power. Stopping them from stealing your power means they get nothing from you...
And.... You guessed it... The bullying ends.
I see it time and time again.
Check me out in my bio to learn more about HOW to find this elusive Power With - I promise, it'll be worth your time!
#strongandkind #thirdway #kathleenhilchey #standtall #endbullying #stopbullying #assertive #mentalhealth #stopbullying #selflove #survivor #ptsd #metoo #abuse #parenting #antibullying #endbullying #selflove #kathleenhilcheyantibullying
Find Your voice in your marriageRead Now
This is my partner Joel.
He is funny, and fun, and creative, and open, and loving, and strong.
And even amidst all of these amazing qualities, our marriage can be quite challenging at times.
Because marriage - or partnership - is a hard thing to do and to maintain.
Joel and I are both “do-ers”. The benefit is that our lives are full - of amazing people, experiences, projects, and excitement. Being a “power couple” can be super exciting a lot of the time.
The downside is that our dreams are so big, that parts of us bump up against each other (and, as Joel would say “not in the good way”).
So… you might be wondering how we get through this - especially since having two driven people in a relationship can be particularly challenging.
To be honest - sometimes it’s not graceful. We yell, we storm off (and not in the “I just need a little space right now” healthy way). We can both be passive aggressive, or say things that we regret in the future.
Having 3 small kids, 4 businesses, a house and all the responsibilities that come with these things don’t always result in us being our best zen-like selves.
But, when we ARE doing well, we are able to figure things out. We go to therapy (we have 3 therapists and 2 energy healers between us!). But, I think that our success comes from the foundation of choosing to work it out, and, wanting the other partner to feel good.
From that place, we are able to stick with the hard conversations, be honest about our part, and move to a better place.
What I have been learning, especially this past year, is that if I can find my strong & kind voice, these hard parts untangle much more quickly.
If you want to learn more about this "strong and kind" voice, I'm launching a course on November 1st to teach women how to find it, use it, and make necessary shifts in their lives!
#findyourvoicecourse #strongandkind #marriage #partnership #staycalm #findyourvoicefindyourpower #kathleenhilchey #joelhilchey #love #conflict #conflictmanagement #conflictcoaching
on being a "good" womanRead Now
As a recovering people pleaser, this quote from Rachel Hollis’ book Girl, Stop Apologizing really resonated with me.
It made me think: How is it possible to stop pleasing when we’ve been taught that our very WORTH is connected to other people’s happiness?
You are a good child if your parents are happy.
You are a good wife if your partner is happy.
You are a good mother if your children are happy.
You are a good worker if your boss is happy.
And so so tiring.
This moving target makes us shift and change our personalities, our schedules, our inner desires - ALL to make someone else happy… so that we can be worthy of love.
They key to change this is to realize that when you choose YOU others might be mildly uncomfortable.
But, making someone uncomfortable does NOT mean that we are bad: a bad mom, a bad wife, a bad daughter.
And it certainly doesn’t mean that we don’t deserve love.
It simply means that we matter too. That we shouldn’t always be the one compromising for other people’s comfort. It means that we have a right to choose our own comfort too.
#kathleenhilchey #findyourvoicefindyourpower #strongandkind #empowerment #feminism #strength #courage #opinions #shapeshifting #standstrong #justdoyou #whatdoiwant #findyourvoice
Covid StrugglesRead Now
I just got yelled at at the grocery store. Again.
As I was pushing my full cart out of the store, I stopped at the exit to sanitize my hands.
A woman behind me yelled something. Because she was in the doorway, I couldn’t quite make out what she said.
I turned around, surprised. She spat angrily: “And NOW you look surprised!”
“I am a bit surprised” I said. “You’re yelling at me.”
“She said: YOU LOOK GREAT! MOVE ON!”
Confused, I looked to the side - ahhhh… there was a mirror next to where I stopped to sanitize my hands. I guess “raging woman” thought I was checking out my outfit - straightening my jogging pants and making sure there was nothing stained on my tank top before I went back into the real world. Sigh.
“I wasn’t looking at myself, I was hand sanitizing”.
“Whatever” she replied as she took her cart and blew past me.
“You know” I said louder so she could hear “We’re all struggling. Stop putting your struggles on others.”
She lifted her hand and made a talking duck motion towards me as she walked away.
How many other interactions are we having like this these days? Covid is bringing out the best and the worst of ALL of us.
But really - there is a significant uptick in public displays of anger. In my 27 other years of grocery store shopping, I have been yelled at a total of ZERO times, and now, it’s happened 3 times (including a nasty note on my car) in 5 months.
So - what do we do?
First, we understand that people are struggling big time. They are frustrated, and caged in, and scared, and irritated…. And, I guess, we need to expect that some people in our society are going to explode on others - doing, well, probably anything - like taking a moment to hand-sanitize.
Secondly, I think we need to speak up. I’m not suggesting to yell back - that would be you putting your stuff on them - and could quickly escalate. What I am saying is to speak up, and when you do - be both STRONG and KIND.
Here’s why: The other 3 interactions with grocery-store-meanies left me speechless. After two of the incidents, it took me about a week to feel okay about the interaction. To look at this from the lens of bullying - we can assume that these grocery-store-yellers are needing power, and will take power away from unsuspecting shoppers and shop staff. Saying nothing means we gave some of our power away. When we feel powerless, we shrink, we blame ourselves, or we ruminate and wish we could have said something...
BUT - if we can remain in control, stay boundaried and polite, then no power is given.
Today’s interaction has left me feeling proud. I did need a few moments to compose myself after, but, I feel great - and I can’t believe I stood up for myself as well as I did. (There’s the strong). But, it’s also left me feeling a little bad for that woman. I mean, whose life is hard enough that they yell at complete strangers? (Here’s the kind).
If you are also interested in finding your strong & kind, here are some tips: Notice that what I said was factual. It was direct. And, gave her a little life tip in the process - which, is kind. The tip wasn't snarky or rude, it was genuine. I felt she needed to learn that lesson.
So - come up with something good too. Make sure it sounds like you, AND that it is both strong and kind. If it feels true to you, you’ll say it.
And, if and when you have to use it, message me and tell me how it went! We can raise a glass to facing these grocery-store-meanies together!
#conflictmanagement #strongandkind #thirdway #kathleenhilcheyantibullying #boundaries #handsanitizer #covidrage #antibullying #care #groceryshopping #groceryshoppingtips
opening upRead Now
STOP! Just sit for a few seconds and stare at this image.
Now tell me - what happened?
The craziest thing happened to me while I was creating this slide.
You see - I'm spending the next couple of weeks putting together my online course about finding your voice and creating an action plan towards creating a more meaningful/rich life...
But, I'm not in the most focussed of moods. My work-time has been peppered by a lot of breaks, scrolling Instagram and doing other non-work tasks.
Part of the course explains some tips on how we can open ourselves up to the exercises and lessons... and, one of the things to do is to open your arms and TAKE UP SPACE...
I spent maybe 5 minutes putting together these pictures - and near the end of creating the slide, I noticed myself take this long DEEP slow breath... my shoulders relaxed... and I felt GOOD.
And then I laughed.
Because here I am creating a course on how to open people up to the work... I'm creating the content... and (obviously) not taking my lesson!
But, luckily the lesson tricked me. Even SEEING these images shifting my headspace!
So - if you didn't stop and look - go back and give yourself 30 seconds. Notice these women's faces. Feel what they are feeling. Or, better yet, stand up and DO this pose!
NOW, let me know what YOU experienced?
#findyourvoice #findyourvoicefindyourpower #takeupspace #power #empowerment #strength #strongandkind #women #inspiration #breath #justbreathe #kathleenhilchey #theteachergottaught
covid exhaustionRead Now
One second… “Ugh… Why bother?” A few minutes later: “Okay, I think I can do this!”
Anyone else having these ping-pongy type thoughts? You flip flop between chasing your dreams and then seeing no point in even trying. Choosing to master something new, and then promptly giving up on it.
My work hours have been a roller-coaster of total productivity and inspiration, and then 30 minutes later unproductively sitting on my bed watching yet another episode of Queer Eye while eating chips.
Those of you who are joining me in finding your strong & kind voices might have noticed that you ROCKED it for a few days, and then reverted back to your quiet, or, super loud voices. When you got back on the horse to repeat that strong & kind, you were quickly triggered or exhausted at the thought of following through.
I’m here to tell you that it’s fair. And okay. And, understandable.
As our worlds shut down because of Covid, and, as they open up again - we are handling an excessively long road of stress. The ups and downs have been extreme, and, the emotional reactivity to it all (fear, panic, depression, mania, fogginess, rage, desire, longing, confusion, resentment… etc) is going to exhaust us.
And now a new chapter: the hope of life opening up is ALSO peppered with the fear of what might occur… The decisions to join friends, or not… The safety concerns we ruminate about after a first social time with family that you haven’t seen in months.
It’s EXHAUSTING. And so - if you’re exhausted that is A.O.K.
Keep following what your brain, body, and soul can manage. Follow that burst of inspiration, and then rest when your body tells you to. And, if you’re like me and need to veg out and “pretend” to work some days - do it! It will provide you the fuel to follow the inspiration once your energy is back up.
All of this WILL end, and we WILL find a more consistent path - for now, we need to learn to listen to our minds, bodies, and souls to rest when we need it.
Now - back to Queer Eye!
#COVID #rollercoaster #energydrain #exhaustion #whybother #inspiring #excited #hope #isolation #fear #drain #dreams #followyourdream #rest #relax #regenerate
When you DO finally use your strong & kind voice - what constitutes a successful outcome?
Something I always tell my clients is to remember to “separate the reaction from the result”.
Even though WE have found our “strong & kind” doesn’t mean that the person we’re speaking with has. In fact, most people haven’t done the work to drop their defences and respond in an authentic way.
What does this mean? To put it bluntly, the person on the other side of the strong & kind might respond pretty poorly. Bummer eh?
So - they key - is to anticipate a predictable response. If that person is often defensive - expect defensiveness. If that person often freezes people out when they speak up? Expect some distance from them for a while. If that person is a yeller… You got it - expect some yelling.
BUT, what this DOESN’T mean is that you haven’t created change.
It might take a couple of rounds of staying “strong & kind” before a shift happens, but, it most likely will.
Perhaps it won’t include a tearful apology, a gracious repairing of harm, or any sort of acknowledgement of wrongdoing…
But what will happen? Whatever boundary you set will be followed. And that - my friend - is a big win.
Yesterday morning, my husband fell down a flight of stairs and dislocated his arm.
He’s okay - he went to the hospital by ambulance, and, after a few hours of intense pain were able to massage his shoulder back in.
It was really scary for us having to call 9-1-1… , see him in so much pain… But, he’s home now, he’s safe, and he will heal.
The reverberations of an event like this - especially in a family with small children - is not felt lightly.
Our boys are yelling more - pushing back… pushing each other. And, our daughter - well, she, like dad, has hurt arms and is refusing to both of them.
She clutched them like she had double slings on - last night she couldn’t put pyjamas on because it would hurt to lift her arms. She has needed someone to feed her dinner, and now breakfast. She is asking for someone to carry her down the stairs because she can’t hold the banister.
As our little empath, I don’t doubt she’s feeling her daddy’s pain. I also know that what she’s also looking for is some tender attention - some extra love from the adults in her life to feel safe after the scary thing that happened yesterday.
But here’s the thing - I’m exhausted. I’m stretched. I came into this latest crisis depleted - dealing with COVID, our Reno, the loss of grampa, the challenges of being a business owner with no school for our kids to go through…
I have been able to dig deep and give her lots of tenderness, but, have also lost my patience a few times with her and the boys. I just simply can’t sustain it… there isn’t enough in the tank.
I wonder, in the future, if she’ll remember this event. And, if she will feel is the love we were able to give her, or, the frustration this “I can’t use my arms” time made us feel?
We all have those times from our past - those times where we know our parents didn’t give us what we wanted or needed.
As a parent myself now, I can see how these future-therapy-worthy-conversations go. “They couldn’t figure it out! I was really struggling and they didn’t see me!”
“They KNEW what I needed, why couldn’t they just give it to me?”
And I wonder what I’ll say when finally confronted.
Because the truth - or at least MY truth today - is that I’m doing the best that I can, but, that “best” is likely not good enough for my little peanut.
To BE the best for her, I need a week long vacation, 10 hour sleeps for a little while, daily work-outs, and a break from my businesses…
These are impossibilities right now - so, my best, is simply not going to be enough.
I wonder if, in this future conversation, I’ll have the courage to say “I knew what you needed, but I didn’t have the patience, the energy, the capacity to give it to you. And I’m so so sorry.”
And I wonder if she’ll be able to forgive me.
Mostly, for now, I hope that I’ll find the capacity and the grace to be able to forgive myself.
Discovering who you areRead Now
I remember sitting in my first solo apartment. I was talking to my mom on the phone.
I asked “who do you think I am?” She answered “you’re kind, and empathic, and compassionate…”. I said “yeah, I know that, but, what about the rest of me? What colours to I like? What movies? What food? What would I do with my time if I had the right to choose?”
You see - I am a recovering people pleaser.
And, having spent the better part of my life helping others, and, more importantly bending who I was to meet the needs of others, I had lost much of myself.
That year, I chose to get to know myself. It felt miraculous.
I spent many afternoons, evenings, and weekends alone. I discovered I loved a good rom-com, bold colours, nature prints, and salad. I went for long walks through my town - found nature trails to cross country ski on, brought the newspaper to a local café to read on Saturday mornings. I delighted in my solo time in nature, wrote in my journal, and, found myself for the first time.
But, this was just the start. I had lost so much of myself to fit in, to make others feel comfortable, and to keep the peace.
“Discovering myself” continues today - sometimes it’s miraculous, and sometimes gut wrenching. The process is uneven and uncomfortable and soothing, all at the same time.
If you don’t do this already, it might be the right time to start asking yourself what YOU want. Start with some easier decisions: what do you actually want to eat for dinner? What show interests you? Start with these small steps forward - and the ball will start to roll.
Life is too short to not discover who you truly are.
If you want some help to find yourself and your voice in the world, send me a message and let's start the work together.
I just can’t… I just can’t… I just can’t…
I lay under my quilt saying this over and over to myself.
Overwhelm. Exhaustion… Even my fingertips were tired.
I lay there longer - tears slipped from my eyes.
I felt ashamed - I had just yelled at my husband. I hate it when this happens - but I was mad, and resentful, and jealous.
You see, I had woken early for a full week - trying to let my exhausted husband unwind…. The COVID shutdown had decimated his business, and he'd stayed up many nights trying to salvage it.
Today - he'd turned a corner. He decided to wake up early to do yoga and mediate. While he did his yogic breathing at the foot of my bed, our children were wreaking havoc upstairs.
And somehow I assumed, since I had woken early for days to tend to the kids, that he would pop out of his downward dog and into the kids’ room to quiet them so I could get some rest too.
But, this type of understanding does not exist in the old version of the “Book of Dad”. You know the book - the conscious and subconscious lessons society, and our families teach us about what it is to be a man. So, he stayed breathing and stretching.
I furiously exploded out of my peaceful slumber ready to shove his perfect triangle shaped body to the ground and kick his butt up the stairs.
Instead? I yelled… and then, being the martyr that I was, went up the stairs to tend to the children.
My next action? Slip into the kitchen and whip up a batch of banana chocolate chip muffins.
Sometime into my second muffin, my reality slapped me in the face. Tears started streaming down my cheeks, and I brought what was left of the muffin into bed with me.
Now you may find it odd that as a “conflict coach”, I’m not all that good at conflict sometimes. I teach it. Heck, I work solving some of the most complex bullying situations that exist.
But my own conflict? It’s still a work in progress.
As I reflect on the weeks since COVID started, I realized, in my panic, I had slipped into old habits. MY “Book of Mom” taught me to keep the home tidy, and safe, and calm. Keep the children and partner happy. Nourish, grocery shop, fold laundry.
And, my husband? Go to work, make money, support the family, plan for our futures.
Most importantly - I started communicating like a “good wife” would. Always with kindness. Choosing to see the gratitude instead of the problems. Swallowing frustration to keep things calm.
Being purely KIND doesn’t work for long-term happiness…. When we are only kind we give up our own needs and desires. Being unboundaried results in being walked all over - in this space, we lose ourselves and the lives we want to live.
Personally, I can only sustain my KIND for a little while. The resentment builds and I explode into STRONG.
STRONG resulted in rage and yelling - spewing all my carefully folded resentment at my husband like a one-sided snow-ball fight. STRONG was aggressive, and mean, and harsh. When we yell, or manipulate, or explode - it is hard for the other person to hear us. Worse than this is they do not have a chance to be heard. Without hearing both sides - no long-lasting solutions can be found.
But, as I lay there under my quilt - it hit me. The simplicity of the solution made me laugh.
Why am I not doing what I suggest to all my clients trying to get out of sticky situations???
I need to meld the two - find STRONG AND KIND together. When those come together, we stay thoughtful and compassionate to the other person without “giving in”.
For almost a decade, I have watched my clients find their STRONG AND KIND voices. In that place, they go from terrified to calm and courageous. When they use this new voice, complex bullying issues fold like a deck of cards.
So, why couldn’t it be used here too?
And I will try it out… I promise. But for now, I need to unwind, and release, and get some perspective. And perhaps I will sneak one more of those banana chocolate chip muffins into bed with me.
Want to find out what happened and learn more? Join me on Facebook or Instagram to learn about my new project: Find Your Voice, Find Your Power!
Compassion during CovidRead Now
I talked with a friend last week who is an ER nurse in a Vancouver Hospital. She talked about how honoured she was that people were grateful for her work, but, felt that ALL Canadians were acting heroically right now.
She said "Do you know how much easier Canadians are making MY job, and how much healthier they are keeping people in vulnerable positions?"
That gave me pause. Sure, we can say "What? I get to stay home and watch Netflix! That's not heroic!" But, if we take my friend's perspective, we could also choose to see that we ARE giving up many freedoms to save lives. She said "So many people are in tough positions - losing jobs, taking care of kids, no school, trying to work, not being able to find work, worried about money, and not having the normal supports they usually do."
This IS a collective action by Canadians to protect ourselves and each other.
In fact, this might be the largest act of compassion Canadians have shown in my lifetime. And - we are acting with such empathy while being more disconnected than ever before.
So - I am going to remember that we are ALL important - whether we are on the front-lines, or in our homes... I am going to take this as re-reminder that at our cores, we are good - and, in this moment of crisis, love is flowing.
Think you're going to lose your marbles with your toddlers or little kids while they are home for this extended break?
BUY THIS BOOK!
It has been a game-changer in our home. Because really, sometimes you have to just GET things done! Most of you know that we have 3 kids 4 and under - and so "getting things done" can be a bit of a gong show some days!
The tips here will help your home be calmer, more reasonable, and productive... Doesn't that sound good???
Not only have I used many of the suggestions with my own kids, but, I coach parents to use them too. The results? Consistently excellent.
Go buy it!!!
Not sure what to do with your externally or internally explosive child or teen for the next 3 weeks? BUY THIS BOOK!
I have used Dr. Ross Greene's techniques with many students, clients, and even my own children. It's gold.
It can transform your class or home SO quickly.
The concept? Our kids pick up some life skills easily, and others struggle. Just like some kids learn to read or sleep easily, and others struggle and need extra help.
He argues that most kids who struggle socially are just lacking basic skills. E.g. transitioning from one activity to another, asking for love or attention in a positive way, staying focused during challenging tasks, etc.
The solution? Get your child or teen involved in finding solutions. You brainstorm, then try them!
The book does an excellent job of HOW to do this process and what it could sound like with different kids or teens.
If you want the paperwork that goes with the book to do an assessment and go through the problem solving process with your child, go to this link: https://www.livesinthebalance.org/paperwork
Keep me posted on how it goes!
Looking for something to do during school shut down with your pre-teen or teenaged daughters (besides letting them watch copious amounts of Netflix... which is okay too!)? ORDER THIS BOOK!
It was a game changer for me in how I learned to handle conflict with a strong and kind voice.
I originally took it out from the library so I could teach my grade 9's more effectively. By the end of the first chapter, I was weeping in relief. It showed me that I had no idea how to handle things in a way that would actually resolve an issue and feel GOOD at the end.
This is the book I recommend the most to families - it will help both you (mom) and daughters figure out how we've been socially conditioned to resolve conflicts - and, show how those ways aren't all that productive. It will also give you a clear way to start expressing yourself that will make life SO much less tricky and much simpler. (And don't we all want that while we're hanging out together for copious amounts of time in the near future?)
Buy it! Now! You'll thank me for SURE!
Kathleen is an anti-bullying specialist, a conflict coach, a teacher, mom, wife, daughter, sister, friend...