"Be a Better You" winner Candace Morton is figuring out where she wants to channel her energies next through the "College of Candace." She has a gift for sales, a flare for interior design, and a passion for storytelling, with two screenplays in the works. She yearns to explore these venues more fully, but is held back by a painful thought shared by so many: If she pursues her dreams, will her family feel abandoned? Just the thought of it makes Candace feel heavy, weighted down, listless. She has three beautiful daughters, two of them living at home. She wants to be sure her kids feel loved and supported.
This case called for a different type of evidence gathering. I gave Candace what I cheerfully call the "Mommy Manipulation Homework" and set her the task of identifying the values she holds most dear and wants to pass along to her daughters. Candace had no trouble drawing up the list:
Be self-sufficient and independent
Pursue their dreams
Know that they are loved unconditionally
Know that she’s always there for them
Then I asked Candace: "Which do your kids listen to more—what you say, or what you do?" Like most parents, Candace agreed that kids are far more likely to believe our actions rather than our words. I asked Candace to gather evidence that achieving her dreams will help her daughters. She began to appreciate that if she wants her kids to be self-sufficient and independent, she doesn’t need to be a full-time chauffeur, cook, and housecleaner. She might encourage them to do more meal preparation or arrange more carpooling while she attends to her coursework or writing. Stepping up to do more around the house lets her kids test-drive their independence. And what better way to inspire her daughters to follow their dreams than to let them see her pursue her own? Sacrificing her own ambitions might counterproductively teach her kids that love does have conditions—"If you don't do X, Y, or Z for me, that means you don’t love me"—and that's most definitely not a lesson Candace wants to pass along! Candace might not volunteer for every PTO (Parent-Teacher Organization) activity, but she knows that she will always be there for her daughters in every way that matters.
Reframing her creative aspirations this way lets Candace see them as a "win-win." Now she can feel freer to pursue her dreams, knowing that it will help her daughters learn to embody the values they'll need to pursue their own.
Using your Body Compass and taking your thoughts to court will help you stay on track just like Liz and Candace.