Mindful Mama Mentor
~ HUNTER CLARKE-FIELDS ~

How To Transform Triggers – Dr. Lynyetta Willis [366]
September 13, 2022

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Kids do and say things all the time that trigger intense feelings in us parents. Then we’re often yelling, shaming, or blaming. Where do these intergenerational dramas come from? How can we transform these triggers? In this episode I talk to psychologist Dr. Lynetta Willis about all this and more so that we can move on to healing and empowerment.

Takeaways

  1. We have “triggered travelers” within us
  2. We’re always using tools, the question is whether they’re helpful or not
  3. We have to retrain our brain to transform triggers

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About Our Guest

Psychologist and family empowerment coach, Dr. Lynyetta Willis, helps frustrated families break free from Stable Misery and create more joy in their parenting or partnerships.

About Hunter Clarke-Fields

Hunter is the creator of the Mindful Parenting course, host of the Mindful Mama podcast and author of the bestselling book Raising Good Humans: A Mindful Guide to Breaking the Cycle of Reactive Parenting and Raising Kind, Confident Kids. She helps parents bring more calm and peace into their daily lives. Hunter has over twenty years of experience in meditation practices and has taught mindfulness to thousands worldwide. She is the mother of two active daughters, who challenge her everyday to hone her craft!

Go Deeper

Get the top 2 best tools to stop yelling & the Mindful Parenting Roadmap (it’s free!) at: mindfulmamamentor.com/stopyelling/

Get Hunter’s best-selling book, Raising Good Humans: A Mindful Guide to Breaking the Cycle of Reactive Parenting and Raising Kind, Confident Kids.

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Transcript of this episode:

*This is an auto-generated transcript*

[00:00:00] Hunter: We are gonna talk about a topic I’m passionate about the sort of intergenerational patterns and the dramas that start to get passed down from generation. We all think we’re looking at it starting fresh. And then we’re like, oh man, look, I’m actually carrying a lot of baggage with me.

Wow. Like we don’t even realize it. So that’s where we’re going, but I’m really curious, like I know I’m why I’m passionate about this. It has a lot to do with my own story and discovering my own PA patterns and drama that I was, I had thought I had left behind. And and I’m wondering if it’s the same for you.

[00:00:46] Dr Lynyetta Willis: Yeah. Yeah. I would say our intergenerational stuff, it’s less like a suitcase and more like a backpack that you just can’t get off. It’s just you think you’re done and you turn around and there’s nothing there. And you’re like, all right, I’m good. But you don’t that’s right.

But it doesn’t have to stay that way. So why did I start in this? The story I always tell is I’ve grew up in a home where the four horsemen mindset was used to parent children and the four horsemen are pain, blame, shame, and avoidance. And that

[00:01:27] Hunter: was like, I’m getting like Greek mythology vibes from this four Portsman thing.

[00:01:33] Dr Lynyetta Willis: Yes, exactly. And so that was what was, those were the four things. They were often used to keep kids in line and it was what was used to keep my mom in line and my mom’s mom in line and, and so on and so forth. And when I was in my twenties, I had. Experience with my sister. So my, I have a sister.

She is 20 years younger than me,

[00:01:56] Hunter: 20 years younger than you. Wow. That’s are you the oldest? I know what my mom was thinking. Wow.

[00:02:01] Dr Lynyetta Willis: Psychologically I am. psychological, not only child because by the time she came along, I was like in, literally in college. Wow. And I remember she was sitting at the counter, my grandmother’s kitchen counter one day and she had, she was probably about two.

She was still. Little high chair. So I don’t even think she was two yet. She was, she kept, she was verbal and she did or said something to me and it just made me so angry and I turned and I looked at her and I said, don’t make me come over there. I’m so angry. I could smack you right now. And I just remember her face, like just dropping, like just, she was like, okay.

And I knew that, unfortunately, I wasn’t the first one that she had heard that. I was told that growing up. But I remember in that moment and I didn’t have kids or anything during this time looking at her and just feeling what did I just do? Did I seriously just threaten a baby?

Like what. And there was this split second moment where I realized that is not okay with me. I would never hurt her, like I was the cool big sister, no, that’s not what happens. It’s not my role. And I’m right. Just went over and I picked her up and I was like, I’m so sorry.

I would never hurt you. I’m so sorry. And it was, that moment was like one of those pivotal moments where I realized, like we gotta change some stuff. Like I do not wanna bring these fear based mindsets into my relationship with my little sister or with my children or into my marriage. I want these things to be different.

So in that moment, I made a decision to shift things. I didn’t know what that meant, what it would look like, how I was gonna begin, what exactly I was shifting besides threatening toddlers. I wasn’t gonna do that again, but I didn’t know what all that entailed. And then I also had so a lot of other issues, like my I was raised primarily by my grandmother, my father and my mother divorced when I was a year old, my father left didn’t come.

And that left my mother with a lot of stuff, and so there was just a lot of different patterns that had formed in the generation before me and in previous generations. And then some of those patterns also led. And so in addition to that, I also experienced my own traumas growing up, like molestation and things like that impacted who I was, how I viewed the world, how I viewed myself and.

When I got into like old enough to go into graduate school, I decided, okay, I have some stuff I gotta heal. So I could either go to therapy or I could get a PhD and learn my way into healing. And that seemed like the best option to me.

[00:04:59] Hunter: I kill two birds with one stone. Exactly. Another violent metaphor.

Hard. Yeah, that’s there is another violent metaphor. Oh, I just realized. But yeah. Yeah. That’s amazing that you that’s such a cool it’s so cool that you were able to experience this language, this reaction that was in you before you had kids, right? Because yeah, if you didn’t have that moment with her.

You would’ve just been like, I got my stuff together. I’m good, blah, blah. You know what I mean? The thing that we all do exactly. Oh, cuz we’re only interacting with other adults. We’re not in that parent-child relationship. And this was, that was like a gift.

[00:05:49] Dr Lynyetta Willis: It really was. Yeah, it really was.

And then so long story short, I went, I. Learned a lot started working with parents even before I had kids. Which I thought was very funny and they were very brave souls and specialized in families and trauma healing and all of that stuff. And then I realized spoiler alert, you can’t learn your way into healing.

Doesn’t work that way. so I eventually went in. Did my own healing process went on my own healing journey. I’m still on it, yeah. It still happens. But what I realized when I got into private, cause I’ve been in this field over 20 years now, which is hard to believe, but the more and more I talk to parents, I realized that.

this is common, where parents have these light bulb moments where they’re like, wait a minute, I need to change some stuff, but I don’t know what to change or how to change it. Because that’s all they knew is what, so they would read these books and go to these courses and do all these things and realize I got the information.

Yeah. But when the trigger hit the road yeah. Forget it. It’s it all goes out the window. So now I love love helping parents who wanna raise their kids differently. Yeah. From how they were raised. And.

[00:07:04] Hunter: I’m so with you, the stack of books is very common that people come to me, they have this like stack of books.

I’ve read all these books. We are good at learning a lot. I think that a lot of us are good at learning a lot. But so to go back to your own story, like for me, one of the things I was raised with was was my dad spanked me, he had this like rage and he was scary and, he.

He’s thanked me. And that was normal, right? That was normal in the eighties. and and for him, in our talks later, like we’ve, we’ve talked about these things and he’s talked about how, when he was raised. His father beat him with a strap with a belt and it left welts on his body.

Yeah. And that was normal in the 1950s. And it’s and so I’m wondering was that also part of your story being raised with corporal punishment and that being totally normalized in, in your family?

[00:08:21] Dr Lynyetta Willis: Oh my gosh. Yes. It was that’s the plane, that’s the pain horseman.

100% belt shoes. Switches, which some people don’t know what those are, but those are literally like branches off trees all kinds of things where it’s just and sometimes you had to go and you had to pull your own, switch off the tree and bring it in so that you could be spanked with it.

That was part of the lesson, and so 100% and realizing that not only was it a part of the Parenting process, but. Parents were shamed if they didn’t do that. That’s true. And you are not keeping your child in line. You are being a pushover. You’re being, so like the good parent was the parent, they would take that phrase out of the Bible spare the rod, spoil the child, which by the way, doesn’t mean that,

[00:09:16] Hunter: what does it mean means what does it mean?

So

[00:09:20] Dr Lynyetta Willis: it’s yeah, so it’s that idea of the rod was consider. The tongue like speaking. So if you don’t, if you don’t use your voice, if you don’t use your words, if you don’t speak to a child right. In a teaching way, then your child can get to a point where they just don’t. They just go the wrong way or the wrong course.

It was not A call to beat your child into submission. That was not what that was

[00:09:51] Hunter: meant. It’s amazing how many things are taken from that piece of text that are used to justify so many different things in the world. And it’s sad. Wow. Okay. So you had a lot of trauma from that from and yeah.

And at the time, and it was totally normal. Yeah, you

[00:10:13] Dr Lynyetta Willis: don’t, that’s the thing. And that’s why I talk about dramas versus traumas. Cause you don’t realize that it’s a trauma because it’s normal having wealth. It wasn’t a real beating or a spanking if there weren’t Wes. Wow. What are you complaining about?

But if your skin wasn’t raised where that whatever you got hit with hit you, that wasn’t even a thing. What was that? That was nothing, so it was this idea that is what you have to do. You have to inflict that pain. Now we know from a neuroscientific perspective that children don’t learn that way.

Like when a child, when any human being is in pain, the part of their brain that actually learns is shut down. It’s not active. It’s not able to take in information. . So I still remember when I would get. Hit, there was like a story that went along with it. Yeah.

[00:11:05] Hunter: You were getting this because of over do this

[00:11:08] Dr Lynyetta Willis: again, so like with each whack there was a different word. Oh, I can’t tell you one of. Stories I’m none of ’em. Cause I was trying to get away. I was trying to cover myself. Yeah. I was trying to make it stop. I wasn’t learning. No. Yeah. And then what you were about to say I, this hurts me more than it hurts.

I’m doing this for your own good I’m like are, I’m pretty sure this hurts me way more. You’re not the one screaming and trying to escape,

[00:11:36] Hunter: yeah, just wondering. It’s pretty amazing. And I bring, and I wanted to ask specifically about that, cuz it’s interesting cuz as I learn about, I get, sometimes I gotta role in these circles of all these Parenting people and everybody’s very enlightened and into mindfulness and all this things and it’s I think the world is great.

And then I read some statistics that like 69% of American parents. Still use carpal punishment. Yeah. And that was probably the latest statistics or may have been 2015 or something like that. Yeah. Don’t quote me on this. Exactly. But it’s but it’s shocking to me. Like it’s shocking to me, but it’s not question like that ideology of this is the way we have to do it, or we’re gonna have spoiled children is still not questioned.

It’s still really very strong

[00:12:26] Dr Lynyetta Willis: in the culture. Yeah. And actually America, I don’t remember which I was reading an article that like, we’re actually one of the few countries that doesn’t outlaw spanking children. There’s there’s only a few of them, a lot of countries, you can’t spank children.

Yeah. Yeah. But America it’s oh no, it’s fine. And and it really baffles me because I realize that, okay, so if you hit a child, when they’re, five or eight, let’s say. It’s discipline, but if you hit them at 18, it’s a felony. Like you can go to jail. And it’s that doesn’t make sense to me.

Yeah. I don’t understand why. When the, when a human has the least amount of their, the least ability to protect themselves, to get away to defend themselves. That’s when they’re protected the least by the law , but when they actually have the ability, they’re 18, they can get away, they can hop in a car , they can, they can do all these different things.

Oh, that’s when the law kicks in. And now that now it’s no longer discipline. Now you are creating a CR you’re committing a crime when you do this. And it’s such a weird way, but I also wanna say, I’m not saying this to shame, parents who still do this. Because a lot I don’t, I have yet to meet a.

Who has said I was not spanked as a child, but I just thought with my kids, it would be a good thing to try. I have never that parent, they might, I’m sure they’re out there. But I have never met that parent. And it goes back to that sense of when all you have is a hammer. Everything is an nail.

And when all you’ve been taught is this is the way to. , this is how you protect your children. This is how you keep your children safe. This is how you make sure that your children grow up to adults and don’t die or do something stupid or right. I can understand why a parent who loves their child very much would resort to that.

Yeah. And like the old folks used to say, when you know, better, you do better. And now we know that. Mountains of research that supports the idea that spanking is not the way to raise a child that, or the only way to raise a child, not even only the child way to raise a child that’s happy and healthy and connected.

And like that’s not the way. And there are other ways to do it that are. More helpful, more productive. But then what parents will say is if I talk to them or I connect with them, then they don’t do what I say. And my thing is, yeah, it might not happen immediately. If you spank a child and you tell them to do something or you threaten to spank them, they’ll probably do the thing.

But if you threaten to beat me, I will do the thing. I’m not good. I’ll like, okay, I’ll go get whatever I’ll clean my room, whatever you want me to do, but will I be connected to you? Will I trust you more? Will I sit down in my room and say, man, I am so glad they beat me just now.

Whew. That probably just saved me from years of heartache. No, I won’t. That is the last thing I’m gonna do. If anything, what I’m gonna probably do is what I did as a child, which was sit down and figure out how can I avoid getting caught next time?

[00:15:47] Hunter: Yeah. You learn, Yeah. Yeah. Yes. You learn lying.

You learn sneaking, you don’t trust your parents. It destroys the relationship. It’s fascinating. It’s interesting. Cuz I look back like, and they have all, like you said, those mountains of research and I look back at my own life and I’m like, oh yeah, I fit into those patterns. Like when I was in high school, I was like doing drugs.

I was hanging out. Like dangerous people doing dangerous things. I jumped off a bridge when I was 14 cause I was like very, in a very rebellious, place. Yeah. And a lot of that when I look back later and say, oh, look at that research. Like in a lot of ways, I was very, like good grades, all this stuff, but like there, there was, there were those patterns thankfully I didn’t have.

Too many of childhood, ACEs like stacked against me, but right. But still I could see those patterns like played out in the research. Oh, isn’t that interesting?

[00:16:49] Dr Lynyetta Willis: 100%. And I always said, there were so many times growing up where I was in trouble and looking back, I absolutely needed an adult to help me.

But I was terrifi. So what my first thought was always, how can I keep this hidden? Yes. From my family. Yes. And I said, when my kids get into those moments, God forbid, but they probably will where they’re like oh, I don’t want their first thought to be, how can I hide this from my mother? Yes. I want their first thought to be, I gotta call my mom.

Yeah. I gotta call my. And I want them to know that this isn’t about getting in trouble. This isn’t about me hurting you. It’s not about me shaming you, it’s not about me blaming you. It’s not about any of that. It’s about us coming together so that you can feel supported and loved and held and get through this and whatever you did, there might be consequences for sure.

And I will love you through those. Yeah, like we will get through it together. Yeah. And the only, and I don’t know how to do that when I’m inflicting pain. I don’t know how to create that type of connection with my child. No,

[00:17:51] Hunter: no, it’s definitely the antithesis of that. And that’s the thing is like when kids are adolescence like my whole goal of everything was like, I want my kids when they’re in adolescents to be able to talk to me.

Come to me to have a stronger relationship then, because that’s protective of kids when they’re in adolescent, cuz you have an adolescent kid, there are bigger problems. Like there are more important, more lasting, intense problems that arise than when they’re two and three and six. It’s just, and so if I, if I could not.

Kill the relationship with the four horsemen, the pain and the blame and all that. When they’re that little then I have a chance of keeping that relationship and happily is born out to be true so far strong when they’re in their teen years. So it’s, for me, I was like, oh, it’s like a clear connection between this relationship you build when they’re a little.

To the relationship you’re gonna have with that person, their, that child through adolescence when they really need your influence and then that person throughout the rest of your life. Yes,

[00:19:01] Dr Lynyetta Willis: yes. Yes. All the parents I work with, I have a program called trigger to transform. All of them will say I wanna create the type of relationship with my kids or when they go off to college, they actually want to come home for the holiday.

Yeah, exactly. When I call and they look at their phone, they don’t ignore it. Send me to voicemail. They’re like, oh, it’s my mom or, oh, it’s my dad. Yeah. And that’s how you form that you don’t form that through the four horseman. You form that by creating connection and openness and granted.

I, I guarantee you, there are things now that sometimes my kids say where I’m just like, oh, it’d been great. If I didn’t have to hear that. , that’s not the favorite. And I’m and they’re not huge things, but just little things, like thoughts or a question I’m like, are we really there? I’m sure as they get older, they’re gonna be things they’re gonna come to me and be like, so I did a thing and I’m gonna be like, alright, tell me but I would much rather know.

Yeah. I would much rather know, even if it like,

[00:20:03] Hunter: like you did what. Certainly much safer to know. Okay. So let’s then circle back to this idea of the triggers and the drama, because this is how it happens, right? You were there with your sister, but this is how it happens with your own child’s two years old.

They’re annoying, kids. And I think this is a part of the problem too, is like our expectation somehow that like kids won’t be annoying, messy, frustrating, aggressive, like irritating yes, like kids are gonna be all that stuff for years and years. Like we need to they’re gonna mess up a lot.

Like we just need. Fact that they’re gonna be really frustrating a lot of the time as they’re really immature undeveloped human beings. So our kids annoy us, they frustrate us. We have an expectation sometimes of It’s weird. Like our expectation for little babies are so minor. And then as soon as they can walk, we’re like, oh, you can do everything on your own and you should do it exactly when I say so.

And so our expectations jump up and then we’re so frustrated and something comes out of our mouth, just that did for you. And for me, like that’s still it’s so interesting cuz I can still my go to when I’m frustrated, when my full brain is not online, my, my still the thought that comes to mind is a threat.

And sometimes I say the threat, sometimes I say, oh my God, I wanna threaten you right now. And I just named that. I that’s what I want to do. Yeah. Sometimes I walk away, there are different things that happen for me now, but when in the beginning it came out. As whatever it was yelling or was threatening.

And these are reactions, right? These are nervous system reactions. These are triggered reactions. So can you talk to us about kinda what that is and what’s happening in the body for parents in this moment? Yeah,

[00:22:01] Dr Lynyetta Willis: absolutely. So in it triggered to transformed, I use a lot of. Metaphors and visuals, cause I’m a very visual person.

So I talk about how we have an empowered guide and we have triggered travelers and if you think about it in terms of a caravan in the desert, ideally the empowered guide leads our caravan through the desert, but usually what happens is we have these triggered travelers within. That will see something or hear something or think something that reminds them of something from our past.

So they might see a shadow on a wall and then they freak out and they scream and say, oh my God, we’re unsafe. We’re gonna be trampled or killed or eaten or destroyed or whatever run. And then the rest of the caravan turns and follows the trigger traveler off the hill. Now what that looks like as a parent.

Is our child says or does something that reminds us of something from the past. So maybe on an example that happened recently. I had a father that I was working with and growing up, he was very neglected, and so as a parent, when his child would want Mama I want Mama, I don’t want you this.

His triggered traveler would say, oh no, that thing is happening again, where we’re being rejected and we’re being, turned away from, and we’re gonna be left in the house alone. And nobody loves us and we gotta destroy the thing that is hurting us right now. So it doesn’t happen again. And so what that looked like is he would get really Sharky and really mean his kid’s three, he didn’t get it, but in dad’s mind, he was trigger.

He was triggered that when you, when we become triggered our kids, aren’t our kids become the other. They become the thing that is threatening us, causing us pain, scaring us, leading us to feel unsafe, all the things. And from a nervous system perspective, it puts us either in the fight flight mode or in the freeze.

And when we get into those modes, you don’t connect those parts of our brain didn’t form for connection, right? Like millions of years ago, we weren’t trying to cuddle with the lion that was trying to eat up. There was no reason for that. So when you’re in that fight flight free space, what you’re trying to do is protect yourself.

The trigger traveler is trying to protect the caravan . And so what ends up happening is you go into protection mode and it’s your kid becomes the lion. And then once that frontal lobe comes back on or the empowered guide gets control of the caravan, again, you look back and you’re like, what did I just do?

[00:24:43] Hunter: Yeah. Yeah. It’s all happening in microseconds. Like this whole process that you’re describing is like faster than you can even have a conscious thought

[00:24:52] Dr Lynyetta Willis: it is. And it’s because our brain is so amazing. Like I’m a bit of a neuro nerd. I love the brain, love everything about the brain. And I’m just like, this is such a fascinating creation how our brain works because it realizes.

That lion has maybe we have milliseconds to get up that tree before the lion eats us into ours. So you don’t have time to sit and think, okay. So I can choose to yell or I can choose to be calm and say that really cool thing that I have concert on my exactly

[00:25:21] Hunter: every day. Exactly. Like you don’t have time to think that is like, when you know, parents don’t understand right.

That it’s not a choice. You’re. You’re not like I would like to freak out at my kid. No one chooses that , it’s not a, so we are so hard and blameful of ourselves, but it’s not a conscious choice. No one is consciously choosing that. And if someone’s telling you that to your listener, that’s they’re wrong.

You’re

[00:25:50] Dr Lynyetta Willis: not exactly. Yeah, exactly. That’s the thing too. Our trigger trap, they don’t know the difference between the past and the, in the present. So if something happens that. Body sensations, thoughts and feelings that were triggered in the past. So if you had a horrible childhood experience and then you have it in the present moment, your brain is saying that thing is happening again.

It doesn’t say that happened when I was eight. Now I’m 38 and now I’m much older and I have way more resources. So I can pretend that doesn’t, that’s not a thing , it’s not how it works. So that’s why I say like the best thing that we can do for our. I’m all for the sticky notes. Oh my child’s not having a, my hard, child’s not giving me a hard time.

My child’s having hard. That’s all great. If you can access that in the moment, which eventually we can, but the first thing we have to do, and this is what happens in trigger to transformed is we have to get, we have to retrain our brain retrain our nervous system. Yeah. Create new. Figure out what it is.

That’s being brought up in us in those moments, right? Once you start to excavate what’s in the backpack, that’s when you can start taking off the backpack, that’s when you can start pulling things out of the backpack and leaving them on the side of the road. But until then, it’s gonna be really hard to get those triggered travelers to stop overreacting because in their mind they’re protect.

That’s what our brain is designed to do protect or connect. And when your fight flight freeze is on that’s when you go into protect mode, when it’s off, that’s when you can connect. But it is really hard to connect from that protective place.

[00:27:33] Hunter: Amen. To everything you said. Absolutely. Absolutely. Yes.

Yes. We have to retrain the brain and and that’s the way. I work with, this are the tools of mindfulness, right? The tools of practicing, calming, the nervous system practicing to also to dig in and understand what those triggers are. What, how, what, how do you get parents started on this process of retraining the brain?

[00:28:03] Dr Lynyetta Willis: Yeah, so I have a process that I created called the paths framework and it contains. P a T S it’s an acronym. And it basically stands for the five areas that I think we really have to address in order to truly start to transform and retrain how we show up in our children’s lives, how we show up in our own lives so that we can be, we can show up as a parent.

We truly wanna be, and P stands for perspective. And what that relates to is the stories in our. Those stories. Oh my gosh will get us in trouble every single time, because I guarantee you, when that brain is triggered, you’re gonna tell your self stories that protect you, not stories that lead to connection.

So the whole, my child’s not giving me a hard time. My child’s having a hard time. That is great. In connection mode, protection mode. My child’s manipulative. My child’s being a brat. My child’s being right. It’s to separate you again, you don’t wanna hug the lion. So when you’re in that moment, Realizing in beforehand, what are the stories that you’re telling yourself when your child does those things get really clear on those for yourself early?

That way, when they pop up, you can recognize them and you can catch them faster. Yeah. Yeah, the a stands. Oh, go ahead.

[00:29:25] Hunter: No, I was just gonna say the, yeah. The, those stories are and it is something, it’s something we have to. After the fact outside of the fact, like it is like not, and so what.

Lynnette is talking about is not super comfortable. We have to revisit that moment and say, what was I thinking? We have to look at this like moment in ourselves that we may have felt we later may feel ashamed of. We may feel it was like an ugly moment, right? Where we may have had anger and aggression, all of these feelings, which are, especially anger and aggression.

Totally. Revent for women to have moms. Gosh. Like that mom should be angry and aggressive. So it, the whole process of even dear listener, you listening to this right now. And even as, as we talk about this, considering the idea that you would. Look back on these parts of yourself that aren’t so pretty is positive step towards accepting that this is part of being a human.

And this is part of, what, just accepting these parts of ourselves are part of what we have to do in order to get some perspective in order to then be able to be that parent we wanna be for our kid.

[00:30:45] Dr Lynyetta Willis: . 100%. And I and, in the a, that stands for awareness and it goes back to something you said earlier, which I loved when you said, sometimes I tell my kids, I really wanna threaten you right now.

Being aware and being authentic. I am oh my gosh. If I could just get on a soapbox for one second. Oh,

[00:31:05] Hunter: this idea,

[00:31:09] Dr Lynyetta Willis: this idea that infuses the Parenting world right now that we have to be all kind and pretty and nice with our kids all the time. It’s it’s not possible. I’m not gonna go out and call your kid names.

Not that, but owning what you’re feeling. I am really angry right now. I am really frustrated. I need to take a break right now, but when we try to pretend like we’re like, oh, everything’s fine. And number one, our kids know we’re lying because our kids have also developed this beautiful ability called neuroception where it’s our ability to tell be able to really read someone’s facial expressions, read their body language.

They know when you are not fine. And what that does is it confuses. Because you’re saying, everything’s fine, it’s fine. But they’re looking at you and they’re like, but you don’t look fine. So now they’re like, I don’t know what fine versus not fine is right. So wait being authentic. It teaches them to be authentic too.

And to be able

to

[00:32:11] Hunter: trust you, like they can’t trust you. If you say I’m calm, I’m fine. And you’re not. They learn to not trust you or believe you because

[00:32:21] Dr Lynyetta Willis: you’re lying. Yes. Yes, exactly. And then you learn not to trust you and believe you because you’re lying. So it’s I can’t do this. I’m just gonna screw up my kid.

No. So be authentic. And one of the ways that we can do this is through self awareness. This is a really big piece of the puzzle. Being able to be aware of not just your thoughts, but your body sensations and your feelings. And if you grew up, like I did, I’ve had a love, hate relationship with my body sensations in my feelings because feelings were, it was always like stop crying before I give you something to cry about.

So I always felt oh, I guess I must not. This must not be cry. The fact that thing happened, I must not. So I got to a point where I didn’t trust my feelings. I didn’t trust my body sensations. I didn’t understand what they were for. And when I did feel sad or mad or any well mad was okay.

But if I felt sad or wounded in some way in my mind, These are liabilities. I need to get rid of these horrible feelings because they’re just gonna send me these aren’t helpful. So

[00:33:32] Hunter: being, you had to defend yourself. Yeah. Yeah. You had to be defensive. You, they, you had to have some armor around you to protect yourself in that environment.

That’s exactly what I saw. See my dad still actually, this, he has all this armor right from when he was a kid to defend himself. It’s interesting. Yeah. And so being

[00:33:51] Dr Lynyetta Willis: able to, to one of the biggest things I had to do was become aware of where, what are my body sensations, stop living from the neck up, and then being able to connect with them in a way that felt safe.

Because it’s really easy to be like, sit down and do a body scan. Not everybody feels safe in their body. So figuring out ways to do that in a way that feels safe to you. Maybe it’s not sitting down and doing a body scan, maybe it’s dancing or going for a quick jog and just noticing what that feels like in your body, doing things that feel good to you.

And then just noticing how that feels in that. It could be something that’s helpful. So being aware of what are the, what are my body sensations realizing that emotions are your friends. They actually, they’re just signposts. That’s all they are. They’re just signposts that give you insight into what you need, where you are and where you’d prefer to be.

If you think about standing on a corner with your little backpack, look it up at a signpost, right? That’s what the emotion is. It’s just the signpost. And it’s if it’s like anger that way. Okay. So what’s that way. Oh, the whole nighttime battle thing. Okay. That makes me angry. And then you can get some insight into.

When do I start to feel that in my body when do I start to notice that emotion? And that’s where you can start moving into tea, which are the tools. And I always say we’re always using tools. It’s never a question of not using a tool. The question is the tool I’m using helpful or unhelpful.

So taking five deep breaths is a tool. Yelling is a tool. They’re both tools. I like that one will just probably lead you in a direction that will probably make you more angry. And the other will probably lead you in the direction that at the very least won’t move the needle at all. Like you won’t get more angry, might not get less, but you won’t get more.

So once you become aware and you start to read the sign posts, read your body sensations, read your Your emotions then you can start using them to discern oh, when am I, what leads me to move toward in the direction that I wanna go in the more helpful direction and what leads me in the least helpful direction.

And it triggered to transform. There’s a whole module that we do where you literally create your own stress management system. I worked for years by teaching people, stress management techniques, and then I realized, wait a minute, your nervous system better than me. Why don’t we just create one for you even better?

Like it’s gonna work for you because this is so important. It’s so he, I can sit up here and I can tell you all the things to do. but it’s your nervous system. And what it’s really about is getting in touch with your nervous system and learning how your nervous system operates and your nervous system needs So once you get that, then you can start to choose what are tools that I can access before that moment happens, because now I know what it feels like in my body and what I’m noticing before it happens, and even during what, like when I’m in that moment and I start to recognize, oh wait, oh crap, I’m doing that thing again.

What do I need in that moment? What’s one thing I can do or say or whatever to help pull me out. Like one of my clients. She’ll start singing Disney movie songs. it’s awesome.

[00:37:13] Hunter: Let it go. Let it go.

[00:37:17] Dr Lynyetta Willis: We’ll talk to pepper. No. she’ll just start singing a song and it’s actually uplifting because, and everybody’s she said when she first did her kids were like, what?

yeah. Yeah. What is happening? Complete

confusion.

[00:37:34] Dr Lynyetta Willis: But now when she sings the BR song, her kids realize oh mom’s flying off the cliff again, and she’ll just belt it out. She also, I think, happens to be a great singer. So for me, my kids would probably run, but her kids might even

[00:37:50] Hunter: join it.

That’s hilarious. I think it’d be amazing just like her kids take on this tradition and start like a new habit in their family and they like start singing the songs and they, yeah. I know, I like that vision musical.

[00:38:06] Dr Lynyetta Willis: Yeah. it’s like a Mary Poppins movie. Everybody just starts singing randomly, so what’s something that you can do in the moment. That’ll create that pattern interrupt. Just one thing. So getting clear on your stories, befriending your emotions and your body sensations, choosing like tiny tools that you can access before enduring those triggering moments. And then H stands for healing.

And this is where, we start to really excavate what’s in the backpack. And I always say like, when you’re in those moments, asking yourself what needs to be healed or what needs to be honored. So in that moment with my sister, I might have needed to heal some past stuff, that I grew up with, I might need to honor the fact that I was hungry or that I was tired.

Like one of the biggest mantras and triggered to transformed is my needs matter. Yeah. Because I remember when I said that to a T2 team member, I said, what does that bring up in you? When I say that my needs matter, she was like, I’m pretty sure I had to leave those in the hospital before they let me leave with.

I’m pretty sure I signed those away. I think I remember piece of paper. I signed away my needs and that’s how a lot of us live. My needs don’t matter, which also contributes to this sense of I’m okay. Really? I’m fine. I’m not allowed to be angry or anger’s bad, it’s it’s just a signpost.

So realiz. What within me, I always say, triggers need to be healed. Stressors need to be honored. So those triggers those things that are coming up from your past, like when you’re present, when your past impacts your Parenting, that’s a trigger. That’s something that’s coming up. That is something’s happening.

That’s reminding you of something from the past. When your present impacts your Parenting, that’s a stressor, right? Like maybe you need to eat more. Maybe you need to sleep longer maybe. And and more than likely, they’re all intertwined with each other. But the clearer that you can get, like I know for me after Six 7:00 PM.

I’m no good as a mom. I’m done. Oh, me too. That’s when my I’m just drowning at that point, please don’t say, or do anything. That’s going

[00:40:26] Hunter: oh my God stressed. My teenager. She comes in, we go, we’re like bill and I would go to bed. Like sometimes we’re like in bed, like nine, 15, we’re just reading, chilling.

She comes in at nine, 15, fairly often, it starts to talk to us about like somehow she’s this is the time of day she has realized I have unanswered questions. There are logistical things, all this stuff. She comes into the bedroom. She wants to talk logistics with us at nine 15. And we’re just like, Oh child.

No, we cannot do this. Do what mean not at this? Sorry. No. And she gets so frustrated with us sometimes, but we just had to hold that boundary. I get it again. I’m sorry. You cannot do this at this time of night. No.

[00:41:15] Dr Lynyetta Willis: I’m gonna need you to write that down. Yeah. Oh, I forgot.

You gotta take me to target right now. Cuz I have this project and you’re just gonna have to live with that consequence cuz it didn’t happen. Yeah. What,

[00:41:29] Hunter: I love that though. What you said, triggers need to be healed. Stressors need to be honored. And under in that whole it’s like about your, that your needs matter.

This is where this all comes through and then we’re modeling, we’re teaching our kids that. When they’re parents, their needs will matter too. They won’t feel the need to unhealthily self-sacrifice themselves. ,

[00:41:53] Dr Lynyetta Willis: you’re not helping self care is family care. You’re not helping. You’re not caring.

You’re not, we think I’ve thought this I, If I give this up and I stay up late and I get up early and do, then I’m helping my family. No, I’m not because then I’m a brat. Yeah. Like we talk about our kids being annoying. , I’m super annoying when I don’t get sleep. Are you kidding me? You wanna talk about stressing out my kids and triggering them?

Like they’re like. Oh, it’s her again. Uhhuh. So realizing like that’s not helpful. It’s not. And then the S stands for self-empowerment and this is where it all comes together. When we’re able to truly walk the other paths, really get clear on our stories. Start befriending our bodies and our feelings start to choose and implement tools that feel good to us and start healing and honoring what’s going on in our lives.

That’s when we can start to truly feel empowered. That’s when all of the habit shifts and the rewiring can, we can bring those together in a helpful. and start to feel empowered in our relationship with our kids. Cuz we can say, I always say you always have power in a situation, even if you’re. Stuck in the middle of forest, in a sleeping bag with a broken zipper and their ants crawling in your sleeping bag and you can’t get out what you still have power.

It sounds horrible, but you can like hop to the rainbow station or something. So realizing you have power, there is power. You have power within. You have power to set boundaries, you have power to do all of these things, but it’s hard to access that power. When our nervous system is hijacked. When our trigger travelers are leading us off the cliff.

When, when we can’t get clear on where we are in the moment and what we need to move forward.

[00:43:48] Hunter: This is beautiful. I love the way you’ve laid out your system and the whole thing. And it completely coincides with what I teach in Mindful Parenting the awareness, the tools, the healing, the empowerment.

This is what we need. What needs to be healed, what needs to be honored. And then we can start to show. Skillfully rather than unskillfully right. Then we can then we can put aside those for horsemen and make it a relationship rather than a, a power struggle, which is like amazing.

I could, I have the feeling that I could geek out with you with this on a long, for a long time, but , I’m gonna honor your time. You’re really good. This is be just thinking about, for those of us who, those listeners who are struggling with feeling triggered, they’re struggling with those things.

Any final, last words for that listener. Yeah. You

[00:44:51] Dr Lynyetta Willis: know, I would just say one of the things I love to say to people is they’re gonna be times where you’re gonna start to wonder, and you probably already do. If this conversation has resonated with you where you start. Either I’m broken or my kid’s broken or a relationship’s broken like one something’s broken, not your, which maybe all three, and what I wanna say is you’re not broken.

Your kid’s not broken. Your relationship isn’t even broken, but you likely have habits that need to be. Yes. And that’s what we’re talking about here, shifting those habits. And when I find, when we think about these as unhelpful habits, it becomes more digest. As opposed to, yeah. I have to fix and heal everything that everybody ever did all the way back to the caveman days and my lineage, like good luck with that.

Let me know how you figure that out. It’s it’s really, you’re talking about shifting habits. And like I said earlier, I use the word dramas very intentionally. Things that were passed down from generation and generation. They’re not technically our traumas all the time.

They’re not always things we experienced, but there’s still things that were passed down and played out in generation. If you think about slavery or the Holocaust, things like that, research is clear that those things still impact the descendants to this day. Even though like I’m a black woman, I wasn’t ENS.

And but there are things that are passed down from generation to generations that play out. So when I say dramas, I mean that literally like a drama on the stage, these dramas play out and those dramas lead to habits, but habits can be changed. Habits can be broken and you absolutely can do it if you’re willing to put in the time and the energy and the effort.

To get the work done, find accountability, find community, come over to trigger, to transformed. I’ll be I’m there for you, whatever you need to do to find that accountability in that community, you can absolutely shift this so that you are not passing down. You’re saying this stops with me. This stops with my generation.

It will not continue. And that’s what I did with my sister in the kitchen that day. And you can absolutely do that for yourself and your kids as.

[00:47:12] Hunter: Yes, definitely. I couldn’t agree more. Yes, we can be that change that we wanna see. I love that so much. Awesome. Linetta has children’s book, some other things where can people find you they wanna reach out?

Yes.

[00:47:33] Dr Lynyetta Willis: Yes. So if you wanna find out more about me, I invite you to go to Parenting trigger, score dot. Parenting trigger, score.com. There is a quiz that I created. That you can create that you can take, and it will reveal to you what your Parenting trigger score is. So how you tend to show up when you’re in those triggered moments and it will help you to begin your paths journey.

And the other thing, once you sign up for that, you’ll also get a series of emails that will actually help you to walk the paths that I described here today. So please go to Parenting trigger score, take that quiz and get.

[00:48:13] Hunter: Awesome. Thank you so much. I’ve so enjoyed talking to you. I’ve I’ve everything you said.

Yes. And I love it. So I really appreciate you, doing this work in your own life and then being able to, taking this and sharing it with the world in your unique voice and your perspective it’s has incredible. Effects and ripple effects. So thank you so much for doing that and for coming on the Mindful Mama podcast.

Oh, thank you so

[00:48:46] Dr Lynyetta Willis: much for having me in ditto to all the things. Thank you for doing this work too. And for allowing us to share our voices and for sharing your voice with the world as well,

[00:48:55] Hunter: catch new episodes of the Mindful Mama podcast and other free resources, including the Mindful mom guide at Mindful Mama mentor dot.

You can listen to every back catalog episode, including interviews with Dr. Dan Siegel, Yala, Vanzant, Sharon Salberg and get meditations. Join our private Facebook group and more. Go to Mindful Mama mentor.com. Now I’ll see you there.


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