mothers, kids, thriving, feel, work, people, child, life, parent, mentors, healthy, pandemic, unmet needs, adult, village, single family household, support, boundaries, centered, self compassion
Megan Swan, Beth Barry
Welcome back to Season Two of energetically you where we talk all things healthy habits, abundant mindset and optimal wellness. I'm your host Megan swan, a mindset and wellness coach. I love helping women optimize their wellness through plant based nutrition, movement, mindfulness and mindset practices that having them feel more aligned with who they truly are in confidence in their own skin. I'm the creator of the Sustainable Integrated Wellness approach. I am also living in Mexico and I have been for the last 12 years at 30. I sold everything and went on my own Eat, Pray Love journey, if you will. And now at 42 I'm still on my first stop loving life and feeling more empowered than ever before. This podcast is for incredible humans who are interested in feeling more aligned with who they truly are confident in their own skin and able to make more empowered decisions for themselves going forward in the future. So let's dive in. Welcome back to energetically you today I am so excited and honored to interview Beth Berry. She is a life coach, small group and retreat facilitator, mother of four daughters and author of the recently published number one bestseller mother whelmed. Her handle on Instagram is at revolution from home. I absolutely adore her and her content and revolutionary at heart She helps mothers get more of what they want and need to feel fulfilled and empowered despite the odds. She believes that self aware self compassionate, well supported mothers who know themselves to be worthy of pleasure, and joy filled lives are powerful beyond measure and essential to healing the world. Follow her journey at revolution from home.com welcome Beth Barry, I'm so excited to get to know you better and hear the background of how you got to where you are today because I find your work so inspiring. So tell us first How is your morning been so far?
Thank you, Megan. I'm excited to be here with you. My morning has been good. Getting over COVID We had a lot of COVID in the family. So a little bit raspy voice but I feel good. I'm happy. It's behind me.
Oh, good. And tell us how long have you been coaching? And what was your besides the fact that you are a mother of four tiny humans, which is a feat in itself? How did it become a priority for you to really help other mothers find a peaceful place with this big big job that we have?
Yeah, well, first of all my tiny humans are not so tiny anymore. They're 14 to 27. So they're, they're big humans now. And where did I start? I started off writing. And the more I started blogging and exploring sort of my inner world the more I realized, you know, had people reaching out saying, hey, you know, can we talk more about this and it became kind of an organic transition. And then I thought about going back to school to become a therapist and was trying to figure out whether I wanted to go that route or the coaching route. And truth be told that the coaching path gave me more creative license to be able to come up with felt what felt like offerings that were a bit more aligned with who I am and what I feel like my gifts are so it's um, yeah, it's been a really beautiful path and very much organic started off feeling very timid about No, my first I had no idea that I would be doing group work and group work is now like, you know, the, the bulk of what I do, and started off with like, using doing teleconference calls, because I was too afraid of video. But now, I've come a long way. It's really kind of cool to look back and then see how much you can grow and you just kind of keep trying, you're stepping up to the next growth edge and deciding to take that next step. So
wow, I mean, doesn't shock me, but it sort of surprises me, but I hear that you've come a long way. You've probably been doing this for a while but that you that you were, you know, afraid to, to show up at the beginning because I find your content, you know, potentially very controversial to some people. I really, really resonates with me, but I'm sure there's other people that so my question is going to be what for you are some of the major themes that women and mothers are, are having to grapple with? Where it's very mixed messages? And how do you help them give themselves permission to take that time and do the inner work?
Yeah, so major themes, I would say right now. And I actually think, my when, when we look back at this pandemic, period, I hope that we will remember that it was actually like this before. It's been amplified. It's just been the now there's, we pulled all of this, this stuff out of the shadows, and it's less deniable, you know, but it was like this before it was isolating. It was a disproportionate load on Mothers, it was a lot of invisible labor, inequities and relationships that was already happening. And we're just seeing it a little more clearly now. And, yeah, so, themes isolations, huge, it was before the pandemic. A general sense that the reason and this is one of the core stories that I'm trying to this internalized narratives, so many mothers have that it must be my personal inadequacy, that must be the reason that this feels so hard, or that I'm not enjoying motherhood more. And I just think that that is the farthest thing from the truth, I actually think it's the conditions under which we're mothering that no one would thrive Well, under these circumstances under these conditions. And so I would say a lot of it is, you know, what I what I seek to do with clients is help build self awareness and really get clear on what our needs are for thriving. A lot of mothers shy away from the fact that they even have needs, or they feel embarrassed that they might have them. But I see us as being no different than any other living being, I mean, my house plants have needs, and I don't judge them for having preferences about whether they have more or less sun or water, whatever. And if I put the plants that need a lot of sun and the, you know, over in the corner, without sun, they're not going to thrive in there, if we can start to really look at ourselves as living breathing beings, organisms, all unique, and say, what are the conditions that support my thriving? And then actually, then there's worthiness piece, right, then we got to look at whether we feel worthy of thriving. And there's a whole lot of reasons we a lot of us don't. Right. So a lot of it is self awareness work, and then also self compassion, building a sense of self compassion, otherwise, what ends up happening is that we learn more and more about ourselves, and then we have more ways to weaponize that knowledge against ourselves. If we're not rooted in self compassion, that low on Now I understand. And now I have even more things to beat myself up about. Right. Yeah. And another thing that I really seek to do in my work is connect women on a growth and mothers who are on a growth and healing path. Because I find that this work, it's exponentially less isolating and frustrating and painful when we're doing it together. And we're realizing that the purpose has a greater meaning. It's not just because I want to feel better. It's not just because I want my kids to have a healthier life or better chance at thriving than than I've had, but that there's cultural context that we actually f we are united and we are coming together through the growth journey, and actually, that's, that's when you can't do it. Oh, this isn't about me. This is systemic. All of you are feeling the same thing. And we don't even know that half the time when we're in our single family households, just in the daily slog trying to try and survive it.
Yeah. Do you bring other cultural examples into your work? Because I mean, it's not it's definitely a Western problem to some degree, and I'm Canadian, but I live in the south of Mexico and I have been here for 12 years and You know, they're, they're different issues. And I think there's a lot of overlap. But at the same time, there's still a little bit more feeling of it takes a village here, then I see my my friends in Canada, feeling experiencing.
Yeah, we do talk about that cultural context and how it is different in different places, I lived in the South of Mexico for four years, myself and in Chiapas, and had a very eye opening experience of recognizing just how much even if we're only if we change one or two factors, one being grandmother's are back in the home, you know, or, if not in the home close by, and they're an integral part of the family system. That one, that alone would change so much, right? If we had that to work with and that's not the case for most people. And then the other one is roaming packs of kids and neighborhoods. You know, if you've cut wood that I certainly had when I was a kid, and that is just not the norm anymore. And you take those two things out. And even if nothing else, were to change, but we had those back, we would experience a tremendous amount of relief. And it is it is very much cultural. I was really struck too, when I lived in Mexico by how family centric it was. There really was the sense of in rather than productivity centric, that at the end of the day, it really was about the connections among families, that felt more predominant than it than it does in the States.
So I loved over the holidays, that you really highlighted the, you know, added overwhelm that comes along with certain traditions. And, you know, its cycles throughout the year is, is there something that you can you see that women can do? too? I don't know, do you feel like it's a communication problem for asking where they need more help, as much as it's the system itself.
Um, I do think communication is big, again, that a lot of that goes back to being rooted in worthiness, if we didn't see that our own mothers had more support, the kind of support we're looking for. Or if we don't see, so many of our own mother's mother's from a place of martyrdom, or a lot of unmet needs and coping strategies in order to deal with their unmet needs. And so often, we don't have healthy examples of what it is to have our needs really well met, we also look around, and most people around us don't have their needs met either. And so to center our own needs and to, to speak up for them can bring up a lot of shame, comparative suffering, you know, who am I to ask for these things that I need when this person over here is struggling so much more than I am? So yes, and then communication within partnerships is also a huge one I hear a lot, particularly among mothers who have, you know, are staying home with their, with their kids this narrative of, well, I chose this, I chose to be home with my kids, therefore, who am I to complain that I'm not thriving under these conditions. And into that, I would say that we don't know what we're getting into when we choose any of these paths as mothers, you know, and it's okay to ask to say I did choose this. And now I want to choose something different. This isn't quite the right configuration. Many also when we get into partnerships, we don't realize the unconscious agreements we're making with our partners about who will be responsible for what and it requires some pretty advanced communication tools and healthy relationship dynamics in order to navigate the complexities of of modern partnerships because of how many stressors we have on our shoulders, and you take the village away. And each person in you know if you are married to a with a partner, raising kids and your single family household, you're essentially between the two of you or if you're an you know, a single parent, having to be the entire village yourselves. All of those calls that used to be filled by mentors and Um, aloe parents community support are now on the shoulders of one or two people and it's just simply too much to for any of us to feel like we're doing it well. So with that, so often the mothers feel like their needs are deeply unmet. And so did the fathers or the partners for different reasons. So the driving is just really challenging under under the, these these conditions. So I think it does, in order for us to center our thriving and really try to thrive that I don't think that that there was a lot of focus on that in generations before us, there was a much more of a, you survive it and you don't complain, and you put your head down, and you work harder. And we're actually saying, we're changing the standards, we're saying no, actually thriving is something I want, I want that for my children. And if I want that for my children, then I have to model it for them myself. And that's where a lot of us are getting stuck, we're going, Okay, I'm going to try to create this really beautiful childhood experience for my for my kids. And often, that's at the expense of the parent, and their own wellness, their own thriving. So that's one thing that I seek to change in my work as well is that we've got to be centering both our needs and our kids needs, if we're going to change this pattern over generations, because otherwise, they watch us not driving, trying to ensure they're thriving, but then by the time their parents, they are parents themselves, then they can, you know, count on the fact that they won't be thriving either. And we just keep this cycle going,
keep repeating. That really resonates. I'm curious, have you? Where do you see the moment in time where because, you know, my mom was the first to admit that she unapologetically had much better boundaries, you know, there was a lot less expectation to have, you know, it always frustrated me as a kid that there were like, adult times and adult themes and, and I really fresh, that frustrated me but at the same time, you know, there wasn't this obligation on parent's part for such quote unquote, conscious parenting or to just be there as much physically, mentally, arguably, spiritually as it is now. And do you see that there was like this clear shift in expectations? Or is it just kind of been this slow? working away of boundaries?
Yeah, I mean, it's interesting, because I think we've done a lot, we've made a lot of progress, as we better understand child development, for example, and the and what makes for healthy child development. Fantastic, great. If we then what I think that the result of that is we become totally child centric. And it's the the child's needs, the child's desires, as the the child's lead with everything we do. And I'm all for forming healthy attachments with our kids, for sure. But so much of the time, again, I really feel like that only really works well, if they're attached to more than one person. Otherwise, all of that burden is falling on one person. So you know, if if our kids were forming healthy attachments with multiple adults in their lives, then that then there would be a little bit more of a like if we know what our kids need, because we're paying a lot of attention, and we're really in a healthy attachment with them, and they're telling us what they need. And we have more than one kid, you know, start looking at having multiple kids, those in order to meet those needs well of the child, you're talking about a team of people that are needed in order not to burn out the parent. And so I think this is a generalization, but I think our parents generation part of what that what seemed like yes, I do think there were in some cases, better boundaries. Some of that was perhaps rooted in the sense of like not that those boundaries weren't necessarily intentionally put there. Because we were trying to create healthy dynamics with STEM it was more like No dude, like no awareness, and a lack of awareness. I'm a kid you're a k one adult. There's the boundary But now we're coming in and we're trying to create more intentional boundaries and say, Okay, we've become child centric. Oh, back to actually what does it look like to have a healthy family system. And in a healthy family system know one person's needs get centered above any everybody else's. That's not to say that, that there aren't stretches of time where that happens when you have a baby, the baby's needs get centered, clearly, you know, but we all most of us have learned that if in that the caretakers needs aren't also centered, burnout is inevitable.
Yeah. I don't know if you I'm a huge fan of ritual. And he recently had Dr. Lisa Miller on talking about her new book, The Awakened mind, and it's brilliant interview. But one of my things that really struck me was she pointed out how, couple generations ago, there was so much more onerous on mentors, teachers, any authority figure really, to take on, she uses the word spiritual role, but you know, sort of like a more, a deeper caring type role for every child is if it's, to some extent, like their own, and the that sort of been broken over the generations where it's, you know, I think, as, as teachers, they're to some degree, you know, afraid to have that kind of relationship. Or there's just other things that are overwhelming them to different degrees. I'm curious what your thoughts are on the teacher, parent, not teacher, parent, teacher student relationship, how it's shifted over the years.
Yeah, I do think this is such a huge one, that that there's a lot of fear in the mix, right? There's a whole lot of like, because we've created a culture of fear, where not only do we have to fear letting our kids go play in the neighborhood, because we're going to have you know, CPS called on us, but also teachers and other people who would serve as mentors are having to be extra careful not to be seen as being inappropriate or whatever, I just think this again, we've built awareness. And we're calling out a lot of the problems that have existed when there weren't healthy boundaries between mentors and, and children. But we've kind of bred this sort of distrust, we and we also distrust each other as adults. So how incredibly picky for lack of better words, we become about who influences our kids, and making that to an extreme. And now, if this person, if this adult who were would potentially be a mentor for our child doesn't pass a whole lot of tests, all the tests, then there are no, they can't be a mentor, they can't be an influence for our kids. I think our perfectionism has come in. And it's really making things that much harder. And it's not that we're always as the parent doing it a whole lot better. You know, like, because we're totally fry. So, unrealistic standards, I think, for other people who would be of influence to our kids. And it's putting that much more pressure on ourselves. We're afraid, we're afraid because now we know more about trauma. Now we know more about the damage that can be done is with this knowledge, we're then sort of from a place of fear saying, there's all these people haven't if they haven't done their own work in this area, in this area in this area in this area, then they can't be of influence because they might traumatize my children. Okay,
well, let's move away from I mean, we agree that we need some of the village back for sure. What can mothers or caregivers do
to find that sort of inner trust?
Because I think as a mom, like I have that same fear every, every phrase that comes out of my mouth, is this going to somehow be traumatic? You know, I try and be as conscious as possible, but once in a while, I'm not. And so then it adds this layer of guilt that that one conversation or that one interaction is somehow going to offset all of the good how do you how moms come to a sort of a grounded place where they have all this information on what how to do it and not to do it. And at the same time, you have to trust your instincts.
Yeah, and recognize that we can have all this information that is so important. And also we are human. And we have to honor our humanity and our limitations. I think so much of this, again, would be helped if we had more intergenerational connections, so that we could see and hear from people who've gone before us like now, like, that's not how it works, of course, you're gonna mess of course, you're gonna, of course, you're gonna do things wrong, you no
matter what you do, there's going to be a phase that they don't like you, they don't want to be around you.
Totally. And like, when I look back at, and I can talk to my kids now that they're, you know, to adult kids and to teenagers. The things that I was so worried about that some of those didn't even register to them. And there are other things that they think I didn't do, well, you know, or, like, I was sacrificed so much to send them to this, you know, like, certain type of school or whatever, and they, like might resent me for it, because they're like, I wanted to be in the public school, and to actually recognize that, that trying to get this just right, I don't, I think we need to move away from that as the goal and instead couple, that that growing awareness that we have, which is so wonderful with this self compassion, the the, the way that I've been able to really develop self compassion, and in an authentic way, it has been by recognizing that if I am beating myself up for every little thing I do, then that's what my kids are going to see and do for themselves. And I extend all kinds of grace and compassion to my kids, and it breaks my heart that I would be teaching them to be so hard on themselves, you know, like, it's just like, brings tears to my eyes to think that me beating myself up would teach them that that's what you do, you have to be a bully to yourself, and expect perfection. And so that has really softened me through the years. Witnessing my kids get older and go through some really challenging times. But this is the other piece, if we were more connected with, you know, intergenerational, if we had more intergenerational connections, then we would have more examples of parents who did a really great job and their kids still struggled. Because that's life. You know, like, I feel like I've been an exceptionally good mom, I've been extremely devoted to my kids, my kids struggle, we've got some real struggles in the mix, we've had some real, true deep challenges. And we will continue to because my children are human beings, you know, and because I'm not their only influence not only the people who are in their lives personally, but all of the over culture that is feeding them distorted messages about their worth, and their worthiness and their beauty and their love ability. And it's a whole lot. So if we think as parents, that we can single handedly fight those forces, I think it's rooted in this really beautiful, deep love for our children. It's really beautiful, but there's a shadow to that in the shadow has actually been actually thinking that we that it's our responsibility or that it's even possible for us to keep life from reaching them somehow keep life from affecting them. So I think this kind of leads me back to something that I've come back to over and over is that I believe that a part of any healthy family system and a healthy sense of self includes a hefty dose of grief and space for grief in our lives because we've got to have something to fill this gap between what we're able to offer our kids and and what we wish we could even work for just looking at the world at large the world I wish I could offer my kids and the world that actually exists. I need to be able to bridge that gap somehow with reef practices, so that I don't either harden myself off, become a cynic, or be reactive and out of fear You know, when life is creeping in and influencing them in ways I don't have control over, I think we need, I think we need a healthy relationship with grief, that that can be a really healthy tool that can keep us more grounded when the inevitable happens. And life gets ahold of her or babies.
So I have so many follow up questions, but I restricted your time trying to like, go a couple more. One I wanted your thoughts on, you know, the simplest form is sort of this Keeping Up with the Joneses. But it came to me more when you're saying, you know, when your kids are struggling? And, you know, we all live such curated lives, at least on social media, you know, how do you help caregivers, you know, reach out when they need help or not, you know, it's not about it's not necessarily reflection, or your lack of, of skills when something goes wrong.
Yeah, I actually think that, like, if we look back through our, throughout our own lives, if we had only had like, the influence of our mom, or the influence of our dad, and that was it, I think we can, most of us can look back and be like, that would not have been sufficient. Because I needed all those teachers, I needed all those peers, I needed those neighbors, because each of them taught me something different about who I am. And, and draw drew out different gifts. And I think this like is another fear we have, we're afraid that we won't get it right, or that will, someone else will, you know, have negative influences on them. But, um, yeah, I think that what you're describing is no evidence of our hyper individualistic wiring conditioning, especially in Western cultures in the in the US for sure. That that has actually been sort of Yeah, conditioned into a sense, we were born, that sort of evidence even in mothering, like, it's evidence that you're a good mother, if you can figure it out without having to burden anyone else, or ask anyone else for help. And I just think it's, it's just like one of the most toxic messages out there. Because then when you are human, and actually need the support of a community, because I actually believed that we need a whole community to build to develop a whole child don't actually think that that is possible with the influence of one person, nor is it meant to be, nor is it fun for anybody, frankly. I mean, if we even think about this, like if we only hung out with one or two people ourselves, I'll only ever and that's happening a lot of the pandemic that they were just like isolated with our partner kid or whatever, and we shouldn't just like over it, like I don't there's only so much we can offer each other especially when we're depleted. And you know, one of the the the things that I know has been so enriching for my own kids and for myself has been forming healthy attachments with other people so now that my kids are older part of the you know, I'm creating my quote unquote village in very different ways that I did when they were younger. Now, when I look at my this, this sort of village that I'm creating, which is both in person and virtual, both are you know, like this, these new modern villages that absolutely include virtual connection and connection with people across the world which is beautiful and also has its challenges. But part of what I'm doing is that like now all my kids have therapists that's part of me creating their village is figuring out what kind of support does this kid do not expect myself to in fact I feeling like I need to play also the therapist role and that's just gets you into like codependent you know, that's not healthy either. They actually need people who are outside the family system to offer their perspective in that so much of that has come from me doing my own personal work, that I have zero shame around the fact that my kids need therapy. I think we all need that kind of support, and we're all deserving of it. To have someone sit there with them and examine their lives. and figure out how they could navigate them better give them the tools that frankly, school systems don't, that we have only so much time to, to give them ourselves or, you know, I am really good at working with adults. In this capacity, I don't necessarily know how to impart all these tools that I know two children, that's a totally different skill set. So we have totally unrealistic expectations of ourselves as mothers that we're supposed to be really good at
And being, you know, short order cooks, and having these immaculate homes and then figuring out our children's friggin food sensitivities and their, you know, their attachment styles, and they're like, just like, the list is insane. And that's, if we can just take the list of all the things we prioritize, I think this is a great exercise, in fact, make the list and then recognize that, all right, in order for me to feel healthy and whole and grounded and centered myself, I got to figure out how to outsource about half that list, you know, and then we get into the challenge of of how expensive it is to get our needs met. You know, the way culture is currently structured, and that's one of the places people get stuck, that yes, I would love to have X, Y and Z kind of support. But even if I get through the worthiness piece, then it's hard to afford it. So that's a whole other.
That's a whole other conversation. Yeah,
worthiness is often the biggest one, you know, that's, it's a big one.
Yeah, well, I love that you're, you're calling that out that I mean, I was offered a therapist, one, my parents got divorced at seven. And then later when my dad passed away, but it was always presented to me as this, you know, because you have a problem or that you're broken, or, you know, this, like, it wasn't something I was going to advertise. And it took me to this stage, like in my 40s, before I invested in my own own help, in that sense. And I think it's so important what you just said, just making it normalizing it, like everybody needs at least one ideally, five other people to talk to and bounce ideas off of and gain a sense of who you are. From different lenses.
Yep. And that kind of, I think can take the place of the mentors, the elders, we don't have access to, to find people who are willing to sit with you and be in it alongside you. And in a healthy way with healthy boundaries. This is I mean, therapy is really were one of the first places that I learned what healthy boundaries looked and felt like, you know, what it's like, oh, that's what I'm, that's what is creating this sense of safety is that was that behaviors modeled for me, and I needed to see that in order to be able to emulate it, you know, so people who have studied these things at length and who have a lot of practice can be certain models for us and I think it's essential that we see that it's not just about whether or not I'm worthy of it, but also my kids are worthy of me being in therapy for goodness sakes, like my my, the people I interact with all of the health of all my relationships, including the relationships I have with my own clients benefit when I'm well and if I'm not doing my own work, then I'm done. I'm actually it feels somewhat to me unethical for me to be as being in a Supporting Role every day without getting my own support.
So how can people find you and work with you if they are so inspired to reach out which I know they will be
by website is revolution from home.com. And I work with clients one on one I also have a year long program called Mother where the the enrollment starts in September. That's a really incredible experience and I offer Yeah, you can get on my website, you know, poke around, see what see what you find. But I'm absolutely and I have a book called Mother whelmed and that you can find, you know, wherever you find
amazing Well, I love the exercise of making that list and trying to outsource it as effectively as you can. Any other party little bits of advice or permission, you can leave us with. Yeah,
I really think it's so important that we be gentle with ourselves. And recognizing that most of us during this, especially during this pandemic, time, are not super well resourced. And there's only so much we can offer others when we're under resourced ourselves. And so the more we can right now, instead of asking the questions of like, what's wrong with me that I can't, whatever? How about we look at what are my unmet needs because there's a direct relationship between our unmet needs our values, you know, when I'm super sleep deprived, I until I get that sleep need met, I'm not going to be able to access patients creativity focus all these things. And there's that doesn't mean there's anything wrong with me it means I'm a human being. So how can I honor my humanity by saying I have needs, my needs are unique, are different than my partner's needs. They're different than my children's needs, and the better I can come to understand them, orient my life around getting the Met Well, the better. You know, the, the less harm I'm going to do. And the more beautiful my, my relationships have the potential to be. Well, thank you
so much for your time this morning. I really appreciate it was a pleasure getting to know you a little bit better. And I appreciate all your your wisdom, Beth.
Thank you, Megan. It's been a pleasure to be here with you as well.
Thank you so much for listening to energetically you. I hope that this episode has helped you to tune into your natural energy sources so that you feel more energized and focused throughout your day. If you enjoyed the episode, please take a second to rate and review. Each review helps us to help more ambitious women just like you accomplish their goals. Don't forget to take a screenshot, share it on social or in your Instagram stories and tag me at Megan Swan wellness. See you soon.