Kids truly are little portals of wisdom, if you give them the chance to show you. There've been times I've all but lost every inch of sanity, and there they are; with some witty anecdote or sage advice. Suddenly, whatever was stressing me doesn't seem so bad. Actually, I've kept a few awesome pieces of advice my kids gave me for dealing with social anxiety at the forefront of my mind. They have no idea how powerful (or hilarious) their words can be sometimes, and their incognizance makes it that much more adorable.
Now, my kids are vastly different in the way they navigate life. My oldest, my daughter, is very much like her father in that she enjoys (and needs) to be a social butterfly; seen at all times of the day. She's loud and a terrible listener, but thoughtful, kind, and compassionate. My son, the baby, is very much like me. He's a deep thinker, keeps mostly to himself, and while still kind, compassionate, and thoughtful like his sister, he can also be aggressive and very protective of his momma.
I tell you this because, in order to understand their advice, you have to first understand their personalities. Bred from a sarcastic gal like myself, it's no surprise our house is full of one-liners and quick-fix jokes like, "your mom" or, "your face." Yes, very mature, I know. We like to laugh at things others might cry about, and maybe it makes us weird or different but, to me, it makes us awesome.
With all of that laughing, though, comes life and it's endless string of surprises. This only beckons my exciting array of disorders, including anxiety. My anxiety has a mind of its own so even when I have the best of intentions (just go to the mailbox already), it rebels (I will never go to the mailbox again). My kids have grown up knowing this is part of me, so I don't appear "different" to them and I think it actually helps promote empathy. Not only have they helped me through socially stressful situations, but I'm sure it'll be useful if it ever happens when I'm not around.
On that note, here are some of the best nuggets my little nuggets have taught me about my (really awkward) social anxiety. If it helps just one person, I'll give them a cookie (or keys to my car, but only to play with duh).
My boy has the tiniest little voice so when he speaks, my ears perk up. I could be having a full-fledged panic attack in the middle of town square, and he'd turn to me and say "breave" and I could literally forget why I was freaking out in the first place. While it's not always so easy to catch a breath in the midst of an internal meltdown, I love how easy things seem to him and his sister. Like, if I can't breathe, take a breath and just do it. Somehow the simplicity of their logic makes sense. Hungry? Eat. Tired? Sleep. Anxious? Breave. Done!
"You Should Go Poop"
Of course my advice for just about everything they do is narrowed down into a few select categories: get more sleep, eat something, or go to the bathroom. So, it shouldn't surprise me when my babies tell me the same thing. While it's funny to hear at first, maybe they're right. Pooping fixes a lot of things, including how stressed I'll be walking into a room full of people I don't want to see.
"Give It A Thumbs Down"
This is by far one of the best things my son has ever said was when I was crouched down crying over having to go somewhere I didn't want to. He turned me towards him and said, "Just give it a thumbs down and you'll feel better about it." Yet again, he broke me from my cycle of negativity, forcing me to smile and do as he said. And he was right — giving it a thumbs down did make me feel better!
"Play With Us"
Perhaps the last thing I think about doing to relieve my social anxiety is taking a moment to play with my kids in the middle of a group thing. It takes a lot for me to get out of that anxious mindset, but once I give into the request and go off to wherever my kids pull me for just a few minutes I typically loosen up enough to converse (at least a little).
"Hold My Hand If You Get Scared"
I love that my children know that when someone is hurting or in need, to offer compassion and comfort. Sometimes all it takes is that skin-to-skin contact to remind me I am safe. Anxiety is fickle and tricks my brain to think otherwise so having kids who get this, who want to be there for me like I am for them, kind of proves I might not be doing such a bad job with this mom thing after all.
"Just Laugh About It"
As I said, we're a family who laughs a lot. It's gotten us through tough times we might not have otherwise survived. I think the kids have been ingrained to automatically think, "If you're upset, just laugh about something." While it's a good thing to instill, it's definitely not that easy. Of course they don't know as much just yet, which is why I think hearing it makes me want to at least try. Now, say something funny.
"If You're Having A Panic, Whisper To Me And We'll Go"
Can your heart melt any faster? Yes, my son has said this and yes, I immediately abandoned the anxiety because I don't want to ruin whatever fun he may have at whatever function I was forced to attend but — gosh — it's really just the sweetest thing anyone could say to me when I'm spiraling.
Social anxiety rules my life sometimes, no matter how hard I try to fight it. However, seeing it through my children's eyes makes it a lot less scary and, sometimes, even silly. While their advice can't solve all my problems (and it's my job to help them anyways), just knowing they trust I can beat it is enough.