Balance & Beyond Podcast

Episode Summary

#40: Unveiling the Hidden Mirror in our Children 

When my husband's shoulder injury became an unexpected mirror for our daughters' physical movements, it set us on a path of discovery about the profound ways in which our children reflect our behaviours and emotions.

This episode uncovers the hidden threads connecting our well-being to that of our family, and how self-care extends beyond ourselves to those we love. Join us as we delve into personal stories and insights, revealing the significant impact our own health—both emotional and physical—has on creating a nurturing environment for our children to flourish.

Weaving through the narratives of societal expectations and the inherited emotional burdens we carry, this conversation is a call to prioritise personal healing as a means to break the chains of generational pain. It's about understanding that when we work on ourselves, we're not only transforming our lives but also the emotional climate of our families. Our discussion encourages a shift in perspective, viewing self-care not as an act of selfishness but as an essential step toward fostering healthier relationships and empowering our children to become their best selves.

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Episode Transcript

INTRO: Welcome to Balance and Beyond, the podcast for ambitious women who refuse to accept burnout as the price of success. Here, we’re committed to empowering you with the tools and strategies you need to achieve true balance, where your career, relationships and health all thrive, and where you have the power to define success on your own terms. I honour the space you’ve created for yourself today, so take a breath, and let's dive right in…

I recently had something happen in my family that blew my mind and I've shared this story with a few people lately and they've all said oh my gosh, joe, you have to do a podcast episode on this. This is insane. So here you go. This is an episode that is sharing you the tale of a shoulder. But don't fret, it is not a tale about a shoulder. It is actually a story that is going to blow your mind about how much our children are mirroring our behaviour, our emotions and our physiology and our physical injuries, and it's going to be this beautiful example of why it's so important for you to take care of yourself first. 

To give you some background, let's start talking about the shoulder. And where the story begins and my husband has a shoulder injury that, as he's been rebuilding his body, we've been working with a coach in the UK for a while. Obviously, as you start to tweak one area, other areas need tweaking, and so his right shoulder has been a little bit locked up. And in a recent call I had with our coach he said to me, “Jo, your shoulder is doing the same thing as Mick’s.” What's going on there? 

Turns out I am also mirroring him. I have nothing wrong technically with my right shoulder and yet the ball in the socket and my long-hander bicep and a few of these muscles are actually mirroring his. But okay, that's a bit peculiar, but anyway, all right. It's apparently very common for husbands and wives, or people who live in the same household, particularly adults, to have similar injuries. 

Now, we were in the lounge room sort of doing some exercises to try to repair ourselves. We were doing a little exercise that is a test of your shoulder rotation, and this involves, essentially, standing, facing away from the other person, watching you and taking your hand, and trying to basically put your hand in the middle of your back, and going from your hand being down by your side, and then gradually taking your hand and putting it up in the middle of your back, and what this quickly does, is it reveals how your shoulder and elbow are rotating. 

Brilliant little exercise and you will quickly see if you have to pop your, you have to twist your neck, or you have to pop your chest out or you have to get a bit of a twist to get it in there. And as my, as we were doing, we were doing some exercise and then checking to see how our mobility improved. I tended to both girls and I said turn around, let's see how your shoulder mobility is thinking. They're both dancers, they're both continuously upside down doing handstands. This is this let's, let's. They're going to show us what their shoulder mobility should look like. Well, both my girls had the same restriction in their right shoulder that my husband and I did, for absolutely no physiological reason, apart from the fact that they were mirroring us. 

I've spoken about mirrors before and if you hadn't heard this concept, children in particular are mirrors, and by this I mean they reflect back at you everything about yourself, usually that you don't like. This is all part of us being wired to attach, and what this means is when we are born as humans, we are very defenceless and we're pretty rubbish, if you think about it, for those first gosh, five years. We can't fend for ourselves, we can't defend ourselves, and the only way that we, as an individual, and a species, are going to survive is that we make the people who have to care for us, who have to feed us, who have to protect us, we have to make them love us. 

So, let's think about it. If you've had a child, you know those first three potential six months are all about screaming body functions. You're a human cow if you're a woman and go that way. So, there's no way that you keep this thing that was crying and tugging at you and keeping you awake and making your body leak from every orifice. You'd put it out there and say, “Sabertooth Tiger, come and get this thing.” “I don't need this, I've got other things to do.”

But the only reason we keep those children is because we love them. And so, therefore, a child is biologically wired to do whatever it takes to encourage us, and have those people around them love them, and one of the ways they do this is to look in the mirror, and by this, I mean, they go right in this family. We look this way and we look this way, and that's safe. So, I'm going to look this way. Turns out, my father's shoulder doesn't rotate properly. So, completely on a subconscious level, their brain goes, “Ah ha, okay!” “In this family, this is what our shoulders do.” And their shoulders have gone and locked up. 

Can you believe that their shoulders have locked up? And there are numerous stories of this happening. I know of a particular family with four children and the father happened to shuffle, didn't really walk properly, very much to put their feet flat on the ground instead of going heel to heel. And then, as it so happened, no surprise, the four children, who are aged from two to eight, also all shuffled, didn't know how to walk properly.

Because they are learning, particularly in those under eight ages. They are learning at a hyper-speed from their parents and they are learning completely by observation. They're learning about their views of the world, they're building their beliefs and they're also building up their physiology, about how to hold themselves. 

About where their head placement goes about, where their shoulder rotation grows, apparently. And another beautiful example I had shared with me recently was, you know, our body coach was watching his daughter's dance and said hang on a second, why is she dancing? To protect her right out of angle. And then looked at the dance teacher. The entire dance studio was dancing as she was to protect her ankle, because they were watching her and their subconscious was then mirroring everything that she was doing. 

So, this starts to beg the question, “What in your life have you chosen, perhaps, not to fix, or not to focus on, because you're busy, focused on everybody else?” Or, in fact, if you simply focused on yourself, these issues may rectify themselves. Isn't that a crazy thought? How this has worked with our girls is, you know, once upon a time I might have gone, “Oh my gosh, they've got problems with their shoulders, let me take them to the physio!” “Let me go and get them some support, or get them to do some exercises”, thinking that the answer to fixing their shoulder was to focus on them, and to fix their shoulder. 

However, until I fixed my shoulder and my husband fixed his shoulder, theirs would not unlock because, in their subconscious mind, it isn't safe to have a fully rotating shoulder in this house and to be accepted Again. This is completely subconscious and there is no way that you can get to it. Logic and go, girls, move your shoulders properly. This is ridiculous, because the brain has sent certain chemicals to certain muscles down certain meridians and they will not release until, subconsciously, they know that it's safe. And that involves you fixing yourself.  

Can you believe that, particularly as women, we have been told for so long that it's selfish, we can't look after ourselves, we have to put everybody else before us, and this has led to almost an entire generation of people pleases, to some degree, where it's all about everybody else, because the biggest insult you can throw at a woman is to be selfish, and this is such a problem for women that I've done and dedicated an entire podcast episode to that. So if you feel like you struggle with being selfish, then, oh my goodness, jump back into the library and go and find that one.  

So, what this means is that, in actual fact, the only way for many things that are going on in your family and also many other things that are going on in your life, they are not going to resolve themselves unless you resolve them within you. And the beauty is because, in my girl's case, that the shoulder restriction is actually not this, it's been inherited. And by that I mean there's nothing physiologically constricting, it's all emotional, it's all subconscious. The moment we have started fixing ourselves and then doing a few exercises on them to make sure that the muscles know that they can relax their shoulders are unlocking a break next week because it's not theirs. The injury is not theirs. 

And this is the ripple effect of when you actually start to focus on you. When you actually start to focus on, how do I find calm, how do I find peace, how do I take care of myself? Well then that has this huge ripple effect into other areas of your life. And it is ironic that so many women come into our world and say to me Joe, I just want calm, I want the house to be calm, I want the kitchen to become. I am sick of the chaos. 

And yet, if you were to think that your children and, in fact, your household, is simply a reflection of what is going on in you, well, if on the inside, you are beating yourself up, if on the inside you are obsessed with the to do list and feeling behind and, like you've, you can never get ahead. And there's so much to get done. If your internal ecosystem is wired, your nervous system is fried because you're always worried about the email that's going to come. Or I haven't done that, or I've got to be on top of this and I've got to know all the answers to all the questions.

Well then, your nervous system is redlining. You have mass chaos inside your body, at a nervous system level, at an energetic level, at an emotional level and, no surprise, that is reflected in the world outside you. And yet we are not allowed to be selfish, we are not allowed to do anything for ourselves, we're not allowed to invest in ourselves, we can't take any time because heaven forbid. 

And yet what if, just like the shoulder, the answer to finding calm, the answer to having a household that is functioning, to have a family where everybody is physiologically well, where everybody is healthy? What if the answer to all of that was to actually start with you? Is that counterintuitive to everything you've always been told? Yeah, sure, we get on a plane and we're told to put our oxygen mask on first, and every Mother's Day or holiday, you know, pink pyjamas come out, and let's give mum some fluffy slippers. 

However, what if, at a deep, deep psychological and subconscious level, that was actually the answer here, the answer to your, some of your children's, behavioural problems? What if that starts with you? I'm not trying to lay blame here. I don't want you to think that I'm blaming you for your child's problems. But I'm saying what if a way for your children to be better emotionally regulated, for your children to have greater focus, is for you to also start with you?  

And this is a key distinction that I love between blame and responsibility. And by that I mean it's not your fault that perhaps you have a child with a diagnosis of some kind who has challenges. It's not your fault, perhaps, that your relationship is strained. It's not your fault that whatever happened to you in your past happened to you in your past. However, it is your responsibility to heal from that. It's your responsibility not to pass that trauma or echoes or shadows on to other people. 

It is your responsibility, in how you react to things, because if you are continuously reacting, from your subconscious, which is like your shoulder continuing to look up, and then you are going to the physio or you going to all these places, when in reality that's not the challenge, the challenge is not outside of you. The challenge always starts from within and it's only once we reconcile that, once we stop looking at the external, once we stop taking the children to the physio and taking them to acupuncture, if you can stick a needle in them, or taking them to this place and that place and this place, instead of stopping and going. 

You know what? It's not my fault that my child has a locked up right shoulder, but it's my responsibility to now work on myself. It's my responsibility to look after myself, knowing that that is half the battle, and sure I can do some exercises with her. That's also my responsibility. But my responsibility starts with me. That is where the huge shift is, when we are assigning blame to something, particularly to ourselves, and this is something that so many women do all the time. “It's my fault.” “I did it wrong.” “I'm a bad person.” “I don't know enough.” “I'm stupid.” “I don't have enough qualifications.” Whatever, it is. 

When you're blaming yourself, what inherently comes with that blame is shame, and yes, I know they rhyme, but they are the two things that go together. You're saying it's your fault and ultimately that comes down if you peel back all those layers to you being a bad person. Instead, when it's your responsibility, you can move into an emotional state of acceptance and say this thing happened.

It's not necessarily my fault, there's no one to blame, because that's not going to get you anywhere. But it's now my responsibility to heal, it's my responsibility to forgive, it's my responsibility to accept. And it's my responsibility for now, from this more regulated place, to now chart a course to a new future, to a new emotional state, to a new mobile right shoulder.  

Because if you were living in shame and you were too busy blaming yourself or blaming someone else for your circumstances, shame is actually paralysing. It's almost impossible for your brain to find creative solutions, to find a way out, to come up with new ideas, to even be open to new possibilities, because it's paralysed. That's the whole point of shame.

But if you don't want shame to do its job, then you've got to get out of it. You have to say, okay, this isn't my fault. It's not my fault. This happened to me when I was a child. It's not this fault that this was how I was raised. It's not my fault that this is what happened and what my parents did or whatever else, but it's my responsibility to make sure that I'm not going to pass this on to the next generation. I'm going to make sure this stops with me and I'm going to heal it for me. 

And, ironically, when you heal it for you, you also heal it for future generations and you actually heal it for past generations as well. That is the absolute beauty of this work. So you are the one who is strong enough to do this. You're the one who is ready to chart a new course, to put all of these wounds and everything behind you.

Now step into this new possibility, this new future where you can better understand yourself, where you recognize that your right shoulder is locked up and you can look around you and go oh, thank you, mirrors, thank you, mirrors. Thank you for reflecting that back at me. And I have a 13 year old. 

So, trust me, that mirror, particularly in those teenage years, runs really deep. They get to hold up that mirror and you get to relive your childhood and your teenage years all again, all the parts of you you don't like. You're going to come back and when you can really step into this space of, I'm going to take responsibility. I'm going to see my children as mirrors. I'm going to work on myself, I'm going to heal myself.

Then, everything shifts the ripple effect that you will have on your family, the calm that you will find, the peace, the joy, the fun, all of these words that everybody tells me they are always looking for, just like with my shoulder. I can promise you that the answer is always going to lie within. 

So my challenge for you today is to take a step back and think about where a mirror is currently being held up to you that is making you feel uncomfortable? Let's face it, those mirrors don't usually come painted with rainbows. So like oh I see that in my child, you know. Very often we take credit for like oh, that's for me.

The vera from the mirror is like oh, that's right, that's for me. How can you take responsibility for that? And then what has to shift within you for you to take ownership, for you to take responsibility and for you to now banish the word selfish from your vocabulary, for you to say you know what it's actually selfish of me not to heal myself, because I'm not I'm not healing my children.  

It's selfish of me to ignore myself because then I'm teaching everybody else around me to do the same thing. So this is your anti selfish permission slip to focus on you, to do what it takes to find the support you need. Whether it's a coach, a physio, a therapist, a book, a journal, a friend, a coffee, it doesn't matter what it is. It's about recognizing that you need time and space to heal you and the ripple effect on shoulders, on kitchen benches, on families on moons, will be all alive for you to see from here on in. So rotate that shoulder, see where your mirror is, and happy hunting. 

OUTRO: Thank you for joining us today on the Balance and Beyond Podcast. We're so glad you carved out this time for yourself. If you enjoyed this episode, please share it with a friend who might need to hear this today. And if you're feeling extra generous, leaving us a review on your podcast platform of choice would mean the world. If you’re keen to dive deeper into our world, visit us at to discover more about the toolkit that has helped thousands of women avoid burnout and create a life of balance, and beyond. Thanks again for tuning in, and we'll see you next time on the Balance & Beyond Podcast.

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