This is an interview I did with Kanesha Baynard of Bold Living Today on October 6, 2012.
Each Friday, a person who is making bold moves, living well, nurturing their creativity, following their passions, and making magic will be featured on Bold Living Today.
Today’s interview is with the magical, focused, and humorous Katie McClain. Katie is an author, speaker, and coach to families, children, and women. She uses her listening skills to help her clients figure out how to use their thoughts and ideas to empower themselves. Sound like easy work? Hardly!
Katie’s gift is that she can see the inner shine in her clients and help them chip away painful, limiting, and/or untrue thoughts that create obstacles to bold living. I was thrilled to interview Katie about her new book and to hear about the various ways she’s using her coaching gifts to change and improve lives.
You just released your new book, How to Tame Your Thought Monster. Tell us what inspired you to write it.
In my coach training, I learned tools that transformed me. I learned how to access my own personal truth and gained new understanding of myself and my thinking. I saw how I had been holding myself back and why there were times when I was unhappy in spite of the fortunate circumstances I found myself in. The tools I learned brought my years of self study and the commitment I have to personal happiness and success together in a way I hadn’t experience before. I found myself looking back at my life starting with my experience as an adolescent. I saw that if I’d had access to these tools in my youth, my life experiences could have been so much easier. I could have skipped over a lot of the teen angst and self doubts that plagued me. I realized that the only thing that held me back from more success and happiness in my life was me. Not my parents, not my teachers or friends and not my financial or other circumstances. I don’t feel sorry for myself at not having had these tools in my youth; I’ve created quite a bit of success in my life both financially and personally. And yet during my youth, I felt I could do so much more. I had no real understanding of how it was possible until I went through my coach training.
In my teens, I was active, got good grades, had friends and wasn’t bullied, but I also wasn’t very happy. I had lots of self doubt and looking back, I realize that I was on auto pilot doing the things I thought I was supposed to do. If someone had shared these life tools with me in my youth, I could have created more for myself and most importantly, I could have created my own happiness instead of looking for it outside myself.
I began creating fun characters and exercises to use along with the tools I’d learned to help kids understand the concepts. I initially taught all of it to my own son. He specifically wanted help with being more comfortable performing in front of people. His progress has been amazing and he thinks all kids should be able to learn these tools. I put everything I developed along with the tools I learned in coach training into a book for parents and teachers. Adults can use this book on their own and it’s designed so that they can also teach it to their kids & students. I broke the tools out individually and several of them can be learned as a single tool that will help people feel better right away.
This is so exciting, Katie. Many parents – as adults – are challenged by their thoughts and this is often passed on to their children or is modeled through the way parents behave or interact. What a gift this book is as a manual to support families.
Why is it important to name your thought monster and build a constructive relationship with it?
Meeting and naming your Thought Monster is a way to start getting familiar with your own unique and unhelpful thinking. Our thoughts have a lot of power in our lives. We can choose to drop thoughts that don’t help us and to create new thoughts that support us. Your Thought Monster is like a tiny inner critic. It’s frantically trying to keep you safe, but in a very critical way. The negative thoughts it sends you in the name of “keeping you safe” are pretty painful. Acknowledging your Thought Monster and recognizing the negative thoughts it generates is the simplest way to start releasing thoughts that don’t serve you. Becoming conscious to and then letting go of negative thinking can make a very positive impact on your happiness! Once you start to let go of old, unhelpful thought patterns, you’ll be able to start getting really creative about designing the life you want.
Sounds so simple when you describe this but many of us struggle with this at various levels.
In what three ways can parents set the tone for open communication to support their child/ren in building resiliency?
Step 1: Listen to yourself.
Step 2: Listen to your kids and allow them to be themselves.
Step 3: Listen more, listen actively and listen with great interest in your kids.
I think parents tend to look at their kids as a ‘mini me’ and I’m including myself in this tendency. We see similar characteristics to ourselves in our kids (perhaps unless your child is adopted). I think we then project our hopes and dreams onto our kids. We need to be aware of this as well as our judgments and negative beliefs so we can clear the negative stuff out and put down our judgments, dreams and beliefs in order to parent our children from a “clean” place.
Of course, you have your own ideas about how you want to raise your child and the rules of your house, etc. I am not talking about rules that help your family and household run smoothly. But, I do think your rules can get mixed up with your expectations about who your kids “should be / become”. Early in my parenting, I saw qualities in my son that were similar to mine or his dad’s. I noticed my inclination to put him in a box and expect that the qualities that were familiar meant that he was “just like his dad” or just like me”. You may have thought something like, “my child is so caring, maybe she’ll be a doctor.” When I thought like this, it left no room for my son to be HIMSELF. Paying attention to this type of thinking and expectation for your kids is Step 1. I’ve learned to recognize when I have expectations or hopes for my child that may not match anything that he wants.
Step 2. My husband and I both work to come from a “clean” place and to allow our son to be himself. We are curious about him, fascinated with how he thinks, interested to hear what interests him. We ask him questions and for his opinion on things. He knows the house rules and follows them, but he also has his own mind and knows he can discuss anything with us. We have worked to continually shift how we listen to our son so we can actually hear and see him. Not a version of our son that we want to see (because of our unexamined thinking).
Step 3 is the active listening step. I ask deep questions. If I think of a question when he isn’t in the mood for talking, I make a note. If he comes and sits in my office, I stop what I’m doing and talk or listen to him. I listen in when he and a friend are in the car or hanging out together at our house – this is not spying. I talk to other parents and to his teachers. My husband and I talk with each other so we can fill in what one or the other has missed. We pay attention so we know what questions we might need to ask to help him navigate a new area in his life. We share our own interests, we do things together as a family (even though he’s now 14). I stay tuned in to him as much as humanly possible and I continue to be creative about this as he gets older. To me, this is active listening.
Everyone wants to be heard, and I think it is SO important to find ways listen and interact with our children.
I think many of, as parents, are so busy doing the “duties of parenting” instead of approaching our parenting roles from a full humanistic approach. Your steps are so clear and allow a lot of space for growth – for parents and children.
What upcoming events do you have planned?
What six words describe bold living for you?
Truth, Happiness, Fun, Discovery, Family and of course, Love.