From the worry of Brexit (Will it happen? Do I want it to?) to reclaiming your inner Spice Girl

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Christine Lithgow Smith, a Marlow Mum,  professional coach and founder of Chrisalyst Coaching talks to us about what we can learn from the lessons of Brexit and apply to our own lives.

 

Christine Lithgow Smith, a Marlow Mum,  professional coach and founder of Chrisalyst Coaching talks to us about what we can learn from the lessons of Brexit and apply to our own lives.

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While the rest of the country has been discussing Brexit, in my house we’ve been translating this into Chocxit. I was coming down the stairs in a rush to get to work when hubby tells me the polling cards have arrived.

“Polling cards?” I ask.

“European elections.”

“But we’re leaving Europe!”

“I don’t want to leave Europe! I like being European,” says my 7-year old daughter who loves to be a part of everything; including Europe it seems! Hubby clarified we wouldn’t leave Europe just the EU. Which of course, meant nothing to her. Next, we tried to explain it was an issue that the government can’t agree on and in fact, the nation was divided on pretty much 50/50.

“Imagine,” I found myself saying, “that your class got to vote on whether you want to have a chocolate bar every day instead of fruit. People have been moaning about fruit for years, and now you can have chocolate instead. Some people think chocolate is better than fruit, others says fruit is healthier. People have different opinions. The important thing is you have a choice: you can either vote for chocolate or remain with fruit. Once you’ve voted, though, the whole class must go with that decision. Now you, you decide to vote chocolate. When you voted you were led to believe it would be a gorgeous Dairy Milk chocolate bar. Just over half your class voted for it and now it is agreed: everyone will receive a chocolate bar every day and they must eat it. Even if they voted for fruit.”

Lily is getting excited at this point. A huge beam of a smile with several toothy gaps. Adorable.

“Then your teacher explains that when we said chocolate, we of course meant chocolate, but we never said it would be Dairy Milk. We have investigated further and realise the only chocolate we can give you is dark chocolate. As she describes this chocolate you realise this chocolate is so dark, even your Mummy wouldn’t eat it. And good news! She says, it’s fruit and nut as well!!”

Lily was mortified, she couldn’t understand how or why she would be made to eat something she didn’t like when she hadn’t bargained for that in the first place. I like to think Chocxit helped to translate Brexit for her but who knows. As I left the house both us Adults were still debating what we’d do in the event of a referendum. I’ve read so many psychology books over the past few months I couldn’t help but worry a little about what I’ve learnt if it does happen.

A few things were on my mind about how our brains and bodies work:

While the rest of the country has been discussing Brexit, in my house we’ve been translating this into Chocxit. I was coming down the stairs in a rush to get to work when hubby tells me the polling cards have arrived.

“Polling cards?” I ask.

“European elections.”

“But we’re leaving Europe!”

“I don’t want to leave Europe! I like being European,” says my 7-year old daughter who loves to be a part of everything; including Europe it seems! Hubby clarified we wouldn’t leave Europe just the EU. Which of course, meant nothing to her. Next, we tried to explain it was an issue that the government can’t agree on and in fact, the nation was divided on pretty much 50/50.

“Imagine,” I found myself saying, “that your class got to vote on whether you want to have a chocolate bar every day instead of fruit. People have been moaning about fruit for years, and now you can have chocolate instead. Some people think chocolate is better than fruit, others says fruit is healthier. People have different opinions. The important thing is you have a choice: you can either vote for chocolate or remain with fruit. Once you’ve voted, though, the whole class must go with that decision. Now you, you decide to vote chocolate. When you voted you were led to believe it would be a gorgeous Dairy Milk chocolate bar. Just over half your class voted for it and now it is agreed: everyone will receive a chocolate bar every day and they must eat it. Even if they voted for fruit.”

Lily is getting excited at this point. A huge beam of a smile with several toothy gaps. Adorable.

“Then your teacher explains that when we said chocolate, we of course meant chocolate, but we never said it would be Dairy Milk. We have investigated further and realise the only chocolate we can give you is dark chocolate. As she describes this chocolate you realise this chocolate is so dark, even your Mummy wouldn’t eat it. And good news! She says, it’s fruit and nut as well!!”

Lily was mortified, she couldn’t understand how or why she would be made to eat something she didn’t like when she hadn’t bargained for that in the first place. I like to think Chocxit helped to translate Brexit for her but who knows. As I left the house both us Adults were still debating what we’d do in the event of a referendum. I’ve read so many psychology books over the past few months I couldn’t help but worry a little about what I’ve learnt if it does happen.

A few things were on my mind about how our brains and bodies work:

  1. As human beings, we’re risk adverse. Even if there is an opportunity to improve our circumstances we tend to stick with what we have and know because it feels safe. That means even those who voted remain may well vote leave now. Just because they’re used to the idea.
  2. We also can’t let go of what economists call sunk costs. That means if you’ve invested a lot (time, money or whatever), even if you can see what you’ve invested in isn’t going to work, the odds are you will carry on regardless. Another vote for Brexit then?
  3. Generally, we don’t make fact-based decisions. We decide what to do intuitively. This is based on our memory bank of experience. The decision is usually based on the emotion the situation invokes in us and, if that emotion is fear, anxiety or confusion – confusion being key in the case of Brexit – we stick with what know.
  4. Lastly (and as Mums, I’m sure you’ll love this) we judge experiences based on how we felt at the peak and end of that experience. Remember labour? That wonderful experience of giving birth? According to psychologists you’ll remember the worst part of giving birth (but it won’t feel like it lasted that long) and the end part (which will hopefully be all warm and fuzzy as you embraced your bundle of joy). This is why scientists believe we subject ourselves to carrying another baby despite knowing how painful it is. For Brexit, Remainers may have been unhappy when the vote happened but it’s all settled done now. People may feel ‘meh’. The emotion associated with ‘meh’ isn’t bothered either way. It might not even vote if there’s a referendum!
  1. As human beings, we’re risk adverse. Even if there is an opportunity to improve our circumstances we tend to stick with what we have and know because it feels safe. That means even those who voted remain may well vote leave now. Just because they’re used to the idea.
  2. We also can’t let go of what economists call sunk costs. That means if you’ve invested a lot (time, money or whatever), even if you can see what you’ve invested in isn’t going to work, the odds are you will carry on regardless. Another vote for Brexit then?
  3. Generally, we don’t make fact-based decisions. We decide what to do intuitively. This is based on our memory bank of experience. The decision is usually based on the emotion the situation invokes in us and, if that emotion is fear, anxiety or confusion – confusion being key in the case of Brexit – we stick with what know.
  4. Lastly (and as Mums, I’m sure you’ll love this) we judge experiences based on how we felt at the peak and end of that experience. Remember labour? That wonderful experience of giving birth? According to psychologists you’ll remember the worst part of giving birth (but it won’t feel like it lasted that long) and the end part (which will hopefully be all warm and fuzzy as you embraced your bundle of joy). This is why scientists believe we subject ourselves to carrying another baby despite knowing how painful it is. For Brexit, Remainers may have been unhappy when the vote happened but it’s all settled done now. People may feel ‘meh’. The emotion associated with ‘meh’ isn’t bothered either way. It might not even vote if there’s a referendum!

Obviously, there is a lot more at play than these four points but, whatever your view was at the time, unless you take time out to consider the facts available chances are you’d vote Brexit if there is a further referendum. Or perhaps even worse, not vote at all and see what everyone else does. Brexit is a big one for any of us. Its impact will be felt far and wide, especially by our children. If we get the chance to vote again I hope to see you there and I hope you can find the time and passion to stay engaged with the debate. I am not saying there is a right or wrong answer. What I am saying is, your thoughts are important as is everyone’s voice being heard.

Bringing this psychology stuff closer to home. I wonder how it impacts you? Deep down, what do you really want to do but are too scared to try? What are you doing that you’d love to stop doing? How often do you really think through the commitments you make and question if they make you feel good?

Often, we Mums can fall into the trap of being a little too nice. We can hide or lose ourselves because we’re so busy ‘being a mum’ or are still trying to be the ‘good girl’ we’ve been encouraged to be all our life. Not only can that make life dull, it can also make you resent those closest to you that are making demands or seem to do what they want while you’re stuck doing the grunt work. If that resonates with you, remember you have a choice. You can change things. The first step of getting anywhere is being honest with yourself about what you want.

As you ponder remember life is short. The great Ferris Bueller (from “Ferris Bueller’s Day Off”, I’m an 80’s child) summed this up really well.
“Life moves pretty fast. If you don’t stop and look around once in a while, you could miss it.”

So, at the risk of infringing copyright – tell me what you want, what you really, really want.

Obviously, there is a lot more at play than these four points but, whatever your view was at the time, unless you take time out to consider the facts available chances are you’d vote Brexit if there is a further referendum. Or perhaps even worse, not vote at all and see what everyone else does. Brexit is a big one for any of us. Its impact will be felt far and wide, especially by our children. If we get the chance to vote again I hope to see you there and I hope you can find the time and passion to stay engaged with the debate. I am not saying there is a right or wrong answer. What I am saying is, your thoughts are important as is everyone’s voice being heard.

Bringing this psychology stuff closer to home. I wonder how it impacts you? Deep down, what do you really want to do but are too scared to try? What are you doing that you’d love to stop doing? How often do you really think through the commitments you make and question if they make you feel good?

Often, we Mums can fall into the trap of being a little too nice. We can hide or lose ourselves because we’re so busy ‘being a mum’ or are still trying to be the ‘good girl’ we’ve been encouraged to be all our life. Not only can that make life dull, it can also make you resent those closest to you that are making demands or seem to do what they want while you’re stuck doing the grunt work. If that resonates with you, remember you have a choice. You can change things. The first step of getting anywhere is being honest with yourself about what you want.

As you ponder remember life is short. The great Ferris Bueller (from “Ferris Bueller’s Day Off”, I’m an 80’s child) summed this up really well.
“Life moves pretty fast. If you don’t stop and look around once in a while, you could miss it.”

So, at the risk of infringing copyright – tell me what you want, what you really, really want.

If you’d like some help in creating positive change in your life you can contact Christine at coach@chrisalyst.com or on 07896 883636. You can also find out more about Christine by reading my interview with her here.