Episode 082: Understanding and Decoding the Communication of Behaviors with MegAnne Ford
Joining me on this week’s brand new episode of The Live FAB Life Podcast is parenting coach, MegAnne Ford of Be Kind Coaching.
In her work as a life and parenting coach, much of what MegAnne teaches is how to understand and decode the communication of behaviors, which isn’t limited to parent-child relationships, but to all human relationships.
When taking a functional approach to health, the goal is to uncover the root cause(s) of a problem and in many situations, especially ones rooted in emotional stress, relationships and how we communicate with each other is often at the root of the problem.
In this episode, you'll hear us:
Introduce the Mistaken Goals Chart
Discuss four behaviors and what they *really* mean
Explore misconceptions and truths when it comes to decoding behaviors
Action steps you can take immediately to put this action
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Naomi Nakamura: Joining me for today's show is parenting coach, MegAnne Ford. Now, some of you, especially those of you who know me in real life, you might be thinking, "What the heck is Naomi doing having a parenting coach on this show?" Because number one, this show is definitely not about parenting advice. And number two ... if I'm being honest, I'm not really a kid person, but as you will hear a lot of what Megan teaches with her parenting clients, is how to understand and decode the communication of behaviors. Which is not just limited to parenting, but to all human relationships.
Now, in taking a functional approach to health, the goal is always to uncover the root causes of a problem, and in many situations, especially ones rooted in emotional stress, our relationships and how we communicate with each other are at the root of the problem. That's what we're going to explore today. But before we do, let me introduce you to Megan.
Megan loves helping parents drink coffee, stop yelling, and enjoy their role as a parent. While studying psychology at VCU, she fell in love with figuring out how the mind worked. Focusing on positive connection and healthy attachment really drew her in, and ignited her passion for working with all different kinds of people. Over the years, she has worked with well over 500 different families in a variety of life stages and situations.
She thrives when building sustaining relationships with the families she works with, and loves seeing all the successes over the years. This is what inspired her to become a certified life and parent coach, and start her own business Be Kind Coaching. Now all of MegAnne's coaching is done remotely online, and through gaining access to her program vault, which has all of her different programs that she offers.
Now as a reminder, you can access all of the things we talk about as well as how to connect with MegAnne over on the show notes at www.live fablife.com/082 for episode 82, and with that let's get to the show.
Hi Friend, welcome to the show.
MegAnne Ford: Hey Naomi, thank you for having me.
Naomi Nakamura: We have had, we've been talking about doing this for a while, so I'm glad this is finally coming to fruition, and I think this is going to be a really interesting topic for people. Probably not something that people would expect me to have on my show, so before we-
MegAnne Ford: We're doing the unexpected.
Naomi Nakamura: We are, but it's very relevant which we'll get into. But before we get into that, can you share with our listeners, just who you are and what you do, and who you do it for?
MegAnne Ford: Yes, My name is MegAnne Ford, and I'm the owner of Be Kind Coaching, and I'm a parent coach. I help parents with strong willed children, learn how to remove fear based punishment from their parenting toolbox. Essentially my tagline is that I help parents drink hot coffee, learn how to yell less, and really enjoy the time with their loved one.
Naomi Nakamura: We need to provide context here, because parenting is not a main topic of my show, and those who know me know that I'm just, I'm not really a kid person. I like kids, I just like being able to give them back to their parents.
MegAnne Ford: Me too, that's why I don't have kids either.
Naomi Nakamura: Which is why people might be thinking, "What is going on here?" Let's provide people a little bit of context. You and I both being coaches were introduced in a business coaching program that we have, that we're in, couple of years ago actually. For those who aren't familiar with the entrepreneurial world, it can be really lonely and kind of tough space to navigate if you don't really have a support system.
MegAnne Ford: Like you say, you're on an island.
Naomi Nakamura: Totally.
MegAnne Ford: Then you go to all your friends who have like corporate nine to fives, and you're like, "I'm doing this island work," and they're like "You're crazy."
Naomi Nakamura: Or you go to them for advice and they have no idea what you're talking about.
MegAnne Ford: They're like, "Just don't do it." They're like, "Oh."
Naomi Nakamura: We met through this program that we're in, and we kind of broke off and formed our own mastermind with Tami Hackbarth, who's been on my show a few times as well. Because we are all coaches for different types of audiences, we're kind of all in the same, I guess points in our businesses. But because a lot of entrepreneurship is just about finding new ideas and trying new things, and most of all just supporting each other. We kind of formed our own mastermind.
Through our biweekly sessions, we had a lot of interesting conversations and I realized that a lot of what you talk about in terms of parent-child communication, is really applicable to just human to human communication.
MegAnne Ford: Isn't that amazing to have that revelation? To be like, "Oh wait, children are just tiny humans."
Naomi Nakamura: Right, and I found in the work that I do with my own clients, a lot of the challenges that my clients have are around things like mindset and communication. Because when we're trying to peel back the layers of why someone can't stick to a nutrition plan or can't make lifestyle changes, a lot of it really boils down to their mindset, and the stressors that are under that. Honestly a lot of the angst and stress and conflicts that we feel within ourselves and within others comes down to communication and the ability to communicate with others effectively.
Which also then is closely tied to just having self-awareness. When I take the approach of ... in functional nutrition, is peeling things back and looking for the root cause. Really when we're looking for the root cause, a lot of times we're looking for, "Oh, it's my thyroid, it's my hormones can becoming imbalanced."
When we look at what the root causes of those things are, it comes down to stress. Well, what are the things that cause us stress? Relationships with others is a really big thing, and that's where the role of communication came in. That's why I think it's so important to have this conversation here on this podcast, because a lot of these listeners are parents and we're sure they can get a lot of that in terms of how they communicate with their children.
But in terms of also how we communicate with each other. I know that I did, I know that we've had some really personal discussions about my own communications with my parents. I can see how what we're going to talk about today could have been really beneficial in my formative years.
MegAnne Ford: Oh my goodness. What you're saying is, if you are listening and you have any interaction with any human ever in any capacity, you'll get something from this.
Naomi Nakamura: Absolutely, so what we're going to talk about today, because you have so much ways that you help people. I have seen the type of support that you give people and the type of things that you teach them, and it's really amazing. But this one thing in particular that we're going to talk about today is the Mistaken behavior Chart. Can you kind of explain it what it is?
MegAnne Ford: It's like decoder glasses for any hard moment in your life. That's what it is. I gave it to my 16 year old niece a couple of months ago and she was like, "[Tee Tee..." that's what she calls me, she's like, "Oh my God, Tee Tee, This is just life." I'm like, "I know."
Mistaken Goals Chart is not created by me, sadly. But I had run and operated my life so much through this that it just made sense when I discovered it. It's like, when you discover something you're like, "Yes, so validating."
That was actually created by a woman named Jane Nelsen, and she created a program called Positive Discipline, which sometimes has a misnomer. When we say positive discipline, somewhat, sometimes it's like, "Oh, you're teaching parents to just be like doormats and just rollover and allow their kids to do whatever they want?" Like, "Yeah, in a way," but I had to fill their buckets up in positive ways. Because behavior is a communication skill, and when we can start to understand what the behavior in front of us is communicating to us, then we can find more positive strategies to handle it. Does that make sense?
Naomi Nakamura: Yes, and so as you're talking about this, I really want listeners, especially if you are not a parent to really think about it in terms of just communicating human to human, adult to adult, coworker to coworker, friend to friend, spouse to spouse, whatever type of, or whoever it is you communicate to.
MegAnne Ford: Thanks for putting that, because it is like, my verbiage is parent-child, but it is just person to person. When we talk about the Mistaken Goals Chart, we're talking about any person's behavior in front of us. Often we try to go at the behavior with what it is that we see. We think like, "If someone's not listening to us, it means this."
I was just actually watching the Brene Brown Netflix special, and she was saying, "It's the story we tell ourselves about what's happening in front of us." What is the story that we're telling ourselves? Oftentimes when it's a hard, difficult, painful moment, we tell ourselves a story that we have to get whatever it is that we can see to stop.
If someone is being rude to us or eye rolling us, that means the story that we tell ourselves is that they're being disrespectful or that they are a disrespectful person. But actually when we talk about misbehavior and trying to, and decode what's going on in front of us, if we take a counterintuitive approach and looked at what feelings are evoked in us, then we can start to understand how to approach the situation from a more responsive and proactive way.
Naomi Nakamura: Totally, and we're going to get into this, but I just want to give an example of something that happened to me, and this is in the context of learning how to build a business and being an entrepreneur. A large part of my business is being a Beautycounter consultant, and people have a lot of opinions about that. I, was about a year or so ago, I had a conversation with someone about it in a very, just casual like, "Hey, how are you doing? What's going on with you? What are you up to?"
I shared what I was up to with my Beautycounter business, because I had just come back from a trip for it. The person had some really negative and hurtful things to say to me, and this was someone who I've been friends with for well over 20 years, so this person knows me well. It's someone who was a very trusted friend, and it was very hurtful, but in that very moment ... and you can tell me if I'm off track or on track here, but in that very moment I realized that what she was saying really had nothing to do with me, and was something she was projecting from a past experience she had about something that she perceived was a similar situation.
Even though it totally wasn't, [inaudible 00:10:53] in her mind it was. My initial reaction maybe just a few years ago would have been to be very hurt and defensive, and in that moment I actually had, it was actually surprising to me where I actually found a lot of freedom and empowerment moving past that reaction. Realizing that what her words were saying had nothing to do with me. I was able to move past fears.
MegAnne Ford: Yes.
Naomi Nakamura: And actually turned it into a growing experience. I think that's kind of what you're talking about here, right?
MegAnne Ford: Yes, yes.
Naomi Nakamura: Again, you're talking about it in terms of parent-child, but this was just a friend to friend in a-
MegAnne Ford: Yes.
Naomi Nakamura: context of business. What we're talking about, really is just human to human communication.
MegAnne Ford: Yes, yes. So many good things there. One I want to honor you, and that's like your work coming through. I work with clients and I always say, "We need to honor our wins," and sometimes people, I had, was speaking to a couple today and the dad sat down, I said, "What are the wins?" He's like, "We haven't had any wins."
But we've noticed how to become attuned to when our family is going to be successful. For instance, I can't go to the grocery store at nine if my wife's putting the youngest to bed and the older two are like alone. That's not a successful [inaudible 00:12:05]. He was like, "So I guess I learned that," and I'm like, "That's a win." He was like, "But it still doesn't work," and I'm like, "But you're not blaming them, you're taking ownership and saying, I've become attuned. You just used the word attuned, that's a win."
Meaning, becoming aware. Honor all those wins Naomi, because that's like speaks to your personal growth. Let's dig into what, when I say Mistaken Goals, what that is. The way that our brains are wired, because we're social beings, we are wired to have two buckets inside of us filled. A bucket for power or significance, we want to feel significant, we want to have space, we want people to listen to us, we want to be able to make choices in our lives. The other is belonging or attention, we want to be like, "Hey, notice me, notice me, and love me," because that's, we're social beings so we want to be connected.
That even pulls back to what we were talking about before, is as lonely entrepreneurs, it is in our instincts to go towards finding community, finding space, finding appreciation, finding a community. That's probably how you and I found each other, because our buckets of attention were running low, we're like, "Wait, we got to do something about this."
Those are the two buckets, and how it can manifest in misbehavior is we use these two buckets to get filled, and they can be filled in either positive ways or negative ways. Just as long as they're getting filled, we're good. When we go through those buckets and understanding it, we can uncover that those buckets get filled in kind of negative ways by four different main misbehaviors.
Naomi Nakamura: Can we get into those four, because I think they're super awesome.
MegAnne Ford: Yes.
Naomi Nakamura: I have it in front of me right now. I know it's going to be kind of hard for the listener to visualize because you don't have an actual copy of this, but keep listening and we'll have a resource for you at the end to kind of help you get a better understanding of it. Why don't we go through each of the four?
MegAnne Ford: Let's talk about the four. The four is undue attention, misguided power, revenge and assumed inadequacy. Those four, like the big goals, that's either to like have power, have attention, get revenge because we're hurt or to be left alone. That assumed inadequacy is just the idea of just like, "Leave me alone." How do we figure out what's going on?
Naomi Nakamura: Start with an undue attention. Say a child or an adult is displaying a certain behavior, so what would those feelings or behaviors be for undue attention?
MegAnne Ford: Those are the moments when you have to get something done. You're for instance making dinner or you have a lot of ... for entrepreneurs it's like when you have to do something or send an email out, and then something pulls you away from that task. When you're getting pulled away from what it is that you're doing, it's like, "Notice me, I need this attention." Those feelings that get evoked in you are an annoyance, when you were like, "How many times have I told you, I don't want to be doing this right now? Gosh, leave me alone, I need quiet."
Those irritating, like moments. For instance today I was out walking my dog, but taken away from human to human contact. I was walking my dog, and she just kept sniffing the ground, and I knew that I needed to come in and get some stuff done. I'm sitting there being so annoyed in it, and I'm like, "All right, she just needs attention, she needs attention."
Here she's like, "I'm going to sniff everything." Or like when your dog has to go out and they're like, and you're like, "Leave me alone." You're like, "Oh gosh, you have to go out."
Naomi Nakamura: I'm nodding my head because that's like every day of my life. When someone's exhibiting the behaviors of being nagging or.
MegAnne Ford: Just pulling you away from what it is that you want to do and you're like, "So annoying." If you're hearing yourself saying, "Gosh, that's so annoying." Or, "That friend is so annoying."
Naomi Nakamura: Co-worker.
MegAnne Ford: "That co-worker is so annoying." When that person is like, "Oh, they just annoy me." When that is being evoked in you, that means attention, and what our go to is, is to like [inaudible 00:15:57] or like doing things for that person. Like, "Fine, I'll take you outside, fine, I'll do this." What ends up happening is that that behavior pattern, because we're filling it negatively, will start to escalate.
For instance, the dog ... let's go back to the dog because that's a safe example that we both share. You're doing work on your email, and the dog comes up and it's like, at first they jus sit next to you and you're like, "Cool, I see you." But-
Naomi Nakamura: Or they just stare at you nonstop until you give them what they want.
MegAnne Ford: Yes, but you're like, "No, I'm going to ignore it, I'm fine, I got to finish this." Then they go and get into the trash, and you're like, "Oh my God." Because it's like, "You're not noticing me here, so I'll escalate it until you notice me." That's getting that attention in negative ways. Those like, our go to is like to do that, just to ignore or to try to bypass or just to like push away. And really what we need to be thinking is that person is saying, "Notice me, I'm here, I need some attention."
Instead of getting into that negative feed, switching it to being positive and just acknowledging them for what they are. Acknowledging them that they need some attention, just giving them like, "Hey, I see you, give me a second. I'm going to quick, send this one email out and then I'll take you out."
If we can direct them to where they're going to get that attention, then we can shift it into that positive.
Naomi Nakamura: Just redirecting the behavior?
MegAnne Ford: Yes.
Naomi Nakamura: Redirecting the Mistaken Goal?
MegAnne Ford: Yes, because that annoyance should trigger, "Oh they need attention, and, I can either give them attention in negative ways by yelling or side eyeing or rolling my eyes or."
Naomi Nakamura: Just getting angry?
MegAnne Ford: Getting angry then shifts into the second Mistaken Goal. This is how it subtle shifts. It's not necessarily about ... when we're talking about these things, this is a great point to put. That It's not based on what it is, it's based on how we're feeling. Like you said, getting angry, that's an indicator to me that we're now shifting into power. That's the second Mistaken Goal is mistaken power, and misguided power. That's knowing, "Hey, I want to be the boss." In this moment, that's where power struggles happen. That's where like one person says something and someone else is like, "Well no, we don't want to that way." You're like, "Oh, my God, we have to do it that way."
They're like, "Well, I just don't think that's the best way to do it." You're like, "Oh my gosh, oh my gosh, you're not even listening to me." It's like those power struggles that happen.
Naomi Nakamura: I can see this happening with siblings.
MegAnne Ford: So many, yes.
Naomi Nakamura: Or even spouses or partners.
MegAnne Ford: Partners driving is like where my husband and I tend to get into power struggles a lot, because I have a certain way that we should be driving on the road, and he likes to miss lots of exits. I have to sit there and just be like, "Oh my God, did you not?" There's this terrible story about tolls where we ended up blowing through three tolls. I had a complete meltdown, and we had the pull over, there was a cop that came to the car. I was crying, and the cop said, "Is everything okay?" Jason rolled down his window and was like, "Hey, I just missed a couple of tolls." The cop literally looked at both of us and was like, "Carry on." He just came into the energy of the car, and he was like, "Whoa, I don't know what I just walked up to."
But that's like power struggles. That's like where this power is, and what our go to is like we're trying to one up the other person. When we notice that we're starting to feel anger, that's indicator that what's happening in front of us is power.
Naomi Nakamura: Maybe we feel challenged or threatened?
MegAnne Ford: Yes, all those moments of like, "I can't believe that you're treating in this way, why aren't you listening to me?" That's when we'll go to globalizations like, "You always do this, you always do this."
Naomi Nakamura: Or when it comes to your siblings, it's like, "You're not going to get away with this, I'm telling mom and dad."
MegAnne Ford: And go there so quickly, like, "Who then can get there first?" This is markers or that's what, the markers of, the flags are like, "This is power." Instead of trying to dig in, and trying to overpower, and trying to one up, if we can just shift into understanding like, "What that person needs right now is a little bit of power. Their bucket for power is low and they're getting it."
How we can help them is by giving them choices. Like, "Hey," by saying the words, "Hey, I need some help here." Like in that whole story with my husband, I could say, "Hey, I need some help here. I'm starting to feel angry because you're missing tolls. I need some help here to calm down, so can you please pay the next toll?" "I'm struggling here, I need some help here." Or "Hey, can you help me out?" Offer limited choices, meaning for children morning routines and getting shoes on is always the hot button ticket, and it's always a really good way to offer a choice here is, "Are you going to get your shoes on or am I going to get your shoes on?"
As soon as we offer that limited choice, shoes are getting on, it's just who's going to do it. As soon as we offer that to a child, they're going to pick themselves because they want to feel powerful.
Naomi Nakamura: I have a situation that comes to mind. I do have a nine to five job, and I am a program manager or project manager. Whenever I have, we're planning something, I don't like to have too many people on a decision making call, because everybody's going to have a voice and an opinion and we're really not going to get anywhere.
What I like to do is that, I like to identify a core team where we pre select options that we present.
MegAnne Ford: Yes.
Naomi Nakamura: So that it's not just this free for all open forum, but I say, "Okay, if we're going to present this to a more extended team, I don't want it to be everybody throwing their random [inaudible 00:21:14]. It will not be productive and we will get nothing done. Why don't we as a core team identify three to five options that we then present to them that we can say pick one or pick two. That makes the whole situation, people's time, people's energy, more productive so that we actually move the needle forward of what we're trying to get done. But then everybody walks away feeling like, hey, we're, we're getting somewhere, some things are getting done."
MegAnne Ford: Or "Hey, I had a voice in that. Even if I'm voting between two things that were not my decision, I still feel like I have a say in it." Because then that feels like that power bucket is being filled. Right?
Naomi Nakamura: Very much so.
MegAnne Ford: It's just a subtle shift from trying to dig in to be right, to just offering that power. Then the one that you were talking about before, when the friend said the hurtful comments, that goes into the third category which is revenge. Revenge happens, revenge cycles are like the one of my most favorite things to unpack, because I think that those, once you hit revenge you are stuck, families get stuck in revenge.
Because people aren't listening to each other, and it's just feeling hurt, and they don't know how to mitigate their own hurt feelings. They're not self aware, and so they're just spitting out more hurt. Going back to that friend who hurt you, you're like, "Whoa, this isn't about me. This is about her. I could make the choice to like hurt her back and like undercut her, but that is not going to be helpful or hurtful."
That self awareness in you to say, "Hey, this isn't about me, but I'm going to take the high road." Like Michelle Obama, when they go low, you go high, which is hard to do, so hard to do.
Naomi Nakamura: Well, and I was going to say something like this, when it comes to revenge, I think, like you said, it's rooted in hurt and disappointment or in just not having trust or just not believing in something or someone.
MegAnne Ford: For the majority, I'll speak from my own experience. I was never taught how to go through hurt. I was never taught because my parents were never taught, and so we can only do the best we know how to do. We can only do the best we can, and when, especially when raising children, they're looking to you to teach them. What you don't know, you can't pass down what you don't know. It's like me trying to expect ... if I had children, expect them to speak Russian, but I don't speak Russian. Why would that even, it would never make sense.
I first have to learn about what to do with hurt, how to mitigate through hurt, have that self awareness, to talk about that, before I can even start to pass that on.
Naomi Nakamura: What is the redirect there?
MegAnne Ford: Hurt is understanding that when things like, things that catch you off guard, they're like, "I can't even believe that you said that," or like, "What did you say?" Those moments, those are the moments that are indicating that flag moment that it's, and that it's revenge. Instead of undercutting back or trying to hurt them back, understanding what they're saying is like, "I'm hurt and validate my feelings."
If you can shift then to saying, "Hey, sounds to me like I said something that hurt your feelings," or, "Sounds to me like you didn't like that." Or, "Sounds to me like something's going on," or, "What's going on? Gaining more clarity and more information can allow that person to share the hurt without having to take ownership over fixing it, rescuing it, taking responsibility for that.
Naomi Nakamura: I was just thinking about a situation where this is where having empathy comes into play.
MegAnne Ford: Empathy.
Naomi Nakamura: Now this is, I'm going to give you an example of how what we're talking about here directly ties to the topics that I normally talk about here on my podcast now. It was about maybe 11 or so years ago I started a job, and I had a manager at that time who was extremely, extremely micromanaging, to the point where I cringed having to go into the office every single day.
I cringed at having to have any type of communication, email, phone call, meeting with him. The rest of my team members all felt that way, and we harbored a lot of.
MegAnne Ford: Resentment?
Naomi Nakamura: Resentment and lack of trust. There was just so much angst there, and it caused so much stress, which then made me look for other ways to be able to release that stress. For me at the time that looked like long distance running, which then led to a whole bunch of other stuff.
We look for other ways to take control of the situation, because we don't have control of that situation. One of the best pieces of advice I actually got from this person that I was then like, [inaudible 00:25:41] this actually applies to him, was to always put yourself in the other person's shoes. To kind of understand why are they behaving the way that they are.
In his example, I realized that the people that he reported to were even more micromanaging, and so the way he managed us was a reflection of the way he was being managed. Once I realized that, I feel like I had a lot more empathy and grace where things became a lot more tolerable.
MegAnne Ford: So that you could understand it and see it from his perspective?
Naomi Nakamura: Right.
MegAnne Ford: Empathy, Can we do like a quick asterisk moment about empathy?
Naomi Nakamura: Yes, please.
MegAnne Ford: Empathy, it's so hard to do. We want to like say it, and have empathy in all of the good moments, but really where it makes a difference is in the stressful moments to be able to shift out of our ego. Ego is protecting us, ego is keeping us, the rational logical mind is the ego. It's hard to resist that ego, to see and put yourself into someone else's shoes, and hold that space for them. That comes from having self awareness, be aware of the feelings that you are having, then practicing modeling, and noticing that same feeling in someone else. Then talking about how your actions might impact someone to feel those feelings, and then be able to take accountability through that.
That's like empathy, a little bit broken down. If you're a parent reading or listening to it, reading books with your children and modeling how the characters feel in that moment. Even if it's not like, "Sally feels happy," you could say like, "How's her face look, what does her face go on? What would happen if she got hit in the face with a ball?" If it's a playground scene, I'm making up stuff. "How would that feel? What could Duane do to help Sally feel better? What could that." Start to unpack these emotions, and that's how you start to form empathy to happen.
Because it's a practice, it's a discipline. It's not something that like, "Look, I'm 21, my empathy came in," it's something that gets practiced.
Naomi Nakamura: Yes, absolutely. It's like, "This is not come to me overnight, it took ..." When he had said that to me, like, "Well, you got to put yourself in the other person's shoes." I remember being just so resentful that he said that to me, but then I realized I'm like ... because we don't have control over other people's behavior, and if we are stuck-
MegAnne Ford: Wait, wait can you just say that whole thing again?
Naomi Nakamura: We don't have control over other people's behaviors, so if we are in situations that cannot be easily changed, like a job, you have control to change a job, it might not happen the next day obviously for many different reasons. If your parent-child relationship, that might be a little bit difficult to change. You have to look at how can you change yourself to make the situation better for you.
MegAnne Ford: That's yes, how can you change it? That was also the key theme of these clients that I work with this morning. The mom at the end, she said ... we have one session left working together," and she said, "I think what I've noticed through this whole process is, I can't change my kids. I came to this whole experience thinking thank God MegAnne, you're going to fix my child. You're going to fix them, you're going to make that better."
Then she's like, "And then you realize, I needed to accept the child that I have in front of me. See her for all of her strengths, and see her for all of her weaknesses, and see how she fits into our family as a whole." Because it, she said, "It made me realize we were isolating her. We were isolating her because she was the oldest of three and she was highly aggressive, and she would say the F word, like it was candy. She was in fifth grade, and she was so out from everyone."
She said, "But it made me realize she felt so out, because we did make her so out." This idea of, "Oh, I'm the parent, I'm the person who's in control over how I show up, because I'm the adult, and that's the child."
Naomi Nakamura: Again, think of all the different relationships that you have that this situation can be applied to..
MegAnne Ford: Yes.
Naomi Nakamura: That's why, and for those listening in our mastermind sessions, when MegAnne's talking about what she's doing in her business, and I'm like, "Hey, what does that Mistaken Goal Chart you're talking about?" And she shares it with me, and I'm like, "Oh my gosh, this is not just for parents and kids, this is for adults too."
MegAnne Ford: "Why didn't anybody tell us this?"
Naomi Nakamura: Yes, absolutely.
MegAnne Ford: Let's talk about quick, let's talk about the last goal. That last goal is that assumed inadequacy, which is when things feel like Mount Everest. I don't know about how you felt Naomi, but the idea of me starting a business felt like Mount Everest in front of me. It was easier ... I think there's a statistic out that says ... I don't know, 90% of businesses fail within the first couple of years or some sort of ... don't quote me on the numbers, but more fail than succeed.
Naomi Nakamura: I also think it can apply to people who kind of have the whole mentality.
MegAnne Ford: Yes.
Naomi Nakamura: Or victim mentality.
MegAnne Ford: Yes, and so yes, that whole identity that like, "What's easier for me is to trick you into not having this expectation of me, because I can't have this expectation of myself." "It's easier for me to blame, I'm not going to public speaking, I can't do that, I'm not good at that, I could never run." My friend McKenzie, she just ran her first 10 K last weekend, and over the summer we were walking on a trail, and I was telling her how to run and breathe. I was like, "The hardest part of running is learning how to breathe while you run," and she was like, "God, I hate running, I'll never run."
I was mocking her at the end of the race. I was like, "I hate running, I'll never run," and she's like, "I know, I love it." It's like this idea of ... but it's easier, It gives us an excuse. This idea of assumed inadequacy is-
Naomi Nakamura: Giving up before you even try?
MegAnne Ford: Yes, It's this idea of feeling helpless, hopeless, just completely overwhelmed. Like, "Whoa, I don't even know how to start," and for children, this comes with learning a new skill in school. Imagine ... for me it was always spelling, at third grade, my dad ... it's like seared into my mind, used to say, "Spelling is atrocious, your spelling is atrocious MegAnne."
I just remember going into, I remember so vividly in second grade having to, I missed a spelling test, one because I ditched it. I pretended that I was sick, because I knew the spelling test day, so I pretended I was sick, and then I went to school, and they're like, "Guess what? You have to take your makeup test before you go out to the playground." I was like, "Seriously? I thought I ditch this whole thing."
But no, I had to sit there, and I remember my teacher was standing over me. It was just me and her in the classroom, everybody else was in the playground and the word Naomi ... I don't know, have I ever shared this with you?
Naomi Nakamura: No, I'm laughing because I'm thinking of my own situations.
MegAnne Ford: The word that I got stuck with, the word that has haunted me my entire life. I'm 35 years old right now, the word that like seven year old MegAnne got stuck on, of, O-F. Of. I know she said of to me, I have this clear memory, she said of to me and the whole time I'm like, "Of, of, of," and I spelled it U-V. I will never forget getting that test back, turning it over to my dad who's like a Harvard graduate, and he said to me, "You're spelling is atrocious MegAnne."
Just like, oh my God, so from that day I was like, "Cool, my spelling's atrocious." It gave me an easy ride, like, "Don't expect me to get As on my test," because it's easier for me to flunk out then to get As.
Naomi Nakamura: That happened to me in fourth grade with long division, because that was really good at math until fourth grade line division. Then I just told myself I was never good in math after that.
MegAnne Ford: Because that's easier, because our brain's easy, our brain's understanding, our brains make up these stories. It's easier rather than noticing like, "Hey, what's really going on here is that instead of people giving up on me and saying ..." or over helping or over fixing it or doing it for me. Really what I needed in that moment is for someone to hold space and show me a first step.
Because clearly spelling was something that was not making sense to me. It was hard for me, the organization of it was hard for me. I don't have dyslexia, but it was just like something in the processing. I honestly, if I'm going to pin it on something, I think that I'm more of a visual learner, and hearing the word was where I got tripped up. Because even me I was like, "Of," trying to sound it out, couldn't do it.
Naomi Nakamura: Is that the redirecting behavior is...?
MegAnne Ford: Yes, so if we were to redirect and just offer a small step. If we were just offering and saying, "Hey, what this person is really saying is don't give up on me, help me out. I just need to get started with a small step." Then just being that role of just offering a small step, "Hey, looks like spellings hard for you." "Hey, looks like long division is somewhere where you struggled with, because last year you were really great at math. What's going on here?"
It's like the role of the person of empower or authority to say, "Hey, how can I help you? What would help look like? Do you want help?" Then create that space to understand that that person is not, not wanting to perform, but also just needs some support there.
Naomi Nakamura: That's kind of what we do in our work as coaches. That is with the work of coaches, whether it be a health coach, a parenting coach, any type of coach. That's what we do, is we hold the space to help you get started. We don't do the work for you, but we guide you in how to get started so that you can do this for yourself.
MegAnne Ford: Because that too is someone coming and being vulnerable and saying, "Hey, I'm struggling here.' I guess that reaction of being, "What, you don't get it? It's so easy, come on. You just do with this." That feeling of, "Oh God, I'm really not good at this," will clam someone up really quickly.
Naomi Nakamura: Now you have some misconceptions and truths that you've come across as being super common-
MegAnne Ford: Yes.
Naomi Nakamura: In the work that you do. Why don't you share some of that with us?
MegAnne Ford: I came up with three common misconceptions. Every conversation I get on with a new client, these are the three things that I like to debunk the first thing. The first one is they come and they'll say, "My child is a master manipulator," and they'll use the term manipulator on what's going on with their behavior. Really what I hear is, "My child is stressing me out," but really understanding that, just like this Mistaken Goals Chart, we kind of walk through how to attune to your own feelings to understand what's going on in front of you. But behavior is just that communication.
Your child's not manipulating, your child's just getting their needs met. If it's power or attention, they're getting that need met in a negative way. You can flip it to fill it in a positive way.
Naomi Nakamura: That applies to the same thing, sometimes we feel like our parents are manipulating us or a friend is manipulating us or a co-worker is manipulating us.
MegAnne Ford: My favorite thing, my second passion is, oh, so the first one is early childhood education and development, and the second is true crime. Because let's talk about going off the deep end, is like, I'll watch things, I'll be like, "Oh yeah in like three months, they're going to start doing this because they're looking for power and attention." My husband Jason is like, "What? How did you call that?" "It's behavior."
Once you know it, it's like, oh it's, yeah. The second misconception is that punishments correct misbehavior, the punishments man, punishments, punishments, punishments. Punishments is this idea that if we inflict pain as a behavior modification, that that person will change their behavior. It's the definition of trying to squeeze a square peg into a round hole. "I'm going to jam it in there, and I'm going to make you hurt, and I'm going to make it. I'm going to make you feel bad for messing up and making that mistake."
Naomi Nakamura: I'm nodding my head, because I came from the generation where we were spanked as kids.
MegAnne Ford: Oh my gosh, that same dad put a belt to me once in third grade. I've lived, and you know what happens is one of four things, resentment, "That's not fair." Rebellion, "Well I'm going to do it anyway, just watch me." Revenge, "I'm going to hurt you back, and I'm going to make it even worse," or retreat, and retreat is like the scariest one.
Naomi Nakamura: Well, and sometimes all four of those things happen in the same situation.
MegAnne Ford: Yes, yes, so classic timeout now is like when parents are like, "Well they went to timeout because they spilled water or milk. They went to timeout, and they drew all over the walls." I'm like, "Yeah, they were pissed off that you put them in isolation. They drew over the walls, that's revenge." Just like, "Well fine, I'm here, guess what? I'm going to get you back." It's like kids are so smart because that's like we are, they come so perceptive. They're so in tune with their emotions, they know the Mistaken Goals Chart, they just, embody it. They're like, "Cool, you're going to do this? We'll fine, I'll do this instead." You're like, "Oh, you're so smart."
Naomi Nakamura: I'm nodding my head because I've lived through that.
MegAnne Ford: When you can understand that punishments, just like, they trigger pain and pain triggers the stress response in our brain. We go to reptilian brain, which is fight, flight, freeze, and that stress response is like, what punishments do. Yelling, and timeouts, and spanking, so those are the three things that I help parents remove. Is because, it's not because I'm like, "Oh, you have to be the great mom or the great ... just be nice."
It's like, as soon as I realize that, I'm like, "Oh, it's so counterproductive, it's so counterproductive to where I want to go." I would rather, I want to work in ease. I want to work in flow, and I can take some deep breaths and calm myself down, so that then we can move through it with more flow.
Naomi Nakamura: I don't think we've mentioned it, but just to give people context, you actually came to this work because you spent many years as an early education teacher.
MegAnne Ford: Yeah, I'd spent 16 years in early childhood education, and understanding that I loved that work so much, but man, it was triggering beyond belief. Because there's nothing like, there is nothing compared to being in a room with 16 other people's children during nap time by yourself. You're thinking, "What's going to happen if a kid wakes up? What happens if a kid has to go to the bathroom? What happens if a kid throws up? What happens if the fire alarm goes off. What happens if a phone call comes? What happens?"
All those things are running through your head, and if you're not constantly working on calming yourself down, they'll eat you alive. Those tiny perceptive beings, you're 16, you're 1 to 16 in [inaudible 00:40:15]. Understanding how to, understand how to become aware of what's coming on your body so that you can actually enjoy that.
I used, by the end of my career, I had two teachers would come into my room of ... during play time, and they would come in from their room, and they'd be like, "I just need a break because my room is chaos and yours is always so zen." I'm like, "Yeah." You're coming into a room of chaotic kids, chaotic. But it is like this energy that I worked hard to attune within myself.
Naomi Nakamura: Yes.
MegAnne Ford: It's not easy, but it's not easy while you're learning it I think, because it's hard to practice. It's hard to release what got you here, but once you get into it, it's so much easier. I laugh sometimes with my other friends who are in the same field and I'm like, "I just do this really because I'm lazy. I'm lazy, I don't want to yell and feel like. Then I have to feel guilty, and then I have to apologize, then I have to do all these restorative things. Or."
Naomi Nakamura: Because it's draining, that energy is draining.
MegAnne Ford: It's so draining. I was like, "It's so much easier to like let them fall and fail in front of me, and just be like, was that fun? Would you do that again? Here's the rag, go clean it up." That's easier, because then it's like, "I don't have to clean it up, it's on them." The last thing is just this misconception is this idea too, is like we have to feel like we have to fix what's in front of us by what we see.
Just quickly to understand why it's important not to be, just when we talk about this Mistaken Goal [inaudible 00:41:49] kind of understanding what's happening in front of us, but it's really about attuning to how you're feeling. Because, I'm going to use the example of doing homework. A child might not be doing their homework, you request a child to do homework, and they're not doing it because they want the constant reminding.
They want you to be like, "Go do your homework, go do your homework, go do your homework, go do your homework." That's the attention. Or you say, "Go do your homework," and they're like, "I'm not doing my homework," that's the power. Or they, you could say, "Well fine, go do your homework," and they're like, "Well, I'm going to rip up my homework right in front of you," that's revenge. Or when you say, "Go do your homework," and they lie to you, and they say, "Well, I've already done it." that's assumed inadequacy.
That's where it's really important to understand what you're feeling in that moment, because the thing can be applied to all of the goals. Just really understanding, if you're getting annoyed at reminding or if you're getting challenged or if you're feeling like, "Oh my God, why did you do that?" Or if you're like, "Wait, I don't trust you, what's going on here?" Is really the marker to understand like how to approach the situation.
Naomi Nakamura: In an adult setting, I think particularly if someone manages people, kind of the same thing.
MegAnne Ford: It's 100% the same thing, because it's all about power, it's all abut power. Parents have a perceived power over their children, and it's when they understand like, "Oh, it's easier if we share the power here. If I can teach you how to be autonomous, how I can teach you like how I can like pull back and not micromanage."
The best story here is when I was a teacher, I would get, I would work with the oldest group, and they would come to me, and people in other classrooms ... I mean if you have ever been into a preschool and you're listening, you're going to know what I'm going to talk about. Teachers will run their classroom and be very micromanage, in the corporate role to, you know those managers that just kind of micromanage everything.
Well kids would come to my room and I'd be like, "Guess what guys? You can play with whatever you want." In certain classrooms they would be like, "Housekeeping's closed, art is closed, you can't get the paint out, you can only play with table toys or blocks." Because those are for the adult, those were the easiest ones for them to clean up.
They would micromanage and offer limited choices, because they felt disarmed and power by having it all open. Kids would get to my room and my first two weeks with my co-teacher, I would just be like, "Girl, we're going to dig in here, and we're going to set some firm expectations." I would say, the kids would come in, and I'd be like, "Guess what guys? You can play with anything, you can get all the toys out." I would watch, their eyes would like go wide like, "What?" They would get all of the toys out, and it would be like bliss.
Everything's coming out, they're all playing and everything's going on, and I'd say, "Okay guys, we're about to go out to, go to the playground. But first we have to eat snacks, and now we have to clean up." They would take all the bins out, and they would just take their arm and bulldoze toys into the bins. They would just hold the bin, they'd just be like, clean it all up and meet me on the carpet in like, I don't know, 30 seconds.
I would let them, they'd all come to the carpet, and be like, "Okay guys, just so you know, I need to go do a quick check, just to make sure that you put everything out in the right place. I would go, and I'd pull out the bins, and I'd be like, "Oh my gosh, [Ashby 00:44:54] ..." who was my co-teacher? Ashby, guess what they did? They put blocks and dress up and Crayons all in the Lego bin." I would dump it out in front of them, and I'd be like, "Nope." I would go through and in the middle of the circle would be a huge pile of all the toys, and the kids are just like, "WTF is going on?" I'd be like, "Guys, you know when you clean up, make sure that you take out what you're going to play with so that you're in charge in putting it away."
Then we would spend time organizing the classroom, and I'd spend the first two weeks setting down that solid foundation, because I didn't want to be in control over what you did. I wanted you to be in control of what you did, but I wanted to show that I was very serious. We would, sometimes we would miss going outside, we would miss, we'd have a delayed snack, we'd have, our schedule would be pushed back, because I really wanted to make sure that they understood.
Then past two weeks, they started to take ownership and agency over the classroom. I didn't have to micromanage things, because they were doing it on their own. There was just this like smooth system. Man, I lived for that moment of, "Well, I'm going to go check," and they're like, "Oh God."
Naomi Nakamura: I love it. What are three, I guess actions that you would recommend? People are listening to this, and maybe they're having some ahas about the way that they parent their kids or a relationship with a colleague or a friend. What are three, I guess, takeaways or tactical things people can do to kind of start putting these things into action?
MegAnne Ford: Let's talk about that. The first one is if you are a parent or if you're just curious, I have a free quiz called How Kind Is Your Family, and you can find it at bitly/KindQuiz, and that's kind with a capital K, quiz with a capital Q.
Naomi Nakamura: I will have a link to it on the show notes.
MegAnne Ford: Perfect. I just learned that Bitly, Bitly links are very, are case sensitive, I had no idea.
Naomi Nakamura: Oh, I didn't know that either.
MegAnne Ford: Yes, it is good to know.
Naomi Nakamura: Good to know.
MegAnne Ford: The second is to practice bringing awareness to your feelings. I do this in quiet moments. Sometimes if I'm feeling overwhelmed or I've tripped wired into a frantic feelings, I'll just drive home with the radio off. in that moment, I'm focusing on deep breathing to bring awareness back to me, so that there's no outer stimulus. Starting to get aware of those feelings, even sometimes I suggest keeping a feelings log of what feelings, what were all the feelings you felt in that day. Or printing out ... If you Google feelings charts, you can print out a feelings chart, and just bringing awareness to those things can kind of help. Again, bring, once you can name it, then you contain it.
Naomi Nakamura: I just want to point out for longtime listeners who have heard me speak about this many times, that's just another form of journaling. I advocate journaling for so many different reasons and again, it's not a whole dear diary thing, but it's literally just capturing thoughts and capturing actions. So that, hindsight's 20/20, so that when you are in a situation, you're thinking about something, you're like, "How did I handle this?" Or, "What could I learn from that?" Go back, it can even be like leaving yourself voice memos on your phone. Using the note pads on your phone or whatever works for you, but take the time to journal these things.
MegAnne Ford: I'm going to say like a simple prompt here, is oftentimes when we're just starting this, when we're going from unaware to aware, we'll start to say the words like, "I am mad." "I am happy." "I am," and we start to bring that into our identity, which seems like if you think about it, you're putting on the cloak of happy when you're like, "I am happy," or, "I am mad." If we can just change, I suggest changing that word am to feel, "I feel mad, I feel happy," so that we can start to release these more negative feelings easy.
Naomi Nakamura: Really simple, but really powerful tweak there.
MegAnne Ford: Really, especially if you're journaling. Then the last is ... you want to give them a free chart? Want to do the download?
Naomi Nakamura: Sure, yeah. We'll put it in the show notes.
MegAnne Ford: Let's do it. So that you can go and download that, and so that you can have it up. The full thing that we're talking about, and just understanding that anger is an indicator to power, and you want to offer choices. Annoyance is the attention and you want to say, "Notice me, notice me." Hurt trips into revenge, and so we want to validate, and then those feelings of hopelessness or overwhelmed signals inadequacy, and we just want to offer a small step.
Naomi Nakamura: Like we said, the show notes will be over at www.livefablife.com/082 for episode 82, and then I'll have links to your quiz. We'll have this download and then we'll also ... well, why don't you tell us, how can people connect with you and learn more about what you do?
MegAnne Ford: I live on Instagram, @bekindcoaching, and I do Stories, and I love to DM. I also have a Facebook page that's [crosstalk 00:49:39]-
Naomi Nakamura: Oh, no, no, no no, let, also talk about your [Instacast 00:49:41], you do your show. She does an Instagram show, that we started calling Instacast, because it's kind of like a podcast, but it's on Instagram. She has guests that she brings on every week.
MegAnne Ford: Thank you for, thank you. I like [inaudible 00:49:56], like, "Oh, don't worry, don't notice me, it's fine." Every Thursday I do an Insta Live chitchat, and I've connected to so many awesome people, like [inaudible 00:50:06] Utah, people in LA doing crossfit and parenting. Who else? Oh, this really amazing Muslim blogger in Chicago. I just connect to people who I find inspiring on Instagram, and on Thursdays we do a live chitchat with them.
Naomi Nakamura: Which is why I call it an Instacast, because that's basically what I do in my podcast on Tuesdays.
MegAnne Ford: I'm going to start [inaudible 00:50:28] Instacast, I'll start, next Thursday, I'm going to say Instacast.
Naomi Nakamura: Well, we're going to make that term a thing.
MegAnne Ford: A thing.
Naomi Nakamura: A thing, and then your website. Because here's the thing you guys, MegAnne has, she has her main program where she works with parents, but she also has smaller programs that I have, I've seen because I'm her business BFF [inaudible 00:50:48] her mastermind. Her stuff's really good and I'm not even a parent, but I know it's really good.
MegAnne Ford: It's funny, is I took a poll recently of my Instagram followers, and it was surprising, it was 60% parents who voted and 40% non-parents.
Naomi Nakamura: Because, it's just teaching people how to be better humans.
MegAnne Ford: It's just like peopling. Someone said, "You're just a really good [peopler 00:51:08]." My website is www.bekindcoaching.com, and I run all online programs. I run a main program that opens doors four times a year called How To Build Your Kind Family, which we go through like a broad overview, and then there's smaller programs inside the program vault. Naomi Nakamura: We'll have links to that on the show. I want to thank you for coming on, and spending this time with us. Like I said, when we start to pull back the layers about, "Okay, what is causing us to emotionally eat? What is causing us to not get enough sleep? What is causing us to have all of these angst and distress, that's causing us to make poor choices in our health?"
When we peel back the layers, it's to all of these other things that we may not see as being related to it, but they are. Things like how [crosstalk 00:51:53] speak to other people, how we communicate with other people. Even little people.
MegAnne Ford: Yes, that all is so much, yes. Because in those moments when we're feeling stressed and we don't know how to control, like you said, the other person. What this work has done for me [inaudible 00:52:08] empowering of what I can do. I can be in control of me, and that sense of empowerment is so much more fulfilling
Naomi Nakamura: On that note we'll end there. Than you so much for joining us.
MegAnne Ford: Bye friends.
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Naomi Nakamura is a Functional Nutrition Health Coach. Through her weekly show, The Live FAB Live Podcast, programs, coaching services and safer skincare solutions, she helps people with chronic skin issues clear up their skin by teaching them where food meets physiology and how food, gut health, stress, and toxins are intricately connected to the health and appearance of our skin. Naomi resides in the San Francisco Bay Area and can often be found romping around the city with her puppy girl, Coco Pop!
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