Being Who You Were Meant to Be

Have you lost your mind?

I mean literally – have you ever suffered from amnesia of any sort and experienced the incredible disconnect that comes from not knowing who you are?

If you haven’t experienced this, imagine not knowing what foods you like, what makes you laugh, where you work, your favorite sports teams or stores, what pumps you up or what helps you unwind at the end of the day. Imagine not having a clue about the kind of person you get along best with, never mind those you have built relationships with or who you love.

As freeing as that can be, doesn’t it also sound scary and uncomfortable?

Knowing these things about ourselves is what helps us feel comfortable in our own skin and ultimately really excel in life.  So with or without amnesia let me ask you this…

Do you know who you are? 

There are a huge number of people who have not suffered amnesia but still couldn’t answer many deep-reaching questions about themselves. Sure they might know their favorite drink, restaurant or vacation spot…but these are things a close neighbor might know about them and do not indicate an intimate connection or true self-awareness.

I’m not sure what exactly causes us to disconnect from this self-awareness, but I suspect it has to do with how often we are told what to like or dislike, how to act, how to respond to others, who to be attracted to and of course how we should look. This is done by others in our lives, not because they are bad people, but because they too have been raised this way.

This type of upbringing can easily help us disconnect from what we really feel, think, or desire, and focus instead on pleasing others.  We are taught to conform rather than celebrate our uniqueness even though we know variety is the spice of life.

Allowing yourself to take a risk and be you is a very scary prospect.  It means embracing your authentic self and feeling good about it no matter how it might look. This is not just self-awareness (although that is the starting point) but is about total self-acceptance. It is about understanding yourself on the deepest level and knowing you are perfect at being you.

If you haven’t already, I would like to encourage you to take a moment and think about who you are.  What are your gifts (I guarantee you have many), what makes you special, what excites you or what makes you cringe? Change always happens from the inside out and with acceptance can be beautiful and awe-inspiring rather than scary and strange. 

Best of all – you will never fail at the task of being you – that’s impossible.  So don’t wait for a bang on the head to make you tune in. Start today to get to know yourself… and allow the glow of authentic connection to help you be the person you were really meant to be.

Understanding Your Responses to Change

Often when a new idea is presented to us we will respond in predictable ways.  Being aware of these responses and what they might mean for us as an individual, allows us to understand ourselves better and use the information to put our energy where it will help us most. For each of the categories below, see if you can remember a time when you might have experienced this response:

1. Resonance – the new idea feels good to you and resonates beautifully, much like when two voices harmonize perfectly.  It feels right, perhaps like a missing piece has been found and you cannot wait to give it a try.  You embrace the change and are shocked when others don’t seem quite so enthusiastic. When a new idea resonates it’s time to celebrate and enjoy the new found treasure.

2. Regular – this plain word perfectly describes the feeling people have about a lot of new ideas.  Nothing feels different… you don’t feel excited or repulsed…you just feel regular.  It’s important to know about this category, because this is the one that will often end up “shoulding” on you.  Since the idea makes sense and you don’t feel strongly one way or the other, you add it on your “to do” list and then feel guilty when you don’t put it to practice.  Beware new ideas that make you think “I should do that” without strong feeling one way or the other.  Just because you can doesn’t always mean you should.

Resistant girl3. Resistance – in this case the new idea feels wrong, repulsive or uncomfortable. What’s interesting about this category is that this resistance can come from a variety of different places.  For example resistance might come from fear of moving out of your comfort zone – like a warning that you’re about to try something new that could be beneficial to your growth.  Moving out of your comfort zone is often like throwing out those old, ratty and worn out pair of sweats.  It’s time to move on, but you’re a bit hesitant to do so.

On the other hand, your resistance could indicate a personal block from a limiting belief or past experience that went wrong.  This resistance is offering you a chance to release this block or heal the negative energies from your previous experience.  In other words it’s not the change you are resisting but an opportunity to heal. Finally, this resistance could indicate an instinctual knowing that this type of change is not a good idea. In this case, your resistance is your intuition trying to warn you you’re about to travel an unnecessary path of problems. The trick with resistance is to use it to explore where it is coming from rather than simply digging in your heels and fighting the change.

Change will never be easy for most people, but becoming aware of your own responses and what each one might mean can definitely make your journey a little easier to navigate.

I’d love to hear your feedback or answer your questions below.

Why Parenting Can Be So Hard

Parenting is like the ULTIMATE course in personal development!  In many communities we are led to believe this job is natural and something every person should be able to do effectively.  When we struggle (because it is NOT natural!) we feel embarrassed and concerned that we – and our lack of knowledge – are the problem. 

Learning something new always follows a cycle, making us feel awkward and then phony (fraudulent) for the first while.  In parenting, new challenges are constantly coming to the surface, meaning we are continually required to learn and try new things.  This makes us feel awkward – A LOT – which opens the door to the BIG 5 (self-doubt, uncertainty, worry, fear, guilt) and our Inner Critic.

The first step to dealing with this unnecessary stress is to recognize, parenting is not natural.  It requires learning that changes constantly and is different for every child.  It is not a task that any of us are born equipped to handle (except the reproduction part) and every parent will benefit from support at some point in their parenting journey.  You are the perfect person to parent your child – believe it!

A moment of gratitude

Gratitude is a gift we give ourselves, it’s a way to bring extra love into our hearts and make our light shine brightly.

Being grateful is easy to do when things are going great.  It’s on those days when you needed sun and its pouring rain, or you wake up with cramps, or a screaming baby, that it becomes more of a challenge.  Many would say the challenging days allow you to be more grateful when things are going good, but that doesn’t help when everything feels tinged in black. In fact, on those days, gratitude can feel like a chore if we’re not careful.

On dark days I look for the tiniest of things to brighten my existence. I’m grateful for my pillow, or grateful to my lungs for breathing.  If things start to brighten, I go with it and become grateful for my dog’s unconditional love or the hot beverage in my hand. If things don’t want to brighten I simply feel grateful that I feel and am self-aware enough to notice that today might not be my brightest of days.

The shiniest of surfaces can look dull on cloudy days…be gentle with yourself.

Understanding Is Not The Same As Empathizing

Understanding is an interesting term when it comes to dealing with other people.  Most of us totally get that before we can build something we must first understand the parts that are needed and how it goes together before jumping into the task (or at least us women do J ).  If we’re asked to be on a committee, most of us will at least try to understand what’s expected of us before agreeing to do the job.

When it comes to people however, this is a whole different ball game.  We cannot control how others think, what they believe, how they feel, or how they act.  What we are told to do, is to try to put ourselves as completely as we can in the other person’s shoes so we can understand where they are coming from…in other words, we empathize.  When we do this, however, other problems arise. 

For example, if you come from a secure family where you feel loved, appreciated, respected and understood and you’re trying to empathize with a much younger person growing up in an abusive, broken home, how well do you think you’d be able to relate to life in his shoes?  The likelihood that you will sympathize instead of empathizing is much greater and feeling sorry for someone never helps them at all.

This is also a place where values can interfere as you might assume that something like honesty, that is important to you, will be equally important to him. That might suggest to you that he would only steal if he was desperate, when in fact he might have been raised to believe stealing is not a bad thing and desperation has nothing to do with it. In this case, you might put yourself in his shoes, feel the desperation and get a totally different picture from what was actually going on for him.

There will always be information you won’t know about when you are trying to truly understand the actions of others.  When you take the time to search for this data and really get a complete picture, you are making the effort to understand.  Empathizing is an important first step, but it is not enough.

So what do you do? 

In Dr. Stephen Covey’s 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, he suggests you seek first to understand before you are understood.  I believe this is a critical part of truly being understanding.  This starts with recognizing that “simple understanding” is actually an oxymoron or contradiction – it will never be easy to truly understand where another person is coming from.  

Understanding requires research, and that research must be done with an open-mind and heart.  In order to get a true picture of what is going on for that person you must have a willingness and desire to gather the missing pieces—and those can only come from the person involved.

Start by empathizing, as previously discussed, then, use positive communication skills…like active or empathic listening, clarifying questions, and open-door techniques… to help understand what he is saying. Put on your inspector’s cap and objectively start searching for more information. A good inspector will keep an open-mind and leave his emotions out of the conversation.  Helpful conversation starters might be the following:

Help me understand what was going on for you when this happened.

  • I really want to understand how this happened. Can you help me do that?
  • I’m willing to help you deal with this situation, but I’m going to need more information to really understand it first…can you help with that?

The voice you use, your body language and your previous history with the person are all going to factor in to how quickly and easily he feels safe enough to share. Patience and open-mindedness are going to be extremely important during this time.

 If you’re feeling emotional before the conversation begins, it’s a good idea to ask for time before talking since it’s quite likely you’ll head in to the talk ready to fight (or defend).  This happens because you are taking things personally and while this is a very human thing to do, it will not help the situation.

 When you are in the conversation, be as neutral as you can while hearing this person’s story and be sure your body language reflects the same. Try hard not to judge and to really hear what he has to say.

When you feel you understand his side of the story and have reflected that back to him as best you can, it’s time to share your side of the picture. At that point the goal is to work towards solution, and if you have done a good job of understanding this will often be the easy part.

According to The Virtues Project™, “understanding is the power to think and learn and also care”.  Coming from a place of compassion without prior judgment, especially when you feel hurt, angry or embarrassed is never easy.  It is, however, a building block to strong relationships and that is always worth the effort.

Learning to Get Past Awkwardness

Any time we try learning something new we are faced with a sense of awkwardness.  This in itself is not a problem as there is a natural cycle involved in learning new things and awkwardness is step one of that cycle.  What is a problem however is the fact that this awkwardness often opens the door for what I call the Big 5, which makes learning harder and increases our chance of quitting before moving out of the awkward stage.

The Big 5 refer to the following:

  1. Self-doubt – wondering if we are doing it right, feeling like we are the only one who doesn’t get it, sure people will ridicule us for not knowing something “obvious”.
  2. Uncertainty – this type of uncertainty is when we are not sure if we are good enough, questioning if we have what it takes to really succeed or if maybe we are just fooling ourselves by trying.
  3. Worry – wondering if our behaviour and inability to do things well might hurt other people, like our kids, our spouses, our clients…as well as worry that we might never get it, that we are one of the few who are destined to fail.
  4. Fear – this is really the underlying factor for all of the above; fear of failure, fear of pain, fear of ridicule. A main problem with fear is it resides in the very same place as trust so the two cannot comfortably co-exist.  Trust is exactly what you need to get past fear, but fear is pretty pushy.
  5.  Guilt – this feeling arises as a result of all the others; if only I was better, smarter, quicker…if only I had tried harder…if only I had more patience…

The problem with the Big 5 is that they are drainers.  They are often an “all or nothing deal” that strive to take our full attention when they are around.  They rob energy from us and make it impossible for us to do our best work.  This means that right when we are trying to learn something new and should be cutting ourselves some extra slack, these things interfere and make us less capable and less understanding.

They also like to awaken their friends—inner critic and limiting beliefs. The inner critic is the voice that plays in your head and reminds you of all your “apparent” shortcomings, while your limiting beliefs are ideas you have inherited and think you must follow to be safe. Both of these things get in the way, protecting you from really growing and reaching your potential.

An interesting thing about the Big 5 is that unlike the natural cycle of learning, they are a human-made product.  They are not a natural part of learning, but a by-product of a society that judges people on what they do or don’t do well.  This type of society points fingers of blame when things go wrong causing people to shirk responsibility for their actions and minimize or justify their mistakes.  It is one where criticism and comparison are the norm causing people to feel that if they don’t measure up to society standards they are failures.

I bring this up because it’s important for all of us to recognize that the Big 5 are not a natural part of our world, but one we have created.  Blaming society will not do anything except increase the problem we already have.  Awareness is the key.  If people are aware of the Big 5 they can begin to take steps to rid themselves of these draining energies – or at the very least know these feelings come in through a doorway only they can close.

When we refuse to allow these feelings to determine our actions and learn ways to stop them in their tracks, we are putting ourselves in the driver’s seat of our lives and are ready to really benefit from all that we learn. 

Learning something will always be awkward, but with practice and determination will eventually lead to authentic and even automatic behaviour.  With the Big 5 getting in our way, our learning struggles to even get off the ground.  

Which one do you think offers a better journey?

Becoming Aware of Life-Changing Moments

Have you ever noticed when some people (often famous) talk about the things in their lives that shaped them or made them who they are today, it is often done with great reverence and respect for what the experience taught them?  Sometimes, the situation they are describing is quite horrific making us wonder how they survived much less managed to forgive and move on. 

Yet, these people are not resentful, angry or otherwise bothered by the situation life threw their way.  In fact, often they publically recognize that it was those horrific circumstances that helped them become the person they are today and in the end they are thankful for it!

Thinking about your own experiences, what kinds of things shaped you into the person you are today?  What situations in your past forced you to grow and changed you forever as a person?  Was it all the wonderful breaks you were given, the silver spoon or other lifts up you received throughout life?  My guess is it was not.

Most often it is the challenging situations, humiliation, traumas, toxic or dangerous relationships that actually help us grow the most. The trick with this growth seems to be our ability to move past the emotion and allow the learning to take place.  This means putting aside the bitterness, resentment, hurt or desire for justice and focusing instead on how we can heal. 

If we can taste bitterness when we share our story, or feel waves of regret about how we wish it had turned out, we are still holding strong to the emotion of the experience and not allowing personal growth to occur.  It’s like we are jabbing a fish hook and line into the cheek of the story every time we pull it up, leaving us with a secure tie to the feelings and many frustrations as to why we can’t let go and move on.

The truth is, the “famous” person, is often well known because he or she has dealt with major challenges and despite the odds overcome them.  Of course, not all people who overcome their challenges will be (or even want to be) famous, but these kinds of stories do fascinate us and with social media the way it is, these stories of resiliency can get press time mighty fast.

So I challenge all of us (myself included) to remember this the next time a challenging situation comes our way and do what we can to take the learning and move on.  If you want to give this a try here are a few things to keep in mind:

  • Challenges, traumas, and bad experiences are opportunities for growth spurts in life. Personal development is on-going, but without problems we’d likely never willingly take them on.
  •  Trying to “save” others from making the same or similar mistakes to what we experienced is not helping them grow, but quite possibly stifling their growth. One of my favorite quotes (although I’m not sure who wrote it) seems very fitting here… “A ship is safe at harbor, but that’s not what ships are for.”
  • When we can recognize the learning in any experience we have had and focus on it instead of the aggravating emotion that brought it to our awareness (i.e. hurt, resentment, jealousy…), we can reap the benefit of the experience and begin growing. This might mean changing our way of thinking from blaming those involved to actually thanking them for bringing this opportunity into our life.
  •  Although we are all here together and definitely draw strength from our relationships with others, every person’s journey is unique.  There is no “one size fits all” answer to any challenge we might be facing. While looking outside of ourselves might give us insight and guidance into directions that will help us, the key to moving forwards will always come from within. In other words, you are the expert in your own life—dig deep and look for the answers that truly resonate for you.

 In closing, if you want to really cash in on the personal development opportunities that come your way, accept who you are, embrace life’s challenges as opportunities for personal growth, and let go of any strong, negative emotions you’ve attached to the experience.  Sounds simple…but fish hooks aren’t always easy to remove and depending on the number it can take a lot of time, patience and self forgiveness.

Debbie Pokornik is the Chief Empowerment Officer for Empowering NRG and the author of Break Free of Parenting Pressures; Embrace Your Natural Guidance. She believes personal development is key to unlocking life’s little treasures and when people are ready the rewards are great. For more info check out http://www.empoweringnrg.com

5 Parenting Myths That Increase Stress and Decrease Performance

Myth #1 – Parenting is natural. 

Actually becoming a parent is usually a natural act, our bodies are made to do this task and unless there is something interfering with that happening, we can become pregnant without knowing anything about the process.  Parenting, however, is not natural but a learned ability that can be wonderful and baffling at the same time. The areas we need to grow in will be unique to each of us making this experience different from everyone else.  If we believe parenting is natural, it becomes very hard to understand why we are so challenged by it.

Myth #2 – I am the only person who struggles with parenting.

This is a myth that is so wide spread and fully believed that it can be challenging to find people who will openly talk about it.  Nobody wants to admit they are struggling with a task that has been done for eons—in some cases by people with an obvious lack of skills and ability.  It often looks easy from the outside which can make us think no one else is struggling like we are.  Everyone who cares about being a parent will struggle with some aspect of parenting. This job is all about growth and growth always requires adjustment and learning.  The majority of parents will admit (sometimes only in private) that there are some pieces of parenting they just don’t know how to handle.

Myth #3 – Once a parenting tool is learned it will work effectively for many years and with every child. 

It would be wonderful if this was the case, but unfortunately our parenting pack needs to grow with our kids and our own personal development.  Barbara Coloroso says “A tool known is a tool blown,” meaning that once our kids figure out how or why a tool works it actually loses its effectiveness. When our kids present with a challenging behaviour we typically try the tools we already know to see if one of them will work effectively with the situation.  If it does, we use it a few times until either the child stops the behaviour (an effective tool will always result in a positive change, although it can take a few tries as our child checks for consistency) or the tool stops working. When the tool “wears out” many parents will simply increase the threat level that comes with this used up tool rather than switch to a new one. Being a parent requires us to have many different tools in our parenting pack so we can use different tools with different kids and in different situations.

Myth #4 – If a parenting tool is any good it will work right away and feel comfortable right from the start.

Developing a new skill—no matter how simple it might seem—will always be hard for us to do.  Change is never an easy thing and learning new skills takes practice. As with any personal development that we do, newly acquired parenting skills and strategies will usually be awkward for the first while and feel foreign to the user. To make matters even worse this new skill goes from feeling awkward to feeling fake, before it moves on to a level of comfort.  The results might still be positive…it’s just the feeling we have when we try something new that makes it feel strange.  As a result, most new tools are discarded—not because they didn’t work, but because they feel awkward to use.

Myth #5 – Once a challenging behaviour has been corrected it will be smooth sailing for the rest of our parenting experience.

Since parenting is really all about personal development—and there seems to be no end to that in our lifetime—we should know that our kids will always present us with something new to deal with.  This isn’t because they are bad people or because we are lacking as a parent, but more because growth, in the parenting experience, is constant. As our kids mature their needs change and so do the challenges.  

A very concrete example might be buying our kids runners. When they are young they might grow so fast they hardly even scuff the shoe bottoms before it’s time to pass them on. The result—we need to buy them new runners before we are ready.  When their feet finally stop growing they might wear their runners out in a week of skate-boarding, outdoor winter wear or other “tough” activities. The result—we need to buy new runners before we are ready.  Although the first problem was resolved, the result is still a need for new shoes. In other situations it will be the result that is different—like his feet finally stop growing and now he’s become picky about the rest of his clothing. This concept applies to far more than physical growth as our kids test out respect, communication skills, personal boundaries, etc,. The result—us parents are left wondering if these challenging behaviours will ever end and perhaps even questioning our ability to parent.

When you take all of the above myths and believe them, it causes plenty of uncertainty, self-doubt, worry, fear and guilt.  These feelings make it hard for us to function and do our best work. Understanding that these are just myths…they are make-believe and do not match the reality of parenting at all…can help us decrease stress and increase our performance as parents.  Parenting is not about being perfect—it is about unconditional love, for both our children and our selves!

Debbie Pokornik is the Chief Empowerment Officer of Empowering NRG.  She is the author of Break Free of Parenting Pressures and believes all parents can use support at some point in their parenting experience.  For other great parenting tips or to book Debbie for keynotes/workshops, go to http://empoweringnrg.com

Is it the Dog Whisperer or the Kid Whisperer?

The Dog Whisperer with Cesar Millan never fails to remind me of how qualities, skills and behaviours important to being a good dog owner, overlap with those that will help us be effective as parents.

Here are just five of the beautiful parallels I’ve picked up from Cesar’s show:

1) Use calm, assertive energy. People and animals pick up on our energy and react accordingly. If you are pretending to be happy, when inside you are seething or fearful you are not fooling anyone. Calm assertive energy is not weak, nor threatening. It tells the other you mean business and are fully in control of yourself. When our child’s emotions are escalating and we start getting riled up as well, we make the situation much worse than it needs to be.

2) Establish who’s boss. I can feel the hackles going up on some people when they read these words, but hear me out. With dogs this means letting the dog know you are in charge and ultimately they need to live by your rules. You are Alpha and to be in your pack they must accept this. With kids it is only slightly different. When our kids are little they do need to recognize us as boss and when it comes to things like safety, we need them to obey. The difference is with kids we are “grooming” them to eventually take over the boss position in their own lives, which means in many situations it is not imperative that we win. Choose your battles wisely and teach your child to stand up for her own beliefs in an assertive way, while still respecting and understanding authority.

3) Use a clear, consistent message. Figure out your main rules, teach them and enforce them. If the rule is “No going in the pool without permission”, and your water loving dog is jumping in uninvited at any given opportunity, Cesar suggests you teach him he must wait for your permission to enter. Correct him every time he tries to go in on his own so he learns to watch you before going in. With children it is essential we teach them what our rules are and then consistently enforce them. If it’s not important enough to enforce, do NOT have it as a rule. Your young child might not understand why she can’t go in the pool when you’re not around, but she needs to know it is important she not do so.

4) Plan for success. Cesar talks about taking the time to exercise, feed and share affection with your dog – twice daily, but especially – before taking him to something stressful or new. This way you are dealing with a relaxed, content dog instead of one filled with intense energy. Again with kids this is good practice as a child filled with excited energy is going to struggle with sitting still at the doctor’s office, their sibling’s concert, or a restaurant. Just like with our dog, our child’s body language can tell us much about what might be about to come. Preventing our child’s blow-out by having toys, snacks and other attention grabbers available can make the difference between an enjoyable evening and one that ends in tears.

5) Work in the present. This is one of Cesar’s most powerful messages (in my opinion) – a dog does not benefit by people dwelling on the awfulness he might have experienced in his past. We hurt him more by feeling sorry for him, expecting less of him and coddling him because of previous injury or trauma. Focus on the present and believe in the kind of dog he instinctually is. The same is true with people. People do not get stronger when we feel sorry for them and dwell on the things they’ve been through. This doesn’t mean we can’t hug a hurt child, or console a newly broken-up teen, but it does mean if we see her as wounded or to teach her to blame others for her situation we will not help her embrace her inner power and be strengthened. Teach your kids to take only the teachings from the past and then embrace their power in the present.

In closing, there are definitely areas of dog rearing that are going to differ from raising children. We would not, for example, wrestle our kids into the submissive position on the ground, tie a leash around their necks or stick tennis racquets in their mouths to stop biting. But with a little bit of good sense anyone can see there are plenty of positive parallels for us to learn from.

Relationships are built on things like respect, communication, consistency, trust, acceptance, etc., and it appears this is true whether we are dealing with a dog or a child. So if you’re not sure about your ability as a parent, take a look at your dog…perhaps there are some lessons there you can learn from.

Note: This article expresses the understanding of the author and not necessarily that of Cesar Millan, The Dog Whisperer.

Debbie Pokornik is the author of Break Free of Parenting Pressures; Embrace Your Natural Guidance and helps people embrace their personal power in all aspects of life. More information can be found at www.empoweringnrg.com . She is an avid fan of Cesar Millan and puts a lot of positive energy into being the Alpha with her dog and her kids.

Guilty as Charged

If our feelings are signals meant to guide us in life, then guilt is a fantastic guide to tie into. It is one of those feelings that will shoot through us the moment we’ve ‘done something wrong’ and will easily be fed from our resulting thoughts and actions.

In my book Break Free of Parenting Pressures I mention that you can’t send someone on a guilt trip unless their bags are already packed. I hate to say it, but my bags seem to be packed and ready to go at a moments notice.

A trick I have found over the years to help me stand my ground is to ask myself where my guilt is coming from and then use that information to determine what action could arise as a result. For example, when I feel guilty for snapping at one of my kids, I might ask myself the following: Am I feeling guilty because I spoke harshly and hurt my son’s feelings when he didn’t deserve it? Is it because I said “No” to something that probably could have been a yes? Is it because I just gave a talk on using self-control and I was being a hypocrite by losing mine?

Figuring out what the answer is helps to guide me on where I should go next. If I spoke harshly and hurt feelings, my action might be to apologize to my son and perhaps explain why I behaved the way I did. I don’t do this as an attempt to excuse my behaviour or to change my mind about whatever he was asking for, but more to provide a learning opportunity for both of us. My apology is genuine.

If my guilt came from recognizing that my “No” was premature, I might apologize for snapping and reopen the conversation for discussion. When this happens I love to tell my child he has a second chance to “convince me” rather than just changing my answer to a “Yes”.

On the other hand if these feelings came about because I behaved like a hypocrite I usually need to go inside and look at what I said, how I truly behaved (there is a big difference between snapping at a person and losing self-control) and what this means for the information I’m sharing. Are my expectations unrealistic? Am I being too hard on myself? Is there a teaching point in this I can use in my next talk? Are any apologies necessary (to my son, to myself, to my audience)?

The point from all of this is that rather than feeling the guilt and then beating myself up over how badly I behaved, how I’ve damaged my child for life, or how unworthy I feel of calling myself a Parent Educator, etc, I use this feeling to guide me towards an action that will help me repair damage and grow from the experience. By doing this I feel I am taking this feeling and using it as the signal it was always intended to be rather than heading on the guilt trip my packed bags were ready to take me on.