Imagine as a young impressionable child being told you'll never amount to anything, dropping out of high school at only 12, and going on to live on the streets, unable to read or write? This is the true story of world leading human behavioural expert, Dr John Demartini.
Now, with over four decades of experience studying and teaching globally through The Demartini Institute, 40 personal development books under his belt and numerous film appearances, such as The Secret, The Opus and Oh My God, Dr Demartini travels 360 days a year to educate people across all disciplines and industries, helping them gain a better sense of self-awareness and empowerment. Dr Demartini has equipped thousands of people with the tools needed to realise their goals and potential and inspire them to live a life of fulfilment.
Question: What inspired your passion for human behaviour?
Dr John Demartini: I had learning and speech problems as a child and I chose a surfing and sports route because of those. When I was 17, I was in Hawaii surfing and I nearly died, during the recovery I was lead to a talk where I met an amazing man who in one hour shared a message that absolutely inspired me to overcome my learning problems; it changed my life – I made a commitment that I was going to learn how to read, write and go back to school as I hadn't finished High School. From there I studied anything to do with maximising human potential and overcoming challenges – 45 years later, here I am!
Question: What is the Super Mum Syndrome?
Dr John Demartini: Everybody has a different set of values and priorities in life and we can be indoctrinated by books, outer influences or from people who have a different set of values, and we compare ourselves to them and attempt to live within their value system and conjoin that with our own value system, which means we're trying to do too many things.
A mother may read a book on how to be a -Super Mum' or have a friend who seems to be juggling many, many things and they then think they have to do everything – clean the house, clean the diapers, go places, pick up groceries… and they have 90 things they are trying to do, daily and they haven't necessarily taken the time to prioritise what they do or get assistance. Without a high education background or a way of earning more money than the cost of delegating they can be trapped in having to do an enormous amount of things that a husband couldn't afford, if they had to delegate that out.
Many -Super Mums' are trapped with parents who came from a generation before, that did all that as they didn't possibly have an education. Many women think they are not a good mother unless they are doing all the things their mother, from the previous generation, did; today that may not be rational or sound. Many women these days are highly educated and proficient at business therefore the wise thing to do is to delegate and surround themselves with people who can assist.
Question: What are the detrimental effect of the Super Mum Syndrome?
Dr John Demartini: Anytime you are scattering yourself with too many things and not all of them high priority, you create an adrenalin, increase cortisol level and have a testosterone and histamine rise. Often as you are not particularly great at everything, you can beat yourself up and cause a high stress result which speeds up the ageing process and makes you more irritable which may result in a mother lashing out, at her children.
Women can beat themselves up for not living up to an idealism that may not even be real which can make them want to pull their hair out and undermine their relationship or lash out at their partner causing a spillover effect into social interactions and jeopardise a health routine as they're too busy doing things they think they're supposed to do instead of exercising.
Question: Can we talk about how stress-eating can be a result of the Super Mum Syndrome?
Dr John Demartini: Anytime you're not filling your day with highest priority actions that are meaningful, productive and inspiring you go in from the front-part of the brain to the amygdala which is an impulsive section of the brain that needs immediate gratification which includes food and distracting behaviours which serve as an escapism from the unfulfillment of doing low priority things. Stress eating is not an uncommon byproduct of this as it protects you from being upset that your partner isn't having to do, everything you are doing and that you feel it's unfair you have to do it all even though you set it up, in thinking that you have to do it all and not prioritise.
I had a 37 year old women who had two children and was a Doctor until she had her second child where she became a stay at home mum; she read a book on -how to be the ideal mum' and chose to do everything organic and natural including using cotton diapers and pureeing her own food which meant she was full-on from 5:45am to 9pm. It caused resentment and anger as she wanted her husband to help yet he was working extra hours to compensate for her no-longer working; they were both doing things they didn't want to do. She was caught up in doing what the book told her to do; together I sat with her and made a list of everything she did, we prioritised the list and put a dollar value next to each item as to how much it would cost to have someone specialised to help with the task that was then compared to the time it took her and how much she would make if she was practicing as a Doctor (which she missed doing) in that time. We organised that she had 8 hours, a week, to practice (2 hours, 4 days a week) where she made enough income to hire someone to do the specialised cooking and another to educate her children which meant she had more quality time with her kids and she wasn't overwhelmed, burnt out and she felt like a Doctor again. She was thankful as she appreciated her kids and she didn't have to stick them in front of video games to get them out of her hair so she could do her task-list. As a Doctor she had devalued herself with the tasks and once she priortised her relationships with her husband and kids went up as they were inspired. Together we organised and prioritised her life which liberated her from the burdens of the Super Mum Syndrome.
Question: How can we implement this type of change, in our lives?
Dr John Demartini: It's wise to make a list of everything you do in a day and ask yourself how much does it produce, the time it takes each day and how much meaning that task has as sometimes you will sacrifice income for meaning and lastly, include how much it would cost to hire someone else to do that particular task. A five-column inventory gives you a better idea on what is wise to delegate and determine what is inspiring to you and what is not. You are definitely going to have the vulnerability of impulse and stress eating or alcohol and escapism of soap-operas to escape unfulfilled activity that you could be delegating. Alternatively you could give yourself permission to educate yourself with that time and advancing yourself.
25% of the women I meet truly love doing all the things for their kids; I find 75% have varying degrees of their own interests that mean family tasks make them feel trapped and they are required to find a medium between that whilst injecting the values of others that may not have their level of education. Many women think they have to be a Super Mum and don't give themselves permission to create a life in an orchestrated smart fashion which liberates them.
Question: What is one statement you can share with those who are experiencing the Super Mum Syndrome?
Dr John Demartini: I speak with women who have the Super Mum Syndrome every week who are distraught and don't believe they are worthy. One statement that I like to share is 'no matter what you have or haven't done you are worth of love" and it's important for a mother to hear that. Many women have idealisms that they are attempting to live by which are not real or possible which causes them to beat themselves up, royally, over perfectly normal and healthy activities. These women need to look in the mirror or be told that they are worthy of love. It's a given that they love their child and they can't expect to be something they are not, you have to honour who you are. The magnificence of who you are is far greater than any fantasies you impose on yourself; sometimes people put absolute fantasies about how they are supposed to be or live. Women also may assume that a particular women has it all together but in-fact behind the scenes that is far from the truth; you don't always know which is why you cannot compare yourself to others, compare yourself to your own priorities otherwise you will falsely assume other people have a better deal and live in an ideal world and you don't which causes you to unnecessarily beat yourself up.
No matter what you've done or not done, you are worth of love.
Question: Can you share your tips on explaining tragedy to young children?
Dr John Demartini: I work with grief and death often and have developed a methodology for dealing with grief which has been used after Tsunami and Earthquakes (Japan and Christchurch). Children are amazingly resilient, I have primary questions associated with grief such as -what specifically are you missing?' as sometimes people generalise -I miss everything about them' which distorts reality as you've exaggerated that you miss everything and you've set yourself up for an increased level of grief and distraught. You need to itemise what specifically you are missing as you only grieve over the loss of things you are infatuated or are positive supports of your values; you don't miss anything that irritates you, it's important to differentiate those things. When someone close to you passes on, you need to determine who is taking that on; I've done this thousands of times and seen, amazingly, that other people pick up those specific traits; for example, if you lose a child, you will become extremely close to your niece or other children which almost fills that gap. The ability to fill a gap and show resilience is a transcending process. Once this process is realised it can soften some of the grief and many cases dissolves grief.
I recently spent time with a gentleman who had lost his wife and daughter; the processes took an hour and a half but he left clearer after a tear-jerking gratitude of their contribution to his life.
Interview by Brooke Hunter