Self-Care and Healing
Healing from Your Past
The truth is that virtually all of us were wounded as children in some way, and if we don't heal those wounds, they prevent us from parenting our children optimally.
How well you trust others as an adult is shaped by how safe the world felt when you were young. Throughout your childhood, you developed patterns of response to relationships to protect yourself from harm. But today those patterns can get in your way of growing in connection with others.
When you have experienced abuse from someone close to you, it can make it hard to get close in relationships, or you may find you are repeatedly disappointed or hurt by relationships you thought would finally bring you happiness.
By taking time to prioritize self care and heal from your past, you can learn to regulate responses (fight, flight or freeze responses) that no longer serve you and become a better role model for the boys in your life. It takes work but you are not alone. Check out these tips to help you focus on your self care and healing as a way to consciously and empathically parent and educate.
1. Parent consciously.
If we pay attention, we notice where we're over-reacting, where we need to examine our own “stuff”.
And truthfully, most of it is our own stuff. Not that kids don't act like kids -- they always do, and that's age appropriate. But we know that what triggers some parents would be greeted by others with a calm, warm attitude that helps kids WANT to behave -- which tells us that those are our individual issues.
So whenever we get "triggered," we've stumbled on something that needs healing. Seriously. Your child knows how to push your buttons, but those buttons come from your own childhood.
2. Break the cycle by using your inner Pause button.
You don’t have to repeat history with your kids.
Even if you're already well down the wrong path, STOP. Take a deep breath, and hit the pause button. Remind yourself of what is about to happen unless you choose another course. Walk out of the room.
Don't be embarrassed; you're modeling good anger management. It's when you have a tantrum that you should be embarrassed.
3. Understand how emotions work.
Anger is a biological state.
When we are in the grip of the chemical reactions that make us “angry,” we do and say things we would never choose to do otherwise.
When your body and emotions are in "fight, flight or freeze" mode, your child always looks like the enemy. Take a breath and wait till you calm down.
4. Reflect on your own “story.”
If you had a painful childhood, you can’t change that.
But what you can change is what you’re taking with you from that childhood. Your “story.”
You do that by reflecting on it, feeling the painful feelings, but also considering new angles. Coming to terms with your story and rewriting it can be a painful process, but it’s liberating.
It’s also the only path to being the parent you want to be to your child.
We all have a harder time being the best parents we can be when we’re stressed out.
Develop a repertoire of habits that help you de-stress: regular exercise, yoga, hot baths, meditation.
Can’t find the time? Involve the whole family. Put on music and dance together, go for a walk in the woods, put everyone to bed with books early on Friday night for a quiet, relaxing evening when you can take care of yourself and get a good night’s sleep.
6. Get support in working through old issues.
Parenting support groups can be invaluable in supporting you to re-frame your parenting positively. There is no shame in asking for help. The shame is in reneging on your responsibility as a parent by damaging your child physically or psychologically. If you think you need help, please don't wait. Reach out now.
No parent is perfect, because humans are by definition imperfect. No matter how much we work on ourselves, we will not always impact our children positively. But if we pay attention, use our inner Pause buttons, reflect on our own experience, and keep our stress at manageable levels, we can minimize the harm we do to our children.