Creating a System of Parenting the Self in Loving Ways
From the beginning of our experiences, most of us in this culture anyway, are taught that most wisdom and knowledge comes from outside of us. Our parents, who were taught this themselves from their parents, teach us that wisdom and knowledge comes from those around us instead of within us. In positive ways, those around us will provide positive reinforcement like praise to motivate us to “perform” the expected ways. In severe cases and all too often, negative reinforcement is used to shame a behavior or person to behave the expected way, which does extensive damage to our emotional, psychological, and spiritual self. Our sense of security in our environment is harmed along with our relationship with ourselves. This relationship with ourself is the secret ingredient to all of our experiences because it determines how we perceive and interpret our reality.
It determines how much joy and love we are willing and able to express toward ourself and others.
This leads to how much happiness we experience, or whether or not we can engage in activities and relationships that bring us peace, joy and love.
Being your own parents or parenting yourself in positive ways can mitigate any negative experiences you’ve ever had and lead to a life of happiness, joy and peace because the relationship with yourself is healthy.
Being your own parent means that you learn to identify what your needs are, and meet them. Seems simple in theory but challenges can arise because we do not know what our needs are. This is because, for many of us, our needs were not consistently met or validated in healthy ways by our parents.
So, to meet your needs, let's begin to understand where they arise. First, identify or be mindful of any uncomfortable or unpleasant situations or experiences that bring up any of the strong feelings that imbalance you, such as fear, anger, sadness, hopelessness, insecurity, jealousy, etc. Second, feel those feelings, fully with your whole being, while parenting yourself with the largest amount of love and compassion you can fathom. For example, when I’m afraid or feel fear, I imagine my benevolent-internal parents holding me and telling me everything’s going to be alright. It’s important to surrender or allow myself to embrace the belief system that I am safe and loved in that moment.
Once you’ve identified your feelings, it is important to dissect them by exploring if there are other emotions present. For example, when feeling anger, you’re going to want to think about the other feelings involved; possibly resentment, hopelessness, or hurt. There are always partner feelings with anger. We therapists call anger a vehicle emotion because it carries other feelings with it. Understanding all aspects of what you are feeling provides beautifully compassionate parenting to yourself by validating your feelings. You are simply saying, “These are my feelings” without excuses, shame or complaint (victimization). You are bringing a wisdom to your experiences by being fully present with them.
From here, you can begin to parent yourself by exploring the why’s of your feelings, your experiences, and possibly the other participant's feelings. Healthy parenting involves absolutely no judgment or blaming (for either party) and allows an open, compassionate and safe exploration of the experiences. It is important to note that the feelings of the experience do not go away; they are simply honored for why they are felt, and through the discovery of sitting with or parenting yourself, you’ll gain wisdom.
For example, you might learn that your boundaries were crossed, or that the situation reminds you of a similarly hurtful experience from your past, or that you might have interpreted the situation or other person incorrectly. For instance, when I feel angry I know that somewhere I’ve allowed my boundaries to be crossed. By understanding how I feel and why I feel it, I can figure out where I want my boundary to be in the future and set it. I allow myself with attention and energy to understand myself, to take responsibility for myself, and meet my needs.
The most exciting benefit of being your own parent is the growth of the relationship with yourself. By parenting yourself with love, patience and compassion in every situation, you can become your own best friend. Really!
Imagine being so excited that you are sitting on your front porch, because you can sit with yourself on the front porch. Imagine looking in the mirror and smiling with joy because you love being, looking, and ‘talking’ with yourself. It’s the most liberating feeling; not something I feel every moment of every day yet, but I do feel it. I have a complete knowing that I will get to a place where I will have joyful loving experiences in every moment because that is my intent and I work at it peacefully, every day.
About the writer: Brenda Tringali
Brenda Tringali BA, MA, MSW, RM, QTP Brenda is a co-founder of The Indigo Doors: A center for the whole being. She has 20 years experience with hands on healing . She is a counselor helping couples, families and individuals create the life they want. She combines the healing arts with her knowledge of psychotherapy to create a unique and effective healing experience. Please feel free to contact (586) 359-2959 and [email protected]