Mindful Parenting

Notice the Intention, then Address the Behaviour

“Judgments prevent us from seeing the good that lies beyond appearances.” — Wayne Dyer

Holding DaisiesChildren have beautiful intentions. As adults, it can be very easy to lose sight of these intentions. We can get caught up in our day at work, in our household chores, in bills that need to be paid, in family issues, and in our own (sometimes unresolved) experiences. When we are “stuck in our heads” we lose sight of the present moment. For example, we interpret our children as being messy when they are actually being creative, or as getting in our way when they are trying to be helpful.

A very poignant example of this very notion was shared with me recently while working with a 66 year old woman (I will refer to her as Jen in order to protect her privacy). Jen described to me a story of when she was young – just 6 years old. She told me that her mother had the most beautiful flowers growing in the garden. Jen would love to sit among the flowers, most of which were taller than she was when she sat. As she sat by the flowers, she would imagine herself living in a field all of flowers. The image was calming and safe for her, and she would spend hours sitting among the flowers. One summer day, Jen’s mother had been cleaning the house and Jen had wanted to help. She saw her mother working hard and noticed how beautiful the house was becoming.  Jen described offering to help her mother, but that her mother had been too busy to attend her. Still full of admiration for her mother and wanting to help, Jen went out into the garden, and selected a few of her favorite flowers – thinking of how lovely they would look on the kitchen table. Jen pulled the flowers and brought them into the house. She found a vase and began filling it with water. At that moment, Jen’s mother entered the room: her mother noticed only the plucked flowers, root and all, and a clump of dirt muddying her freshly washed floor. Jen was in trouble and the flowers were thrown in the trash. Jen’s beautiful intention to help her mother went unnoticed. What an impact this mother’s actions had on her young daughter – so much so in fact, that at age 66 Jen recalls every detail of the experience and it still brings tears to her eyes.

Our children have beautiful intentions. Depending on their age, they might not know fully how to help. For example, Jen did not know she needed to cut the flowers and leave the root in the ground – her intention was solely to help.

Consider the intentions behind your children’s action – and attend to the intention. Then teach the appropriate behaviour. Grasp hold of the teachable moment and use it to bolster your child’s self-esteem.

Use the comments to share any of your examples of when you been successful at noticing the intention in your children’s behaviour.

“If you judge people, you have no time to love them”
–Mother Teresa

This article was originally posted on July 31 2012, to Happy Parents = Happy Kids (focusedonparenting.wordpress.com) by Susan Guttridge

The Process of Therapy

Three Little Things: Journaling to build Self-Worth

One key way we build self-esteem is by accomplishing the goals we set for ourselves. Every accomplished goal trickles into our sense self: it feeds our personal integrity, that sense of trust we have in ourselves that we will do what we set out to do. Our proven ability, even though only proven to ourselves, contributes to feeling good about ourselves. But what happens when a negative core belief such as “I’m not good enough” has a stronghold over our thoughts?

Negative core beliefs are false self-referencing beliefs, and they pack a pretty heavy punch. When a negative belief screams out in our brain, a powerful emotional response reverberates throughout our memory network and our body responds with much the same level of activation as when the negative belief was created – even though in the present moment we are safe. Experiences from childhood may have planted the seeds of the negative belief, and then additional life experiences may have strengthened them. Because these negative beliefs have been reinforced over and over again, they feel very true. “Negative beliefs come to create a perpetual filter through which we view ourselves and our world” (Parnell, 2007).

Negative core beliefs feel true but they are not true. Because these beliefs are capable of infiltrating all of our daily activities, social interactions, and inner dialogue, we need an equally powerful method for countering them. Counselling is an excellent way to heal early wounds and develop coping strategies for the present. There are also techniques we can focus on between sessions to practice being present with new, positive belief systems.

journal for self-worthThree Little Things: 

For this journaling activity, you are going to want to use a beautiful book: one that makes you smile when you look at. You won’t be journaling in the traditional style: this will be more of a ‘healing journal’, one that you are going to want to flip through often, to remind yourself of what you have written.

Each evening before you get ready for bed, take 10 minutes to sit down and reflect on 3 things you did well that day. These are the little things that we often over-look, that there are no accolades for. When we take the time to notice, we develop compassion for our selves. We start to see the evidence that yes, we are human and we make mistakes, but also that we are also inherently good and worthwhile beings. If you find that you are having trouble getting started, try reflecting on the list of prompts below.

Writing Prompts for Reflection:

  • What did I do well today?
  • How did I cope successfully with a triggering moment today?
  • How did I care for myself with loving kindness after a triggering moment?
  • What am I grateful for today
  • How did I demonstrate gratitude today?
  • How did I implement something I’ve been learning today?
  • How did I show kindness today?
  • How did I show up with courage in my life today?
  • How did I practice self-acceptance, or self-forgiveness today?
  • What daily goal did I follow through on today?
  • How did I live with intention today?

For more strategies on journaling to build self-compassion (and a really good read…) check out Dr. Kristin Neff’s website: self-compassion.org.

Resources:
Parnell, L. (2007). A Therapist’s Guide to EMDR: Tools and Techniques for Successful Treatment. New York NY: W.W. Norton & Company.