Be a parent to ourselves

 

As part of healing and awakening, we need to learn to be good parents for ourselves. Growing up, we learn to treat ourselves and the different parts of us the way our parents treat us and each other, and we also learn these things from siblings, friends, and the culture in general.

If we happened to have relatively healthy and genuinely loving and supportive parents, then this task may be more about fine-tuning things here and there. If not, it can be a bigger undertaking.

It’s a process of learning to meet, be present with, listen to, and find love for these parts of us that may not have experienced this before.

It’s a process of welcoming what has been shunned. Be available for the parts that were abandoned. Give safety to what doesn’t feel safe. Be company for what feels alone. Encourage what feels hopeless. Give understanding to the anger. Listen to what feels not heard. Love the parts that feel unloved – and all the other parts.

How do we do this? There are many forms of parts or sub-personality work that can be helpful. And in daily life, we can notice what comes up, notice what our habitual response to it is, and see if we can find a more loving and kind way to be with what comes up.

If this pain, fear, anger, frustration and so on was a child, how would I want to be with it? If I was a child feeling this, how would I like my parents to be with me?

One way to do this is to say to these parts of us:

Thank you for protecting me. I love you. You are safe here.

And then see if we can find this in ourselves. How is it to shift into this in relation to what’s coming up in me?

These parts of us are here to protect us. They come from care and love. When we shift into being with them, they are safe here. And when we recognize that they come from love, that they are part of us as a human being and also what we are, and that they are like scared children seeking a good parent and we are that parent, then we can find love for them.

Co-sleeping and evolution

 
I often use an evolutionary perspective to check how I live my life. For instance, from an evolutionary perspective, it makes sense to eat mostly less processed food, locally and with the seasons, low on the food chain, and varied foods (mainly vegetables with some fish and meat, and not the same every day). In terms of exercise, it makes sense with variation (walking, running, lifting, swimming), and to vary moderate activity with briefer periods of more explosive and intense activity. It also makes sense to bring it into everyday activities as much as possible. And in terms of child rearing, it makes sense to seek out a community (extended family, if possible) and also to carry the baby on the body and to sleep in the same bed as the baby. All of these things are how humans have done it for millennia and how our evolutionary ancestors have done it for millions of years. If there is a discrepancy between what experts recommend, and what makes sense from an evolutionary perspective, I tend to choose the latter. (For instance, eating butter, eggs, and salt, all of which feel really good for my body in moderate amounts.) I talked with a friend a couple of weeks ago about her new baby. She sleeps in the same bed as the baby (the baby usually on top of her), and it makes feeding natural and effortless for both of them. The baby stirs gently, she wakes and feeds the baby with just a few adjustments of her body, and they both fall back to sleep. It’s effortless, natural, and minimally disruptive to sleep. In contrast, if we believe what someone came up with intellectually, we may choose to have the baby sleep separately which means the baby needs to make more sound to wake the mother (be more desperate), the mother needs to get up to feed the baby, the baby needs to be lifted, and it’s all far more disruptive and stressful. It can even be somewhat traumatizing to both of them, and especially to the baby. In an evolutionary perspective, sleeping alone and having to cry loudly to be fed is a signal it is not safe. And when that happens consistently, I imagine it has an impact on the child’s trust and sense of safety, and it’s something they may carry with them through childhood and into adulthood. I know this is a bit simplistic. For instance, our ancestors’ lives varied over generations and was adapted to geography and climate. And I still find it a very helpful guideline. Read More

The way you speak to your child becomes their inner voice

 

The way you speak to your child becomes their inner voice

– Unknown source

Yes. And I would add, the way you talk to yourself can also become your child’s inner voice. And whatever they do to compensate for both becomes their inner voice.

In short, whatever in us is unmet, unhealed, unloved, and unquestioned has ripple effects in the lives of those around us, and especially our children. It’s a reality we may not want to face, and it’s also – if we take it that way – a support and encouragement for our own healing and in finding kindness and curiosity towards ourselves.