It is never too late to heal and recover from the past. Doing so can help us to lead happier, healthier, and vibrant lives in the present. Reparenting is defined as the act of giving to yourself what you didn’t receive as a child. Our parents did the best they could with the knowledge and resources they had available at the time, but we all grow up with hurt and wounds from not having all of deepest needs met.
You may have heard the concept that each of us has an ‘inner child’ within our psyche. Janet Philbin is a licensed social worker, hypnotist, and conscious parenting coach. She describes the inner child as something real which exists within our subconscious. Our inner child is a reflection of those unmet needs from childhood.
Philbin says that if we are not aware of our inner child they can end up ‘running the show.’ We end up reacting in ways similar to how we did as a child. For example, using coping skills such as ‘tantrums, becoming a people pleaser, lying, withdrawing, enabling,’ This can be challenging but there are ways we can connect to our inner child and meet their needs, so that we can reparent ourselves.
We are being called forward, when we become parents, to heal. It is our children who are our awakeners. It is because of them that you see yourself, with all of the wounds, clearly in the mirror for the first time. It is hard to look at these wounds, but if we do not look at them then we are ignoring the self. Do not ignore the self. See yourself, see your beauty, see your unique gifts and see that you are able to heal.
Whatever it is you need to go through in order to heal is not going to be scarier than what happened initially to cause the wounds in the first place.
To heal we take a look inside of our self. There is nothing outside that will heal you. You may find support to help you along the way, to help you help yourself, but the bottom line is that you must heal your heart and pain. We must not be afraid to see it, hug it and love it. If our heart is in pain, then the work we have work to do is ours. The goal is to reconnect with your heart. And in doing so, you reconnect to yourself.
So how do we begin to heal and reconnect with our own heart? We do this by pausing, feeling, looking inside, honoring our pain body, as Eckhart Tolle says. We take time to see which part needs love, attention, compassion and forgiveness
In order to truly connect to another, we must first connect to our self. How much of the day do we spend “doing?” We do chores, run errands, do tasks, and do things for other people yet we do not take time to just be.
In order to connect to your heart, to stay connected and plugged in we must take time for self-care. To spend time with yourself engaged in activities that light you up and refuel your tank when it gets empty. We cannot connect to our children authentically and give them what they need if our tank is empty and we are first not giving to ourselves.
I am going to focus on mother’s here for a moment, but this applies to everyone. There is a belief in society that taking care of yourself, especially as a mom, is selfish. That somehow when mother’s self-sacrifice, it is exalted, and we say what a good mother she is. She is always doing for the kids, PTA, scouts, bake sales, sports, etc. It has somehow been held up as an ideal- this kind of self-sacrifice. However, did you know that the original meaning of the word sacrifice is to make sacred. I wonder how this has become turned upside down. Where and when did the mother get lost and left with no time to make herself sacred.
Ask yourself, when was the last time that you stopped and checked in with you? Pause here. Take a slow, deep breath. Check in for a moment with your heart, your passion, with what you care about deeply. Do you set aside time for self-explorations and self-discovery?
When was the last time you connected to you?
When did you last sit down with a cup of tea, or coffee to journal and just write and let yourself explore the musings of your mind? When was the last time you actually asked your body what she needed? And if you have, did you listen to her? If not, did you not stop until you were forced to because you became ill?
Women and mothers, in particular, are professionals at ignoring the self. We push things under the rug that we don’t want to see, feel, acknowledge, know, admit to and experience. We believe, “If I just push it away it won’t hurt me.”
The truth is, these silent hurts sneak up on you in other ways.
It shows up when your feelings get hurt, when you yell at your kids, when you procrastinate, when you don’t eat well, when you don’t move your body, or use your mind and ignore your own needs.
We are called into parenting, by our children, they are calling us to heal our wounds, our pain, our lack. When we heal, we can then support them to thrive as their own independent being.
So how do we do this, you ask? It all starts with you.
We stop running from ourselves. We stop ignoring our needs, health, time, self-care.
Self-care does not mean massages and manicures. Those are external. Self-care means taking care of the inside. Self-care means exercise, connecting to nature and using your creativity. It means meditation, journaling, inner reflection and listening to what your body is telling you.
All of our emotions are stored in our physical body. We feel feelings inside but then we label them and they become emotions and emotions have stories and beliefs attached to them which keep us stuck. For example, I get a feeling of shortness of breath under my rib cage. That is all it is, a feeling. But instead of letting it pass, as feelings do, I label it fear or anxiety, tell myself a story about it, and then I panic. The goal is not to panic it is to just feel the feeling, it will pass.
We must learn to pause, breathe, and allow. You take time to meditate, journal, go for a walk and allow yourself to explore what is happening inside of you. This is reconnecting. It also means unplugging from technology-which keeps us disconnected from our hearts and others.
Below are journal prompts to help you discover what is going on inside of you, to help identify the parts that need to heal, enabling you to make yourself sacred once again.
Where in my body do I feel uncomfortable?
If I could draw a picture of it, what would it look like?
How big is it?
What color is it?
What physical organs is it affecting?
What is this discomfort communicating to me?
Have I felt this before? If yes, when? Why is it showing up again?
If no, why is it showing up now?
What younger part of me knows this feeling?
What is the story attached to this feeling?
What did the younger self come to believe because of this story?
How does this story show up in my life now?
Can my adult self now, understand why my younger self then, made up this story?
Can you see now that this story was made up in order to survive?
Are you able to forgive that younger self for the story, understanding she did the best she could do at that time with the resources she had available to her?
Tell the younger one what is the truth about who I am now and where I am in my life now?
Let her know you are excited to be connected to her once again.
Imagine sending your love out to her, from your heart, just like the love you send your child or another child in your life, and allow her to receive it and let her know the next time she feels upset you will be there for her, that she is safe, she survived.
As a result of connecting with this younger self you have allowed a part of you to heal. You will continue to heal each and every time you meditate and tune in to the part of your body which is calling out to you. As a result of your healing you are more deeply connected to yourself, your essence and your truth. When you connect to your heart you make yourself sacred.
If you want to work with Janet, explore this more, and are ready to make yourself sacred once again reach out to her through her website @JanetPhilbin.com.
This is part two in a series about the gift of emotions when parenting consciously.
5. “Mistakes” are really learning opportunities
Instead of the word mistake lets rename it a learning opportunity. There really are no mistakes. Everything that we experience in life happens for us. And not just the good stuff, but the not so good stuff too. Can you begin to look at these learning opportunities as avenues for growth?
There are many ages and stages of learning while raising our kids. As parents we have many learning opportunities.
How can we learn to do it if we had not done it wrong first? We learn what works from what did not work. As adults we remember moments we would rather forget, did we learn from those experiences, you bet we did. And we learned from them because no one saved us from the consequences.
Our children also need to learn the natural
consequences from their learning opportunities. If we rush in to save
them every time, or prevent a “mistake” from happening what do they learn? They
learn, “I don’t have to feel my uncomfortable feelings because mom or dad will
do, remember, or fix this for me.” How is your child going to learn to
remember to bring his homework home if you drive him back to get it? All he learns when you drive him back is mom
will take care of it for me, I don’t have to be responsible, or they may begin
to feel they are not trustworthy.
What if you don’t drive back to school? Then he will learn from the discomfort when he has to go back to school without it the next day. Feeling this discomfort will allow him time to process what he needs to learn. He may express anger at you for not rescuing him, and that is ok. He is allowed to be angry for not being rescued. He is then given a chance to become self-reliant.
Becoming self-reliant will enable him to feel proud of himself for what he is doing for himself. This will help him develop a sense of worth and self-efficacy.
As a conscious parent it is up to you to look at what feeling comes up for you when you want to rescue your child from a potential problem. It is those feelings, usually anxiety and fear, which drive parents to: bring them back to school, give too many reminders or do it for them.
It is time for you, the parent, to recognize it is your own feelings you want to make feel better when you do not allow your child the room to learn from their own opportunities. Our children came here to teach us. It is time to wake up and recognize our own emotions which call out to us for attention.
Our children need compassion and understanding for their plight not to be handicapped by never letting them learn to deal with the consequences. I am not speaking of a life-threatening situation or one where there can be serious harm but one where the consequence is fitting to the learning opportunity.
There are learning opportunities that happen all the time from the toy breaking because they played with it roughly to the teenager forgetting a doctor appointment because they refuse to look at their calendar. It is up to you to take care of your own difficult emotions and allow your child, and you, room to grow.
Striving to be perfect is just another way to create anxiety.
Let them mess up, let yourself mess up. Learning opportunities give all of us emotional freedom.
6. Patience is an exercise of relinquishing control
These words apply to all areas of your life not just parenting. However, since parenting is the focus right now that’s what I will address. Four years ago, my oldest was applying to college. This became a huge lesson in patience for me. I am the type of person, when given a task, will get it done as soon as possible. Especially a task which is time sensitive, I need to check it off my list and know it is done.
The thing about applying to college is that YOUR KID is the one applying, not you. As a parent, you must sit back and let them do it. If they want your help, support or guidance then be there, sit with them while they fill out the applications, help them gather the necessary documents, but only if they ask.
I had a conversation with a mom recently. She has twin boys who are about to begin their senior year in high school. We began talking about college and she shared that she was already worried but at least “WE got the essays done.” And I thought, this is not a “we thing,” it is something HE must get done. This is a great example of a parent who is too personally invested in their child’s process and is owning it as hers since it seems it was “their” essay.
This speaks to allowing the child to learn from doing it. When the parent does it for or with them this eases their own emotions. Remember, your child’s timeline for getting things done is theirs, not yours. You will have more patience and less stress when you can separate yourself out of their responsibility. This applies to all areas of life; from applying to college to learning to tie their shoes. When you step back and let your child do it, it also lets him know you trust him.
If I thought learning patience was hard in the application phase I was wrong, my greatest lesson in patience was waiting for the acceptance letters to arrive. My daughter applied to her perspective colleges by December 1st. The colleges do not send back anything until March, unless you apply early decision which she did not. Your child hits send and then you wait. And you wait. And you wait. As a parent you have no control, there is no one to ask about the status of the application and your child is emailed their acceptance letters, so checking the mailbox does not help either.
For me, learning to be patient, was an exercise in relinquishing control. And, man, I love being in control. Luckily, I was able to have enough self-awareness to know that this was an exercise in patience for me. A life lesson which needed to be learned and then applied. And I had the opportunity to practice it again, the following year, with my son. I think I did better the second time around, but you would have to ask my kids to find out.
Here is what I learned. Slow down and be in the moment with your child. Nothing is that urgent. Ease into the seat of the patient observer and allow space for the unfolding of what needs attention in each present moment.
And most important of all, detach from the belief that their responsibilities and the outcomes of those tasks are also yours.
7. Presence and Connection
in the here and now. We cannot be anywhere else. Fighting reality
is what causes us pain. The moment we are in, is the moment we are
in. We must be in it until we move to the next moment.
When we are present there is no better place to be. In the awareness of being present we can feel connected to another. This connection can come from a hug, eye contact, sitting with another, playing a board game, coloring together, laughing, rough housing, a shared meal. Connection happens when we are with another, without distraction, and we are fully present in that moment.
Being connected builds trust and safety within the relationship of parent and child.
When you put down your phone, turn off the TV and computer, this speaks volumes to our children. It lets them know they are the most important thing to you in the present moment. Our children only want to feel connected to us. When they feel this then they know they are loved, important, worthy, and that they matter. Can you think of a better gift? I know I cannot. We all want to feel this in our lives no matter how old we are.
We spend a lot of time wanting to avoid our painful memories. Who wants to go back there, right? We can not understand what good it would do to open the book of our life and look back at the past that causes us pain.
What we fail to understand is that the pain of our past is the pain that is in our present. Those old wounds run deep and if you do not go back and take care of the younger self who was hurt, then the younger self will continue to run the show. There is a good chance that you find yourself wondering why the same patterns are repeated over and over again in your life.
Have you ever gone back and looked at what happened to you in your life? Have you been brave enough to face the story? Have you looked at the shame, blame, guilt, embarrassment, fear, shyness, being bullied, being abused, being abandoned either emotionally or physically? I bet there is a good chance that even reading this turns you off. If it does, then to me, that means that the pain is directing the show. The past has the lead role in the performance and you have never even had a chance to be the star.
You may feel broken, unloved, unworthy, unloveable, small, not important, angry, never good enough. Have you ever thought about where these intense feelings have come from? Have you ever sat down and really gave it notice?
Is there a little boy or little girl hiding in a closet hoping they are not found because they are so scared about the consequences of being found. And at the same time is he or she hoping to be found because they just want help. They just want to know that they matter, that someone misses them or wants to spend time with them.
We all carry our younger selves with us. They hide in the closets of our minds. I believe they really want to be found because they are tired of being in pain. What do you imagine helping them would feel like? Maybe we should start with something easier. How about we just go find him or her.
Take a moment here. Before you read on, close your eyes and take 2 or 3 breaths.
Now that you have done that imagine, if you will, opening the closet door and finding that young child hiding behind the door. He or she may be sitting with their knees curled up to their chest, head down. What is the first thing you would do when you find a child hiding like that alone? Would you crouch down, talk softly, reach out a hand and ask what was wrong? I bet you would.
Let’s stop for a moment and take a few more breaths and gather up an image of a younger you who is hurting.
Imagine that young child who wants help but has no idea how to ask for it.
Imagine offering your help.
Imagine your adult self sitting next to that child and just let that young one know you are here to listen.
What would the story be? Give it a few minutes to unfold, this child may not have ever spoken these words.
Pause here for as long as you need to.
Once you hear the story let the child know that he/she is not alone. That you hear their pain and you are here to help. Even if you don’t know how you will help yet that is ok, just being there is already helping. Let the child know that you, the adult, are going to reach out to other people who do know how to help and you will be with him/her the whole time.
How do you imagine that child would feel after hearing all this? Do they look up at you? Do they stop crying? Does he or she reach out a hand to be held?
Imagine sending this child love.
Imagine your heart opening like it would for anyone else in your life that you love, and send love to that child. As that child feels your love they know they are not alone and feel relieved to be supported.
You have the power and ability to heal the pain. You have already taken a big step in looking for your inner child and finding him or her. Now it is time to take action. Reach out for help from a trusted friend, professional or healer. It just takes a moment to ask. Allow yourself to begin the journey on the path to healing your pain. The goal is to heal the pain of the past so it no longer creates pain in your present. You deserve a life full of emotional wholeness and not riddled with holes of pain.
If you don’t know where to start or how to start I can help. Hypnotherapy is an extraordinarily effective tool to help people heal. Please contact me through my website @ JanetPhilbin.com or email me at Janet@JanetPhilbin.com. You can even reach me on Instagram @janet_philbin_lcsw. I have been helping people heal their inner child and pain since 2002. I would be honored to be part of your healing journey.