The Neglected Art of Reparenting Yourself
IF YOU ARE LIKE EVERY OTHER CHILD, AND I BET YOU ARE, YOU WERE BORN AT A VERY YOUNG AGE…
Little beautiful hands and feet, tiny eyes and a round face that radiated pure love to any observer. Yet with such cuteness, children also come with little coping skills to deal with the real issues that life may soon present to them. For some things go well; they were loved, their views were respected, and their needs were attended to. For others, childhood was sprinkled with unreliability, anger, humiliation, zero validation, violence, and sometimes, worse. Such not-so-good happenings may be could be abuse (physical, emotional, sexual), neglect (physical, emotional), and exposure to situations that are too complex for children to process such as a significant other with a terminal illness, death, addictions, psychotic or other mental health episodes in the family, plus communities that trigger fear and insecurity. Since in their early years children do not have a well-developed biopsychological infrastructure to process such events, they may adopt maladaptive mechanisms to handle the stress, suppress and bottle up what they cannot keep up with, and sometimes the result is DISSOCIATION!
DISSOCIATION is a psychological survival tool children use when they feel helpless, afraid, or unable to escape an unpleasant, and sometimes traumatic experience. When children dissociate, they mentally block off thoughts, feelings, or memories about the traumatic events and experiences, leading to a feeling as if they are in a dream or somewhere else in the room watching what is happening. Whereas dissociation can help children cope with traumatic experiences in the moment, sometimes dissociation can begin to happen in non-traumatic situations. When children frequently dissociate—not being fully present in their everyday lives—their development might be negatively affected. Children learn and grow best when they can be their whole, integrated selves, rather than having cut off or lost touch with parts of themselves.
WHAT WE NEED TO CONSIDER HERE, IS THAT THIS CHILD GROWS INTO AN ADULT!
The things that happened several years ago, soon start getting in the way of a good life in the present as inadequate parenting experiences or the ‘e-motion-al’ effects of adverse childhood experiences undermine one’s ability to have sound relationships, the right sort of confidence and assertiveness, and low drive to self-care and personal development. Carrying the an inner child that is still feeling inadequate, scared and vulnerable, the adult gets triggered by considerably little occurrences in a way that a man or a woman shouldn’t be. Be it the workplace, relationships, social spaces, social media, the unhealed inner child shows up, and soon, mental health problems may begin to manifest! And then…
WE ARE FACED WITH THE CRUEL REALITY OF THE FIRST TWELVE YEARS DETERMINING THE NEXT FIFTY!
Story Story (Story Come). Maria* had always struggled with low self-esteem and an unquenchable desire for validation. Despite being successful in her career and having supportive friends and family, Maria* couldn’t shake the negative thoughts about herself and life that constantly ran through her head. She felt like she wasn’t good enough and that she would never be able to achieve the happiness and fulfilment she desired. One day, Maria* decided that enough was enough. She was sick and tired of feeling stuck and tired of her own negative thought patterns and she was determined to exercise some pattern interrupt. Her search led her to the concept of the neglected, yet deeply powerful process called “REPARENTING yourself”
REPARENTING oneself is when an adult steps in and learns to care for and nurture themselves in a way that may be different from how they were cared for in their childhood. This can involve developing new behaviours and coping strategies, learning to set boundaries, and finding healthy ways to express and manage emotions. Such a proactive approach helps in HEALING OLD EMOTIONAL WOUNDS AND DEVELOPING A MORE POSITIVE AND NURTURING INNER VOICE; treating yourself with the same love, care, and understanding that a good parent would give to their child. Thou a challenging process, but it can also lead to increased self-esteem, better relationships, and a greater sense of personal agency.
And so Maria* decided to give reparenting herself a try and began to work on building a more positive inner dialogue. She started by acknowledging and accepting her feelings, rather than pushing them away or trying to ignore them. She also made a conscious effort to speak to herself with kindness and compassion, and to give herself credit for her accomplishments, no matter how small they may seem
IF YOU ARE INTERESTED IN REPARENTING YOURSELF, HERE ARE A FEW THINGS YOU CAN TRY!
i) IDENTIFY your needs: Take some time to think about what you need in order to feel nurtured and cared for. This might include things like regular self-care practices, healthy boundaries, and support from friends and loved ones
ii) PRACTISE SELF-COMPASSION: Be kind and understanding towards yourself, especially when you are facing challenges. Remember that everyone makes mistakes and it is okay to ask for help
iii) SEEK OUT SUPPORTIVE RELATIONSHIPS: Surround yourself with people who respect and support you. This might include friends, family members, or a therapist or coach
iv) LEARN HEALTHY COPING STRATEGIES: Find ways to manage your emotions and stress that are healthy and sustainable. This might include things like exercise, meditation, or journaling
v) SET BOUNDARIES: It is important to set limits with others and to protect your own time and energy. This can help you feel more in control of your life and relationships
NOTE: Reparenting oneself is a journey and it takes time. Be patient with yourself and focus on making small, incremental changes rather than trying to overhaul your entire approach to self-care at once.