Sunday, May 23, 2010

Self Parenting Part II of III - A Closer Look

Hello Friends:

Okay, I am posting Part II. Now. I've procrastinated so long that I wrote a post on procrastination.

My Part I of Self Parenting took a look at the model for a good parent, since I wanted to avoid making any assumptions, there. In Part II, right here, I'm going to look specifically at suggestions from books and sites about the model for parenting one's own inner child. Some of these ideas look similar to the list in the last post, and others don't. Then in Part III I will (hopefully) tie these and a few other ideas together in a possible practical approach to self-parenting.

And no, I don't understand why my theme for pictures on this is cats. Stress Cat is a little jealous, actually.

I realize I didn't post a clear goal for the process of learning how to self-parent in part one of this series.  On Recovery View I found some text I liked. "In this process the client is reminded that they are not the same as their thoughts and memories.  That to be an adult is to understand and to embrace that there are thoughts and memories that take us back to an earlier time, but remembering is simply that, remembering. Remembering is a momentary process, one that requires compassion for the child that they were. Remembering does not have to be the same as reliving, if we can learn to intervene with our adult at this point. This is the premise of Self-Parenting."

Here are some tips, then, that specifically address adult behaviors towards your own inner self. Note that there really isn't a process discussed here.  There are so many approaches.  Some self-parenting programs are exactly like AA, with twelve specific steps.  Some approaches emphasize mindfulness, while others use art therapy to reach into your inner self.  There is not a "best" way, but many of the approaches have a few of these tips or points in common.

1. Think about what sort of parents you wish you had and be that parent to yourself. "If you wish you had parents that took you to Disneyland and took photos of you having fun and bought you Mickey Mouse ears, seriously consider planning a trip to Disneyland for yourself with a couple of good friends who would take pictures of you, and wear Mickey Mouse ears with you as well." (drmarlo)

2. Learn Who You Are. "Commit to learn who you really are and what your values are – on a deep level. For example, ask yourself: In my favorite type of conversation, what do I talk about and with whom? What activities bring me joy? What’s most important for me in a love relationship? What does s/he say and do, and how does s/he behave? What are my most important priorities as a parent? What makes me happy? What are my passions and talents?" (theresident 

3. Rescue Yourself
. "When you are in a bad situation, don’t ignore yourself. Pay attention to the fact that you’re unhappy and do something about it. Rescue yourself from bad situations like you wish your parents would have rescued you when you were a child." (drmarlo)

4. Comfort Yourself. "If you wish you had parents who would hold and hug and comfort you when you are sad, you need to allow yourself to experience being held and hugged and comforted when you are sad now. If your romantic partner cannot or will not do this for you, be a good parent to yourself and re-evaluate your choice of romantic partners. Not involved in a romantic relationship? Check out your friends. If you don’t have a friend who could hug you and hold you if you needed to cry, figure out why you don’t have any good friends and make a point to meet some higher quality people than the folks you’ve surrounded yourself with."(drmarlo)

5. Affirm Yourself.  "Recognize your abilities and recite them to yourself with pride." (relationshipmatters) Encourage your spouse/SO/family to highlight your achievements, abilities, and positive behaviors.  

6. Choose Strong Supporters.  "Marry a supportive and admiring spouse." (relationshipmatters) Choose friends who value and support you and your efforts. Surround yourself with people who provide genuine love and friendship. Stay away from work/career situations that are repetitions of earlier family abusive/stressful patterns.

7. Refocus On Now.  At some point we have to abandon debilitating feelings of pity for ourselves about how we were neglected and abused. Otherwise, we can allow ourselves to remain trapped in the time when the inner child was "in charge" of all our reactions and decision-making. We need to place our adult self in charge, taking responsibility for making the positive changes necessary to move forward.  (livestrong)

8. Identify Needs and Fill Them.  Needs can be a simple (or as complex) as food, air, and sleep. Once you have "learned who you really are" it will be easier to understand your unique needs. When you know them, start filling them. (reparenting)

9. Set and Maintain Boundaries.  Know what it feels like when your personal boundaries are being violated, then react to maintain your integrity and self-trust. "I usually feel my chest tighten, my breathing stop and my face flush. That's anger. Then the voice(s) in my head begin their chatter. 'How dare he talk to me like that?' Sometimes I simply feel numb, paralyzed and my brain goes blank. I identify this state as shock. I usually retreat in silence in these situations. So my job has been to quickly notice when these body/mind reactions occur. Hopefully the boundary trespasser is still in front of me. If so, I can take a deep breath and then I say, 'I believe differently' or 'That's not true for me' or "I don't accept that.' Then I excuse myself and walk away. Sometimes I have to do this a couple of times before the boundary breaker backs off. This is self care in action." (reparenting)

Righto. Enough for now. Let me know what you think, and I'll post Part III soon. Right. Really I will.

Your Hostess With Neuroses

Image credit/info: / CC BY-SA 2.0


Stacy said...

It's interesting how much some of these things are like DBT skills. But they do seem to offer something more than DBT. Or at least they focus on the self care/ "self soothing?" aspect. And there are many overlaps with "wise mind" as well.
Thanks for posting this. Now I'm kind of interested in looking into it more.

expwoman said...

Thank you for that quote about self-parenting from Recovery View. The idea of remembering as a momentary process that includes compassion for the child I was has been very important in my recovery. My therapist is having me dip briefly into the pain and then remind myself of what I value now, who I want to be now, and to practice compassion to the girl I was.

Wonder Woman said...

I like it! Very helpful.

Jennifer, aka beautiful mind, complex life said...

Great tips! Thanks for posting this information. I thought years ago that I needed to become my own parent to my inner girl, and it's interesting to say that so much has been written on the topic. I think it's true that we have to learn to love ourselves and really take care of ourselves before we can be of use to anyone else, but it's easy for many of us to try to put others first and develop codependent, unhealthy relationships based on our low self-image. Women, especially, are prone to doing this. It's important for us to remember that we are important people.

Ryan said...

I just found this page and, after reading through many of your posts, am very impressed. Great content. Keep up the good work and I'll be sure to follow it.

Amy said...

Great post. I'm wondering why I find it so difficult to actively comfort my inner child. It is scary to me, as if it's going to hurt too much.

The Blue Morpho said...

So many fantastic comments! Thanks for reading and giving me more food for thought.

Stacy and expwoman - Definitely like DBT in many ways. I particularly think the emphasis on mindfulness is very portable to treatment for all mental illness. That idea of 'remembering as a momentary process' i.e. the event is not happening now, and then adding the compassionate acceptance of the present seem very mediation/mindfulness based.

Jennifer aka - Yeah, we are so often taught to put others first. It can be a confusing line to walk for those of us with messed-up boundaries; how can I be nice to others while still being true to myself?

Amy - I get that. It feels scary, as if trying to comfort the child inside is just inviting all those old emotions to come back up. But again with the meditation/mindfulness idea - when they do come up, they somehow are not as earth-shattering as I thought they would be. Remembering and even re-feeling does not mean I am re-imprisoned.

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