My inner parent-critic or “critical objective parental voice” is a concept I use to refer to my inner parenting personality that judges and demands that I be a perfect mother, have the perfect child. The inner voice that says, breast is best, cook healthy meals, don’t let them eat this, only organic, don’t microwave that! Blah, blah, blah. I’ve actually named this personality to shorten it, “Sue”. When Sue comes, she makes me feel like I’m a terrible mother.
Sue imposes on me perfection. And it’s a realistic thing to ask right? With a 3 year old and a 1 year old. No, you say? But why not? It’s not like they aren’t messy, or upset, or needy, or pushy, or….
So, we all really know right? Don’t we know? That parenting isn’t perfect? That it’s impossible to be a perfect parent? Especially given our kids have their own preferences so dramatically different than ours.
But one thing parents and kids do have in common? We both want to have a loving, joyful, meaningful relationship. So if we all know it’s not perfect, why do we get so upset when it’s not?
So many moments consume us. So many moments peel us slowly into a place we begin to be overwhelmed and anxious. The opposites of what we saw in all those ads when we were pregnant. You know them, the mom looking lovingly into the eyes of her newborn like she hadn’t been up for 30 nights straight feeding him/her every 2 hours then changing their diaper and trying to get 30 min of sleep in between.
You get the point right? We perceive that it should be “this” or “that” way. And then… reality hits. Reality that parenting can be HARD. There’s no if, and, or (well, maybe some butts) about it ;)
So… I made a choice. A choice to let go of the judgement of what is “right”. Or rather, what I “learned” is right.
I let go of the core belief that I need to be perfect, and if I’m not, my kids wouldn’t be the best version of themselves. I told Sue to sit the f*ck down. Calm yourself!
At first, she really didn’t like it. “Well, Olivia, what about this mess on the floor. Aren’t you going to clean it up?” “Well Olivia, what about your hair, aren’t you going to brush it.” “Well, Olivia, aren’t you going to…” No, Nope, No! I’m not. And you know what Sue, I choose to believe if I don’t do these things, that nothing of importance will fall apart.
I chose to let go of needing the moments and things I once considered necessary. A clean house, a manicured organized kitchen, an always graceful appearance, etc... And you know what I found? In absent of these necessities, I realized that it’s fundamentally difficult to change what I find acceptable. To actually change my likes and dislikes from each moment.
But I’m slowly giving in everyday. Everyday I get closer to release, acceptance, and love without conditions. Conditions that I impose on myself because my core beliefs have told me they are true. “A mess is a mess needing cleaning”, or “you must go to bed by 7”, or “your shirt shouldn’t be on backwards”… These likes and dislikes only have to be true if I “believe” them to be true.
Our beliefs are so powerful they can shift our thought pattern, our actions we take, how we respond to others and how others respond to us. Did you know that if you believe a truth about someone else, that perception will change how that person acts towards you. Beliefs are powerful. From beliefs comes thoughts, and thoughts are powerful.
So I decided to change every negative belief coming from Sue that I could. And it’s working, slowly. Slowly I become different in each moment with my kids. And the best part? My kids are better too. They themselves are more relaxed, more understanding, more balanced.
As I remove the negative thoughts from Sue, I fill them in with something positive. It’s a new game I’ve called “killing Sue”. Just kidding on that one!
Here’s an example:
Situation: My house is a complete and utter mess from only 15 min of play after I just cleaned it.
Existing thought: “I can’t believe how messy it is in here! I just cleaned up!”
New thought: “Looks like they are having a lot of fun today!”
Under these thoughts are new beliefs I’m shifting into:
Existing belief: My house needs and can be clean all the time.
New belief: My home is well loved in this season of my life.
With this shift in thought pattern, I am forming beliefs from the foundation of love & compassion. Love & compassion for myself and for my kids.
If you choose to live from a place of love & compassion in every second of ever day it will reduce stress and anxiety for you AND your kids. Choose love & compassion in those moments you feel you can’t go anymore. It is love & compassion that can give you the energy to keep going.
Release your habitual thoughts on what you like and dislike, release resistance. Stress is only resistance to what is happening. Release yourself from the perspective of what is right, what is wrong to “it just is”. In this moment, “ It’s just right, for right now”.
Stop. Breathe. Give yourself compassion that being a parent is of course not easy. And then… then…respond to your inner self and your kids.
Insight: “SUE” is a collection of thoughts created by core beliefs that create unnecessary anxiety and stress for me and my kids.
Insight Tool: Kill “SUE”
Step 0: Name your inner “SUE” and commit to killing her!
Step 1: Start to listen to what “SUE” is saying to you.
Step 2: Define the beliefs you are holding onto that are behind “SUE’s” negative or judgmental thoughts. You can even write them down.
Step 3: Define new beliefs in combination of new thought pattern you can tell yourself in difficult situations that “SUE” arises. If you wrote down your existing belief, cross it out and write down the new belief in its place.
Step 4: Accept each moment for what it is. Stop wishing that each moment needs to be different in some way.
Step 5: Patience and forgiveness for yourself and your kids. It takes time. It doesn’t happen overnight. But little steps take you to the next step. And then the next…