How do you Parent Yourself?

I’m currently reading Russel Brand’s book, Mentors. I used to detest Russel, considering him to be creepy, annoying and immensely pretentious, but I’ve done such a 180 on him that I’d now consider him to be one of my favourite people to listen to.

Anyway, here’s a quote from Mentors that really had me thinking. 

“The first person that we parent is ourselves. What kind of parent to ourselves are we? Negligent or diligent? Loving or indifferent? Active or lazy?”

The theme of the inner-child is something that I’ve come across before and as I said recently, its’ certainly helped me over the years to view my anxiety as a worried child in need of support and encouragement, rather than some kind of force of evil, set on my destruction.

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In my realest, most authentic behaviour – the way I act when people aren’t watching or when I’m with loved ones that I can completely relax around – I can be more than a little childish. I can be stubborn and selfish, obstinate and needlessly oppositional, throwing tantrums when I don’t get my own way, or worse, manipulating my way to what I want and then sulking when I somehow still don’t get it.

But I’m nowhere near as bad as I was. And that’s because my self-parenting style has improved.

I see now that as a self-parent, I was the worst. I never listened to my inner-child; to their wants, needs and dreams. When they were afraid, I shut them down instantly and told them they were stupid to think that way, barking at them to just get on with it, yelling, “Why can’t you be a normal child like every one else?!!!” I was mean, cold and dismissive. It’s hardly surprising then, that for most of my life, my inner-child was consumed with feelings of fear, sadness and worthlessness.

Today, my self-parenting style is much more supportive. When there are uncomfortable feelings, I try to listen to where they’re coming from; to establish whether I’m failing in my parental duties to meet the needs of my inner-child. When there is worry, anxiety and fear, which there often is, I try not to simply dismiss these thoughts and feelings. Instead, I try to break down the ins and outs of why things aren’t so bad; of why we needn’t be quite so afraid of these uncomfortable feelings. Overall, my approach is much more constructive, supporting and caring.

I still have a way to go before by inner-child grows into adulthood, but I think if my intention as a self-parent is to be diligent, active and loving, then I’ll get there in the end.

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