One of the most important things I teach parents, is the true power of response - ability (thank-you Wayne Dyer for this incredible term) and how to achieve it. What I mean by this is how vital it is to have the ability to respond instead of react.
I have seen first hand how children can become stuck when negative emotions such as fear, hurt and shame take root and are not able to be fully understood or even expressed. If not dealt with, the child can cut itself off from this part of itself, to avoid feeling these painful feelings. It causes a split or separation from self and it happens in all of us in some way and some worse than others. It's a method of self protection from pain and we all do it to some extent ..but if these emotional wounds are left to fester, or shoved down inside of ourselves to avoid feeling the feelings, these splits can go on to cause a lack of empathy, an inability to feel compassion and even to love as we shut ourselves off from any feelings to avoid feeling pain. In worst case scenarios these can later go on to harden into personality disorders, but in most cases and this applies to many, they manifest as self sabotage, relationship issues, alcohol and substance abuse and a general feeling of unworthiness as we stunt our emotional growth and deny ourselves the freedom or ability to live to our full potential. We become triggered and overreactive. We blame others for our feelings, assuming we are victim to circumstances not inside our control. We look for things outside of ourselves to fill the gap or to numb the feelings of pain and hurt that we don't even know exist, have chosen to avoid or simply don't understand how to transform.
But to become a great parent...the one we really want to be...we have to understand that whatever pain inside of us, that is not fully acknowledged, expressed or healed, we will ultimately transfer to another. And this will most often be to our children. Simply put...shit travels downhill and hurt people hurt people. If we are unable to take responsibility for our own issues and do whatever is necessary to heal, we will continue to look outside of ourselves of the cause and therefore continue to react on autopilot and ultimately lose our power whilst we go around blaming all and sundry for our reactions.
We still live in a generation affected by war. Many of our grandparents were affected. Loss, trauma and PTSD causing over reactivity would have been rife and the affects not yet understood at that time. Fear, pain, hurt confusion - all having to be stuffed down with the good old stiff upper lip, the ever so British way to cope. But this unresolved trauma later going on to manifest as anger. And underneath anger is always fear and pain. . In many cases this would have bee passed down to our parents, who without this understanding would inadvertently do the same. I have heard so many stories of the harsh punishments and much colder parenting of yesteryear, that still resonates with many and is still being past on in some cases at the expense of our children's emotional freedom and mental wellbeing.
Because what we don't transform we transfer.
From children who have had more difficult experiences, such as bullying, divorce and separation right through to what we could consider much smaller emotional slights, such as being left out or another child saying mean things and even the emotional worry of a new day of school - these emotional wounds are a little like thorns. They stay inside and can be triggered throughout our lives - a common saying for this is "they pushed my buttons," when in effect all they have done is nudged a thorn buried somewhere inside. In our house, I consistently talk to my kids about the "hurties" needing to come out - or they go bad ways or end up coming out your ears, as we explode over something else entirely. We are very often not upset at the thing we think we are. If emotions have to be repressed because of a situation we are in, these hurts can sometimes stay inside for years without us ever realising it, but when we choose to own our feelings and behaviour and choose to give ourselves the space and self love we need to safely acknowledge, express and therefore heal these hurts, this will result in a personal transformation. The return of the split self to that of the whole- hearted person can cause incredible things can happen. Empathy and love are restored, a softness starts to occur and the ability to move through fear is increased. We become more able to move forwards the life we are meant for, to flow and are no longer trapped in the pain of the past. We allow ourselves to flourish as we become the fullest expression of who we are meant to be - our best selves.
So why does this all start with you, the parent and why is this so important?
Because this knowledge helps us understand that if our children are driving us crazy - it is more often that not something inside of us, that is the problem. Let's face it, all people events and things just are - it is only ever our perception of them which influences our experience and ultimately how we will respond and behave. So if we understand this, the fact we are we losing our shizzle becomes what it is really supposed to be...a red flag. A marker if you like, that tells us that maybe there is something inside of us that needs our attention. Hell, we notice when we are tired or hungry and it's always one of the first thing we look to resolve in our children when they are losing it, but when we can see it in another, we can also learn to see it in ourselves. I believe our children are our greatest teachers. Our kids are constantly nudging on those thorns, highlighting the things we need to give attention to. Which is why self connection and self observation is so critical for becoming a fierce parent. When we learn to detach and observe, instead of react - we can choose to respond instead...to become response - able . We give ourselves, right in that moment, the power to choose to do something differently and come from a place of love, instead of react from a place of fear or need to control. We give ourselves in that moment, the power to claim our pain and own our shit - allowing us to transform those hurt into love and therefore not pass them down to our children. Then and only then, can we stop the cycle and give our children the very best chance at mental and emotional wellbeing. It also allows us to understand that all emotions need to be fully expressed. This is the very nature of being allowed to to be the fullest expressions of ourselves. When our children are distressed, or angry - these feelings need to be felt. Fully and totally and the child must feel safe in order to do that. Yet so often we try to silence our children, or tell them "stop crying!" It's counter productive. Our emotions are forms of energy, which need to be released, or build up occurs which leads to imbalance or disease. By teaching our children simple techniques such as meditation, EFT (Emotional Freedom Technique) or using methods such as The Emotion Code or even just acts of self love and kindness, we can help both ourselves and our children become strong, kind and brave. For want of a better word, Tigers. It's why I wrote songs like Raindrops and Monkey Mind (available on all major digital providers,) so that I could help parents understand, introduce and implement these concepts and techniques to children in a fun way that they could understand. I've seen firsthand how techniques and tools like these, can transform children's lives, sometimes overnight and the difference it can make to a child's ability to learn, play and connect with others. You see the mental and emotional wellbeing of our children is the biggest factor as to whether they will live to the fullest and healthiest expression of themselves.
But secondly, humanity is facing some of the biggest challenges in our history. As parents we hold the future of our planet literally in our arms... in the hearts and minds of our children. What is really needed right now is a generation of humans who can live to their highest potential and use their gifts and talents to serve the world. A generation of fierce humans, unencumbered by the wounds of yesterday, who can take our race to the next level of self awareness or consciousness if you prefer.
Which is why it all starts with you. So what difficult situation could you choose to detach from today? How could you create enough space for yourself, to give yourself the chance to step back from those moments of stress and control and become an observer to your autopilot reactions... so that you can take back your power....as a person and as a parent. Choose to transform your hurt and fear into love and freedom? Choose to take responsibility for your own behaviour so that you can teach your children to do the same. Help them become who they are really meant to be and allow them to live to their full potential.
So I guess the question really is...are you ready to become the parent you really want to be? Are you ready to stop winging it and start owning it? The Raise a Tiger Programme teaches parents powerful strategies to encourage self awareness and increased responsibility. Give your child the gift of mental and emotional wellbeing through love, fun and music.