What’s the most important first step to take to create your happy family?
I’ve thought a lot about this question and I always come to the very same answer, and that is to love yourself and be kind to yourself.
Treat yourself with compassion and appreciate the incredible job you are doing raising your family.
This is a hot topic for me because learning to be kind to myself has been a long journey – a journey that I am still on. What I have noticed is that when I lapse back into criticising myself, it’s really much harder to thrive and give my best.
Perhaps you can identify with this? I’m taking about times when you may say to yourself things like:
- You’re a hopeless parent
- You’re getting it all wrong
- That was silly
So firstly this kind off self-talk makes you feel bad. It undermines your sense of safety and security, so it’s hard to be your best self.
And there’s another impact I’d like to highlight today.
It’s actually much harder to create kind, respectful loving relationships in the family when we are practicing negative self-talk, because children take their cue from us.
You want your kids to learn to be kind, respectful and understanding of others, right?
So it matters whether you are giving kindness, respect and understanding to yourself.
Here’s what helps: give yourself those qualities you want your children to express, such as love, safety, kindness, respect, understanding, patience and compassion.
You can literally do it now: send yourself a loving thought, remind yourself that you are safe, offer respect for what you have achieved in difficult circumstances, show understanding for where you may have struggled…etc. I have just done this little exercise and can vouch that it only takes a second and creates a warm feeling inside.
Giving yourself these things is more of a game changer than most people realise, I believe.
So, what else can you do to bring more self-love and self-kindness into your life?
Well, you can start with random acts of kindness towards yourself. I recently did this by taking a wonderful unplanned break because I realised I wasn’t as rested after the summer as I had hoped. Here are a few other suggestions:
- Go for coffee with a friend
- Pick or buy a bunch of flowers
- Lie on the floor and follow your breath
- Book a massage
These acts of self-kindness are an important message to yourself that you are loved by you!
I also recommend developing a reflective practice in which you have conversations with those parts of you that aren’t very kind or respectful.
I have a really recent example of this to share with you, because before sitting down to create this post, I noticed that a critical inner voice was getting very active. So I initiated a conversation with this part of myself. I was respectful towards it and listened to its criticisms of me.
I was curious about why it was saying unkind things and realised, as is so often the case, that this part actually wanted to protect me. It wanted to keep me safe and that’s why it was saying these things to me. As I continued to listen, I noticed this part soften and become kinder.
At this point I reassured it that all is well and that I don’t actually need it to keep criticising me. If it wants to remind me of where I might go wrong every now and again, that’s okay with me. But I told the part that it didn’t need to worry. I’m happy, things are going well and it can take a break from all the hard work criticising me. At the end I actually encouraged it to go on holiday for a while!
After this conversation, I felt a great sense of relief – I was back to myself again. Dialoguing with parts of ourselves is very powerful – I recommend giving it a try.
When you stop giving yourself such a hard time, you’ll feel yourself change and it will be easier for you to be the kind of parent you want to be.
As Wayne Dyer said:
“When you change the way you look at things, the things you look at change.”
If you’d like some help with this, I’m here. This is the work that I help parents with, and on my Happy Child, Happy Family, one-to-one programme I walk you through the steps. With me, you learn to see yourself differently – in a kinder, more compassionate light – and also to see your children differently – in a new, kinder way. At the same time you discover the tools to connect with them more deeply and create the calm, happy home you want.
Would you like to find more about this process?
If so, yay! The best next step is to book a complimentary conversation with me where we can talk about what’s happening at home and what will help.
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