You know that moment when you have to make a choice between being a patient, non-yelling, loving parent and the parent that just reacts without thinking? Does the reactive parent win out more than you want? I hear you! I struggle with getting frustrated and responding defensively to my kids more than I want to.
I found what has helped to become the parent I want to be and not to react impulsively is to live as the future self that I have intentionally created.
What does that mean, you ask? Let me explain…
Basically there are three main ideas behind the concept of your future self:
- Choosing to consciously let go of the ways you parent now that you don’t like.
- Defining intentionally what kind of parent you want to be and what that looks like.
- Thinking, acting and feeling right now as your future parenting self.
Let’s delve a little deeper into each part now.
Choosing to let go of the parent you were:
Today, my past no longer defines me. The person I used to be doesn’t hold me back anymore. I am no longer unorganized, lazy, scared of a challenge, a spaz, shy, self-deprecating, unconfident, highly anxious, critical, gossipy, overly sensitive, and emotional. Now, don’t get me wrong, I may still on occasion demonstrate some of these qualities, but I no longer IDENTIFY as a person with these qualities. In other words, I don’t let these parts of me hold me back from becoming a new version of me if I chose. I know I can chose the parts of me that I want to keep, and it’s totally changed how I approach my future, my potential and my parenting.
We always have a choice about how we act, even when it feels like our brains are just taking over and we have lost control.
I gotta tell you, I didn’t think that letting go of my identity, of my past, my mistakes, was even an option. It was too scary in a way. But if I’m going to be uncomfortable either way, I’d rather be uncomfortable and grow as a person. Staying the person from my past has no rewards for me. It involves hiding and avoiding life and staying stagnant, which is a slow and painful type of discomfort.
At this point, I’d rather have the more intense pain from becoming a new me, from doing hard things, and from putting myself in situations that are scary and challenging and feeling more positive emotions.
In my last post, I talked about a day that I was challenged as a mom and as a person. I found myself acting in a way that I would have as my past self. I was irritated, anxious, afraid, avoidant, and frustrated. I was feeling victimized by my situation. And I didn’t like it.
To help me change the behavior and thoughts I didn’t like, I accessed the future me I had created to help me change my thoughts and actions to become the parent I want to be right now.
I will show you how can use this tactic too to let go of just reacting to your children and release the hold your past parenting habits have on you.
The future me I have created in my mind is patient, calm, and confident, and finds joy in the little things in life. When I think about her, I imagine she can handle stressful situations with calm and acceptance. She is confident in her parenting, and doesn’t berate herself for making mistakes and being human and is of course a work in progress. She plays with her kids, kisses and hugs them often, and really listens to them. She doesn’t worry about them much, she trusts them to make good choices, and she empathizes with them when they don’t. She believes in herself and in her parenting, and supports her decisions. So, how do you move to becoming this new parent?
The secret is that you have to learn to think, feel and act NOW like this future version of the parent you want to be.
How do you do that? Ask yourself questions like:
How does a parent that just never has a problem with getting angry think? How does she feel when her child acts up? What are her thoughts about her children? About her life? Or how does a person who isn’t really a worrier think about her child being sick? How does she feel when she lets her kids roam the neighborhood alone? What are her thoughts in the middle of the night when she thinks about how her kids are doing in school or if they’re eating enough healthy foods?
What does a parent that doesn’t yell at her kids do when they don’t listen? How does she act when her kids won’t get their shoes and coats on quickly in the morning? What does she say when her child is throwing a tantrum or crying in public? What does she do when her teenager won’t get off the couch and stop playing video games?
Try it yourself! 5 steps to creating your future self: DOWNLOAD THE FREE WORKSHEET HERE!
- Imagine one aspect of being a parent you would like to change. What would you like to change about it?
- Write down all the thoughts you have when it comes to that aspect of parenting.
- What beliefs would you have to let go of to become the parent you want to be in this area?
- What thoughts and actions would your future self have to have to get the result you want? Brainstorm as many thoughts as you can. How would you act differently?
- Write a letter from your future self (at age 80) to your present self. Have your future self tell your present self what you stopped doing or started doing to get the result you want and what your life is like now.
- Aspect I want to change: I want to worry less as a parent.
- Current thoughts: I am so worried my kids will get sick and die. I am so worried I am not doing everything I can to keep them healthy and safe. If something happens to one of them, I will just die of pain and guilt. My biggest fear is that something will happen to my kids, and I wouldn’t be able to handle the pain.
- Belief I would have to let go: I would have to let go of the belief that worry is useful and if I don’t worry, I will mess up and let my guard down and make a mistake.
- New thoughts: Worry is never useful, it just causes me more pain. Worry actually causes me to act anxiously, which is when I do make mistakes. The worst that can happen is a feeling and I know I can handle a feeling. I trust that I can figure out how to keep my kids healthy.
What is one aspect you want to change?
Download my FREE worksheet here to create your future super-parent!