Children (& dogs) are mirrors…

“Children are mirrors; they will always show you exactly what is going on inside of you. Each phase of their growth is an opportunity to heal your own pain, to go deeper inside yourself and become more truly human.” ~Vimala McClure

This quote resonance deeply with me as there are countless times this has reflected in my life through my children. I even see this pattern with my dogs, who were my first kids. I am so grateful that I reached out for help, committed myself to healing, can empathize with my children’s feelings and consciously take responsibility for the energy I emit or my own feelings that I project.

One glaring reflection was feeling intense insecurity and fear in social situations. Both my children are blessed with a gregarious hearts and a wonderful group of friends. Every time they would ask me to have friends over, I’d look at my house and feel dread and panic. I was inundated with a daunting list of all the things I should do but don’t want to. I felt terrified thinking about what others would think of me and being judged.  My kids would end up, rightfully, pleading with me. I’d start spurting out a frantic list of things to do for me to feel comfortable to invite a friend over. This would naturally end up stressing them out, they’d give up and feel guilty for even asking.

The whole interchange triggers my feelings of inadequacy and vulnerability like I am failing as a person and parent. To further the insult, I was aware that I was role-modeling to my children that we should feel ashamed and give up. My fears were pushing away the level of connectedness I preach and desperately needed.

An amusing side to this scenario was that I was so overwhelmed with the negativity that consumed me about inviting people to our house that I started to use my dog as an excuse. My dog was so intuned with me that he sensed my fear and would behave more aggressively to protect me. His attentive behaviors than triggered more fears in me which only escalated his protectiveness because he could sense my heightened fear. Negativity begets negativity and it cycles on till it escalates enough that someone gets physically hurt (emotional pain is usually prominent and ongoing).

My dog was fulfilling my self-prophecy that I cannot handle it, that I should feel afraid, and need protection. F.E.A.R. is False Evidence Appearing Real. I knew I needed to face this when my son started introducing strangers to me and arranging play dates himself. I was at a pivotal point where healing my social fears and judgmental thoughts as well as choosing to give my children a new story of how to overcome fears. Thank goodness I have a thousand tools to do this and not afraid to see my reflection. I am grateful for the light my children shine on me. They inspire me to be a better person every day.

LOVE vs fear

Positive Reframe...

When I first saw this slide it was entitled “Love based parenting vs Fear-based parenting.” Fear induces the release of stress hormones which over time has many negative effects. Ocytocin is our loving, bonding hormone which promotes optimal development, positivity, and connection. This visual displays vividly the continuum I feel in my heart, the dichotomy that exists in our society, and the constant conflict I face when I show others love-based responses.

Sadly, much of traditional parenting is fear-based and punitive. I believe punishment is any fear-based reaction by caregiver that deprives child of a vital need, adds toxic levels of stress and the child has no safe place to process, express and have new understanding of the overwhelming emotions, behaviors and/or events. Most times when I witness parents interact with their children, they are operating from a fearful lens. Parents tend to view their children’s behavior as a report card that reflects how they…

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Easter and our opportunities to rise again…

I was reminded of how blessed we are that God* gives a beautiful new horizon to awake and go to sleep with every day. I thought about Easter approaching and how many are celebrating how Jesus rose from the dead. I told my son that holidays are symbols of the gifts God gives us every day. We have been given the gift to rise every day and try again to be more kind, helpful and align our beliefs with our actions.

Positive Reframe...

One day, my son was feeling badly about not living up to his potential. He expressed negative beliefs of “not being a good enough, being lazy, stupid, feeling guilty and shame about his choices and behaviors.” It hurts me tremendously to hear him share these deep negative core beliefs as they are the same ones I have battled through trans-generational trauma and sadly often triggers me into a negative reaction. Thus, no matter how much my partner and I told him how much we loved him and highlighted all the good things he does, he could not hear us and resisted. As a therapist, I know too well that our reactions and attempts to minimize his emotional pain were invalidating and actually making him feel worse. That one must first truly listen, accept, validate the speaker’s feelings and expressions so they may be able to process their pain and move on. Yet being…

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Positive Reframe on Aging… “Alive Inside”

Positive Reframe...

I highly recommend watching the documentary Alive Inside. For like a year, I have seen this documentary on Netflix and it was always calling me. Yet because I felt I already knew how healing music is and about human development, I kept scrolling by. But WOW! Even though it was a lot of what I know including brain development and how vital relationships and touch are for life and death, throughout the documentary, I felt elated and when I finished watching it, I was filled with tears of joy and goosebumps.

“One Good Thing About Music, When it Hits You Feel No Pain”- Bob Marley

The concept of music being healing was first validated for me when I read Deepak Chopra’s book, Timeless Body, Ageless Mind. He explained how your cells in your body will actually go back in time to feel how you actually felt during a specific…

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Listen to what I do instead of punishments…

Positive Reframe...

I know that every parent is doing the best they can with the resources they were given or are aware of. I also believe that everyone truly has good intent yet may lack the know-how to get their needs met in calm, respectful ways. We all can very easily feel overwhelmed and unable to express ourselves. This is extremely true for children. Even if you have told them a hundred times, they were likely overwhelmed by conflicting thoughts or emotions or some other variable and didn’t absorb the message fully. They are also learning. Learning is messy, repetitive, and challenging process at its best. It may sometimes feel that our children are out to make our lives difficult, that something must be wrong if they haven’t got the message yet, or that they are purposely not applying themselves. I assure you, they are learning. Slow down to actively listen, empathize…

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An exercise in the language of love…

I want you to feel the difference between these statements below about two different scenarios… Really say them in a way as if you are hearing your loved one say them to you and notice what senses, thoughts, feelings, reactions come up for you?

“You should have called me when you knew you’d be late. Why didn’t you?”

VERSUS


“I felt very worried when I hadn’t heard from you. It’s hard for me to understand how you couldn’t call me. I need to know you are safe. In the future, please call me as soon as you are aware you may be late.”

Try this one:

“You should have come to the party. Everyone was asking me why you weren’t there.”


VERSUS


“I missed you at the party. Seemed many did too as they asked me where you were. I felt sad thinking that maybe our fight earlier led you to not going. Did it?”

From my experience, the first statements are fear-based reactions. They provoke feelings and negative core beliefs around fears, shame, resentment, insecurity, and inadequacy. They send the message that You should have known better and What the heck is wrong with you?.

The latter responses are loved-based, assertive and seeking to meet vital needs of love, security, safety, connection, and understanding. They send the message that I take responsibility for my own feelings and needs. That I genuinely care about your wellbeing and want you in my life. That I know that you are a good person and something reasonable must have occurred to make you act in this way. We all have valid feelings, needs, points of view and experiences that influence our behaviors and choices.

Loved-based responses with still awaken negative feelings like guilt and sadness thus our loved one will still have defense mechanisms get activated yet when we stay aware of and connected to our loved-based intentions then we create opportunities for deeper healing, connection, and growth. That’s how trust and secure relationships are built. That every time we lose it, we can with confidence know that someone will be there for us no matter what. That they will make time for us because they care about our wellbeing too.

Now because we are human, fear-based reactions and defense mechanisms are normal. We will still have them. The goal is to catch these reactions sooner and make authentic attempts at repair, connect, and understand. We need to accept the reality of the situation and our own role in it. We often aren’t able to do this in the heat of the moment so taking time to pause, self-soothe, reflect and connect to our feelings, thoughts, needs, and intentions. Then make a conscious choice to align our beliefs, thoughts, words, and actions to match that intention as well as get our needs met in a direct, respectful and nurturing way. It’s a win-win. Still not easy yet we will gain so much more in the long run. Embrace fears, love more and trust the process. The key is to send the message that even when we disagree and feel hurt by another, that we will work to understand each other and love each other though because deep down we know we are good, trust-worthy and lovable.

Disclaimer

Positive Reframe shares resources with the intent of the positive progression of informed decision making related to issues associated with emotional, relational, physical and spiritual wellness. While I share personal and professional perspectives, my writings reflect my personal opinion and not intended to substitute professional advice, diagnosis, and treatment. The online medium does not lend itself to the level of detail and rapport building required for thorough assessment and therapeutic intervention thus the content shared on this page is for informational purposes only. To make well-informed decisions that best meet your family’s unique needs, I highly recommend exploring and researching available options, consulting primary health care providers,  as well as seek referrals from a trusted source for professional counseling. I am a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapy in the state of Illinois, USA

Click here to find a therapist near you in USA: https://www.aamft.org/Directories/Find_a_Therapist.aspx

If you are experiencing a mental health emergency, call 911 or visit your local emergency room

Call 1-800-273-8255 https://suicidepreventionlifeline.org/

Text 741741 from anywhere in the USA https://www.crisistextline.org/

Outside of US, check out: http://www.defyingmentalillness.com/worldwide-suicide-help…/

The Love We All Need and Deserve

“We have rationalized the taking out our own unhappiness and incompleteness in many destructive ways…Unconditional love is the only soil in which the seed of a human person can grow…Of course, free will is a factor in every human life. Everyone must say his or her ‘yes’ to growth and integrity. But there are prerequisites. And one of these is someone must empower me to believe in myself and to be myself. ”

Positive Reframe...

”The essential message of unconditional love is one of liberation: You can be whoever you are, express all your thoughts and feelings with absolute confidence. You do not have to be fearful that love will be taken away. You will not be punished for your openness and honesty…There may be days when disagreements and disturbing emotions may become between us. There may be times when psychological or physical miles may lie between us. But I have given my word of my commitment…So feel free to be yourself, to tell me of your negative and positive reactions. I cannot always predict my reactions or guarantee my strength, but one thing I do know: I will not reject you! I am committed to your growth and happiness…There is nothing else that can expand the human soul, actualize the human potential for growth, or bring a person into the full possession of…

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