The Halloween Dread Reframe

Positive Reframe...

(I wrote this blog in 2015)

Every Halloween, my son wants to make his own costume. The therapist and educator in me absolutely loves his initiative, determination, creativity, high standards and resourcefulness The mom in me gets triggered and dreads this. All I see are the barriers, the frustrations, hard work, messes, costs, and disappointment. It happened again this year where he feels my dread and it brings him down. I know it is not fair so as I practice what I preach, I chose to ask my son this morning as I was acknowledging how he was right about feeling my resistance, “How are we going to open this day with joy and curiosity?” I then reframed our day by stating, “I am very curious how we will get this all done and I look forward to the joy my son will feel when his costume is finished.”

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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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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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