Parenting & Self-Love
Do you need one more reason to embrace self-love?
Transforming the perspective on Self-Love
Hey everyone! So, this particular article is sharing an avenue we found to help us more fully embrace self-love. As a trauma-survivor living with Autism, I can honestly admit embracing self-love has been not only a befuddling challenge for us but also something we could never even truly understand. Being a parent can teach you many things, especially if you’re willing to learn from the experience.
Despite disagreements that may come up between our children and us, there is one thing we never want to take away from them. Their individuality and self-respect for that individuality. What is self-love, if not having faith in your essence and knowing it has value. When we disagree with our children, we always first acknowledge their perspective and explain how it’s valid, before following up with our view and why we feel it may be better suited to the situation. The goal isn’t correcting the child’s natural response or emotions; the goal is to help them develop those senses by giving them more perspectives to feel their way through. Whether they are navigating emotionally or mentally, the goal is to empower them.
We, of course, want our children to grow up knowing they are unique and empowered. We want them to love themselves and follow their hearts, not feeling the need to hide any part of themselves from the world. We create a safe space for them to be expressive and valued. Then one day, the little question arises, “Did I have this when I needed it most?”. Many people experience being deprived of a safe place for self-expression, at some point or another during their lives.
Being a parent has some of the most notable benefits. With our children, we feel completely safe and accepted, and we love and accept them infinitely unconditionally. You can laugh and cry through Disney movies with them. You can chase each other around the yard and check the mail together. You can have food fights and laugh about it. You can talk about the mysteries of the world or things that interest you both. You can have a warm heart to heart before bedtime talk. It can be the safest and soothing relationship imaginable.
It’s easy for parents to forget how invaluable relationships with their children are, especially when they get caught up in trying to navigate the world themselves. We’ve discovered something astounding, though: when we choose to enjoy the simpler things in life that come with parenting, and we choose to experience life truly with our children, they empower us. As we learn to parent, support, and encourage our children, we begin being gentler with ourselves.
Children certainly learn best from seeing behavior in action, as opposed to being told how to be. So now we practice what we teach. We navigate our emotions with more perspectives, and we talk with safe people. Above all, we love ourselves and don’t want to change who we are; we want to expand and grow.
Who am I?
Who am I, and what am I supposed to love about myself? As you grow older and have more and more life experience, you accumulate so much! Relationships, jobs, hobbies, preferences, and more. We also experience a lot, sometimes good and sometimes even traumatic. However, so many of those things are external, and we begin identifying with them. Over time we slip into even defining ourselves as our emotions or our thoughts. Here’s the craziest and most fun fact of all; we are not our emotions, nor are we our thoughts! We experience emotions, and we use thought as a navigational tool. As you being to separate yourself from all of these things, it can be uncomfortable. What’s left to claim as oneself after removing all we relate too?
What I want you to do is a quick little fun exercise with me. In this exercise, we are going to show you one way we have discovered self-love. Look around, find a surface nearby where you could imagine placing things. I’m going to list some things I want you to imagine putting in a little pile right there. As you do this, I also want you to do one more thing. Whenever an emotion arises, say feeling, and whenever a thought arises, say idea. Acknowledge them and let them pass. Are you ready to start your pile?
Put these things in the pile
Your material possessions
Your favorite things
Your history and experiences
Now, who are you without all of those things? You are your essence. One beautiful thing that isn’t on the list is “your dreams.” Our dreams are most often misunderstood and overlooked, even by ourselves. We don’t dream of being successful for no reason, at our core or within our essence, there are reasons for dreams. The actual dream is to be secure, happy, and safe in this example. That is a part of who I am. How can one not love that?
It’s possible to have dreams about all the things we put in the pile. At our core, and from our essence, there are reasons. Those reasons are who we are. Now pick things from the pile and make a new list.
Family: We dream of caring for our kids and giving them bright futures. Because we love them, we dream of investing in our family because we value them. We dream of having a beautiful family. (What’s the reason?) I am love; I need love. I want to give love.
Pets: We dream of our cats living out their lives safe and loved. We enjoy just watching them be themselves. We don’t mind when they knock things over. They are our eternal children. We chose the responsibility of keeping them safe, and we love them. (What’s the reason?) I am love. I want to protect innocence. I value life in all forms.
Friends: We dream of being a supportive, gentle friend. We want to be welcoming. We dream of having safe and welcoming people in our life that we can turn to when we need them. (What’s the reason?) I am compassionate, I crave connection, I am love, I need love, and I want to give love.
Hobbies/Work: We dream of painting and writing! We dream of helping others. We dream of empowering others when we can. We dream of financial security and providing for our family. We dream of having the ability to give to others freely. (What’s the reason?) I am creative; I am humanitarian, I am compassionate, I am passionate, I crave security and stability. I am love, and I want to give love.
My Material Possessions: We dream of having a beautiful home for our family and ourselves. We dream of having better technology to work on our projects. We dream of having a meticulously plotted garden. (What’s the reason?) I am love; I admire beauty, I need a safe space, I want security, I crave creative freedom, I enjoy nature.
My Preferences: We prefer calm and quiet environments, we prefer healthier foods, we prefer staying home, we like routine, we dislike change on short notice. (What’s the reason?) I am peaceful; I desire calmness and stability; I value my body, I crave safety, I am independent.
My Favorites: We love family and friends. We love art. We love music. We love cats. We love creating, painting, and writing. We love having our own home. We love the sky. (What’s the reason?) I am love; I need love, I crave connection, I am creative, I enjoy beauty, I value life, I want to protect, I am expressive, I need security, I crave safety and stability.
My Body: We dream of having a healthier body. We dream of being more physically active. We dream of eating healthier. We dream of growing our hair out. We dream of feeling more at peace in our skin. (What’s the reason?) I value my body; I appreciate beauty, I crave confidence, I love my health.
My History and Experiences: We dream of growing and becoming more empowered. We have experienced a lot of trauma, and we have experienced a lot of joy. We know we have so much to process from years past, and we dream of working through it at our own pace. (What’s the reason?) I am love; I crave confidence, I have hope, I am objective, I crave stability and security, I need healing, I value life.
You are your reasons. You’re not the ideas and things attached to them. Your thoughts and dreams about things, always have a reason. If you are afraid, for example, you are not fear. Fear is a negative example we encounter regularly. We can fear rejection – beneath that is a dream for acceptance. What do we gain from acceptance? We gain connection, we feel seen. One is not merely their fear of rejection or their dream for acceptance. They are their desire for connection.
Underneath everything, who are you? That self is the self, deserving of all your love, always.
It’s easy to forget our reasons when we get caught up in life, things, emotions, and thoughts. We’ve chosen to make time to acknowledge our reasons and love ourselves daily; sitting with our coffee during mornings, on the porch in nature if possible, just being and loving ourselves because we see the reasons. Those reasons make us who we are.
Tying it all together
We didn’t know to look for the reasons, and neither do children. When you look at children, though, you can see their motives. Is the tantrum about the canceled trip to the park, merely about the park? What could they have lost when the trip got canceled? The child lost an opportunity to explore, to have a specific type of fun. Is the child the loss they feel, or the adventure that burns inside them? Is it okay for them to cry for this loss? Absolutely! As a parent in this situation, we can do more than explain why the trip got canceled. We can validate our children, telling them we understand their emotions and their feelings are valid, and even hug them or hold them, so they aren’t alone.
A child is less likely to continue fussing if they feel understood or nurtured, as opposed to being scolded or corrected. Listing the reasons you know they could be upset, helps them understand their own emotions and reasonings. It puts words to their pain and frustration and teaches them communication. Communication will always be the most powerful tool we have, not only with others but within ourselves.
We can effortlessly see how important the ability to see one another’s essence is, and how powerful it can be for parents. Understanding your essence, however, gives you a far deeper connection to yourself. When you begin viewing life from the perspective of your deepest self, you can feel pride, forgiveness, hope, and love for yourself more effortlessly. When you’ve realized, you made a mistake, or you can’t let go of a past mistake, what was actually in your essence?
For example, we have a knack for running away from life. When we run away, we lose so much, we hurt so many others, and we cause chaos. It can be hard to forgive ourselves for all the damage caused when looking at the actions we took. However, underneath the disorder, beneath the thoughts and fears swirling in our minds, there were reasons for the behavior. Reasons we didn’t necessarily always see or acknowledge. When you run away from something, you are seeking something – never mind anything physical or material, reasons are not things you can see with your eyes, nor are they people. At our essence, we crave stability, security, safety, and we want independence. If those inner parts of ourselves don’t feel fulfilled, they influence our thoughts and emotions.
To love yourself, you must first know yourself. You are so much more than your role in the world around you and within the lives of others. You have an essence, a core that has desires and values, it needs fulfillment. Don’t forget to look deeper and find your reasons. Never forget how beautiful those reasons are, and how unyielding your essence is. We love you.