Have you ever heard yourself sounding like your parents? Does this alarm you? If you could change these (and other) parenting habits, would you?
Around the age of 10 years I loved baking. My mom was very encouraging but could also be controlling in the kitchen. She held my hand while I stirred, mixed or rolled. It annoyed me immensely until eventually I stopped baking altogether. I vowed I would never do that to my child.
Check in 30 years later. My son is 9 years old and loves cooking and experimenting with his own recipes. Knowing how certain tastes will combine together, I recently heard myself saying, “That won’t work, rather try this”. After I refused to let him try his combo for himself, my son said, “I will rather go do something else”, and he left the kitchen.
Why do we mimic our parents to the point of history repeating itself? Where do these automatic responses come from and can we change them?
I am sure that you have heard plenty of times that childhood and especially the formative years, is the foundation for life. Is this because surrounding information is so readily absorbed during this period? Precisely.
What’s more, the brain of a young child operates at a frequency equivalent to when adults awaken in the morning and feel slightly ‘out of it’. During this time in a child’s life, receptor sites are wide open, downloading data as a camcorder does. There is no analysing, only acceptance. This raw footage is stored in the part of the brain called the Reptilian and this is the region where our automatic responses stem from.
What happens to this download? Does it dissolve away? Oh no, it stays there, waiting for the perfect moment to emerge. Perhaps it will resurface days or weeks later. Have you ever been in a public place when your child has said or done something you consider ‘inappropriate’ and you instantly knew it was learnt from you? That’s the Reptilian in action.
Now, recall a moment when you sounded like one of your parents. That, too, is a Reptilian experience. If your automatic responses are beneficial, filled with loving kindness and serving you and your family well, then Congratulations, you are using your Reptilian effectively.
Most of us, however, have reactions that can be hard, selfish or even toxic for ourselves and others. The good news is that your brain, being the amazing machine it is, can be rewired so that you can use it the way you really want to. Yes, your responses can be conscious ones, even in the heat of the moment.
THE TRANSFORMATIONAL FORMULA:
1. AWARENESS: Be aware of your automatic actions that are hurting you and / or others
2. CHOICES: In a state of calm, consciously choose a response that will benefit you and your children. Write it down.
3. PRACTICE: Practice using your conscious choice and experience how challenging or flowing it is for you.
4. REPEAT: Repeat this for 21 consecutive days in order to establish your new automatic response.
5. JOURNAL: Keep notes of your transformational journey. Reflect after 21 days to monitor your patterns and growth, without judgement.
So go on, turn your habits into consciousness.
Read more at www.helenhansen.co