If you’re a parent, there are days that seem to meld together with all the time you take in caregiving and nurturing your children while also managing other parts of your multifaceted life. However, as busy as you are, you might somehow find the time to critique yourself. You might have thoughts like, you’re not doing enough, if you’re a good parent or not, or if you’re making the right choices when raising your kids. It’s overwhelming externally, and yet you’re still flooded with negative thoughts internally. So how can you combat this?
During one of the sessions of Smart Parenting’s Happiness Class, Happiness coach Michelle Lichauco-Tambunting took young parents into a deep dive on how to think positively about themselves and shift their mindsets through the psychological mechanism of affirmations. Michelle was joined by host and dad Edroy Lim, as well as mom guests, Grace Donato and Debbie Villanueva.
Parent guilt and how it manifests
Guilt is a universal trait that we all experience as humans. As a parent, a specific kind of guilt grows when you’re now responsible for raising little tots who need constant care and guidance. In the pursuit of being the best parental figure, you always think about the impact of every little thing you do on your kids. Hyperfocusing on the things you could have done better while ignoring to celebrate the good things you’ve done for your children lets you become more critical of your child-rearing efforts, and that’s how parent guilt manifests.
Edroy points out that social media can also affect the way you see yourself as a parent. Receiving likes or reactions on your posts with your kids can sometimes eschew your personal belief that you’re doing the best you can as a mom or dad. For Debbie, it’s spending your time at work or having your parents babysit the kiddos so you can have quality time with the hubby that triggers her guilt.
How do affirmations help address parent guilt?
According to Michelle, affirmations are “words that you think or say and believe to be true” that in moments of doubt or guilt, these are “thoughts you intentionally come up with to support, encourage, and calm your brain and body.” In addition, reciting affirmations activates the reward centers in your brain—these are parts of the brain that help maintain balance while you’re feeling stressed out or overwhelmed.
Parent guilt stems from the existing narrative and negative mindset you might have regarding your parental capabilities. If you can change the narrative and shift your mindset, then you might be able to start unlearning feelings of parent guilt.
Similar to how you’ve created a loop in your mind with negative thoughts, “when you say something [affirming] over and over, you start to believe it is true, and what you believe creates what you do and what happens to you,” explains Michelle. “When we think and we fill our minds with [affirming] thoughts, we’re actually rewiring our brains.” It works outside the realm of parenthood, too. For example, when you have a narrative in your head that lets you believe, “nobody loves me,” it’s important to remember that you have control over your thoughts and instead think, “I love myself, and other people love me, too.”
Applying affirmations in your life
Based on the book, I Think, I Am by Louise Hay and Christina Tracy, Michelle suggests affirmations with phrases like “I can,” “I am,” “I do,” “I have.” Then, repeat the affirmation as many times over and over, especially on rough days when you’re overwhelmed. If it helps, you can also recite the affirmation in front of a mirror as you look at yourself straight in the eye. In case you need a daily reminder, you can put up a sign with your go-to affirmation and place it in areas of the house where you can see it and be reminded of it frequently.
“What our children absorb is how we live our lives and what we do on a daily basis,” Michelle advises. “When they see that we affirm ourselves, they will affirm themselves.” Affirmations are also meant to be shared—between spouses and among your kids—so you can make it a family activity to take a few minutes out of the day to affirm and appreciate one another.
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SOURCE: Summit Media