How to change your life with reparenting

reparenting
Photo by bady abbas on Unsplash

One of the key tools when reparenting yourself involves developing strong boundaries. When you’ve been raised to cater to everyone else’s needs, setting boundaries is far more difficult than it sounds.

Having poor boundaries has been our brain’s way of keeping us safe by people-pleasing. That’s because as children If we could keep our parents happy we escaped punishment, and received their “love”.

So we carry that equation of people pleasing = safety into our adulthood and end up abandoning ourselves completely.

One thing that may surprise you about setting boundaries is the consequences. And these consequences will feed into all the fears you have around people not liking you and how scary that is. 

Reparenting the inner critic

Another key component of reparenting is taming the inner critic. Most of us who grew up with unmet childhood needs have a harsh inner critic that we inherited from our parents.

If our parents never taught us that we’re loved for who we are and not what we do, we believe our value lies in our accomplishments or what we do for others. 

So any time we’re not perfect we berate ourselves. We protect ourselves by refusing to follow through on our goals and dreams.

This is the self-sabotage of procrastination and shiny object syndrome. Our subconscious mind tells us that if we don’t follow through on a project or goal, no one can say we failed. 

That’s why the common self-help advice that more willpower will solve self-sabotage, misses the mark for people who’ve been through childhood trauma. 

In fact, you have more willpower and strength than the average person but you’ve put it into survival instead of moving yourself forward. This keeps you stuck, and traps you in a frustrating cycle of letting yourself down and holding yourself back.

Imagine how far you could go if you replaced that inner critic with an inner self-advocate. Someone who’s on your side instead of against you.

Rather than reacting to threats and perceived danger, you’ll start designing and creating your desired life. You’ll become aligned with your values, goals, and dreams and move toward fulfilling your highest potential.

Change is possible

reparenting

Maybe you’ve had therapy and self-help that hasn’t worked because it wasn’t trauma-informed. And that intensifies the inner critic because you feel you’ve tried everything and beat yourself up because you feel unfixable.

But change is possible. Years ago, I was self-loathing, people pleasing, emotionally dysregulated, and had a relentless inner critic. My self care regime consisted of drinking to numb my feelings because everything felt so bad. 

Today, I’m living a life that’s completely authentic and aligned with my values. I love and care for myself and put my needs first in ways that would have felt impossible a few years ago.

I want  to offer you what I’ve learned over these past several years about reparenting and how I’ve used it to transform my life. So, I’ve opened enrollment for my course The Self-Parenting Solution.

If you want to finally change your life and feel like other self-help strategies haven’t worked for you, I encourage you to sign up. It’s only $37 until Friday and you’ll get a bonus lesson on how to break free from toxic people.

How to care for your inner child: 5 ways

inner child
Photo by Leo Rivas on Unsplash

When we grow up with unmet childhood needs, we learn to put others’ needs ahead of our own. We ignore our own needs, or try to take care of them ourselves, which leads to a neglected inner child.

This loss of innocence in childhood affects us deeply as adults. We never felt the protection and care that allowed us to explore the world confidently. So, we feel anxious and fearful, and rarely let down our guard.

Now that we’re adults we can reparent ourselves and take care of those needs that went unmet in childhood. Here are five ways.

1. Embrace emotions

Forced to abandon ourselves and our feelings from a young age, we fear emotions and feel bad for having certain ones. Instead of comforting ourselves, we chastise ourselves for feeling that way.

Pay attention to your emotions and embrace them rather than pushing them aside or criticizing yourself for having them. Give yourself the support you would give a friend going through something difficult.

2. Forgive yourself

Forgive yourself for the mistakes you’ve made. You did the best you could with the information you had at the the time.

Our parents never gave us the guidance and support others received. If you knew better, you’d do better.

3. Self-kindness

inner child

This is not the same as positive self-talk. You may have noticed that repeating positive mantras hasn’t worked for you. Or they worked for a while and then you went back to your old mindset of self-criticism.

That’s because if deep down you don’t really believe the mantras they won’t work. Studies have shown that mantras only benefit those who already have a positive self-image.

Self-kindness will help you raise your self-worth so you can believe those mantras and feel their impact.

4. Let the inner child play

Take yourself out for an ice cream cone. Go to the arcade if that’s something you enjoy.

Give yourself the opportunity to play and explore in ways you weren’t allowed to as a kid. We can’t get our childhood back, but we can reparent ourselves now to receive the care and attention we missed.

5. Thank the inner child

What looks like self-sabotage is actually a form of self-protection. To avoid things like disappointment and abandonment, your inner child employed all kinds of tactics to keep you safe.

These include procrastination, shiny object syndrome, pushing people away… Thank your child for being so vigilant in protecting you, but tell her you no longer need her services.

How to overcome avoidance and head in the sand

avoidance
Photo by Priscilla Du Preez on Unsplash

Do you tend to put your head in the sand when challenges arise? Instead of facing something head on, do you struggle with avoidance of the issue?

Someone from my past said they wished they’d never opened the mail when it revealed a suspended driver’s license. And that was over unpaid parking tickets they’d also avoided.

Avoidance is a maladaptive strategy for bypassing pain that only delays the inevitable. And makes that pain worse in many cases.

When we never learned to deal with conflict, we avoid it at all costs. If we experienced conflict as something bad or dangerous, the need to stay away from it feels life-saving.

But, of course, that’s the lie our minds made up to keep us safe. What worked in childhood, i.e.., smoothing things over to avoid a beating or tongue-lashing, only holds us back as adults.

Avoidance strategies

Procrastination is one avoidance strategy that causes more stress because it puts us in the position of having to scramble to get everything done at the last minute.

You may have even convinced yourself you work better under pressure. Whether true or not, you’d be a lot nicer to yourself if you paced your projects instead of overloading them at the end.

When we’re in survival mode, however, self-compassion rarely enters the equation. And many of us who suffered from unmet childhood needs are using a brain wired for survival.

Many of us who suffered from unmet childhood needs are using a brain wired for survival. Click To Tweet

That’s a mind on high alert for threat, fears making mistakes, and being viewed as foolish. Procrastination becomes a way to delay the inevitable failure we fear.

Addictive behaviors are another avoidance strategy. Rather than feeling your feelings and dealing with them, you drink them away, eat unhealthy comfort foods, or binge watch TV.

Workaholism is the most socially-acceptable of these addictions. Burying yourself in work becomes an excuse to avoid intimacy with family, friends, and self.

Avoidant attachment style

People with avoidant attachment can lose relationships or never find intimacy because they end things whenever conflict arises. Due to past conditioning, they fear conflict as life- or relationship-threatening.

People with avoidant attachment can lose relationships or never find intimacy because they end things whenever conflict arises. Click To Tweet

In many cases, they grew up in homes where conflict was forbidden. Perhaps feelings of any kind were eschewed and resulted in withdrawal of love from the caregiver.

This creates a personality in which the child (and later, adult) will avoid the necessary conflicts that increase intimacy. They are unable to support their partner’s emotional needs and will keep relationships superficial or end them.

You might avoid difficult conversations by keeping things on the surface. Instead of saying how you really feel, you act phony to maintain the status quo of the relationship (even though it’s superficial and unfulfilling).

When we use these avoidance strategies, we’re trying to keep pain at bay. But the pain we incur is far worse and longer-lasting. It can lead to an entire life that’s based on nothing more than escape from reality.

So, how to stop avoidance strategies and face conflict head on?

avoidance

1. Acknowledge your avoidance.

The first step to undoing unhealthy coping strategies is to recognize that we use them. Catch yourself when you go into avoidance instead of facing a conflict or challenge.

What triggers you? Can you slow things down before barreling down the road of avoidance? This is a process that can take years to come to terms with and you will likely need support, but you can begin anytime.

2. Feel your feelings.

Avoidance strategies come from a need to run from perceived pain. When we grew up learning that our feelings were unwanted, we tamp them down in order to survive.

When we grew up learning that our feelings were unwanted, we tamp them down in order to survive. Click To Tweet

As youngsters, without our parents love we feared we would die. So, when our emotions resulted in loss of love we did our best to stop feeling them.

We stopped asking for help and dealt with our needs on our own. If we can begin to acknowledge our feelings and share them with others we’ll stop feeling so alone.

3. Consider the consequences.

Can you see the consequences of your avoidance all around you? The lack of fulfillment, fake relationships, and isolation? Are you ready to change that?

Can you see the consequences of your avoidance all around you? The lack of fulfillment, fake relationships, and isolation? Click To Tweet

Have you considered the benefits of facing conflict? Did you know that relationships go to the next level as a result of resolving necessary conflict? The couple who never argues is not necessarily healthy, but avoidant.

Personal growth arrives through overcoming conflicts and challenges. Yes, it is painful sometimes to deal with these but it’s a short-lived pain that brings a worthwhile outcome.

Avoidance, however, may keep pain away but produces a deeper kind of hurt. That’s an unlived life or one where you never get to find out who you really are.

How to stop feeling unworthy of getting what you want

feeling unworthy
Photo by Albany Capture on Unsplash

Before I started my healing journey, a voice inside my head would whisper, “that’s not for you,” anytime I thought about something I wanted. Feeling unworthy came as naturally to me as breathing.

Whether buying only sale items, or spending time with people who neither inspired nor respected me, I betrayed myself by settling for less than what my heart desired.

This self-saboteur was a remnant from my childhood of unmet needs. I had been parentified into believing the needs of the adults around me took precedence over my own. And so abandoned myself accordingly.

Unmet needs in childhood lead to feeling unworthy of getting what we want as an adult. How? Because we get imprinted with the belief that we don’t matter and don’t deserve to feel fulfilled.

Unmet needs in childhood lead to feeling unworthy of getting what we want as an adult. Click To Tweet

Usually, these limiting beliefs remain unconscious (although that voice in my head sounded audible). Since our subconscious minds dictate the bulk of our results and outcomes, these beliefs keep us stuck.

How do we get out from under these false beliefs of feeling unworthy? How do we change our mindset and begin to believe we deserve to get what we want out of life?

3 ways to stop feeling unworthy

feeling unworthy

1. Ask

The Bible verse: “you do not have because you do not ask” and the law of attraction both dictate that you get not what you deserve but what you believe you deserve. And have the courage to ask for.

Think of the things you want but don’t yet have. Have you been bold enough to ask for them? Have you spoken your desire out loud to those who could help you achieve or receive it?

Sometimes we’re afraid to ask for what we want because it seems too big. Or we want to protect ourselves from the disappointment of not getting it. But that only ensures more of the same deprivation.

One common example of this among people with unmet childhood needs is to say they want a meaningful relationship instead of marriage. If you want a husband and not a live-in partner, say so.

2. Improve self-image

Positive mantras only work for those who already hold a positive self-image. So, if you’ve wondered why repeating them hasn’t had a lasting impact on you, that’s why.

Positive mantras only work for those who already hold a positive self-image. Click To Tweet

If you look at other people with less intelligence, creativity, and resources, and wonder why they’re so successful, it’s likely self-image at play. They believe they deserve good things as a result of their positive self-image. You believe the opposite because of your negative one.

In my experience, improving self-image starts with self-kindness. That means treating yourself at least as well as you treat others, especially when you’re not perfect. It means practicing self-forgiveness, and refusing to dwell on your mistakes.

It means setting boundaries around your time and energy. Eliminating frenemies whose thoughts toward you contribute to your inability to get what you want.

It means investing in yourself with coaching or counselling and material things your heart desires. Because you are worth it.

3. Adjust your expectations.

If you’ve grown up with unmet needs, there’s often a disconnect between your true desires and what you expect to receive. Adjust your expectations UP instead.

Expect something better than you’ve got in the past by overriding automatic thoughts with your conscious mind. The self-help classic Psycho-Cybernetics suggests spending 30 minutes per day envisioning your ideal life to aid the process.

When you shift your expectations, your actions work to create new results that end up transforming your life. Enter the success and fulfillment that have long eluded you. They’re not only for other people to enjoy, after all.

How to do holiday self care when Christmas is lonely

holiday self care
Photo by Chad Madden on Unsplash

Whether due to family dramas or the loneliness that comes when you detach from them, Christmas can be difficult. Holiday self care is important for all, but more so if you’re struggling with dysfunctional family systems.

If you’re like me, the entire month of December brings a certain foreboding. Part of this is due to emotional flashbacks of Christmases past filled with familial unrest, guilt trips, and even violence.

Even when you’ve learned to set healthy boundaries to counter bad behavior, family gatherings can feel like a battle where you have to don a suit of armor to survive.

If you’ve made the difficult decision to cut ties or distance yourself for a season, the loneliness of a solo holiday can feel depressing and embarrassing.

If you've made the difficult decision to cut ties, the loneliness of a solo holiday can feel depressing and embarrassing. Click To Tweet

People tend to retreat into their respective clans as December marches along, making your loneliness more pronounced. They ask what you’re doing for Christmas and you lie and say you’re spending it with your phantom family to avoid judgment.

When things are quiet around the holiday, you may forget about self care. Isn’t that supposed to provide a respite from stress and rushing around? But holiday self care when you’re lonely is more about reparenting your inner child than stress-relief.

Often, those of us who feel lonely at Christmas time (even in the midst of a large family gathering) never got our needs met during childhood. Therefore, feelings of isolation come from a real lack of support, care, and interest in your well-being.

Now that you’ve faced the fact that your needs weren’t met as a child, it’s time to meet those needs yourself. That’s where holiday self care comes in. Here are six suggestions:

Holiday self care ideas

holiday self care

1. Buy yourself something sweet

You probably buy gifts for lots of other people but neglect to buy anything for yourself. A small treat, like an advent calendar, can be a poignant way to take care of yourself.

It’s something you may have bought for your children but never considered getting for yourself. What a way to honor your inner child and each day you’ll get a reminder that you’re worth caring for.

2. Acknowledge your emotions.

Rather than looking on the bright side, or rationalizing lonely or sad feelings, accept them. Remind yourself that it’s natural to feel lonely and sad at a time when most people are looking forward to time with loving families.

Rather than looking on the bright side, or rationalizing lonely or sad feelings, accept them. Click To Tweet

You may decide to journal your feelings or give yourself a hug. Avoid shaming yourself for your emotions and offer comfort and self-compassion instead. If your feelings become unmanageable, talk to someone like a trusted friend or counsellor/coach.

3. Watch what you eat.

Don’t use December as an excuse to throw a healthy diet out the window. Eating healthily regulates your sleep, keeps your mood balanced, and lengthens your life span. It remains one of the most important things you can do for your longevity and well-being.

4. Pamper yourself

This is what we think of when we talk about self care. Give yourself a massage with some lotion, take a nap, do a face mask, set a timer for a short meditation.

Speak words of affirmation to yourself. Those that start with “I am” tend to have the best effect. “I am worthy of love and support,” for example.

Set goals and limits

5. Set limits

Holiday self care means setting limits around your time and energy. Maybe you’ve already said no to family gatherings that drain you. If not, perhaps it’s time to start.

Let go of obligations to people who don’t support you. Many dysfunctional families expect us to stay within roles that never served us to prop up a broken system. Now your primary obligation is to yourself and your personal growth.

6. Set goals for next year

Celebrate your achievements from 2021 and look ahead to 2022. What do you have planned that you want to dream into fruition?

What excites you and lights you up that you want to bring into your life? Perhaps there are easy actions you can take now to get started.