10 Tools for
Success in Parenting and the Rest of Life
By Kassandra Brown
What do you do when you’re down? You know, when you have a day when
nothing seems to be going well. When your kids irritate you, when your
spouse seems like the most insensitive jerk you’ve ever met, or when you
doubt your capabilities to get anything done – who or what do you turn
to for support?
Sometimes these voices sound like:
No one understands me!
My husband is a jerk. He just doesn’t listen to me.
My kids won’t do anything I say.
My business will never be successful.
I never have the time to do what I want in life.
You probably have moments, or sometimes days and even weeks, when
thoughts like the ones above seem to take over. How do you handle them?
Do you ignore them, pacify and numb them, or deal with them directly?
What would work better to support you in times of hardship,
irritability, or when downright feeling funky?
10 Tools that are Better than Numbing when You’re Having a Bad Day
Compassionate Listening and Parts Work –
This is my all-time favorite. Although
each of the following techniques is powerful, I come back to this one
again and again. The two main components, compassionate listening and
parts work, make it the the most effective. When this tool is practiced
consistently, I have seen amazing changes take place in my clients’
experience of themselves, their families, and their work.
The Work of Byron Katie
would you be without your story? The Work of Byron Katie helps you find
out. When used with compassion, the strategies in The Work shed powerful
light on the path to personal freedom.
Radical Honesty - Many of us are hesitant to admit when
we feel hurt, angry or resentful. We’re almost equally hesitant to
express appreciation, love, and enjoyment. Radical Honesty advocated
telling the truth about both resentments and appreciations. This simple
practice is not easy, but it’s very effective for freeing up stuck
Reframing – Believe it or not, you can reframe
your negative beliefs to turn them into assets. When a belief like “I’m indecisive”
rears it’s ugly head, look for the positive gift that is
related to that belief. For example, you could say to yourself:
“I’m able to see deeply into many sides of an issue. This gives me
insight and compassion. When the issue is too complex, I wait to make a
decision until the right path is clear to me.” Doesn’t that feel much better than the
initial judgment while also allowing room for acceptance and potential
Visualization – Imagine blowing your negative thoughts out through the
top of your head. Or shake your hands vigorously and imagine the
negative energy shaking off like water drops off of a shaking dog. Let
the energy return to the earth to get composted and renewed. This
technique often works better as a short-term bandage until you can do
deeper work on the underlying belief.
Curiosity – Remember that the job of the mind
is to create meaning. It is always asking questions and looking for
answers that justify its version of reality. In a given situation when you’re having
a strong emotion, try to become curious about what is really going on.
Ask a question like, “If I knew this moment was in the highest interest
of my life and happiness, how would I feel?” You can also notice when
you ask a question like, “Why don’t my kids listen to me?” and reframe
it into a more positive question such as, “What would help my kids
listen to me better?” The key is to remember that your mind
will look for and find answers to either question. Which answers would
you rather have?
Meditation – Quieting the mind works wonderfully to interrupt the flow a
bad day. Take it one step farther, and meditation can become a highly
targeted tool for working with a frustrating situation and transforming
both your feelings about it and your reactions to it. Targeted
meditation works like gardening in your mind - you pull the weeds then
plant and nourish the seeds you want to see flower into your life
– is also called compassionate communication and is practiced by using the
language of feelings and needs. Noticing feelings and needs is a good
path for understanding the motivation behind a specific behavior. The
motivation is the need that is trying to be met. The behavior is a
strategy to meet that need, and some strategies are more constructive or
destructive than others. Instead of rewarding or punishing behavior, NVC
helps you meet the underlying need in a more successful way.
Journaling – This one is so simple, I almost
forgot to add it to the list. But simple as it is, journaling is a
powerful tool for getting to know yourself and shifting underlying
beliefs. It’s an excellent tool to use in conjunction with the other
techniques like parts work and mindfulness. Journaling takes advantage
of the fact that it’s exponentially more effective to see your words,
feelings, and beliefs written down than to just think them.
Mindfulness – This has become quite a buzz
word in recent times, and the hubbub is most likely due to this
technique’s simple and yet powerful method. Everything changes.
Mindfulness helps slow down the thinking-process so that you can notice
what’s happening before it changes. You can practice it by beginning to
notice what’s going on inside of you. What sensations do you notice in
your body? What emotions are present to be felt? What thoughts are
present in your thinking?
What if it doesn’t “work”?
As good as all these techniques are, there is
not one thing I have found that can make all doubts and fears go away. A
noted personal growth teacher, Ram Das, is known to have said, “With all
my years of meditation, drugs, therapy, and working with my guru I still
haven’t gotten rid of one neurosis. Not one. The difference is that
instead of big monsters which devour me, they have become familiar
schmoos which I can welcome in. I say to them ‘Come in. Have tea. How
are you?’ instead of running in fear.”
I agree with Ram Das. Our inner schmoos are always with us. They want to
protect us. They want to keep us safe and usually do this by preventing
us from doing anything risky, big, or new. So, in addition to the
techniques above, I challenge you to feel the fear and do it anyway.
Notice something you’re a bit nervous to do and do it. You can build
courage the same way you build any other muscle – with gentle challenge.
Weight lifting and stretching for courage might look like telling
someone how you feel, journaling about a challenging situation, or
finding other ways to help.
May these tools aid you in creating a life of meaningful success!
Kassandra Brown loves supporting people in
self-care, business, relationships, and parenting. You can find her at
http://parentcoaching.org and at Dancing Rabbit Ecovillage where she lives and works in community.