Aha! Parenting Blog

Practical solutions for real parenting problems

Don't Worry. Be Happy.

"Realize that now, in this moment of time, you are creating. You are creating your next moment based on what you are feeling and thinking. That is what’s real. We can let go of the unconscious belief that being anxious about the past or the future will somehow protect us and instead reprogram our cells with new ways of responding.” -- Doc Childre

Do you worry about your child?  Join the club.  It's part of the job description. But when we say "Be careful!" to our child, we're not giving the message that we care, even though that's what we feel. We're giving the message that the world is an unsafe place and we don't have confidence in our child to navigate it. 

Could you say, instead:

"Have fun!"

"Wow, I see you climbing so high!" 

"Check in with your body... Is that height comfortable? Will you be able to get yourself down?"

Of course, you may want to spot your little dare devil. But a scraped knee wouldn't be the end of the world, and it might be just the learning experience she needs, so she learns to manage her own body and keep herself safe.

Research shows that worrying makes us more fearful of bad outcomes. The decisions we make from that fearful place aren't the same decisions we would make from a place of love and trust. Guess which decisions have better outcomes?

Sages have been preaching that our thoughts create our lives ever since teaching began. Whatever we attend to flourishes.  So when we focus on something, it’s like looking into a microscope – we make whatever we’re focusing on bigger, in our perceptions and therefore in reality.

Do you think worrying might keep your child safe? If it did, that would be a small price to pay. But it doesn't. Many studies have concluded that people who worry more don’t solve problems any better or gain insight. They simply make themselves more unhappy! So we think that worrying about our child is insurance, but it's just a ball and chain.

Here's why. Although worrying is our mind's way of trying to protect us, we're actually negatively programming our subconscious. The subconscious thinks in pictures, and it believes whatever we tell it.  Many scientists now agree that all those anxious thoughts looping though our minds are actually giving our subconscious the message to create those scenarios. At the very least, those worried thoughts stimulate feelings of anxiety and stress that keep us from feeling peaceful as parents.

Want to break the worry habit and reprogram your subconscious for happiness? Here's your five step process. 

1. Start noticing every time your mind goes into worry.  When you observe yourself worrying about something, Stop. Breathe. Shake your hands out to let go of that fear. Just noticing your physical state and consciously relaxing sends a message to your mind that there's no emergency.

2. Remember that you don't have to believe everything your mind tells you. Much of what your mind thinks isn't even true. It's just old fears and cautionary tales. In fact, if your thought is about the future, it can't be provably true. Even if it's about the past, it's probably not the whole truth. 

3. Reassure yourself. Put your hand on your heart to access your inner wisdom, and from that wise place, choose a different thought that gives you more hope. It's at least as likely to be true.

“Every kid gets out of diapers sooner or later.”

"I don't have to be perfect.  My kids will be fine, even though I make mistakes."

“My child doesn't have to be perfect. He's who he is. My job is to nurture who he is."

"I am doing the best I can. Two steps forward, one step back still gets me where I want to go.”

"He's acting like a kid because he IS a kid."

4. Reprogram your subconscious.  As you say your new statement, show your subconscious a picture of your desired outcome, whether it's your child smiling and safe, or happily flushing the toilet.  Don't worry about how to achieve your goal -- that will get your mind involved again, which brings up fear. Instead, summon up a feeling of happy gratitude along with your picture. The longer you can hold that feeling and picture, the more quickly your subconscious will start helping you create it.

5. Take action. Ask yourself: “What is one thing I can do right now (or today) to make this positive outcome more likely?” Then do it. Here's where this technique differs from positive thinking.  We have to feel good to know what action to take, so we're acting from our higher self instead of our "small self."  But we have to take the action to change our lives. 

Every time your worry surfaces, repeat these steps. Scientists have found that our minds tend to follow certain tracks repeatedly, like grooves on an old vinyl record.  Each time you interrupt a worry and send your subconscious a picture of a happier outcome, you're carving a new path for your mind -- a path of happiness instead of anxiety. Soon, you'll find yourself in a whole new landscape.

 

***

This post is part of the series "Spring Cleaning for Your Psyche," which is interspersed with our regular posts for a few weeks.  Here the preceding posts:

Spring-Cleaning for Your Psyche

Don't Believe Everything You Think

5 Strategies to Tame Your Inner Critic


Peaceful Parent, Happy Kids

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