Aha! Parenting Blog

Practical solutions for real parenting problems

Give Your Mind a Vacation

“The intuitive mind is a sacred gift and the rational mind is a faithful servant. We have created a society that honors the servant and has forgotten the gift.”  -- Einstein

We’ve been talking about ways to tame our inner critics. The bad news is, this isn’t a war we can win. The human mind is designed for survival, not happiness. It doesn’t understand that when your two year old roars like a saber tooth tiger and tries to bite you, your best response isn’t fight or flight, but cheerful, affectionate, limits.

Our minds’ hyper-vigilance wears us out. We often try to put our inner critics to sleep by:

  • “Zoning out” in front of a TV
  • “Losing ourselves” in “mindless” web-surfing
  • Drinking alcohol to “relax” our internal chatter
  • Treating ourselves to a surge of positive hormones by shopping

But when these are our only methods to manage our inner critics, they become addictions. They soak up precious time and money that we’d really rather use for more fulfilling activities. When used daily, they negatively impact our lives.

The good news is that we can all learn ways to tame our inner critics and make our minds easier to live with.  We’ve been talking about those strategies for the past few weeks.

The even better news is that there are ways to give our minds small vacations. Even a small amount of time with a quiet mind replenishes us, like water when we suddenly realize we’re parched. Our intuitive heart natures take over, allowing us to make wiser, more compassionate decisions. Scientists say that even a small daily break from our conscious minds can enhance our functioning and happiness all day long. You can even create physiological changes that make you happier.

For the next few days, we’ll be talking about how to give your mind a vacation.  To get started, spend today noticing things you usually take for granted:

1. Notice how your inner critic gets in your way when you’re trying to be constructive with your kid.  Does it make you hypercritical towards your child?  Stressed out and snappish? Worried that she'll be stuck in this developmental phase when she's 25? 

2. Notice what a great opportunity kids give you to get out of your mind in positive ways.  Why not put your inner critic down for a nap and play with your kids for an hour?  If you really engage, you'll feel more alive -- and more relaxed.

3. Notice any coping mechanisms you’ve developed to get a break from your mind.  Are they constructive?  Anything you’d like to change?

Tomorrow, we'll talk about strategies to give your mind a short vacation.

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