Aha! Parenting Blog

Practical solutions for real parenting problems

Let Your Heart Take Over

Today's the last day of our mental spring cleaning "mini-course" Blueprint to Disarm Your Inner Critics.  This course will be available as an ebook soon.  Tomorrow, we'll be back to our usual daily How-To's, beginning with How to Set Limits with Kids. If you have requests for topics, please let me know.

"Problems cannot be solved at the same level of awareness that created them." — Albert Einstein

"Since emotional processes can work faster than the mind, it takes a power stronger than the mind to bend perception, override emotional circuitry, and provide us with intuitive feeling instead. It takes the power of the heart."  -- Doc Childre

The inner critic’s job is to increase your chances of staying alive. Love and happiness are not in its job description. It kicks into fight or flight when your five year old shouts “You’re not the boss of me!” It panics that you’ll be an outcast from the protection of the tribe because your two year old is tantrumming in the supermarket. It thinks berating you will make you a more patient, energetic, loving parent.

The truth is, we’re only more patient, energetic, and loving when our own cups are full. An upset child is not an emergency.  And any situation with our child is better handled from the power of our hearts than the fear of the inner critic.

Most of our problems are created by our inner critics. Our hearts have access to a whole different level of problem-solving. There’s a reason the heart has always been seen as the source of courage, compassion and wisdom. Only when the heart and brain are in concert do we act from emotional intelligence. 

How can you shift from your inner critic to your heart?

1.  Put your hand on heart.  Get into the habit of putting your hand on your heart as you speak with your children. This activates your heart voice, so you’re speaking from your love, rather than your inner critic.

2. Try “Heart coherence” meditation.  Scientists have found that we can harmonize the energy between the heart, mind and body, which increases clarity, productivity, peacefulness, and many health indicators such as blood pressure and the coherence of our heartbeats. You can get a small biofeedback machine, called an Emwave, to teach yourself to move into this state of coherence. (As far as I know, these are available only from HeartMath. I don’t get any incentives to mention this product. I bought one myself a few years ago, and it has transformed my meditation practice.)

3. Shift from your inner critic to your heart with each breath. With your in-breath, focus on your heart, as you breathe in an attitude of gratitude and love. With your out-breath, focus on your solar plexus (just below the sternum where the left and right sides of your ribcage meet) as you breathe out an attitude of compassion and forgiveness. Even a few minutes of this can change your whole outlook.  The more often you do it (Rocking the baby? Waiting in the car?  Pushing the swing?), the more quickly you’ll be able to shift your state.

It has been an honor doing mental spring-cleaning with you. May your inner critic enjoy frequent vacations, and your heart be full of love.

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