Updated: Aug 11
Now first off, you don't have to be a psychotherapist to re-parent yourself. Yes, it is a form of psychotherapy where the therapist acts as a parental figure in order to treat old childhood wounds, habits or trauma of their client. But please don't let that put you off. Just stay with me, and you will start to see where I am going with this.
RE-PARENTING IS ALSO ABOUT BEING SELF-AWARE
As we get older, we start to realise the world our parents made us believe we were living in, isn't entirely accurate. We continue to be disappointed by life and its short comings. We grow up naive, believing that 'things will work out' and realise that, maybe, just maybe, they wont.
Or maybe its the opposite, and your parents were very strict on you and toughened you up from a young age. Threw you into the water so you would learn how to swim. (figuratively speaking) They told you life was hard, unforgiving and lonely. That no one would ever really care about you and you need to take care of yourself.
The truth is, well my truth is...life is different for everyone. Your parents can do their best (or worst!) in preparing you for it, but your life is not their life. Your experiences wont be the same they had. Times change, evolve, over the decades and centuries we have continued to see how different life is for everyone. Parents are humans, and humans repeat old patterns and operate from a place where their own emotions will dictate how they will bring up their children in this world. Re-parenting yourself is essentially, taking your experiences as an adult and using them to help guide you in becoming the 'self-aware' person you strive to be.
FIRST STEP...SELF COMPASSION
You can't possibly help retrain your thoughts if you don't learn to love yourself first. If you don't learn to forgive yourself for the things you did not understand before. You need to practice, daily, being self-compassionate. Understanding and forgiving yourself for what you did not know and be patient with yourself for taking time to really change. Every day will be a new day that you will need to re-train your brain to tell yourself 'it's okay' because every day, you will fall back to old habits of punishing yourself until you practice this for long enough that you will finally believe it.
RE-PARENTING IS SOUL WORK
You need to recognise the difficulties of making changes and own those moments that you feel that you may have fallen short. It's a constant uphill climb, but those necessary steps are the only path to really understating ones self and love the person you literally live with for the duration of your lifetime. It's all sounding a bit preachy now isn't it. I get it. All this talk about believing in yourself is easier said then done. So start small...
BABY STEPS AND SMALL CHANGES
There is no point saying 'From tomorrow, I am going to change!' It doesn't work. It wont last and you will go back to the person you were before and all of this would have been for nothing. Every time you feel like its too hard, take a deep breath and remember, nothing great happens over night. Start adapting very small changes to your lifestyle first. Changes that agree with your daily life at the moment so they wont feel like you are making too much of a sacrifice. Try incorporating 30 mins of walking a day. Not only does exercise of course improve your health and fitness but it also helps improve your state of mind. Moving your body does wonders to your mood and it doesn't need to be an hour work out in the gym that leaves you breathless and sweaty for those differences to start having a big impact on your mental health.
Or it could be sitting in an arm chair for 5 mins and reflecting. Reading a chapter of a book, putting music on and having a dance with yourself, taking a bubble bath. Spend time with you. The real you. Figure out what it is you enjoy and make time to incorporate those things into your lifestyle.
RE-PARENTING IS NOT A DIRTY WORD
We aren't mad at our parents. They did the best they could and they didn't know any better. The truth is, if you become a parent, at some point your child will most likely feel like you failed them too in some way. Because we are human, and there is no instruction manual that comes with being a human. You live and you (hopefully) learn. Then you teach your child what you believe to be are the fundamentals of life. Whether they believe the same when they get older and wiser, is yet to be seen. But just remember, re-parenting is not some form of parental rebellion. Its not a form of cruelty. Its a way for you to become a better version of yourself, learning who you truly are and what you are capable of. Something that at the end of the day, your parents would have wanted for you from the very beginning.
IT TAKES TIME...TRY TO ENJOY THE PROCESS
If you are anything like me, you want to see results right away. So many times I have tried new things, and so many times, I have failed. Or for a better term, I quit before I could really fail because I wasn't getting the results that I wanted fast enough. This is something I have had to re-parent myself in. It takes time, and patience and often, you will start again many times. There is no guide book, start or finish line, re-parenting is a mind set. It's about being wise and open enough to acknowledge bad habits when they surface, and then learning the process in how to change them.