Category Archives for "Week Six – Forgiveness of yourself and others"

Week Six / Day One – Understanding the decisions you make and the actions you take

 

Click here for the audio version of the lesson

Imagine you are driving in your car.  You have your sick child in the car with you and he needs to get to the hospital right away.  You are in a hurry, but the speed limit is only 60 kilometres per hour.  What do you do?

Normally you would never speed.  It is important to you that you are a moral citizen who follows the law so you are kept safe, others are safe in your car, you don’t hurt anyone else outside of your car and you don’t get into trouble with the police, or end up having to pay fines.

However, this is a life and death situation, so getting somewhere in a hurry, becomes a top priority too.  So which one do you choose and why?

We have two strong beliefs – 1)  I must obey the law  2)  I have to get my sick child to the hospital immediately.

Which one wins will be determined by which belief is the strongest IN THAT MOMENT.  Your beliefs will always dictate the decisions you make and the actions you take IN EACH MOMENT.

Before we move on to exploring the next three steps on the Mind TRACK to Happiness process, it is vital to understand your behaviour and the behaviour of those around you because this understanding will give you even more assistance with accepting the reality of why you are experiencing what you are.

Whenever we make a decision the brain first assesses all the information you have about the factors surrounding that decision.  It accesses all of the memories and beliefs about those memories that relate to that decision and it determines what you believe about your options.  Whichever beliefs are the strongest in your mind will dictate and influence the decision you make.

Furthermore there will always be a self-worth component factored into your decisions, always making sure that your best interests are taken into consideration and that this decision is the best one for you.  As selfish as it sounds this is what we do as human beings.

That’s not to say that we never do things for other people to be kind, however what do we get out of being kind?  We feel good (worthy) after we have done it.  No matter what we are doing, there is always a payoff for ourselves.

Let’s go back to the example of your sick child in the car and your option to speed or not speed.  Most of us in this situation would choose to speed, because your child getting treatment at the hospital becomes the most important thing in your mind.  Your child is valuable to you.  You love your child and don’t want to lose them, so your top priority IN THAT MOMENT is getting to that hospital as quickly as possible.

Obeying the law comes a close second because only one belief can win out in order to influence the final decision and in this case your child comes first.  This is because in order to maintain your life’s worth, it is important for you to have your child in it because of your love for him.  You could be conscious of the safety of your vehicle while you speed fast, almost honouring your responsibilities as a motorist, but ultimately your belief about your child’s welfare and how important he is in your life, determined the final decision to speed.

Self-worth (or your life’s worth) is always at the core of the decisions you make and the actions you take.

The cause of all stress is how we are viewing the event and what you believe this event means about you – that is, your self-worth.  If I am stressed or depressed I believe that this event is devaluing my life or self-worth in some way.  If I am anxious it is because I believe there is potential for this situation to devalue my life or self-worth.

Understanding the payoffs behind the self-worth and what priorities are driving someone’s behaviour (including your own) helps you to see that it couldn’t have happened any other way due to the beliefs they/you had IN THAT MOMENT.

We only ever make decisions in the NOW.

In every moment in time we have a certain amount of information.  Whenever we experience an event, we are accessing the knowledge that we have acquired up to that point in time.  We cannot know more than what we currently know.  It is just a physical impossibility.

So when we react to a situation, or make a decision it is with the current information available in the brain.  As mentioned the brain is, not only analysing what is currently happening, it is also measuring it against what you already know and what you remember from your past and accessing the most logical response available based on what how you usually respond.

It does this really quickly and often without you even noticing it.  This is why awareness of your thoughts is always the first step to changing your thoughts.

For example, let’s say that the house is a mess and you need to clean it up because you don’t want your husband to come home to a messy house and think that you’ve been doing nothing all day.  This is a priority for you. Why? Because if your husband comes home and sees the house dirty and thinks you’ve been doing nothing all day, what does that say about you?  I am not being a good housewife or I’m not getting the approval from my partner which makes me feel good, or he will say something and I will feel like I’m doing a bad job.  This is the self-worth component to you and why you feel like it ia priority to clean the house up before your partner comes home.  There can be many different reasons, but ultimately this priority will be about you and how you will feel when your partner comes home to a clean or messy house.  This worth aspect (feeling good or bad) is what is driving your priority to clean the house before he comes home.

However, as you go about your day, the kids have been particularly challenging and during their sleep when you usually do the most of your cleaning, you decide that you have had enough of doing so much today and you are going to take advantage of the peace and quiet while you have it and decide to watch Oprah instead.

IN THAT MOMENT you weighed up your options to clean the house or take a break and watch Oprah and Oprah won out because that was the priority IN THAT MOMENT.  Perhaps you were telling yourself how much you deserved to sit down and relax and that you would worry about the housework later.  If you didn’t get it all done before he came home, then that was his problem and he could deal with it if it happened, but right now you were going to reward yourself with a quiet sit down while the kids were asleep.  You may have even justified it by saying ‘I do enough around this house.  I deserve some time to myself for once.  No one ever gives me a break, so I’m going to give myself a break.  If he doesn’t like it, he can clean it up himself’.

Do you see what you are doing here by having this conversation?  You started by talking to yourself about what had happened during the morning with the kids being challenging and this made you feel down (a little worth-less) in that moment. In order to feel better (worth-more) you started to look for something to do that would make you feel better and that was to watch Oprah and relax.  Because the decision to do this was ultimately conflicting with your beliefs about cleaning the house, your brain began to analyse and reason why you should make yourself feel better IN THAT MOMENT.  You began finding ways to protect your worth by justifying why you needed to watch Oprah and feel better now.

Your priority for watching Oprah instead of cleaning the house IN THAT MOMENT was because of your priority to make yourself feel better by having some time out. 

Now later on, you may find that you didn’t get the housework done in time, your husband is about to walk in the door in about 10 minutes, and you are thinking to yourself ‘I shouldn’t have watched Oprah.  I shouldn’t have done nothing while the kids were asleep.  Now I have a messy house and he’s about to walk through the door.  Why didn’t I just do it earlier like I normally do’

Now you’ve gone into stress mode because you are in conflict with the reality that you didn’t do what you normally do and now you are resisting the consequences (having a messy house).

However what this whole lesson is about this week is to understand that your priorities in each moment are governed by your beliefs and which priority belief was the strongest in that moment dictated your behaviour.

In that moment, it was more important for you to get time out than it was to clean the house and you could not have made a different decision because that was the priority belief that your mind chose in that moment.

It may sound like you don’t have any say in what priority beliefs your brain chooses, however this is where your awareness comes in.

If you have an understanding that your beliefs dictate your priorities and that all of your behaviours and choices  comes down to the priorities  you have in that moment, then you can become aware of what you are thinking in those times and make decisions more deliberately instead of habitually.

For example, let’s say that you were aware of what you were thinking when you came to the choice of housework or Oprah.  You might have recognised what you were saying about your morning and noticing how you were attaching the morning’s events to your self-worth (‘I’m having a bad day with the kids and I’ve had enough’) and you may have been able to change that by upgrading your beliefs to be in alignment with reality (‘oh well these days happen’).  Now that you are accepting that reality that the kids have been challenging, you may consciously say to yourself, ‘Okay, I’d really like a break right now instead of doing the housework like I’d normally do.  It has been a full on morning and right now I’m going to make it a priority to take a break because that’s what I want right now.   I’ll do the housework later and if I don’t get it done, that’s okay.  There’s always tomorrow.’

You see that there was not blaming or justifying.  It was simply what you wanted in that moment based on your beliefs that you had had a full on morning and now you wanted to take a break.  It is still doing something to make you feel better however you are taking responsibility for the decision rather than having to find reasons for it. 

You don’t need to use anger, blame, judgements or resentment to make the decision to take a break, you did it because you were consciously aware that in that moment that is what you wanted to make you feel better.  You know your worth is still 100% whether you sit down and watch Oprah or not, however it’s okay to be consciously aware that you are believing it will be better only because of how you are rating it, and then do it anyway.

If you were to make this decision in this way and be okay with it without all that justification, then when your partner comes home from work and says something, you wouldn’t be reactive.  You would simply say, ‘yeah the kids were full on, so instead of cleaning up, I watched Oprah and enjoyed the peace and quiet while I could.’

If he responded in a negative way, then that is because of beliefs that have been activated in his mind that causes his responses.

We only ever make decisions and behave the way we do because of what is going on in our minds IN THAT MOMENT and we cannot access information that we do not have.

Sometimes we believe that we should have done something differently, however we make this judgement after we have received new information.

A simple example may be:  ‘I shouldn’t have taken my daughter shopping with me because I just knew that she was too tired and I had the opportunity to leave her with a friend and I didn’t and now I’m having to deal with her tantrums which is making my shopping trip longer and very painful.’

Thinking like this is in conflict with the reality that you did take her with you and this is the consequence of this decision.  Back then when you made the decision there was a reason why you chose this option.  You would have weighed up all of the pros and cons and memories of shopping with her and a priority belief (the strongest belief you had) was accessed and governed your decision to take her in that moment.

This priority belief will be about your self-worth too.  Perhaps you didn’t want to bother your friend (be a bad friend – worth-less) because she has children of her own to look after.  Perhaps you wanted to spend some time with your daughter (wanted to feel closer to her which makes you feel good – worth more).  Perhaps you thought that she was your responsibility and you can’t just keep leaving her with other people (doing what you believe a responsible, good mother does – worth more). 

There will always be an underlying self-worth belief that governs the decisions you make and the actions you take.

Over the next week I will be explaining more about how to understand your behaviour and the behaviour of others to see what underlies it and how to accept it before moving on to the solution focussed steps of the Mind TRACK to Happiness process (steps three to five). 

It’s important to being able to accept the reality of what is currently happening in your life and because we attach these events so strongly to our self-worth, in order to detach it from our worth, we need to get a healthy understanding of it so we can accept it and move into the solution to your problem.

Over the week I will help you to further accept the reality of your child’s behaviour, any problems between you and your husband, why you don’t make time out a priority, and what causes conflict between family and friends. Also, I will help you to understand emotions such as blame, criticism, judgements, resentment, anger and guilt and how our priority beliefs are governing these reactions too. 

All of this week’s learning will help you to forgive and accept the past so that you are fully prepared to start planning your future in the following weeks. 

Week Six / Day Two – Judging the world around you

 

Click here for the audio version of the lesson

Have you ever beaten yourself up over something that you have done, because you logically knew better?  Well the reason why you did it that way in the first place was because there was a priority belief activated IN THAT MOMENT that was stronger than logic.

Let’s use weight loss as an example.  Most of us know that losing weight requires eating healthy and exercising in order to shift the weight.  If we recognise that in order to be healthy we need to eat well (logic) then why do we reach for the block of chocolate and eat it anyway?

Because in your mind there is a whole conversation going on about why you need the chocolate and why how you’ll feel once you eat the chocolate.  ‘I’ve had a rough day.  I deserve it.’  ‘Stuff it, I’m just going to give myself some of this chocolate because I’m over having to watch what I eat’.  It all comes down to how I felt before the chocolate and how I’m going to feel after the chocolate.  Feeling good vs feeling bad – my rating of those two things.

This is the underlying reason behind any decision you make and action you take, whether you are talking about an argument with your partner, getting angry with your children, taking time out, or even going back to work or not.

We are continuously viewing the events in our lives through the lens of our beliefs and are rating situations as good or bad based on those beliefs.

If we are doing this all the time then it makes complete sense that our decisions and behaviours would be governed by this same mindset.

By understanding the beliefs behind the decisions you make and the actions you take you can 1) accept what has happened about the past, knowing what your priority was at that time and accepting that that was your priority at the time and 2) being more deliberate about making decisions by becoming aware of the priorities you have for making one choice over another.

Let’s look at a couple of examples because I really want to show you more about how your self-worth drives your priorities.  It’s important to note in the following examples, that there is no right or wrong way of doing things and my intention is not to show you why your decisions are right or wrong.  I merely want to illustrate the fundamental agenda for making the decisions that you do.

Housework:

Often mums get tied up in needing to keep their houses clean all the time and can get quite stressed whenever it gets too dirty.  What are the thoughts behind that?  What does it mean about you if you can’t keep the house clean (what’s the self-worth component)?  Here are some possible reasons:

  • If I don’t have the house tidy, I’ll look lazy to my partner or my family. (Lazy = worth-less)
  • If I don’t keep the house clean then my children will get sick (sick = worth-less, for them and for your quality of life having sick children or being responsible for those sick children means what about you if they get sick.)
  • If I don’t stay on top of the housework then it gets worse and I’m the one who always has to clean it up again (making my life worth-less).
  • I am known as someone who is organised and a messy house means that I’m not coping and may look disorganised (disorganised/not coping = worth-less)
  • I just like to have a clean house because it makes me feel good (worth-more, meaning that if I don’t have a clean house I will feel worth-less)

These are just five examples of the real agenda behind making housework a priority and they have nothing to do with a clean house and everything to do with what it will mean about you if you have a clean house or not.  Your stress over a messy house is because you have your self-worth pinned to having a clean house.  ‘My messy house means something about me and makes me look less worthy to the world.  My clean house means I’m okay as a person.’

This is you rating your self-worth based on your beliefs. However, neither a messy house, nor a clean house determines your worth. You are always 100% worthy, but your rating of yourself because of the story you have about a clean/messy house is what causes you to feel good or bad.  Change the story by upgrading your beliefs with the reality thinking model and you will change how you feel, because you will stop rating the messy house in your habitual way.

Time out:

We all know that mums get very little time out and perhaps that may just be a reality of where your kids are at because of their current ages.  Initially when a baby is born they do take up a lot of time and probably for the first three or four years they will take up large amounts of time and leave very little for you, however if you are taking no time out at all, or not enough so that you feel like you are only ever doing ‘motherly’ things, then it has nothing to do with time and everything to do with what your priority is for continually doing all these ‘motherly’ things without taking any time out.

Here are some possible beliefs behind not making time out a priority:

  • It is my responsibility to take care of my kids, not leave them for someone else to do it (leaving them with someone else = worth-less as a responsible mother.  Responsible mother = worthy)
  • I don’t want to just dump my kids with their dad and run out the door.  I want to spend time with him too.  (Spending time with your partner takes priority over your time out as it may make you feel good about yourself to be around your partner, which you may deem as more enjoyable than your own time out).
  • I don’t deserve to take time out because I don’t work and am at home all day. (don’t deserve = worth-less and rating someone else as worth-more than you)
  • No one else can look after them as well as me.  This one could lead to a couple of explanations:

 

  1. On some level  you may feel that you are better at it than anyone else could be (your abilities as a mum make you worthy)
  2. You may feel like your child’s life will be of less quality if someone else looks after them and if you are the one to make their lives of less value, then what does that say about you as a mother (worth-less)
  3. You may have anxiety about something happening to them and feel like you are the only one that can control what they do and prevent anything bad from happening to them.  (controlling life going right = worthy, preventing anything from going wrong and making my life worth-less by something happening to my children.  Anxiety is all about control and prevent.)

None of these reasons have anything to do with not having any time out.  They are all about what having time out means about your self-worth.

Again you need to apply the reality thinking model to your beliefs about the situation.  No matter how life unfolds it is always worthwhile, because you and those around you are always gaining experiences that teach them new things, help them to experience new things and contribute to the unfolding of their lives. There is value in everything, even if you take some time out from the kids.

Going back to work vs Being a stay-at-home-mum

This issue can be a real bone of contention between couples and this is simply because they may have different priorities based on each other’s priority beliefs.  Men often have their worth attached to how they provide for their family, what they own and what they/their family is accomplishing.  A woman’s self-worth is often attached to their role in the family, how well they are doing and if everyone is getting what they need.

Both of you are just trying to feel good about yourselves, you just have two different ways of going about it based on your beliefs about what defines a successful life and being a worthy person. Here are some thoughts that can come up that are all about self-worth not about whether to work or not.

Through the eyes of mum:

  • My children need me and only mothers should raise their children as only they know what is right for them (children needing me and knowing what’s right for them = worthy – good mother)
  • It is my responsibility to raise my children, not have someone else raise them (my responsibility = being a good mother.  Giving them to someone else to look after = worth-less)

Or the other side of mum’s case may be:

  • I’m a happier person when I go to work as I get time out from the kids (time out makes me feel happier = worth more)
  • I feel like I’m contributing to the household and have the right to spend money when I bring some of the money in. I hate relying on my partner to bring in the money as I feel like I’m sponging off him (sponging off husband = worth-less;  contributing to household = worth more)

Dad’s case may be:

  • We need you to work so that we can pay the house off quicker and be financially free in retirement (financially free = successful life – worthy)
  • Two wages means that we can provide the kids with the things that they need and they don’t lack for anything.  We can take them to sports, gymnastics, buy nice clothes for them, give good Christmas presents and have them live in a nice house (all these material things = worth; lacking for anything = worth-less.  What kind of provider does that make me if my kids lack for things and feel like they are missing out?

Or the other side of dad’s case may be:

  • A woman stays home and looks after/nurtures the kids while the man works (this is his definition of a successful family from his beliefs)
  • Things run smoother when you are at home with them full-time.  The housework gets done, the washing gets done, meals are cooked and the kids aren’t really tired and miserable at the end of the day.  When you work we are all tired and there is always so much to do. (Smoother when your home = his life more valuable and easier – worth-more;  kids tired and miserable with lots of work to do when you all come home = worth-less.)

Although some of the self-worth components weren’t particularly serious and hugely detrimental to how you feel about your entire life, you can still see that every decision relates back to what’s in it for you. That is because we are always working in the best interest of ourselves, 100% of the time.

If you are conscious of the fact that everyone is driven by their beliefs about life and what’s constitutes a successful, worthy life in their eyes, then you can be conscious of this when negotiating and forming agreements between people. 

If you and your partner are in conflict over something it is simply a conflict of beliefs.  When you find out what is driving them to decide on one way to go and what is driving you to decide on the other way, then you will be in a better position to negotiate what the common ground is.  You stop being offended and reactive to what they want because you understand why they want it.  Show compassion for the other person’s wants and needs by understanding that they are exactly like you, just rating their lives according to their beliefs.  If they are angry or reactive it is because their beliefs have been challenged.

Sometimes we fool ourselves into thinking that we are doing something for the benefit of someone else, but behind that if you look really hard you will see that there is always an agenda or payoff for you.

Furthermore, your reactions and responses to everything that is happening in your life are because of how you are viewing it and how you are rating it against your self-worth.  Other people are doing the same, rating situations against how they feel within themselves.

Think about this:  If somebody pays you a compliment, how do you feel?  You feel good because you have rated that compliment as a good thing.  Your response of a smile or a feeling of goodness came from your beliefs about the words that came out of that person’s mouth.

If somebody insults you, you may feel bad about it because you have rated criticism as a bad thing.  Your response of anger, or retaliation as the case may be, came because of how your rated the words that came out of that person’s mouth and are your attempt of restoring the self-worth you believe you lost by the criticism. (making someone feel bad too, in order for you to feel better).

Either way, all that happened was the person held beliefs that you matched.  They rated something as good and you matched it.  Or they rated something as bad and you matched it.

Similarly your reaction was because the person said something that matched your beliefs.  If you felt good about what they said then there was no need to resist it or defend it.  It matched what you believed was good, so your behavioural response was to laugh, smile, or say thank you, all the while, feeling good about yourself.

If you felt bad, it is because you analysed their comments (through your beliefs) as rating you worth-less. However you worth hasn’t changed, your rating of your self has (self-esteem is your rating of self).  If you are feeling worth-less, then your brain tries to find ways to correct that in order to make you feel worthy again, so you start by resisting the situation.  You may say ‘No I’m not’, or ‘you don’t know what you’re talking about’.  You start to look for ways to reclaim your self worth.  ‘Your an idiot’ might be your response.  ‘stop doing that!’ you might yell.  You start to do what it takes IN THAT MOMENT to stop whatever is causing you to feel worth-less because your agenda is to make you feel worth-more, all because you have an incorrect rating of your self-worth to begin with.

To stop any behaviour that you don’t want to have, it’s not about logic, it’s all about being aware of what lens you are looking and how you are looking at that event.

What are you thinking about this event that is causing you to respond this way?  How have your rated this event as meaning something about you?  Now apply the upgrade of the reality thinking model in order to change how you are viewing this event.

The bottom line is that we are all constantly judging situations based on what we believe about them and how we rate them against our self-worth. Does this make me feel good or does it make me feel bad?  What do I need to do if it makes me feel good? What do I need to do if it makes me feel bad?

The answers to these questions will determine how we respond which is reflected in our behaviour.  Your depression is a response to how you have judged situations in your life. You giving up on certain aspects of your life is your way of protecting your self-worth and making you feel a little bit better about things.

Even though it still causes you pain, in your mind, continuing to try and succeed in the area of your life that you are depressed in, would be more painful, so you stop setting goals in that area of your life.  Retreating from life becomes your priority IN THAT MOMENT over living with the pain of being a failure.

Anxiety is trying to control and prevent anything form jeopardising your self-worth because you rate certain situations on whether they are potentially going to be good or bad. You constantly survey your life checking whether life is going right or not.  It is a priority to do this to protect yourself from feeling bad (worth-less).

It is an incorrect view of life that is causing you to behave the way that you do and it is an incorrect view of life that is causing you pain and emotional upset.  When you come to understand that all human behaviour is governed by your priority beliefs and your habitual thinking, you can work on your mindset in order to change, rather than feeling like a failure because you keep doing things that logically you know not to do.

Keep working on challenging your thinking and replacing it with the reality thinking model.

Week Six / Day Three – I should have done things differently

 

Click here for the audio version of the lesson

How many times have you looked back at your life and wished you’d made a different decision.  How many of these times do you still hold onto wishing that you could turn back time and change things so that life could be different now?

Holding onto the past and wishing things were different is a common cause of stress or depression because you are in conflict with the reality of what is.

The next few days is all about FORGIVENESS.  Hanging onto the past is toxic to leading a happy life and gaining an understanding of the situation will release you from pain and help you to move on from the situation.

We will begin in today’s lesson with forgiveness of yourself.

An unplanned labour

I begin here because this was my experience that led me towards my depression because I didn’t come to terms with how my labour went.  I also hear story after story of where a mum’s stress began because of how a labour unfolded and how she has been unable to get past this.

I had a very quick labour where my second son was born in 2 ½ hours.  Why was this so bad?  I believed  (at the time) it was because of my reaction to the fast labour.  You see my first son was born after I’d had an epidural so his labour was very calm, relaxed and measured as I went from intense pain to casually looking at how big each contraction was on the monitor without feeling any pain, to the midwife advising me that I could push whenever I wanted and having my son born without hardly feeling a thing.  It was very easy despite the 16 hour labour.  However this meant that I didn’t ever feel what bearing down pains were so did not recognise them when I was in labour with my second son.

With my second son my doctor had just done an examination and told me that I was only 4 ½ centimetres dilated so I asked him for an epidural because it was so easy last time.  He no sooner got to the door and I could feel the urge to push.   I thought something was wrong, so I tried to stop pushing (of course to no avail).  In hindsight the bearing down pains were not even as painful as contractions, however because I thought there was something wrong, I was screaming as I pushed, worried that I was doing something wrong. When I say screaming, I’m talking Hollywood movie style screaming where my husband felt like he was going to be sick from worry because he couldn’t help me.  My son was born very soon after and the hospital (not expecting me to deliver so quickly) was so busy that they plonked him in my arms, did their quick ten point check of him, asked me if I’d breastfed my first and knew what I was doing and then left us by ourselves.  We were in shock. 

It was only 2 ½ hours ago we were sitting down at our house watching an episode of Big Brother, and now just a short time later we were holding our newborn son.  Upon reflection I became very disappointed with how I had behaved during the labour and was full of shoulds/coulds.

“I should have been calm.  I shouldn’t have behaved like that.  I could have just asked the nurse what was going on.  I shouldn’t have been so weak.  I looked like an idiot. I shouldn’t have been so weak because it wasn’t even hurting me that much’.

All these conversations were going on in my mind and that was the beginning of my mental spiral that led to my depression.

What I didn’t know at the time was how to understand my behaviour and see the self-worth aspect to it.  IN THAT MOMENT I believed that something was wrong and that there was a problem that could very well affect my baby’s life.  I observed everything that was going on around me, the confused and slightly concerned look on the doctor’s face, the lack of response from the nurse and the worry on my husband’s face and determined that I shouldn’t be pushing.  My body of course had to push because there was nothing wrong and this was the natural part of the labour, however my mind had determined the appropriate response in that moment was to scream and yell (panic), so that others could become aware that there may be a problem and correct the situation.  From my perceptions AT THAT TIME there was something wrong (worth-less – it potentially decreased the value of my son’s and my life) and in order to correct that and increase that value again, my automated response was to react the way that I did.

INTHAT MOMENT that was the appropriate response due to how I perceived the situation and it could not have happened any other way.

What we need to understand is that we only know what we know at ANY GIVEN MOMENT and the decisions we make and the actions we take are all because of what we believe in that moment and dictate what our response will be.  Everything that happens is a result of everything that happened leading up to that event and how you have perceived that situation with the information you held in your brain in that moment in time.

Whatever your labour was, you were doing the best you could with the information you had, and you cannot change that.  Everyone around you was doing the best they could with the knowledge they had too.  It is now in the past and you are now experiencing the results of how the past has unfolded.  You must let go of the past by understanding that you (or they) couldn’t have done it any different because these were the beliefs that were accessed in your brain AT THAT MOMENT.

Sure you may believe that if you had a time capsule you would do it all again differently, but that’s only because you now have new information as time continued.  Back then you didn’t have that information. You only had the information you had right there and then to draw from and make your decision and determine your response.  It couldn’t have happened any other way.

I now know that nothing was wrong and what was happening was that I dilated very quickly and my son decided to come into the world very quickly after that examination and he is now a healthy boy.  I didn’t know this back then, so I could only determine what was going on and how to respond to that with the information I did know at the time.  It’s easy to look back and say, ‘well I should have…..’  but back then, I didn’t know that all was fine and it was all natural.

You can use this example in anything that you are holding onto from your past that you are blaming, criticising, resenting or hating yourself for.  Let’s look at some more scenarios;

Feeling resentful over having children

When you look back at the time when you decided to have children, whether it was because your partner really wanted them, or you thought it was what you ‘should’ do in your life, or because you actually wanted children but didn’t realise what it would be like, there was a priority belief that governed your decision back then to have children.  You looked at all of the information, compared it with all the beliefs you already had and decided that this was the best decision to make AT THAT TIME and was the best one for your life.

If you made this decision because your partner wanted children, it may have been because you didn’t want him to leave you, or didn’t want him to miss out on the experience of being a dad.  This ultimately came down to your self-worth beliefs as a partner  – I want to be supportive, generous, kind, give him what he wants so he’ll stay, or self-less for him to have that experience.  At the bottom of it would have been a decision made because it was a priority for you to be the kind of partner that he would want.  This priority belief outweighed your desire not to have children AT THAT TIME.

If you made the decision to have children because it was what you believed you ‘should’ do in your life, then you made it because you wanted to live up to the expectations that you believed were important to being a successful person, or a ‘proper’ woman (worthy).  Whatever you believed about why you ‘should’ have children in life in order to be worthy, outweighed your decision to not have children, so AT THAT TIME that was the decision you made which governed the action you took to have children.

If you had children because you thought it would be joyous, easy and fun, then you made that decision based on the beliefs you had about what being a parent was going to be like.  You couldn’t have known any different because that was the information you had in your head AT THE TIME of making this decision to have children.  Believing that children would add value to your life (making it worthy) was what governed your decision to have them.

Understanding that your beliefs AT THAT TIME were what governed the decision to have children helps you to accept that this decision could not have been any different.  The reality is that you are now experiencing being a parent of a child and this has come from that decision.  You can remain stuck on the fact that you should have decided differently, but the reality is that you didn’t.  All you can do now is change how you now view being a parent and use the reality thinking model to expand your mind on the value of having children and being a parent.

Yelling at your children:

You yelled at your children IN THAT MOMENT because you observed the situation, analysed the information that was accessed in your brain and then came to the conclusion that it should’ve been different to how it was.    The conversation in your mind continued down that path of being in conflict with reality until you were desperately trying to find a way to stop this situation that was causing your life grief (causing it to be worth-less).  IN THAT MOMENT, your response was to yell, all with the agenda to stop the grief and make everything better (worth-more).  The reason for the yelling was because of how you had perceived the situation to begin with.  Without the running commentary that was in conflict with reality, you would not have been feeling like this situation was detrimental or causing you grief and therefore would not have needed to defend your worth by yelling. 

You can’t change that now, but you can learn from it.  When you continue to apply the reality thinking model to how you view the situations of your life, then you will stop seeing these events as bad to begin with, hence reducing the reaction to yell.

A relationship breakdown that you feel you are responsible for:

Relationships are a tricky one to tackle because there are so many factors that explains why one person is doing what they are doing and why each person is treating each other this way. There are many dynamics that are set up between a couple and these will have beliefs from each couple about how to have a successful relationship, what is needed from the other person, what the expectations are and what the deal breakers are for the relationship.  There are a lot of different issues that need to be addressed when looking at the reasons for a relationship breakdown.

However at the end of the day the break up will come down to one thing.  The person who has left no longer believes that what is happening in the relationship is making their lives worthy.  It is no longer working to bring value to their life.  The breakup is not about you.  It’s all about them.  Through your lens of life, you perceive life one way and your partner perceives it another.  If your view of what makes a relationship work matches then you will have a happy relationship.  You will treat each other the way you would like to be treated and hence want to stay with them.  If your view of a relationship differs, this is where conflict can occur if negotiations cannot be made.

It is not your fault that the relationship split up.  It is because both of you were operating with your best interests in mind based on your beliefs. 

If you are talking about a break up because of an affair, than the reason that the affair even became an event in itself was due to self-worth issues.  In order to feel worthy and loved the way that you/he wanted to, the affair occurred because IN THAT MOMENT, that is what you/he had determined you need and that overrode any logic or morals that you held IN THAT MOMENT.

Now understanding this does not condone it.  There are many times when we do something and then after the affect, we regret it because we realise or experience the consequences of our decisions.  This is why it is important to understand and accept that at the root of all behaviour, there is the self-worth aspect.  This is what drove your decision to act in the first place. 

Being able to understand and accept the choices you made in the past is what forgiveness is all about.  You will do this with an understanding of what beliefs were driving that choice AT THE TIME and upgrading those beliefs with your new understanding of the reality model.  By upgrading those beliefs that you had from that time of your life, you can teach yourself how you would handle that situation differently in the future.  You can use these lessons to be more conscious of decisions next time you make a big decision or feel yourself having a major reaction to something.

You can’t change the past now.  You can only learn from it.  The past doesn’t even exist unless you bring it back to the present in your mind.  The only value that the past has in the present is if you are learning from it. Today is a new day.  Every moment is a new moment to start over. Your present day is the first day of the rest of your life. 

You don’t even know that the past has been good or bad, because you don’t yet know where it has consequently sent you on your life’s path.  Any event could lead to something enjoyable or something not so enjoyable.  There will always be a bit of both as a result from any situation whether it be today, tomorrow or ten years down the track.  You will always be able to say ‘Because x happened in my life I am now grateful for y; or because x happened in my life I am now not enjoying the y.  It is the polar of opposites, where there is good there is always bad.  If you are only looking for the bad in your life, you will not be looking for the good.  Accept the present is what it is because of how everything has unfolded leading up to now and that regardless of what has happened in the past, it will lead you to both good times and bad.  It all depends on how you look at it.

You can only ever work with the information you have stored in your brain at ANY GIVEN MOMENT and you cannot know more than you do.  Let go of the decisions you made in the past and accept the results of what happened in your past knowing that they couldn’t have happened any other way.  The proof for that is that it didn’t happen any other way.  It happened the way that it happened.

Accept the reality of the now with this understanding and remember that this is how we learn.  How do we know what to do unless we have determined what not to do?  We learn from our mistakes and our adversities and the only way that we can do that is to look at our current realities and say, “I am here because of how life has unfolded up to now and I cannot change the past.  I have always done the best that I could do with the knowledge that I had at the time and I cannot undo what is done.  All I can do is accept that it is done, learn from it and change what I do in the future now that I have this new information.”

Only then can you look at what you want and set new goals (step three – aim) to move life in a direction that is going to be more enjoyable for you, with a healthy mindset and a forgiveness of yourself and past events.

Week Six / Day Four – They should have done things differently

 

Click here for the audio version of the lesson

Forgiveness is not about saying that the situation was okay.  In many cases the situation probably shouldn’t have happened, but the harsh reality is that it did. 

It happened because there was a priority belief that was activated that drove you or that person to behave in that way.  When protecting our self-worth, logic and morals often fall by the way side and is replaced with desperation to do anything that will take away the pain of being less worthy.

Whether we are talking about mild anger, small indiscretions against us, or full blown abuse and moral injustice, behind every behaviour, there is always a person who believes they are worth-less to begin with and are doing these things in order to protect their self-worth and make them feel better about themselves.

Their behaviour is not about you and all about them!

Understanding human behaviour and why people do the things that they do can be an empowering exercise that will help us to forgive that person.  Forgiveness in my opinion is not about the other person.  It is about your relationship with what has happened in your life, or what is happening in your life.

Holding onto past hurts, only hurts you and takes away your enjoyment of life.  No one can make you feel any sort of emotion.  It is always your interpretation of that situation that causes you to feel the way that you do.  Thus, if you are feeling any sort of resentment, criticism, blame, judgement, anger or bitterness towards another person, then it is because of how you have perceived that event and what you have perceived this event to mean about you or your life.

Understanding what is driving that person’s behaviour, as well as what is driving your reaction and then being able to upgrade that with your knowledge of the reality of true self-worth and how to look at situations in a more peaceful way, will stop you from feeling stressed or emotional about the situation.

Here are a few common examples that you may relate to where you have felt that someone else ‘should’ have behaved differently and you now feel blame or resentment because of how your life now is because of that person’s actions.  Here is how to change how you look at it too:

Other people are criticising me

This one happens a lot when you are a parent.  There are many people that will be quick to criticise your choices and what you are doing with your child, believing that you are doing it wrong and they know the right way to go about it.  This could be the way you breastfeed, how you put your child to sleep, how quickly you feed them solids, how you handle tantrums and backchat, heck it could even be how often you give your child a cuddle!

There is a big difference between advice that was aimed at helping you and criticism. That line will probably be determined by how you tend to distinguish between criticisms and constructive advice though.  Regardless, if someone is outright criticising you and deeming your actions wrong and theirs right, then what they are doing is all about them and not about you.

People who criticise other people often feel worth-less themselves.  In order to feel good about themselves they go about pointing out other people’s downfalls or assert their knowledge to you.  One of the things that I’ve noticed the most in my years as a life coach is that people who have to assert it the most, often believe it the least.

Often people can see something in you which challenges something they don’t want to see in themselves.  Perhaps you are telling someone how you feel and they quickly judge you for feeling this way. This could be because they are feeling the same way and feel bad about it, or because they see this feeling as a threat to their quality of life somehow.  Perhaps they may feel like they are better than you (worth-more) because they don’t feel this way.  They criticise you in an attempt to make you feel even worse, so they can feel better.  That doesn’t necessarily make them out to be a monster.  We’ve all done it.  We’ve all looked at someone going through hard times and felt better about ourselves because we are not.    

Understand that people that judge, criticise and condemn other people are doing so to feel better about themselves, which must mean that they felt bad about themselves to begin with.  This puts them on the same calibre as you.  We are all just trying to make it in the world and feel like we are worthy and successful in our lives.  It’s just that some people don’t know how to do this without bringing other people down.  Often we do it out of sheer habit and ignorance, not realising that we are hurting other people’s feelings.  We are just doing it to make ourselves feel better.

Understanding that there is the same self-worth aspect underneath others’ behaviour that you too display sometimes but perhaps in different ways, can help you to be compassionate about that person instead of angry, because they are experiencing pain in their lives in order for them to behave this way.

Relationships with your partner

Example:  ‘He should be helping me more’ – When you are talking about any issues with your partner that start with you saying ‘he should’, then you need to get an understanding as to ‘why he is’.  Regardless of the fact that you think he ‘should’ be helping you more, the reality is that he is doing as much as he’s doing which may be nothing or it may be something and you feel it should be more.

The reason why he is doing as much as he is (or as little as he is) is because of beliefs he has about the situation. Maybe he believes he doesn’t have to do the things you want him to; perhaps he believes it’s your job.  Maybe he has different priorities than yours.  Maybe he believes that you are both happy with the arrangement.  Maybe he believes that he does enough.  Maybe he is avoiding doing more because he finds these things demeaning to his ‘definition of a man’.  There are specific reasons why he is doing what he does and if you first find out why he is doing them that way and what the self-worth component is for him not helping you more, than you have more information to work with in reaching an amicable agreement. 

Whenever you have an issue with your partner (or anyone else for that matter) it is helpful to understand the priorities they have that govern the decisions they make and the actions they take.  They can only every respond based on the information and beliefs that they hold IN EACH MOMENT and if they have an incorrect view of self-worth or have their self-worth attached to some identity, ideas or outcomes, then this will reflect how they behave.  Understand the motive and you will understand the behaviour.

Once you understand the behaviour you can accept that this is where he is at in his development.  Accept that he can only ever operate with that information until he is given new information to work with and then work on a way to give him that information and help him to change his priorities. 

Detach yourself from his behaviour (separate the human from the behaviour) with the understanding that his behaviour is all about him and his priorities are not about hurting you. Look at it from this viewpoint can help you to accept the reality of why he behaves that way and then work on doing something about the problem in the rest of the TRACK process.  Because remember, just because you are accepting a situation, it doesn’t mean you are meant to just put up with it. The reality step is about accepting your reality, knowing that it has unfolded the way it has due to everything that has happened leading up to that event and it couldn’t have been any other way.

Your husband’s reactions and choices are because of everything that has happened in his life and the beliefs that he has formed leading up to this moment and that is currently what is dictating his behaviour. This is the reality that you need to accept in order to be able to move towards the solutions to your problems.  Otherwise you keep getting stuck in ‘but he should be….’, when the reality is, he isn’t!

A past traumatic event

Sometimes the underlying cause of stress and depression can be because of a traumatic event.  Especially if you are talking about any sort of abuse, whether it is physical, emotional or sexual, having children can bring up these issues like it happened only yesterday. 

Memories of what happened to you at the age your kids are at, or issues to do with love, affection and caring for your child can often be painful.

It is normal for you to have these experiences influence and affect the way that you parent, but if they are becoming a stress to you, then it is because of how you are perceiving the situation and how you are now perceiving that experience as affecting your life.

Sometimes painful memories can haunt you when you remember some of the bad things that have happened to you and this can bring with it a lot of pain.  However it is not the memories themselves causing pain, it is the beliefs attached to those memories that are causing you pain. The brain remembers things all the time, but it is how we rate those memories that cause us to feel the emotion of happiness, sadness or anger.  For example if you were to remember getting your first pet puppy as a child, you would not feel stressed. This is because you are remembering that event as a good time for you.  However the memory of the abuse can make you feel anger or resentment towards that abuser.  This is because you may believe that it ‘shouldn’t have happened’, ‘he should have been punished’, ‘I should be a happy mum knowing how to love her child, but he took that from me’.

Should this event have happened?  Absolutely not!  It shouldn’t have happened and I’m not going to tell you that what this person did was okay, because it wasn’t.  However, the reality is that it did happen and all of those previous comments with all of those should/coulds running through your mind are in conflict with this reality and is what is causing your pain over those memories.  Your anger and your resentment is stuck in the should/coulds of the past that is now over.

You are the person you are today because of everything that has happened in your life and what you have learnt from it.  That experience is just one of many that has made you who you are and made up what you know.  If you look really hard there are things that you have learnt from that experience that now benefit your life that you would not have known without having gone through that.  If you could turn back time would you still take back that experience?  I’m sure you would, however you cannot do that. All you can do is accept that this has happened and that it has been an experience amongst many that has contributed to your life so far.

Each of us have adversities that we did not enjoy, but have benefited our life.  Just because it was an adversity that you had no control over or that was caused by someone else’s poor opinion of themselves and consequently poor behaviour, it does not mean that there was not some valuable learning in it for you.

It’s okay to find the value in this situation and to accept that this too is part of your journey through life and part of what you know about life as a result of this experience.  Finding this value does not release that person from the wrongness of their behaviour.  It releases you from the pain of this behaviour.  Those painful memories are only painful because you are seeing that whole situation as devaluing your life, just like any other event that causes us stress.

When you change how you look at it, you will change how you feel about it, which will influence how you respond to your current life.  Rather than looking at what it robbed you of, search for what it gave to you.  This situation may have helped you become independent, strong-willed, may have caused you to be physically fit, or have taught you to learn self-defence.  Perhaps that event has resulted in you being extra aware of who your children will be around and to know the signs of this abuse happening to your kids so that it doesn’t happen again.  Perhaps you have received some counselling as a result of this abuse that has given you knowledge about life that you find valuable in many other areas of your life that you would never have known about had you not had that experience.  In every situation of bad, there is also an equal amount of good.  It is the law of polarity.  You just need to search for it. 

There is one more point that I would like to make about abuse that is crucial to you being able to forgive and more forward from the pain of this event.

What this person did, was not your fault!!  It was not about you.  It was all about him/her and how badly they were feeling about themselves.  It was about what they had learnt to believe about life and how they felt they needed to handle things.  You did nothing wrong.  Every behaviour has self-worth beliefs at its core.  Those self-worth beliefs were set up in childhood, long before you probably even met your abuser.  Again, it was NOT about you.

It shouldn’t have happened, that is for sure, but it did because of everything that occurred in that person’s life that led him/her to the point where he/she believed he/she was worth-less and in order to feel worth-more they did what they did. That person was born as a baby that was 100% worthy, just like we were.  Something happened.  Something happened in that baby’s life through their childhood that changed the person they were to what they have now become.  That person had influences and teachers in their life that taught them these beliefs that caused them to respond this way.  Someone taught this person that they were worth-less and they now constantly live with that pain. 

As difficult as it is to accept that this situation happened, in order to release yourself from the pain of this event, you have to come to terms with the reality of the situation and learn to forgive.  It will release you from the pain, but he/she has not been released from their pain.  He/she was and probably still is in pain, but you don’t have to be.  No one can ever take away your power to be happy, only you do that by holding onto the thoughts that cause you to be powerless and in pain.

Consciously choose to accept the reality that this event occurred in your life, find the hidden good in that bad and then work on fixing up any residual damage it may have left you with.  If you now struggle with being affectionate, then seek out a professional who can help you learn how to be affectionate.   If you are having trouble bonding with your child, then seek out someone who is an expert in bonding.  Whatever you are lacking in knowledge as a result of this event, seek out how to educate yourself on how to change that, just like you would with any other situation where you lacked knowledge.

Don’t hang on to the past, as it doesn’t exist anymore.  Right now is your only moment and every moment is a chance to start the rest of your life.  Treat this event as just one more learning experience in your life and let go of the behaviours of others.  Your life is exactly where it’s supposed to be. Why?  Because you are here and this is where you are at.

Sure your brain will remember this event sometimes when certain things in life trigger this memory.  But that’s just what the brain does.  We are always remembering different memories all the time.  If you often recall this memory, then it is probably because you are still resisting that it occurred in your life and you need to upgrade your view on this situation.   When you have done this and notice this memory recurring again, just know that this is just a normal part of what the brain does.  It doesn’t mean anything.  It’s just a memory.  Keep upgrading with your new knowledge and perspective of the situation whenever your brain recalls the event.  When you stop giving this memory the negative energy that you have been, then your brain will stop bringing it up as a recurring picture in your mind.  You will find that the more you apply your different perspective the less you will recall it.

Forgiveness is about accepting what has passed, finding its value and moving forward with newfound knowledge and a quest to seek out more for your life than being defined by that moment in time.  You are the only one that can release you from that.

Whenever there is any conflict in the past where you believe that life has gone wrong because of an event, that because it went that way you are now missing out and that someone else should have done something differently, you are stuck in conflict with the reality of how life is right now.

We are always getting the experiences that we need for our life’s development.  The proof of this statement is because you are where you are at and have already had all those experiences.  It has happened and now this experience forms part of your unique personal story, along with your good times and the other challenging moments too.

If somebody does something that you perceive as being ‘the wrong thing’, try to understand that, just like you, they have priorities that are guiding their behaviour.  It’s not about condoning behaviour.  It’s all about understanding it. Because understanding will free you from pain and that is what forgiveness and acceptance is all about.

None of us are perfect and we are all just operating the best way we know how with the information that we have.  When we can see people as being like us in this respect, then we are better able to give compassion, rather than giving them the same anger, resentment, blame and/or criticism that they tried to give to us.

Here is a beautiful saying that I heard from Buddha:

‘If someone offers you a gift and you don’t accept it, to whom does that gift belong?’

To end this lesson, I wanted to share with you a little compassion exercise that you can use on someone who is doing something seemingly to hurt you. This exercise is not for them, it is for you, to remind you about the understanding of what drives human behaviour and how each person is just like you and I:

This is one of thirty exercises that can be found in ReSurfacing®:Techniques for Exploring Consciousness, by Harry Palmer.  ©Copyright 1998.

Honesty with one’s self leads to compassion for others.

OBJECTIVE:  To increase the amount of compassion in the world.

EXPECTED RESULT:  A personal sense of peace.

INSTRUCTIONS:  This exercise can be done anywhere that people congregate (airports, malls, parks, beaches, etc).  It should be done on strangers, unobtrusively, from some distance.  Try to do all five steps on the same person.

Step 1:   With attention on the person, repeat to yourself:
                “Just like me, this person is seeking some happiness for his/her life”

Step 2:   With attention on the person, repeat to yourself:
                “Just like me, this person is trying to avoid suffering in his/her life.”

Step 3:   With attention on the person, repeat to yourself:
                “Just like me, this person has known sadness, loneliness and despair.”

Step 4:   With attention on the person, repeat to yourself:
                “Just like me, this person is seeking to fulfill his/her needs.

Step 5:   With attention on the person, repeat to yourself:
                “Just like me, this person is learning about life.”

“Love is an expression of the willingness to create space in which something is allowed to change.”
-Harry Palmer

 

Week Six / Day Five – My children should have done things differently

 

Click here for the audio version of the lesson

It can be very easy in motherhood to blame our children for the stress in our lives.  ‘Because of my child not sleeping, I have depression’, ‘because my child is ‘spirited’ my life is so stressful, ‘because I have two children and they are both really full on, I have depression’

However there are two aspects that we need to look at in order to be able to accept our child’s behaviour or the challenges that we come across with our children.  They are:

1)       The priorities that our children have for behaving this way (which will come from their beliefs).

2)       The beliefs we hold about their behaviour and the priorities and beliefs that are governing our reactions to those behaviours.

There is always a reason why our children behave the way that they do and when you can learn to detach their behaviour from your self-worth with this understanding, then you can begin to see what is going on and how you can go about handling this challenge.

Before you can do that though, you need to also look at how you are perceiving this challenging behaviour with your mindset.  I will begin to help you to learn this by addressing the developmental ages and stages of our children and try to identify some of the challenges that can be difficult to accept.

The Baby Stage

This stage can be the trickiest.  You are trying to get to know a new little person who has their own unique personality and who hasn’t come with an instruction manual.  There is loads of information available to help you in this quest to learn what your child needs, but no one can tell you exactly what you need to do.  There are many skills and abilities that need to be learnt when having a newborn, regardless of whether it is your first or your fourth. Every child is unique and brings with him/her their own wants and needs.

Here are some challenges that we may come across that seem to cause us stress, and how to understand them in terms of understanding your child’s priority and your reactions.

A crying child

Your child’s priority:  Babies cry and some of them cry a lot.  It doesn’t mean you are doing anything wrong, it just means that they have some need that isn’t being met yet.  Sometimes you won’t always know what they need in every given moment and it may take some time to figure out what they need, as you are not a mind reader.  Your child is not trying to do anything to you by crying, they are simply trying to get what they need to survive.

You reactions to their crying:  I know that the above comments are very logical, however our reactions to our baby crying can still cause us to feel angry, frustrated or sad and defeated.  This is because you have a story that you tell yourself about the crying.  The reality (the logic) that we are well aware of is that babies cry and they do this to try and communicate what they want.  Your frustrations or reactions to this crying come from what you believe their crying means about you.  ‘I’m supposed to know what she wants’, ‘There’s something wrong with her and I should be helping her.’  ‘I have to keep tending to their cries and I never get anything else done.’  I’m sick of all this noise all the time’.  All of these comments are about what the crying is doing to you.

How to overcome this using the reality thinking model

The reality of the situation:  Babies cry and right now, your baby is crying.  That’s the reality.  My child is learning how to adapt to her new world and to understand what is going on and get what she needs. 

The reality of parenting:  I will not always know what my baby needs and sometimes I just have to keep trying new things until I figure out what she needs. 

The reality of life:  My baby crying is just a snippet of my whole life.  As challenging as this moment is right now, I will move past it. The crying won’t last forever.  It is just for now.    This is just one of the many experiences (both good and bad) that I will have with my child. 

The reality of self-worth:  I’m doing the best I can with the information that I have.  Right now I am learning about how to handle this situation and that is all part of being a parent.  I am not a bad mother because my child is crying.  She is crying simply because that is the way she communicates.  Whenever I experience anything new I am learning and can only use the information I have at any given moment to decide what I need to do to approach this challenge. I am always worthy as a mum because I am a mum and am contributing to this situation in exactly the way that I am.  Now what am I going to do about it?  (moving onto step three – aim).

A child that doesn’t sleep

Your child’s priority:  Some children actually need to be taught how to sleep and self-settle. This can take an undetermined amount of time.  They either do it naturally by themselves, they are taught how to do it using various settling techniques, or possibly, a combination of both.  Your child is just a little person growing new connections in the brain and is learning to adjust to the external world clock of when to sleep and when not to sleep. 

Your reactions to their lack of sleep:  Even though we logically know that they are adjusting to this new life, it may not stop us from getting frustrated, angry or teary about their sleeping.  Again this will be because of the story you tell yourself about what their lack of sleep means about you.  How is it affecting your life?  Is it stopping you from doing other things (that perhaps you have your self-worth pinned to)?  Is it stopping you from being a certain type of person you believe you need to be in order to be worthy (organised, coping, responsible, the one who gets it right)?

Underneath your feelings towards your child not sleeping, will be beliefs you hold about what this means about your life.  These beliefs, even though it is logical to understand why your child is not sleeping, will dictate your response.  If your beliefs are about your worth being less, than any logic about your child’s natural sleeping abilities, will be overridden by the need to self-protect – that is make you feel better.  This is where the need to yell, get angry, and heaven forbid, why women shake their babies.  Their priority becomes about stopping their pain because they have an incorrect perception of the situation to begin with.

How to overcome this with the reality thinking model: 

The reality of the situation:  Your child is learning how to get into a sleep routine. 

The reality of parenting:  This is just one of many experiences you will have with your child.  It is just a developmental phase that your child will go through and will pass by just like every other developmental stage in their life.  Some of these developmental stages are cute, funny and enjoyable and some of them are challenging and unenjoyable.  This event just forms part of your parenting experience.  What else is good about your experience as a parent?  What are you enjoying with your child?  The cuddles, the time you get to socialise with other mums, not having to work?  Find the hidden good in the bad. 

The reality of life Again widen back to acknowledge that this experience with your child not sleeping forms only a small drip in the ocean of your entire life.  This time will pass by just like every other event in your life.  Everything rises and passes away….everything!  Take note of what else is going on in your life so you are not just consumed by what is happening with your child.  How are your other relationships with other children, your husband, your mother, your friends etc.  They all form part of your life too.  Your life is not just about this moment with your child.  There are other things going on in your life too.  What are they and what are some of the good aspects of them too?

The reality of self-worth:   Your child not sleeping is not something that you can control.  Whether your child sleeps or not does not mean anything about you as a person.  You are contributing and learning in this world through everything you do. You are doing the best you can with the knowledge that you have.  As you go through your life you will learn new skills, try new things, practice what you are learning and sometimes you will have success and sometimes you will make mistakes.  Whether things go right or wrong for you, you are always getting an experience in life and gaining information from that experience.  You then share what you know with the rest of your world through conversations, actions, setting goals, achieving goals and not achieving goals.  Your existence is what defines you as being worthy, not whether you can get your child to sleep and be the happy, coping, organised mother that you have rated as being necessary for being a good mother.

A child that nurses all the time

Your child’s priority:  Quite simply, to get what they need.  Sustenance, love, bonding etc. Your child’s priority is already all about them and their survival instinct to get what they need to live and grow.

Your reactions to their behaviour:  Your ‘story’ about what this situation means about your life is what causes your reactions.  Perhaps because they are nursing all the time you are looking around at what else needs to be done and feeling pressured that you cannot get to those things.  Housework, cooking, your own appearance, possibly even paperwork for your partner’s business that needs tending to or bills to pay.  You may be defining your role in the house as being the person that does all these things and because you are unable to do any of these things because you are constantly nursing, then you feel like you are failing at some level, not able to live up to the expectations that you have set yourself or that have been set up by others.  Somewhere in your ‘story’ there will be a component of what your child nursing a lot means about you.

How to overcome this with the reality thinking model

 The reality of the situation For whatever reasons, your baby is needing to nurse a lot, for now.  While you are sorting out how to get past this event, this is the current reality.  While this is happening other things are not getting done. This is the reality of the situation that you need to accept because any conversations that are about how other things ‘should’ be getting done and how your baby ‘shouldn’t’ be nursing so much, are all in conflict with the reality that he is nursing a lot right now.

The reality of being a parent:  This is part of your experience as a parent to this particular little child that is your son/daughter.  They are needing this nursing right now for whatever reasons they believe they need it for and you are their parent there to give them what they need to survive.  This is one small part of the parenting experience and one that you can learn to look at the value in.  What is good about you being able to nurse so much.  Instead of just looking at what is bad about it, how about looking at what is good too?  What about all those TV shows that you get to catch up on?  What about the special bonding time that you are getting with your little one, cuddling them and being close to them?  They will grow up and have their own lives. This is a special time to appreciate these quiet moments together.  Look at them, really look at them without any judgements on what you nursing…again, really means and just exist as you being a mother nursing your child.  Appreciate that you can nurse and bond with this child in this way.  Appreciate the time out in your life that it gives you to sit down and not do all those things that we always have to do.  Look for the benefits of what this situation gives you.

Also look at the priority for nursing so much.  There is always the bottle feeding option.  However you have chosen to feed for reasons that you have.  Neither way is right or wrong, but understand that it is a priority to nurse instead of bottle feeding.  Also understand that your priority to feed your child over doing all those other chores, is also a choice from your beliefs.  Of course, it is a no brainer choice that you are going to feed your child over housework and domestic duties, but recognise that this is the priority.  Because it is a priority, the reality is that you can’t do these other things.  It is physically impossible.  Be at peace with that by accepting this reality.

The reality of life:  Again, this moment in time is just a snippet of your entire life. It may be taking up a lot of time right now, but some events do that in life.  Look at previous work projects in your life, or times where you just met your partner, or took up a new hobby.  These things took up a lot of your time and this new part of your journey through life is taking up a lot of your current time right now too.  Everything comes at a price.  When we make something a priority another thing that may have been regarded as a high priority must fall by the wayside.  Only one priority can win out over another.  You have chosen to nurse your child because of beliefs that you have about it being a top priority and that just means that at this point of time on your journey, this choice will take up a lot of your time and the rest will have to wait.

The reality of self-worth:  You can only do what you can only do and if you are spending a lot of time on the couch nursing, then this is what you can do.  You physically cannot do all those other things and sit on the couch at the same time.  It is a priority for you (in order to be the mother you want to be and give your child what they need – to be a good mother) to nurse your child.  Whether you do the other things or not, you are not worth more or worth less, you are simply doing all that you can do right now. 

Nothing defines your worth except your existence and you being here contributing and learning in the world.  Right now you are contributing to sustaining your child’s life and giving them what you need.   You are learning how to be a mum and how to help your child to learn how to feed better, gain weight, or wean them off needing you all the time, whichever is the case.  As you gain knowledge in this area of parenting, you will go on to speak to others about your experiences and give them something that contributes to their journey too.  Everything is a cycle of learning and contributing and that is what defines your worth, not whether you can be the super mum who does everything, keeps a clean house and is on top of every chore there is to do.

The Toddler Stage

In the toddler stage you are finding that your child is more independent and persistent. This could mean that they are getting into a lot of things and perhaps giving you more challenging behaviour that is harder to explain with logic.  With a baby it can be easier to understand that they don’t know any different, but as we move into the toddler stage and we know that they understand more, it can become more difficult to view their undesirable behaviour without reacting.

Here is one major challenge that you may come across with your toddler and how to understand them in terms of your child’s priority and your reactions to their behaviour:

Tantrums

Your child’s priority:  They have viewed the situation with their senses and determined what this situation means from their limited beliefs.  Often children of this age cannot accurately perceive what is going on and often misunderstand what is happening.  Also, they can be very self-absorbed, only seeing what they want…and they want it now!  They don’t yet understand reasoning and can’t fathom why on earth they cannot have what they want.  Explaining this can be difficult and can often lead to your child having tantrums.  This is just because their priority was different to yours.  Not right or wrong, just different.  It is our job to teach them why their priorities must be different, for example, not eating the soap out of the bathroom and not putting their hands down the toilet.

Your reactions to their behaviour:  Often it can feel like our child’s behaviour is deliberately trying to test you or make you angry.  This is definitely not the case.  Their behaviour is all about them, not about you.  You, however, as usual, have an entire story going on about what their behaviour means about you.  ‘How embarrassing for me’.  ‘I look like I’m not coping or I’m not a good mum.’ ‘I’ve had enough of having to listening to and deal with this behaviour.’   ‘I hate it when he behaves like this.  It makes me so mad’.    All of these comments are in conflict with the reality of why your child is behaving the way he is – because of beliefs he holds about what is happening.  All of these comments are also about what this means about your worth (either your quality of life, or you as a mum).  These are what need to be upgraded.

How to overcome this with the reality thinking model

The reality of the situation:  Your child is having a tantrum.  If he’s rolling around on the floor kicking and screaming, then he’s having a tantrum and all those conversations going on in your mind that cause you to resist this reality are all going to cause you stress.  Furthermore his tantrums are because of the way he has interpreted the situation and that needs to be corrected (or distracted) in order to stop the tantrum. 

The reality of being a parent As part of being a mum, you will come across times when your child has misunderstood a situation, or has a limited understanding of the situation to begin with.  This misunderstanding could result in undesirable behaviour, however it is an opportunity for us to teach our children how to understand life better.  Ignore the behaviour and work on educating your children so that they get this understanding.  The reality of being a parent is that it is our job to help our children to grow and learn about the world around them.  Their behaviour is only a result of their current understandings and perceptions about life and sometimes they will  understand and therefore behave appropriately and sometimes they won’t.

The reality of life:  We are all learning more and more with experience and this is what is happening with your child too.  In these early stages, they are literally growing new connections in the brain that will form habits of thinking.  Most often with toddlers, they don’t have these connections formed yet and have to have things repeated over and over again in order to get the message and make this information become habit.  Their tantrum is just one more opportunity to give them this learning and repetition, even if you have said things a million time already.  It will become habit when they have formed those connections through repetitious exposure to their environments, just like what happens when we walk, talk, use a spoon or ride a bike.

This time of your life is just that, a time in your life.  That tantrum will come and go and will probably be forgotten in years to come.  Don’t get sucked into this moment meaning your whole life sucks because it is only one small event along your whole life’s journey.   Try to remember what else is going well in your life; both with your child and the parenting experience, as well as other things that you are enjoying about life.  If you are going through rough times and struggle with things, then remember other times in your life that you have enjoyed so you can remind yourself that your whole life is not ruined, this is just part of the ups and downs that form a person’s life.  It does not define your life’s worth.

The reality of self-worth:  If you worth is constantly attached to your child’s behaviour, then you will never feel worthy as a person.  Our children are growing and learning just like we are and we are never always behaving well either.  We are all just doing what we know how to do with the information that we have and this information that we hold is contributing to how our life and those around us are unfolding.  This is what defines us as worthy.  We are not worthy when we can get everyone to think that we are worthy.  Our worth does not come from matching the ideal of ever single scenario we encounter.  It comes from the learning we get from the ups and the downs and it comes from contributing a part of ourselves to everyone around us.  There is value to be found in everything and this tantrum is helping you as a person to grow, your child to grow and anyone around you who is also experiencing this tantrum.

We are all connected to each other just by being a part of experiencing each other’s lives and learning off each other.  Tantrums do not define your life’s worth nor does it make you a good or bad mother.  It’s a fact of life for parents and children and comes from their beliefs about a situation that may be incorrect or misunderstood.  That’s the bottom line of tantrums.

Pre-school & Beyond

Now we get to the years where our children really begin to understand the world around them.  Emotions can still run high though and they can still misunderstand what is going on around them and they need help to understand their surroundings and their feelings.

The best part of this stage, though, is that you can use words and examples to help educate your child to think differently and children are like sponges, they soak up this information easily and quickly. 

Nevertheless, even though this stage makes it easier to communicate verbally with our children and hear their responses to how they perceive life, sometimes we don’t always like what comes out of their mouths and this can cause us to feel angry, frustrated and end up meaning lots of conflict in the household.

Your child’s priority:  Look closely at the motive behind what they are saying and what they are doing.  Children at this age are starting to form their concept of self-worth.  You are no longer their only influence in this as they start to create friends and be more exposed to society and its influences.  Remember that they are bombarded with this ‘get your life right’ society, so they are starting to attach their self-worth to achieving, getting and being too.  

If they are displaying unruly, undesirable or just plain rude and disrespectful behaviour, then this will indeed be because of their own self-worth issues that need correcting. Listen very carefully to how they explain why they did something.  Rather than asking them in an accusing tone what happened, ask them what was going on in their mind to cause them to behave that way.  Try to identify what their priority was for behaving this way.  Rather than seeing their behaviour as right or wrong, see it as an indication of what they believe about themselves and use this as an opportunity to teach them more about the reality of life.

Your reactions to their behaviour:  What do you believe their behaviour means about you?  The reality is it’s not about you, it’s all about them and how they are perceiving and reacting to their life through their beliefs, but you will have a whole lot of self-worth stuff going on with you if you are reacting to their behaviour.

For example, you may feel disrespected, unappreciated, unwanted or unloved by this behaviour, believing that it is a personal attack against you.  Look at what you believe about their behaviour first, before you approach them about their behaviour.  Because when you do that and you upgrade your thinking to be in alignment with reality and true self-worth, then you will be ready to look for the self-worth issues they are experiencing in order to behave the way they did so that you can help them.

How to overcome this with the Reality thinking model

The reality of the situation:  Your child is behaving the way he/she does because of the beliefs he holds about life and their self-worth.  Whatever they have done, is what they have done and it cannot be changed.  If you hold onto the beliefs that they ‘shouldn’t have done it’ or that they ‘should have known better’, you are in conflict with the reality that a) they didn’t do it the way you believe they should & b) they did it because it was a priority they had AT THAT TIME because of the priority belief that was activated AT THAT TIME (remember speeding vs getting your child to the hospital?)  Find the priority and you will understand the behaviour.  It doesn’t condone the behaviour, but understanding it will help you to provide them with an appropriate education and knowledge about what they can learn from this behaviour in order to do it differently next time.

The reality of being a parent:  Again, this all comes down to the highs and lows of being a parent.  By the time you have gotten to this stage of their development you would have already gone through loads of good times and bads and will easily see that this is just another developmental stage that they are going through.  This is also a time for you to reinforce those lessons that you want to instil in your child, which forms part of your role as a parent.

The reality of life:  People will behave in ways that you don’t like, because people are always operating out of the beliefs that they hold important AT THAT TIME.  This will happen with your children, your husband, your friends, family and even strangers.  It is part of how we learn from each other and every experience we have has value because of the learning it give us.  See this situation with your child as a normal part of your life unfolding, not as meaning that your whole life is hard.  There have been easy times with your child and there have been hard times.  This may be one of those hard times.  When you look at life as a whole you will see that we start out as babies, become toddlers, pre-schoolers, primary schoolers, high schoolers, adults, elderly etc.  This stage with your child is just a part of the unfolding of their life and the experiences they are have for their lives to unfold.  You are a part of that journey and this experience is part of their journey and part of yours.  It doesn’t not define your entire existence.  It will rise and pass away, just like the others.  Treat it as an educational time to teach your child the ways of the world, but also teach yourself how to understand behaviour and show compassion and understanding.

The reality of self-worth Your child’s behaviour is all about them, not about you.  Detach your self-worth from anything your child does or says because you are always 100% worthy no matter what!  If they are not showing you respect, it is because of how they perceive the situation, not because you are not worthy of respect.  Perhaps they learnt that it was okay to be disrespectful or are experimenting with a new behaviour to see if it is acceptable or not and are waiting for the reaction to see if they can do it again.

People won’t always show you the love, appreciation and validation that we may want them to.  Again this isn’t because you aren’t worthy of it, it is because the other person has their own set of beliefs and priorities that are governing their behaviour. Sometimes they will match your expectations and other times they won’t. This is just the reality of interacting with each other.  When you cease needing people to match your expectations (which will never always happen) then you will cease needing people to behave a certain way in order to feel worthy.

You must always remember in every situation what you are learning from this experience, how you are contributing to the situation and how others are benefiting your life through their teachings to you.

Other factors that will help you to look at the behaviours of your children.

Although we are talking about the behaviour of your children, it really comes down to how you are interpreting these behaviours, so you must always look at your viewpoint on how you are perceiving their behaviour.

Children are learning how to be in the world and how to understand it.  This comes with specific physical growth in the brain, and forming new connections in order to make things become habit.  This comes with maturity and time and sometimes cannot be controlled.

All we can do is continually look at what you can do to change your thinking and sometimes allow them to have the time they need to grow, learn and mature.

Here are some other factors that may be contributing to your reactions to your child’s behaviour:

Being controlling:

Sometimes we believe that our children are at fault for  behaving the way that they do, however when we look closer we may see that we are trying to control our child’s life for a payoff of our own.  These payoffs could be:

  • In order to be loved
  • In order to feel important
  • To stop them from growing up and leaving us lonely
  • To prevent anything ‘bad’ from happening to them
  • In order to live up to your expectations of yourself (being the mother who is coping, has the smart child, is the one who is looked up to in society)
  • To maintain a certain reputation you have been known for.
  • To prevent your life being disrupted or challenged

All of these things you will notice is all about self-worth being attached to life unfolding in a certain way.  It ‘s important to be really honest about your agenda for wanting your child to behave the way you do.  Is it about teaching them to live honest, fulfilling and moral lives or is it an agenda of your own?

If it is through an agenda of yours that relates to self-worth, then some work needs to be done on yourself to keep changing your beliefs about what defines self-worth, because not only will this affect your child’s life and their relationship with you, it will also cause you pain and feelings of worthlessness every time their behaviour doesn’t match your expectations that are meant to validate why you are worthy. 

This means that your happiness is completely reliant on another person’s behaviour and that is never viable.

I have nothing else going on in my life

Sometimes we can become over controlling in our child’s lives, or we resent their behaviour more because of what else is, or isn’t going on in our lives.  It is common for mums to feel completely consumed with the baby through toddler stages because they believe that this defines their whole life.  

It is important to give yourself some time to be things outside of being a mum so you do get that sense of being expanded from just the challenges of parenting young children.

This doesn’t always mean that you have to leave the house.  It can be simple things such as painting your nails, doing your hair, buying yourself a coffee, listening to your music, watching your TV shows, talking with a friend on Facebook, or anything else that makes you feel like a person outside of just a mother.

Give yourself some little (or big) indulgences that helps you to widen back from the challenges of your kids and remember that life is about the enjoyable things too.

When you do that, you are in a better position to handle the ups and downs that occur with your children and are less likely to become consumed by them.

Even though we know we are always 100% worthy, we will always rate ourselves through our beliefs.  Do things that you know you rate yourself or your life as worth-more, even though you know it doesn’t define your self-worth, because these things will still make you feel good.

You will never stop pursuing things that make you feel good and I’m not asking you to, you just need to have an accurate understanding of those times where you rate a situation as being bad and know how to apply a different perspective so that you don’t stay feeling bad.

Relationship problems or anger over an unresolved past issue

Having problems within your relationship and feeling angry or cheated over things that are happening in this department can result in us taking our frustrations out on our children.

This is because it is safe to vent to our children as they cannot defend themselves.  It sounds horrible and I’m not condoning anyone doing this, I am just highlighting why it happens.

We can unknowingly be caught up in what is going on in our heads (reliving an argument, imagining what we would like to say to that person or how you would’ve liked to relive that situation) and then you can start to feel anger and frustration, just from these thoughts.

All of a sudden your child does something that interrupts you and this anger that was already inside you gets projected onto your child, even though you didn’t really mean to.

The answer is to use the reality thinking model to what is really going on, not trying to change the behaviour of your child.

At the end of the day, there is a priority belief that has been activated for every single behaviour.  Everyone is guided by what they currently know.  By being conscious of our thinking we can become more aware of what is really going on inside our minds and how this is influencing our reactions and behaviours.

You can use the understandings you are getting about priorities and self-worth to become aware of other people’s choice of words and really listen to their understanding of situations and life in order to understand why they behave the way that they do.

When you get to a point of understanding and accepting that you/they can only know what they know at any given time and that their priorities AT ANY GIVEN MOMENT are governed by their priority beliefs, then you at a point of acceptance.  Not condoning, not saying that it’s okay that they behaved that way, but accepting that they did it because of what was going on for them, not because it means anything about you.

Use this information with every area of your life; with your children, your husband, your friends, family and strangers and you will already be setting yourself up for a more peaceful, happier life.  No longer will you be attached to other people’s behaviours and attitudes in order to feel worthy.

Imagine what that might feel like!

Week Six / Day Six – Recap of the entire Reality step

 

Click here for the audio version of the lesson

Step Two on the Mind TRACK to Happiness process – Reality is all about acceptance, forgiveness and letting go of the past and of present thoughts that are in conflict with the reality of what is happening right now in your life.

Whether you are facing challenges with your child, a relationship problem, financial issues, or any other problem in your life, the first stage to changing these situations is to acknowledge and accept that they are in your life.

Resisting what is happening in your life right now is what is causing your stress. Focussing on how things shouldn’t be the way they are, or how they shouldn’t have happened will only keep you stuck in the past and consumed by the now.

You absolutely must accept the reality of your current situation before you can move past it.

This may be the hardest step to do in this whole TRACK process, which is why I’ve spend the last three weeks on this step alone.  Often we don’t want to believe that these things are happening in our lives, and we don’t want to accept them in our lives.  Often we believe that if we accept that they are here in our lives then we are somehow say that it is okay that they are here.

It is neither okay, nor not okay that your problem is in your life.  It is reality.

The reality of this current situation is these events are in your life because of how the past has unfolded leading up to this event and this cannot be changed.  What we can change, however, is what you do with what is now occurring in your life.

It’s important to remember that this reality step is only the second step on this process.  The next three steps are about creating solutions to your problems.

Because the second step is so crucial to you stopping your stress, depression and anxiety and because I spend so much time talking about the reality of your situation, life and self-worth, I often get people who feel disheartened and down by their reality, feeling like ‘this is it’, or that they just have to ‘suck it up’.   Accepting reality is not the end of this process however.  Once you have accepted the reality of where you are at now, you will then go onto shift your focus onto ‘…so what am I going to do about this reality’.

You don’t just have to lie down and take whatever your current situation is giving you, the final three steps of the process are going to help you to change your current reality.

But before you venture into the world of ‘what do I want’, you must first make sure you have a healthy understanding of ‘what I’m currently getting’, because you cannot change what you don’t acknowledge.

Quite often we try to set aims for ourselves, but end up back where we started.  This is particularly common in depression sufferers, or those who swing between depression and anxiety, because they haven’t yet accepted the reality of life’s ups and downs and don’t yet have an accurate understanding of self-worth.  If you continue to have your self-worth attached to getting life right, and whatever that entails for you, then everytime you cannot get life to go to plan, you will revert straight back to that conditional thinking that you are a failure.

Also, if you don’t continue to stay aware of your thinking (step one of the process) and change it where necessary to be in alignment with reality (step two) than it can be easy to slip back into our past conditioning and start attaching our self-worth to outcomes, achievements and goals again, which is only going to cause us stress.

So let me recap for you how to use the Reality Step in your life.

After recognizing your thoughts and how they are in conflict with reality, bring your awareness back in alignment by using the reality thinking model.  What you are trying to do is take your mind away from being consumed by this one event that is occurring in your life (the small picture) to viewing it in the context of the bigger picture.  You are widening your perspective by expanding your mindset by first acknowledging:

The reality of the situation: What is going on in your life is already here.  You can’t change what is going on right now, you can only change what happens after this moment.  What has happened in the past has happened and no amount of thinking or wishing it wasn’t happening is going to change this reality.  Whether we are talking about a child who has woken up before we wanted them to, a relationship that is going through some struggles, your toddler’s tantrum, a lack of communication between you and your child, not being able to breastfeed, having depression, losing your job, having a sick child, experiencing a trauma in your life, or whatever is going on in your life that you are seeing as a problem, the reality is that this event is occurring in your life.

The reason why it is here is because of how things unfolded in the past leading up to this event and that can never be changed.  Every event leads to the next and we cannot control how life unfolds. There are many factors that contribute and add to how your current reality has unfolded, just like this current situation will add to something that happens further down the track too.

In this part of the reality thinking model, this is where you would add in your forgiveness of what has happened in the past.  Remember that forgiveness is not about the other person, it is about you and your relationship with your past events and being able to release yourself from past events.  That is you accepting the reality of the situation.

If you are working on forgiving another person for something that they did to you, then try to understand what drove them to behave the way that they did.  What was their self-worth aspect?  What were the beliefs that caused them to behave this way?  You are not trying to condone their behaviour and say that it was okay, you are merely trying to understand their behaviour.  Realise that their behaviour was not about you and all about them and their priorities for protecting their self-worth or trying to increase it, all because of incorrect understandings of self-worth to begin with.

If you are working on forgiving yourself for something that you have done in the past, then seek out what your priorities were at the time and realise that there were priority beliefs that were activated in your mind IN THAT MOMENT due to the information you had IN THAT MOMENT and how you interpreted that information IN THAT MOMENT.  This is what drove you to behave the way you did, or make the decisions that you made.  Everything that occurred in your past leading up to that moment contributed to the final outcome that you are now experiencing and it could not have happened any other way.

Let go of the past.  It doesn’t even exist until you create it in the present with your mind.  Forgive to release yourself from hurt or pain and stop your mind from engaging in any thoughts about how this current event is wrong, shouldn’t have happened, is someone else’s fault or how it should be another way, because this is just in conflict with the reality of what is.

The next step to acknowledge on this reality thinking model is:

The reality of being a parent: Expand your attention towards looking at this situation in the context of the entire parenting experience. There will be good times and bad within this role.  Sometimes you will go through phases where life is flowing smoothly with the kids.  They are over their last challenging developmental stage.  Then there will be times when they are entering into a new developmental stage that is doing your head in.  All of these highs and lows are what make up this role.  During your time as a parent you will be learning lots of things about how to be a parent and also about yourself as a person.

Try to compare this role to your career/job.  In our jobs we learn, develop skills, seek help from experts in order to learn what they are doing that is successful, we make mistakes, sometimes we feel organised and sometimes we don’t, sometimes our work colleagues are co-operative and other times they are in bad moods and we have to deal with that.  Over time and with experience we get better at our jobs and learn the ‘tricks of the trade’ which helps things run a little smoother.  Throughout this journey in our career there is lots of trial and error.  Parenting is the same.

Hold onto this perspective when you are experiencing these challenges, as this will stop  you getting consumed by this moment. Everything rises and passes away, so too will this challenge.

You also want to start changing your perspective of this challenge, by changing how you look at the situation:

Where is the hidden good in the bad here?

What am I getting?  (rather than concentrating on what you aren’t getting & what you’re missing out on)

How is this event contributing to my development?  What is it teaching me?

How is this event contributing to my child’s development?  What is it teaching them?

Is this situation an opportunity to learn and grow from?

The next step to expanding your mind from being consumed by this situation is to acknowledge:

The reality of life: Now we start to look at the bigger picture of life.  Consider a storybook. There is a beginning, an end and all the highs and lows that occur in between.  This situation is just a part of your unique story in life.  You were born and you will die and in between that there will be many different experiences that will occur.  Some of them will be joyous and make you happy and excited, and others will sadden, disappoint or challenge you.

Every event that does occur in your life, whether it be a joyous one or not, holds value.  We have been conditioned to search for what is missing from our lives, but the key to happiness is to be able to search for what you are getting in your life.  Find the value, find the hidden good in the bad of all events and you will cease even rating these events as good or bad, but simply realise that every situation that occurs gives you an opportunity to learn, grow and experience different aspects of life.

Find what you are grateful for.  Know that even though there may not seem like anything in this particular situation that gives you much comfort, there are always other things going on in your life that you can be grateful for – a happy relationship, a healthy body, a roof over your head, money in the bank, having a car, being able to have children, the quiet times that sometimes occur amongst the loud times, the days when you are organised, or up to date with the washing, the times when you got to sleep in.  There is always something that you can be grateful for and once you start training your mind to look for it, you will start to feel very differently about your life.

Finally, look to upgrade the self-worth component to your stress, because all stress comes down to you feeling worth-less because this situation has occurred.  You are rating you and your life as being worth-less.  You need to upgrade this thinking (such as I’m stupid, useless, an idiot, loser, failure etc) with the:

Reality of Self-worth (the final part of the Reality thinking model): You are always 100% worthy because of your very existence.  Your existence gives a part of you to the world around you and the people in it.  Just by going about your daily life you contribute to the circle of life.  You pay bills, talk to people, make choices, set goals, achieve some of them, don’t achieve others, make mistakes, get better at things and basically live life, constantly sharing your experiences with those around you.  By doing this you contribute to how other people’s lives unfold.  Without you their lives unfold in a different way and they don’t learn from you what they would if you were around.  You are valuable to everyone else’s lives just by being in it.

Just by existing and participating in the events of your life, you are learning more about life and further contributing that learning and knowledge to those around you.  These things are what defines true self-worth.

However we are constantly rating ourselves (self-esteem) as being worth-more or worth-less because of our beliefs.  Our beliefs about worth have been heavily conditioned in us from a young age, and by living in this current ‘get your life right’ world, we can easily rate ourselves as only being valuable (worthy) when we are achieving, meeting expectations or living up to the labels that we have been conditioned to believe defines our worth.

We must continue to see how we are always contributing to the unfolding of other people’s lives and their development and also how our learning is adding value to our lives.  The purpose of life is to learn, grow and experience life and we will continually do that with everything that occurs in our lives.  Both adversities and triumphs teach us the lessons we need for our lives to develop.  Every event links to the next one and leads to either a good time or a challenge.

You can see that this one problem, or situation that initially caused you stress has now been given a different perspective.  You expand your perspective so that you are now looking at what this situation really means in the bigger picture that is your life.  You learn to see things differently to how you originally (habitually) saw it. This alignment with the reality of the situation and life’s bigger picture will be what stops your stress, depression and anxiety in its tracks.  Then you can go onto set goals for how you will move past this challenge (steps 3-5 of the Mind TRACK to Happiness process)

Finally, let your emotions guide you

The way to apply steps one and two to your life is to take notice of how you feel.  Sometimes your thoughts can be difficult to catch, but you will always be able to recognise what you feel.  Remember, your feelings will always be triggered by your beliefs first.

This is why when you change what you think about, you change how you feel too.

Whenever you feel anger, this is you believing that things should be another way.  You are still attached to your expectation of what was ‘supposed’ to happen and are in conflict with the new reality playing out in front of you.  Accept, let go and forgive, for what is done, is done.  Focus on what you can do now with this new reality, what you can learn and how it now benefits your life.

Whenever you feel blame, this is you believing that someone should have done something different.  Understand that we are all operating with our own interests 100% of the time.  The reason why you or someone else behaved the way they did was because there was a priority belief activated IN THAT MOMENT that was all about them and not about you.  Should they have done it? Probably not, but the reality is that they did.  If you hold onto blame, it only hurts you and stops you from moving on with your life.  Accept, let go and forgive, for what is done is done.  Focus on what you can do now with this new reality, what you can learn and how it benefits your life.

Whenever you feel resentment, this is you believing that you have missed out on something.  You believe that life should be unfolding differently, however the reality is that it isn’t unfolding differently. This is what you are currently experiencing due to all of the events that occurred leading up to it.  You are not missing out on how your life should be, you are getting the experiences that you are meant to be getting and the proof of that is, because this is the experience that you are getting.  What can you be grateful for about this moment? Even though you aren’t getting what you initially wanted for your life, you are still getting an experience.  What is the hidden good in the bad that has occurred from this experience? Accept, let go and forgive, for what is done is done.  Focus on what you can do now with this new reality, what you can learn and how this new situation benefits your life.

Also think about the emotion of happiness too.  You feel happy when life is meeting your expectations or your rating of what is a happy event.  Not all events will make you feel happy, for the reality of life is that we are all experiencing highs and lows.  That doesn’t make your life unhappy, it just means that right now you are not experiencing the emotion of happiness.  There is still value in the times that don’t make you happy, so this emotion is not indicative of you having a more or less worthy life.

Having a happy life will be about having a healthy mindset towards the ups and downs that occur within your life, not how often you feel this emotion of happiness.

We now come to the end of our explanation of the reality step.  After tomorrow’s exercise where you will put forgiveness and letting go of your past into practice, we will begin to shift our focus towards the solutions to the problems that occur in parenting and in life.  However steps one and two do not just stop there.  Throughout this entire Mind TRACK to Happiness process you will continually be checking your thinking against reality in order to get what you want, understand the choices you make towards getting what you want and planning how you get what you want.

Remember the Mind TRACK to Happiness process is not about trying to fix your life.  It’s about changing your mindset towards life, so that you can live a fulfilled life full of value and lessons while feeling 100% worthy everyday.  Because when you understand how to use this kind of mindset for yourself, this is what you will be able to pass onto your children, so they don’t have to live their lives with stress, depression or anxiety.

Tomorrow’s exercise will be the first day of the rest of your life where finally, you can learn how to leave the past behind you.

Week Six / Day Seven – Exercise Day! Forgiving and letting go

 

NB – There is no audio available for this lesson

This week brings you to the end of your learning about changing your mindset to aligning it with the reality of the situation and the bigger picture, and how to view and understand the situation better by  looking at yours and/or others’ priorities, which are governed by their beliefs.

In today’s exercise, you are going to start practicing this understanding of beliefs by taking a look at recent or past events that have occurred in your own life.
 

Part A – YOU

Let’s start by looking at some of the behaviour that you have been participating in that perhaps you are beating yourself up about.

  1. List 5 things you have done over the past few weeks that you wished you didn’t. 
  2. Underneath each point and using your knowledge from this week’s lessons on priorities and self-worth, try to determine what your beliefs were that caused you to behave this way. 
  3. Write at least an entire page that upgrades your thinking for each thing you wish you hadn’t done.  If you do not feel like you have forgiven yourself or don’t feel a shift in how you feel about those moments after one page, then keep finding more upgrades and ways of thinking in alignment with the reality thinking model until you do!

 Use the questions below to help you with steps two and three:   

a)  What were the thoughts going through your mind in regards to this event?   

b)  How do you believe this event was affecting your quality of life, or your self-worth (your ideas about your reputation, your identity, your abilities etc)?   

c)  What were you trying to protect yourself from?   (for example – avoiding looking weak, incompetent, from feeling like a failure again?)

d)  Can you identify what the priority belief was that was activated in this moment?   

e)  How can you now look at this situation differently using the reality thinking model:  the reality of the situation; the reality of being a parent, the reality of life and the reality of self-worth?   

f)  What was the hidden good in the bad?  What are the benefits to this situation?

g)  What can you be grateful for?

h) How was this situation contributing to yours/other’s development?

i)  What have you learnt from this situation?

 

Part B – YOUR CHILDREN

  1. List 5 things your child has done over the past few weeks that you wished he/she hadn’t. 
  2. Underneath each point and using your knowledge from this week’s lesson on priorities and self-worth, try to determine what your child’s beliefs were that caused them to behave this way. 
  3. Write at least an entire page that upgrades your thinking for each thing you wish they hadn’t done.  If you do not feel like you have forgiven your child or don’t feel a shift in how you feel about those moments after one page, then keep finding more upgrades and ways of thinking in alignment with the reality thinking model until you do!

 Use the questions below to help you with steps two and three:   

a)  What were the thoughts going through your mind in regards to this event?   

b)  How was this event affecting your quality of life, or your self-worth (your ideas about your reputation, your identity, your abilities etc)   

c)  What do you think your child believed about how this event may have been affecting his/her self-worth or quality of life in order to behave this way?   

d)  What were they trying to protect their self-worth from? (eg being belittled, being weak, being picked on, ridiculed, being able to fit in etc)   

e)  Can you identify what your child’s priority belief was that was activated in this moment?   

f)  How can you now look at this situation differently using the reality thinking model:  the reality of the situation; the reality of being a parent, the reality of life and the reality of self-worth?   

g)  What was the hidden good in the bad?  What are the benefits to this situation?

h)  What can you be grateful for?

i) How was this situation contributing to yours/other’s development?

j)  What have you learnt from this situaiton?

 

Part C – YOUR PARTNER

(NB – If you are not in a relationship, please continue with Part D, or you may like to answer these questions about a previous partner in order to understand it better.)   

  1. List 5 things your partner has done over the past few weeks that you wished he hadn’t. 
  2. Underneath each point and using your knowledge from this week’s lessons on priorities and self-worth, try to determine what your partner’s beliefs were that caused him to behave this way. 
  3. Write at least an entire page that upgrades your thinking for each thing you wish he hadn’t done.  If you do not feel like you have forgiven your partner or don’t feel a shift in how you feel about those moments after one page, then keep finding more upgrades and ways of thinking in alignment with the reality thinking model until you do!

 Use the questions below to help you with steps two and three:   

a)  What were the thoughts going through your mind in regards to this event?   

b)  How was this event affecting your quality of life, or your self-worth (your ideas about your reputation, your identity, your abilities etc)   

c)  What do you think your partner believed about how this event may have been affecting his self-worth or quality of life in order to behave this way?   

d)  What was he trying to protect his self-worth from? (eg being a bad dad, not being able to provide for his family, looking like a weak man, being overpowered or out of control etc)   

e)  Can you identify what your partner’s priority belief was that was activated in this moment?   

f)  How can you now look at this situation differently using the reality thinking model:  the reality of the situation; the reality of being a parent, the reality of life and the reality of self-worth?   

g)  What was the hidden good in the bad?  What are the benefits to this situation?

h)  What can you be grateful for?

i) How was this situation contributing to yours/other’s development?

j)  What have you learnt from this situation?

 

Part D – Other People

(NB – Choose anyone else who you believe has caused you problems, or heartache in the past)   

  1. List 5 things this other person has done that you wished they hadn’t. 
  2. Underneath each point and using your knowledge from this week’s lessons on priorities and self-worth, try to determine what this person’s beliefs were that caused them to behave this way. 
  3. Write at least an entire page that upgrades your thinking for each thing you wish they hadn’t done.  If you do not feel like you have forgiven this person or don’t feel a shift in how you feel about those moments after one page, then keep finding more upgrades and ways of thinking in alignment with the reality thinking model until you do!

 Use the questions below to help you with steps two and three:   

a)  What were the thoughts going through your mind in regards to this event?   

b)  How do you think this event affected your quality of life, or your self-worth (your ideas about your reputation, your identity, your abilities etc)   

c)  What do you think this person believed about how this event may have been affecting his/her self-worth or quality of life in order to behave this way?   

d)  What was this person trying to protect their self-worth from? (eg being a bad person, being disapproved of, not fitting in, being unloved, not being appreciated, out of control etc)   

e)  Can you identify what this person’s priority belief was that was activated in this moment?   

f)  How can you now look at this situation differently using the reality thinking model:  the reality of the situation; the reality of being a parent, the reality of life and the reality of self-worth?   

g)  What was the hidden good in the bad?  What are the benefits to this situation?

h)  What can you be grateful for?

i) How was this situation contributing to yours/other’s development?

j)  What have you learnt from this situation?

NB – With this one, you really need to remind yourself that people behave in accordance to what they believed AT THAT MOMENT and the information that they held IN THAT MOMENT.  If you are working on upgrading your beliefs on a traumatic situation where someone else you didn’t know did something to you, then you may not be able to identify specific beliefs that they held.  You can however hold a general understanding that whatever it was, especially if it was a very nasty or serious act, then their idea of their self-worth has been seriously damaged through their experiences in life.     

Remember during this exercise, that everyone you are working on in this exercise was born an innocent young baby.  Something happened in their life, in their brains, that made them believe that they were so unworthy, that the only way they could feel good about themselves IN THAT MOMENT, was to do what they did.   

Also remembering that you are not condoning undesirable behaviour or making it okay that they did what they did, you are understanding it in order to enable YOU to let it go and feel peace within yourself.   

Forgiveness is about releasing YOU by understanding that what happened occurred because of the priority beliefs that were activated in that moment and accepting that we cannot control how life unfolds, or the behaviour of others, but we can change how we view this event with our own minds by using the reality thinking model.

Remember to use the Q&A Forum for any questions or issues you might be stuck on.  We’re here to help you.

week-six-8211-forgiveness-of-yourself-and-others-parental-stress-centre
>