Parenting is rarely about what happens, and more about how we choose to feel and think about what happens.
With this in mind, I realized there are three things more important that anything else in parenting and in life – being present, being positive, and being me. Parenting, with its highs and lows and great challenges and triumphs, provides an opportunity for choosing to live this way.
This article first appeared on parent.co.
Growing through parenting
We are evolving through the choices we make every day. The more we choose to experience, the more we grow. We lose sight of our evolving state when we disconnect from ourselves and others and the experiences before us. Parenting is something that always brings us back. We are called to continually connect and grow for our little ones.
They are growing right before our eyes, a constant reminder of the evolution. Too often we unconsciously lose this awareness. But we can make a different choice. When we are aware, we can choose to be more present, positive and authentic. When we are living in this state of positive mindfulness, we are connecting, growing, and appreciating more — making each moment more meaningful.
Being present is the most natural thing we can do but also one of the hardest. It’s so easy to get lost in feelings and thoughts that don’t serve us; thoughts that do nothing disconnect us from others and the experiences in front of us. The present is where all the good stuff is, but we can’t experience the present when we’re consumed with negative, fear-based thoughts.
There’s always some goodness around for us to see and feel. Being present helps us recognize the goodness and appreciate more.
HOW DO WE GET PRESENT?
Awareness is the first step. Becoming aware that we’re feeling things that don’t make us feel good — like fear, doubt, worry — is the first step to changing them. Next, give yourself one moment of mindfulness, one breath. Focusing on your breath brings you back to this moment. Once you do this, you can choose to think differently. You can choose to think a loving thought instead.
When you zoom further out in your mind from your own experience, you can start to see how unimportant the thing you’re worrying about is. Zoom out 10 years from now, will this really be important? Zoom out to see how small this situation is in the footprint of the whole world. How small is the issue when you think about the vastness of oceans, mountains, and space?
Zoom out to your life goals. How do you want to live and what you want to accomplish? Is the way you are feeling in alignment with your core values and goals for yourself? Once we are aware and mindful again, we can really feel what you are experiencing again.
One positive thought leads to countless other positive thoughts, just as negative thoughts lead to countless more negative thoughts. And thoughts do become things. We experience life as we tell ourselves we will. Therefore, thinking positively becomes especially important in parenting. The thoughts we feel affect the little people in our life who depend on us and look up to us.
HOW DO WE FEEL MORE POSITIVE?
The best way is to proactively do things that lead to positive feelings. Regularly thinking about the things we are grateful for helps us appreciate more and feel positive. Taking care of ourselves by eating well and being conscious and in control of the choices we make helps, too.
BEING POSITIVE IS A CHOICE.
The more we choose to think positively, the easier it is to continue thinking that way. There will always be things that come our way that challenge us to think differently. There will be people, experiences, and situations that bring on reasons for us to think negatively. But it’s ultimately our choice. We can choose how we react.
Parenting helps us live more positively because we want to be better for our children. We want to teach them how to make positive choices, so we develop positive practices. If you feel negativity coming on, take a deep breath. Take a moment to think calmly. Or do the zoom out practice. Stepping away, outside ourselves, and seeing what’s in front of us in the context of the larger world helps us see with eyes of love and appreciation and positivity.
When I am living in a way that is authentically me, I can be the best for my children. When I am trying to parent like someone else or when I am comparing myself to other parents, I am less of me.
When I am kind to myself, I can be kind to others. When I believe in myself, I can believe in others. When I feel that I am enough, I feel my children are enough, too. When I respect myself, I can respect others.
Our children learn the most from what we do; how we treat others, and how we treat ourselves. If they hear me beating myself up, they learn that is how they should treat themselves. When we are comparing one child against their sibling or neighbor, they learn to look outside instead of within to determine their worth.
HOW CAN I BE MY AUTHENTIC SELF WHEN I AM GIVING ALL OF ME TO MY PARENTING?
Fill yourself up first. Make time for the things you need to be your best self. Take up a hobby, exercise, get together with friends – do something everyday that you love.
I’m happiest as a parent when I’m present, and I’m most present when I feel connected to my self. Doing small things for myself, the things that fill me up, helps to reconnect me with myself when I feel I’ve gotten lost in parenting.
Being present, being positive, and being ourselves are all interconnected.
The more positive we are, the more present we can be and the more comfortable and happy we are within our own bodies. The beautiful thing is that the more we practice any one of these, the more the other things start coming together, too.
Small steps lead to big change. We must challenge ourselves to be more aware of our choices in each moment. There will always be distractions and reasons to step back into a negative state. But once we are aware of it, we can change it.
Let parenting be a way for us to grow ourselves. Our children learn by what they see in us everyday – it’s these everyday moments that count most.