Peaceful Parents, Happy Kids

How to raise self-disciplined, connected, happy humans

How to Transform What's Draining You

How can you “feel good" when life has so many obstacles?

"Looked at from a spiritual standpoint, our discomfort in any given situation provides a signal that we are out of alignment with spiritual law and are being given an opportunity to heal something." — Colin C. Tipping 

Photo Courtesy of http://www.anajunecreative.com/

We talked yesterday about getting rid of what drains you so you feel more energetic and alive. But what if you’ve found a whole list of things you don’t like and can’t eliminate? Maybe, for instance, your children—or at least some of their behavior!

Kids aren’t “perfect” any more than we are. Your baby resists diaper changes, your two year old runs away from you in the park, your three year old only likes white food, your four year old shrieks when there’s a tag in her clothing, your five year old wets the bed...And we haven’t even started with your finances, body, or love life. How can you “feel good" when life has so many obstacles?

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The bad news is, life is not perfect. Ever. The good news is, you can have a perfectly wonderful life, even with all these imperfections. The secret is in your attitude. If you don't like that and want to fight with life, be my guest. There are certainly times when each of us needs to rant about the unfairness of it all. But there's wisdom in accepting things we cannot change. And there's growth in finding ways to appreciate what's good about where we find ourselves.

Life is too short to spend it armored with resistance. Even if you want to change something, you’ll be more effective from your centered, loving self than from your irritated, fearful self. 

The paradox is that when you can find a way to more love, how you experience the situation will change. In fact, sometimes that change in ourselves makes us so much happier that we might look back in gratitude at the difficult circumstance that spurred us to change. (Really!) Here’s how.

1. What do you find unpleasant? Do you find it excruciating to take your child to the playground and push the swing? Find a way to make it fun for yourself. Connect more with your child, or use it as a sort of moving meditation. Do you find diaper changing unpleasant? Use this time to look into your baby's eyes and tell her how adored she is. Or just stop fighting with your toddler and change his diaper standing up. 

2. Notice the times each day that stress you. (Bedtime? Getting out of the house in the morning?) Write out a routine for that time of day that works for both you and your child. Post it, complete with photos for your child. Keep refining it until you can enjoy it stress-free. Make sure you include something you LOVE doing, whether that’s the bedtime snuggle or a family hug/blessing in the morning before you head out the door.

3. Accept “faults” as foibles by cultivating a sense of humor and affection about them. Research shows that couples who have been happily married for a long time have learned to see each other’s faults as endearing traits. What would it take for you to accept your child’s challenging behavior as just another endearing part of this wonderful small person you love so much? For example, you could see your child as stubborn, or you could appreciate that he never gives up, and learn to work with that. Cultivate a sense of humor, an awareness that she’s still growing and changing, a commitment to seeing things from her point of view, and an appreciation that weaknesses are the flip side of our strengths.

4. Redefine Productivity. If you try to "do it all," what matters most will probably fall off your list. Most of what's on your to-do list won't matter next year, or even next month. But those moments that make your heart melt with your child will matter for the rest of his life. Move them to the top of your to-do list, let go of your self-judgment, and learn to say No to lesser things.

5. Find the silver lining. Does your son do well at school all day but get ornery or melt down when you pick him up? He feels safe enough to bring all his pent-up emotions to you for healing at the end of the day, and he's learning how to handle his emotions in a healthy way from your empathy. Is your daughter strong-willed? You won't have to worry about peer pressure! There is always something to be grateful for, even in the hardest times. 

The real silver lining is that you're lucky enough to have this emerging human entrusted to your loving care, and every time you act with love you're stretching your own heart to let more love in. Ultimately, loving our children is what heals us. And that's what transforms everything.

Laura Markham, Ph.D., is the author of Peaceful Parent, Happy Kids: How To Stop Yelling and Start Connecting.

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