“Whatever they grow up to be, they are still our children, and the one most important of all the things we can give to them is unconditional love. Not a love that depends on anything at all except that they are our children.” -- Rosaleen Dickson
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Healing our ability to love unconditionally requires daily practice. Most of us don't wake up overflowing with love every morning. So each day we start over. Managing our moods. Finding ways to reconnect with the deep springs inside that replenish us. Choosing love.
Research shows that certain habits do rewire our brains. Habits like meditation, exercise, feeling gratitude, and serving a higher good actually change our bodies and brains so that over time we can regulate ourselves better emotionally. (Our immune systems work better, too!)
And every time we stop ourselves from sliding into a "parent tantrum," we're building our ability to self-soothe so we can stay centered. The only catch? These habits have to be "practiced" daily.
That's a big commitment. But so worth it, because we become more mindful. Then, in those moments when our blood starts to boil, we can more easily keep our emotions from hijacking us. Daily practice is what builds heart muscle, so we're more able to choose love.
But why wait? You can start choosing love right now. Nothing has to be different for you to love yourself exactly as you are.
I know you're not perfect. (You're human, right?) When your child is at his worst is when he most needs your compassionate understanding. And when you're most ashamed of yourself is when you most need your own compassion.
So don't wait for perfect. Just do your best and take it one step at a time. Forgive yourself for your mistakes -- that's part of being human. Loving unconditionally means it's not all about us. It's not even all about our child. It's all about love.
There is no such thing as a perfect parent. But it is entirely possible to gradually become more of the parent you want to be. After all, you have live-in teachers and 24/7 lessons! Use your mistakes to your advantage. They aren’t mistakes if you learn from them, they’re life lessons in your parenting PhD. That’s why spiritual masters call it a Practice. At first, it seems impossible. But it's like playing the piano. In the beginning, scales are a challenge. But if you practice every single day, in a year you can play a sonata.
Just keep practicing, bringing awareness to every interaction, finding that moment of freedom between the stimulus (your child's behavior) and your own reaction.
Noticing is what gives you a choice next time. The miracle of one foot in front of the other, in the right direction, is that one day you look around, and all the scenery is different.
Enjoy the journey. I'm honored to accompany you for this stretch.