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Welcome back to The Unconditional Love Challenge. For those of you just joining me here is a little background on what this challenge is all about: Inspired by Dr. Laura at Aha Parenting, I have created The Unconditional Love Challenge. This is a 10 part challenge based on Dr. Laura's series on Ten Steps to Unconditional Love. I will be posting challenges and results on the 1st and 3rd Monday of each month giving you two weeks to tackle each step. You can work as quickly or as slowly as needed.
Got it? Good!
Two weeks ago I issued a challenge designed to help you forgive yourself for being HUMAN and therefore imperfect. Moving through this challenge is critical as it sets the base for the rest of the challenges. So if you have not yet worked through that challenge or feel like there is still work to be done, by all means, stop and take the time you need to make sure that you have done some serious personal forgiveness.
I really loved the first challenge. I am a perfectionist born and raised. I get caught up in the “all or nothing” approach to mothering more often than not. And if something does not go perfectly (in my eyes) I really get down on myself as a mother. I have really been working on this for the past year because as I discovered, mothering a 2 year old does NOT allow for perfection. Ha! You all know what I am talking about.
Anyway, one area that I continue to struggle with is silencing the internal chatter. That internal chatter…she is a mean one too! The other area I needed some improvement in was not catastrophizing everything. I live in the future and the future is a little bleak in my mind at times. I like to worry over things for some reason. At least I don't live in the past right??? (See – positive thinking at work!)
I really took these two weeks to be especially conscious of the content of my inner dialogue. For the first few days I simply listened. Honestly, I did not like what I heard most of the time. Yes, I did have moments where I gave myself a pat on the back really, my internal chatter was a downer. Sheesh. I never knew. For 10 days I made the conscious effort to shut that inner chatter DOWN! And guess what, not only was I able to successfully able to do sure but my internal chatter has become a lot more palatable. In fact, I was able to give myself quite a bit of credit for what I AM doing as a mother. Yay me!
Not catastrophizing was a little more difficult. My health issues and Tiny's health issues are a big downer so it is hard to get out of that space in my head. If I did not worry over our long term health I wouldn't be human. And remember the premise of this challenge? To acknowledge that I am HUMAN and therefore imperfect! In any event, I did work on not worrying over the little stuff and instead I stayed present in the moment at hand. It felt good. Real good. And honestly, Tiny saw the difference. She even said “I like you here real bad” which is Tiny-speak for “I like that you are here with me and not mentally somewhere else, worrying about things you have no control over.” Sweetness.
Ready for your next challenge??? I sure am!
Challenge #2 – Unconditional love is like a muscle. It needs a daily workout.
As usual, you can read Dr. Laura's original post here.
This challenge has a VERY simple premise. Treat yourself and everyone else with compassion. Dr. Laura says: If you could choose compassion in every interaction with everyone, including yourself, you'd be enlightened by the end of the month.
So how do you go about doing this? Basically, you need to let go of negative feelings, especially anger and judgment. I know, easier said than done.
I have written a lot about anger, especially as it relates to parenting. I won't reinvent the wheel here and there is a lot of food for thought in what I have already written. Here are some posts that you might wish to revisit:
- Mad, Pissed, Incensed, Enraged, Furious, Outraged, Irate, Fired Up, and Livid – The Angry Parent Phenomenon
- Anger in Parenting – Consider the Impact
- Anger in Parenting – Ways of Reconnecting
- Anger In Parenting – Addressing Your Anger
- Unrealistic Expectations as Parental Anger Triggers
Judgment is ridiculously tricky. Honestly, can you get through one day without making a single judgment? Parents are judging themselves, other parents, their children, their friends, family, etc… constantly. It is simply a matter of what our culture has become. We are a VERY judgmental group of human beings these days. It has not done us any favors.
My challenge to you is to stop and reflect on your anger and your judgment of yourself and others. When and why do you react and judge?
Instead of reacting harshly and out of a place of anger, can you soften your response and try to better match it to the situation?
Instead of judging can you seek to better understand the behavior?
Keep a small journal logging your responses so you can better understand your triggers. Then take the next step and do the heavy lifting. Change your reaction to be one overflowing with warmth and compassion. You will be pleasantly surprised at how the universe changes in response.