These 8 mindful parenting exercises help parents develop self-compassion. Also includes the 5 A’s to mindful loving and the SBNRR mindful techniques.
- Stop: This is the most important step. Instead of becoming wrapped up in the emotion or making an impulse decision, just stop. Decide to take a moment.
- Breathe: Take a deep breath. This helps clear your mind, as well as helps physiologically calm down your brain.
- Notice: Notice what you’re experiencing on a moment to moment basis. What are you feeling in your body? What emotions are you experiencing? Is it static or is it changing? Does the emotion seem out of proportion compared to the trigger?
- Reflect: What’s causing the emotion? Is it the right response? Is a part of you feeling attacked, belittled or threatened? Is there a story to the experience you’re having?
- Respond: Think of all the different courses of actions you can take. Consider the kindest, most compassionate way to respond to the situation (even if you don’t take that path.) Finally, make a conscious decision on how to respond.
ATTENTION refers to be being aware of others, being aware of ourselves and being the focus of someone’s loving attention. Caretakers are often very good at being aware of others, but they are very lacking in being aware of their own needs and wants. In addition, Caretakers don’t expect others to give them loving attention. Too often Caretakers form their primary relationship with someone who expects to get all the attention and give little in return. For many Caretakers, getting attention feels unsafe because the self-focused partner tends to give the Caretaker their attention only when s/he has a complaint, is angry or looking for someone to blame.
ACCEPTANCE means being seen with mercy, love, respect and understanding. In order to be intimate, we have to feel safe, accepted, relaxed and worthy. Are you getting these things in your relationships? If you are feeling anxious, needy, wary, self-conscious or intimidated, you are not receiving the acceptance that you need to function. That lack of acceptance may be coming from others and/or it may be coming from yourself. Acceptance of yourself is what gives you self-confidence, good self-esteem, hope, and deservability. Acceptance from others gives you a sense of stability, safety and calmness.
APPRECIATION is essential to our feeling loved and accepted. Too often we don’t give others the appreciation that would make the relationship feel fulfilling. Acknowledging our gratitude and validating the efforts of others on our behalf cements good relationships. If we feel undeserving or don’t give ourselves appreciation, it can end up being very difficult to give it to others. Most anger, hurt and resentment in relationships comes from a lack of, and a need for, more appreciation. Appreciating yourself and appreciating others makes us feel good and increases our love and connection to others.
AFFECTION comes from the word “affect” or feeling. As humans we need emotional, spiritual and physical affection. Infants who don’t receive affection can die. Affection includes the three keys of attention, acceptance and appreciation, but it also requires some direct behaviors that show us the proof of these things. Affection is often a code word for sex, but there can be sex with no affection whatsoever.
ALLOWING means letting yourself and the other person be who you are. Too many rules, requirements and expectations push us into becoming who others need us to be rather than being ourselves. Allowing means that we don’t try to control the other person, and we don’t allow the other person to control us. We don’t deny the individuality of either person. Allowing has many similarities to acceptance. We don’t try to change the other person’s feelings, or force them into doing things they find intolerable or humiliating, we don’t try to change their personality or beliefs, or blame them or judge them for mistakes or differences. Allowing is the essence of unconditional love.
How do you think things might change if you responded to yourself in the same way you typically respond to a close friend when he or she is suffering? This exercise walks you through it.
This exercise will allow you to keep your heart open and help you care for and nurture yourself at the same time you’re caring for and nurturing others.