“Study the past if you would define the future.”
I have an (important) question for you.
How much do you believe that you are a ‘product of your past’?
I believe this is a very tough question. I believe we all like to think we are independent of our past–that we have created our current day reality.
Having studied both psychology and the concept of conscious parenting now for years, I have discovered that many of our beliefs (and actions) are products of unconscious patterns.
Spanking Is The Perfect Example
I was reminded of this when I saw the reaction to my recent article “When Is Spanking Acceptable” in which I explored whether or not spanking is an appropriate method of disciplining your child. The outpouring of comments and thoughts from all of you,( by the way, a BIG thank you all for being so engaged–we literally had hundreds of comments! ) really got me thinking about how our past affects us as parents.
Spanking is the perfect example.
Spanking reminds us of how we were raised, of how we were disciplined as children and ultimately has us thinking about what kind of parents we’ve become.
So today, I want to explore to what extent our individual parenting styles are influenced by the past. And more importantly, we’re going to look at exactly why each and every parent should examine and reflect on their past in order to be the best possible version of themselves for their children.
Why You Should Study Your Past
Whether we like it or not, our past–left unaddressed–will continue to haunt us in the present.
Here is a Psychology Today article which covers the 7 ways that childhood adversity changes the brain.
According to the article, one of the findings shows that if a child’s developing brain is chronically stressed then it can lead the hippocampus to shrink. As a consequence, adults who have faced these situations as children tend to over-react even to minor stressors.
It seems only logical therefore that if adult behavior can be shaped by stress and abuse during childhood, then adult behavior can also be shaped by behaviors witnessed as a child.
However this does NOT mean that what type of person–or parent–you are today is ‘set in stone’ by patterns or triggers seeded early in your own childhood.
It is possible to consciously change those patterns so you can free yourself from the negativity of the past and emerge a better, happier person and a more loving parent.
What is Conscious Parenting?
Let me explain the concept of conscious parenting.
Our belief here at the Jai Institute is that by the time you are an adult and have children, your brain has already been set up to respond to certain situations and stressors in certain ways.
When you’re in a stressful situation, maybe you’re someone who stays very calm and quiet, hiding your feelings. Or conversely, you get blinded by panic and turn around in circles.
When you are required to be authoritative, maybe you step into that challenge naturally. Or you shy away, worried that you might be perceived to be too ‘strong-willed’.
Wherever you are on the continuum, one thing is crystal clear. From a very early age, your brain has been programmed to react a very certain way to particular settings or situations.
But here’s the good news: just because your neural pathways are all set up, doesn’t mean it necessarily has to define your future behaviors.
When it comes to parenting, at the Jai Institute we consider our go-to ( or default) behavior as “unconscious parenting”. These are a set of beliefs and actions you take as a parent which come naturally to you and which you have no control over.
With our program, we show you how to transform those unconscious actions by shining a flashlight on them–becoming CONSCIOUS about them. Conscious parenting therefore is the process of becoming aware of what your reactions are and to make a conscious choice to change them.
We call ourselves “Brain Sculptors” ( a term borrowed from the Center for Nonviolent Education and Parenting). Think of your neural pathways as a track you follow when you’re skiing. Well our job is to deviate those tracks to new, friendly, and positive terrain.
The Quantum Mindshift
Now I hear you ask: that sounds easy enough, but how do I actually go about changing my behavior in practice?
I’d love to share with you today one of our exercises that we use here at the Jai Institute called The Quantum Mindshift.
This is a deeply transformational 20 minute meditation to help you focus your energy and allow you to understand your unconscious feelings that no longer help you as a parent.
This meditation incorporates relaxation techniques, advanced studies in brain science, and symphonic sounds that can help you relax and shift your mindset.
Take a listen here to get started.
In conclusion, as Confucius says, it’s time to take a good hard look at your past in order to define the kind of person you want to be. Make the conscious choice to be the best parent you can be.
Excited to learn more? Check out our coaching program where you’ll not only be able to learn more about conscious parenting, but you’ll also have a chance to earn serious money from teaching other parents to do the same.