As my week of self parenting comes to a close, it’s time to reflect. So, how was it? How naturally did the techniques come to me? Was there any resistance or cynicism? And did it make a difference? Let’s start with discussing the first goal I set for myself: talking kindly to and being more gentle with myself.
Surprisingly, this technique is one I didn’t have to think about too much. I found it relatively easy to treat myself with respect and not get mad or frustrated when I didn’t conduct myself in the best possible way all the time. I found the best technique for me was saying “No…” quietly when I caught myself being harsh and self-critical and then finding things to counter the negative self talk. Something I’ve realised is that I’m more likely to talk about myself negatively around others. I had a slip-up the other day when I was talking to my boyfriend about work. I work in a hotel restaurant and I was explaining how I forgot to put someone’s order on the till “because I’m shit”. He told me not to say that about myself and I realised that the reason I’d done it was for comedic value. In a similar way to what my Dad used to do, actually. But it was okay because it was a “joke”. It took me years to realise that nasty jokes weren’t okay and that they can thinly mask malicious intent and an attack at someone’s sense of self. So why did I do that to myself? Because it has been reinforced in my brain to a certain extent – and this is where self parenting comes in. I do feel an overall lightness in being when I’m being gentle with myself, like I don’t have to add any extra weight to my shoulders and I can be a little bit carefree – like a happy child. It’s something I intend to implement for the rest of my life.
Next on my list of goals was self soothing. It feels a bit embarrassing to admit that I did sleep with a stuffed bunny almost every night this week but it was one of my intentions, after all! And yes, I enjoyed it! It felt really nice to have something to cuddle when my boyfriend wasn’t there and I found stroking the fur on the bunny’s ears really relaxing. There’s something about sleeping with a stuffed teddy that makes you feel really safe. I guess it’s because it reminds you of a time when it was someone else’s responsibility to look after you and you didn’t have to worry about money, college or work. That’s how I felt sleeping with a comforter – everything else fell away. Hugging myself is something else I did to self soothe this week. I’m starting a college course at the end of the summer and I have undergone a considerable amount of stress trying to get everything sorted and just when I thought everything was finalised – I received an email complicating things further. It was at this point I felt compelled to hug myself and tell myself that things were going to be okay. I felt a sense of release and decompression. It also felt more empowering than hugging another person for comfort because, at the end of the day, I am the one who solves the majority of the problems in my life; I am the one who puts my plans into action and moulds my fate. So it felt right to be coming to myself for comfort and reassurance because I have the power to make the changes necessary to bring about my happiness. I never expected to receive so much clarity from such a seemingly trivial action.
Now for the concept that I met with the most reluctance – “playtime”. I was pleasantly surprised at how much I enjoyed using a colouring book. The one in question is intended for adults and is quite intricate which made it feel less childish. I was a bit hesitant about the idea of using a colouring book because part of me viewed it as a “waste of time”. Why colour when I could be washing the dishes? Why colour when I could be working on a track or watching a YouTube video? Prioritising your time is a big aspect of being an adult so it’s no wonder that many of us forgo creativity and fun activities to make room for adult commitments. But this rigid mindset is perhaps why activities like colouring are so great. Whilst I really value routine – especially as someone who’s prone to depression – it’s also really important to try new things and be flexible. I think that’s what keeps you young. Constantly running over your schedule in your mind and being rigid with how you live is pretty damaging in my opinion. Really, colouring is just another opportunity for mindfulness and stopping the constant running of thoughts through your brain. It provides a well-needed break from inner chaos and you also get a feeling of fulfilment upon the completion of a picture, which is nice. Watching cartoons was another way I incorporated playtime into my life this week. Whilst colouring provided a form of relaxation and an opportunity for mindfulness, I found watching cartoons soothing in a similar way to sleeping with the comforter was. Again, I think this is because it reminded me of a time when I had less responsibilities and because of this it felt easy to switch off. As someone who works full time and lives alone, I have quite a lot of responsibilities for someone my age (21) and any opportunity I can get to switch off, I will take it gladly!
Eating healthily is something I managed to do pretty well as it’s something I do really regularly in my life already. I always make a big effort to eat at least 5 portions of fruit and vegetables a day, get at least 50g of protein a day and I also take multivitamins and cod liver oil supplements. I incorporated a lot of fruit and vegetables in my diet this week but I also allowed myself to indulge with some ice cream and a chip butty after a night out. I’m happy that I’m at a place in my life where indulging now and then doesn’t instil guilt or regret within me. I believe that it’s important to have balance in your life and that doesn’t mean vetoing “unhealthy” food forever. A quote I love is: Everything in moderation, including moderation.
To follow through with each of these intentions required self awareness. For the most part, I think I could’ve been more self aware. I encourage anyone who’s interested in exploring self parenting to visualise their intentions with phone reminders, post-it notes or even a cryptic note on your hand. These are things I could’ve done that would’ve ensured that I follow through with more zeal.
However, quite fittingly, next week’s topic is self awareness so it’ll be the perfect opportunity to learn how to be more proactive and watchful of my actions. As always, thanks so much for reading.
– SMUT. xxx ❤