I’ve gone back to thinking recently about the idea of ‘being your own parent’. It’s an idea I came to a few years back when my life was totally out of balance and I realised that the only person who could regulate my behaviour – and therefore my constant ups and downs – was me! There are various articles around about managing your diet, sleep, approach to work etc, that as a growing child, a parent does for us and adopting these types of boundaries for ourselves is where it starts. There are other articles around learning to love yourself, and it’s kind of the same thing, just still using the ‘parenting’ analogy.
As I thought more about it all those years ago, I realised that the little voice in my head was not helpful, you know the one: “you should be working harder”, “you could have done that better” etc. I just ended up pushing myself too hard and being super-busy or being exhausted and feeling rubbish! I would never talk to a child that I loved like that, so why was I talking to myself like that?! I wrote down all the things that, in my head, a perfect parent would do for their child, and it looked something like this:
I decided to try to be my own perfect parent. I cut down not the amount to chocolate and cake I ate, started going to bed when I’m tired rather than continuing to watch something I don’t even like on the TV! As the years have gone by, I’ve learnt to say ‘No’ to things that I don’t want to do, I diarise time to rest and time to play, I encourage myself to work towards the bigger goal when things feel difficult, and when I make a mistake, I don’t instantly criticise myself. Obviously, I’m no-one’s perfect parent, but by pausing to consider whether my comments and attitude towards myself would be helpful or harmful to a small child, I’m learning to be healthier, be happier, and have a more confident approach to life.