Humans have a superpower. We use our superpower every day and it is part of why we have achieved all that we have as a species. You can use your superpower right now. Are you ready? Imagine your favourite food. Pause and really picture it in your mind’s eye – see exactly what it looks like. Imagine biting into it. Recall the taste, the texture, the flavour… Feeling hungry? Like eating your favourite food? Did you even notice your mouth begin to water? That is our superpower. You responded to food that is not there. You responded to your thoughts as if they were real. Your ability to respond to your thoughts as if they were real allows you to do incredible things. You can mentally place yourself in a situation that you’ve never been in before, explore what your reactions may be, and use this information to plan ahead. You can mentally place yourself in the situation of another, and use this to understand their reactions better. It is an awesome skill and one that you will use, as a parent, all the time. But all superpowers have a dark side… The dark side of this superpower is that we can become stuck. We can become stuck responding to our thoughts instead of responding to what is actually happening in our lives. This is doubly bad for parents because guess where our children are? They exist, not in our heads, but in our lives… The irony is that we can become so entangled with our thoughts about our children and about parenting that we miss our actual children entirely. The solution? Notice your thoughts for what they are…thoughts…and, good or bad, watch them come and go… Bring yourself back into the here and now of your life. Reconnect with what is actually happening, with what you can feel and sense right now with your physical body. Pause for a moment as you read this and actually do it:
- What can you hear? A lawnmower in the distance? A ticking clock?
- What can you see? Is it dark or light? Look around you and take in your surroundings.
- What can you feel in your body? Can you feel the pressure of your chair supporting your back and legs? The solid surface of the ground beneath your feet?
As thoughts bubble up notice this without getting caught in their pull. “Ah,” you might say to yourself, “I’m noticing the thought that…”
Apply it to your life: Notice times when you get stuck in your thoughts. Can you bring yourself back into the here and now with your life? What happens to your parenting when you are stuck living in your head? What happens to your parenting when you bring yourself back into the here and now of your life?