This week has been a sad one with one of my teen clients lost his Mum to the cancer she had been fighting since January. I’ve also been coaching two young boys whose Mums are being treated for breast cancer. I cannot begin to tell you how working with this makes you appreciate the goodness of life. Being in a state of gratitude is a habit worth cultivating. Being healthy is something we all take for granted. These Mums are strong and their main concern is that their boys will be able to cope with the emotional trauma of seeing a parent with a life threatening illness.
Emotional trauma when unprocessed creates illness. I believe that illnesses can be part caused in our body by emotional blockages. Negative emotion (grief, anger, sadness, guilt, shame) as an energy is then manifested in our physical bodies as a disease. I learnt this from Louise Hay’s book ‘You Can Heal Your Life’ which contains a useful dictionary of matching emotional trauma / blockages to body parts and illnesses.
Recently I had an abscess on my tooth which means:
Fermenting thoughts over hurts, slights and revenge. Can’t bite into anything anymore. Root beliefs being destroyed.
I see this all the time at my coaching clinic. Children are like sponges and absorb what emotions are going on around them – even the ones that don’t belong to them. I can honestly say that a majority of the children who come to coaching with anxiety have had emotional trauma in the family system in the first 18 months or so of their life. The one that pops up again and again is the death of a Grandparent which I guess makes sense as attachment would be hugely affected by grief. Parents who are grieving would struggle to be emotionally available to their child and that’s nobody’s fault. That’s life.
No emotions are bad – all emotions are allowed
Stuffing down, ignoring or blocking out emotions can be part of our programming. Especially if certain feelings were frowned upon when we were growing up. I know that anger often falls into this category. If you think it’s an ugly emotion, you are wrong. It’s probably one of our most helpful ways of knowing we need to listen to ourselves or our needs are going unmet. In coaching, I teach children how to process their emotions. I do this by getting them to draw a diagram of their bodies. On the right hand side we list our triggers. Emotions come in triggered by an event, person, place song etc. This creates a thought. It’s the thought that creates the feeling. The feeling then comes into our physical body in the form of energy. This is how we know we are feeling.
Emotional housekeeping is all part of healthy living
I ask children to draw each emotion as a different colour and where they feel it in their bodies. You would be surprised that children feel anger in the tops of their legs, or sadness right down to their toes. Anger is often red or black, sadness blue or grey and happiness yellow, pink or orange. They plot where each emotion is felt in their body. Some children do not have this awareness so it takes a while for them to get comfortable with it. Then it is our job to make sure it leaves (unless it’s happiness joy excitement or a positive emotion that makes us feel good). We know it has left when we no longer feel the energy of it in our body.
One of the biggest relievers of big bad scary feelings is a cuddle. Shortly followed by reassuring words, validation and approval. There are also the more traditional ways of ridding ourselves of negativity like exercise, punching pillows, journalling, drawing pictures, talking…..these are coping strategies that help our children grow up into emotionally intelligent, resilient well rounded adults.
Who gets to decide what makes a good Mum?
Your kids I reckon would be best placed to let you know about this and I’m sure they are full of nothing but lovely things to say about you.
What about you thought? How often do you feel as if your needs go unmet?
Or that putting your children first means that you are a good Mum?
Or that in deed, that putting yourself first is selfish? I”m not saying these Mums were responsible for their cancer but I do remember one of them saying to me that ‘self care was on her list of priorities now’ and that ‘it was her turn to come first for a change.’ Have you heard the one about the oxygen mask or read my blog ‘What have you done for you lately?’ They both highlight the importance of self care. When the Bank of Mum is overdrawn, resentment, frustration, anger, crankiness and general moodiness are all around us. Super Mum doesn’t have to be available 24/7 to be good at her job and there is no guilt or judgement here for a little bit of time out…..or a lot for that matter 🙂
Meditation is the equivalent of giving yourself a huge smile inducing hug
It has been proven that 10 Mindful Minutes a day can alter brain chemistry to literally fill us up with more love (oxytocin) and happiness (serotonin). Some children look at me as if I’ve grown another head. ‘What deep breathing and relaxing for 10 minutes a day will make me feel better?!’ they exclaim in disbelief. ‘Yes,’ I tell them, ‘Meditation is the equivalent of giving yourself a huge smile inducing hug.’ It’s easy and it’s free.
Meditation also helps regulate emotions and stay grounded. This is great for children who worry or over think as they have a tendency to live in their heads and not their physical bodies. They find it hardest to sit still in the silence. Take my client Matilda. When she first came to coaching she couldn’t sit still or talk fast enough to pour all the ugly thoughts and worries out of her head. My clients are all encouraged to use the Calm App at bedtime. Smiley’s prescription is 10 minutes for 30 days. Some parents join in too and this enhances connection between parent and child. The results are cumulative and they make a positive difference to how a child feels. Bye bye ants in your pants Matilda.
Don’t leave yourself at the bottom of the list
Make this promise to yourself and to your children. Role model good self care and watch your child’s self esteem rise.You matter and if you spend your days behaving in ways that say you don’t, then your child will grow up thinking that’s OK. It’s most certainly is not. Here are some quick-fix self care suggestions:-
- Free your life of toxic people
- Find time for yourself – little & often
- Have quiet or downtime to meditate if you can
- Exercise and get fresh air
- Change of scenery / try something new
- 15 minutes to bed early every night is a lot of extra zzzzs in a week
- Kindness & encouragement to yourself – forgive yourself for not always getting it right. we are humans, not robots
- Creativity & playfulness – remind yourself of what you liked to do as a child (see exercise below)
- Physical touch – sex, hugs, stroking the dog
- Nourishment – healthy diet and a little of what you fancy is fine (I wish I could do everything in moderation)
Get in touch with your mini me
Connecting with the child part of us gets to our very core. Find an old photo of yourself aged five. You have to have a photo and can’t rely on your imagination as you need to look into the eyes of a child and make that connection. The photo will trigger lots of different feelings in you. Then whilst looking at your photo, ask yourself the following questions:
1. How did this child like to play and what stops him / her from doing that now?
2. What would you say to this child to encourage him / her?
3. How would you protect this child?
4. How would you nurture this child?
5. What sort of life would you want for this child?
6. How does this child deserve to be treated emotionally?
7. What does this child need right now?
For me, being a good Mum is about knowing how to be a positive role model to your child. Sort your stuff out and you will be the best you can be for your child. If you are a happy Mum, the rest just falls into place.
Image credits: © Chris Boswell – Fotolia.com and © WavebreakmediaMicro – Fotolia.com