Last Tuesday I went to see psychotherapist and author Philippa Perry as part of the Edinburgh Book festival. I don’t know if you’ve read her book, “The Book You Wish Your Parents Had Read (and your children will be glad that you did)”? It’s probably one of the only parenting books I recommend at the moment.
In general, I have an issue with parenting books. Sometimes they can give us too much information. The can make us feel anxious and that we are failing our children because we aren’t parenting them in a specific way and because we aren’t perfect. There are lots of different parenting approaches out there but apart from parenting with complete love, so many different approaches can make us feel very inadequate and anxious.
Why I really like her book and her approach is it’s all about working with our children’s feelings and she talks a lot about rupture and repair (i.e. when we get it wrong how we can repair it). She discusses working with our kids to identify that there may be feeling overwhelmed or feeling sad or angry about something or joyful or excited… so it’s working through the words and working with the feelings they are expressing. Once we’re tuned into the feelings, having that moment of connection, validating their feelings and come up together with a solution for whatever issue they are struggling with.
I really liked that approach. It’s interesting, however, because I do think that we as mums rarely do that. My experience, with women is we become overwhelmed with our feelings – we don’t really know what they are often, but they boil over into fits of rage, despair, tears, meltdowns, arguments. How often do you ever say to yourself – how am I feeling? How often do you validate your feelings (i.e. it’s no wonder that situation caused you to feel upset)? How often do you look for solutions to make things better next time?
We go round our every day life on autopilot, we go around ignoring how we feel, not validating our feelings – thinking they are silly/ridiculous etc, getting angry with ourselves for feeling those feelings, never really looking for improvements or giving ourselves a break.
And here’s my point… we aren’t equipped to support our children when we ourselves don’t look after our own feelings. It’s one of the things that is helping the women that I’m working with in our community group, Overcome the Overload. One of the members recently said that she wasn’t on autopilot anymore and how helpful she was finding it to voice her feelings, helpful to unpack what it was that she was feeling and that helped her then to process what was happening and then make changes.
One of the primary tools we are using is EFT. I became interested in EFT when I was recovering from PND/postnatal anxiety as it’s a really helpful approach because it works directly with those feelings and those reactions in the body. These might be knots, heart palpitations, discomfort, unease, tension, blocks, tightness, butterflies etc. EFT is a somatic approach by working with the feelings in the body and that’s why it’s so helpful at working with what’s triggering those feelings. Taking that moment to actually tune in to how you are feeling, how often do you do that? I don’t believe we often do that. I believe that that’s when you get out of balance is by never really recognising how you feel.
I believe once we are able to support our OWN FEELINGS and have a very structured approach to it as well as being much more insightful – we are much able then to support our children. This work is important at creating change. When we feel better as mums, this ripples out to our children, families, partners, communities and society.
If you’re interested in supporting your wellbeing as a mum, then join our Overcome the Overload community which is reopening again in September. If you would like more information about that then do feel free to get in touch and I’m really happy to help you. Alternatively, you may be interested in some one to one parent coaching or EFT support. In the meantime, you can get access to these videos which will help you to feel calmer by clicking here.
Much love, Tricia xxx