Lots of mums I know rush into getting their children professional help as soon as they see any signs of anxiety or low self-esteem. I get it. Of course, we just want the best for our child’s mental health.
However, don’t underestimate your Mother-Power to lead your family to wellness. Think of it as pack dynamics if you like, where you’re the leader of the pack. And as leader of the pack, it’s not about DOING something to give your kids resilience. It’s about BEING that counts.
Because we’re animals. As mammals, we can’t fake it to our pack, our kids; we can’t lie. They KNOW on an instinctive animal level how we’re feeling. Cells in the brain called mirror neurons produce an empathetic (mirror) response in those around us. So, if you're looking at your kids and thinking there’s something wrong with them, ask yourself how you’re feeling.
Want to power up on your pack leadership?
Step 1: Be responsible for how you’re being.
The moment we take full responsibility for our state of being, we gain extraordinary power. BE the way you want your family to be – calm? Relaxed? Positive? It’s easy to blame our state on things outside of us – the inattentive husband, the ‘difficult child’, financial circumstances…
If we really want to lead our pack, this blame game just doesn’t cut it. What’s more important to you? Having something else to blame for how you’re feeling, or creating an environment in which your pack can thrive? Remember, it’s not about showing them. It’s about being it.
Step 2: Empower your kids to choose.
I see many adults pandering to the sense of powerlessness in their children, encouraging it, without even realising they’re doing so. If we run around inadvertently giving power to our kids’ anxiety, depression etc., we’re creating an environment in their brains (and our own), where these emotions become, quite literally, physiological addictions.
You can’t make the choice to be happy for anyone other than yourself, not even your own child. However, by showing them that they have the power to make that choice for themselves, you’re giving them an extraordinary gift.
Step 3: Give yourself permission to let go.
Watch unwanted feelings arise in yourself and simply let them go. Surrender them; it’s as simple as that. There’s no need to judge them, or even understand why we’re feeling them or where they come from. Just let them go.
I’m not talking about suppressing feelings. No. When we suppress feelings, we become like a pressure cooker. The feelings get stronger and more intense. When you let go instead, you are letting go of thousands of thoughts which belong under the umbrella of that feeling. You’re peeling the onion, layer by layer. It’s a process. Be patient with yourself here.
NEVER, EVER underestimate the influence you can have on your children and family through your own state of being. Before you go looking for a treatment for your child’s mental health issue, transform yourself and, as Gandhi so famously said: “BE the change you want to see in the world.” If you still need help , ask for it. Just be sure to start with you. BE the leader of your pack.