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As we grow into adulthood the effects of our childhood become more apparent. Many find talents and skills that emerge from their genetics and upbringing. This is the time to enjoy those gifts even more. But, for many of those same people, between age 40-50 a self-discovery period begins. The mainstream calls it a mid-life “crisis”. The spiritual community calls it a “transition period”. This period can be a tough realization that they’re the product of toxic parenting.
So, why does it take so long to notice? The reasons are important to know. Unless an individual has suffered extreme childhood trauma, such as sexual or other violent abuse—they will continue into adulthood with the belief that their childhood was “normal” or at least, not abusive. This is because toxic parenting isn’t against the law. Not until recent decades did therapists effectively address the subtle gap between healthy upbringing and fully fledged abuse. This is where toxic parenting resides.
The good news is there’s hope
There is hope offered that does not entail psychotherapy or drugs to heal the situation. It’s taken decades for the mindfulness and self-help movements to really get noticed in this arena. Now, it’s unstoppable. This is largely due to a population that is openly frustrated with a broken healthcare system and the shortcomings of allopathic medicine—it’s great for physical trauma but not so much for anything lessor than. People wanted alternative and sought it through the internet and other less mainstream channels. What they’ve found is a way to heal without shame; using a treatment that offers a high rate of efficacy.
The practice of mindfulness can be executed in many forms. Typically, it’s done as a meditation. In the case of healing the effects of toxic parenting, mindfulness as an “on the spot” meditation is an effective way to perform it. We’ll give you a sample practice exercise so that you can actually experience the tip of the iceberg and see that it’s nothing to fear but everything to embrace. Mindfulness meditation takes guidance, research and training for your particular parental issues but having an idea that you can practice and feel is helpful.
How mindfulness works
Here we’ll go through the basics of mindfulness and how you might use it to heal past parental issues. Mindfulness is just what it states—to be mindful. This is a static definition—it’s what one stays mindful of that will change. When you perform mindfulness, you don’t have to set aside quiet time to have a meditation in order to dig into the subject. There are techniques like that, but we want to make this easy for someone who has no experience with mindfulness or even meditation for that matter. It makes the process a bit less challenging to execute and much more palpable.
The process will be done at the onset of a feeling. The feelings that are the most prominent and debilitating are the ones that are possibly from childhood. As soon as the feeling is experienced, is when you must quiet yourself and do the exact opposite. So, what about the logistics of this process? Obviously, if you’re at work or home with the family and busy all day it’s hard to stop to use the restroom much less dive into a meditation. But, now that you’re aware of what needs to be done and you’re better able to think in terms of sitting somewhere for a few minutes to process. When you’ve had some training and gotten the hang of it—you’ll be able to write the feeling down and revisit it at times when you’re very busy.
Steps to your first mindfulness session with yourself
- In the morning, as a beginner, you’ll prepare for the rest of the day. Sit quietly in bed, in a chair or in the shower—anywhere you can be alone for 3-5 minutes. Tell yourself to be mindful of any feelings that come up that are notable.
- As you go about your day, when any situation comes up where you are lacking confidence or feeling angry, anxious or ashamed etc. Go somewhere while the feeling is still fresh. Realistically the bathroom, an office if you have one, or the car. These, are some of the most common places people use at the beginning.
- Sit with yourself and quite the mind. Start by talking to the feeling and ask it the pertinent question. “Why are you here?” Then, silence and do nothing but “feel”. That means letting the feeling run through you without resistance and without becoming anxious to get an answer—this takes time.
- Then, after a few moments have gone by, ask the next question. “When was the last time I felt this way?” Again, don’t sweat the answer.
- After a few moments have gone by ask the final question. “When was the first time I felt this way?”
End of process. Now, you should be able to walk away with or without an immediate answer. The answer may come up at that moment, or, a few hours or days from when you started. This is normal. Essentially, you’ve told your brain to scan the past for the answer.
It’s important to note that if the problem event happened prior to age 8, especially prior to age 5 you may only get the answer in the form of another emotion. If the event happened after age 8 you may receive an actual memory. This happens due to the way we process events at those ages.
Continue this process until a memory or another feeling is present. Then follow these steps to mindfully release them.
- Talk to that emotion. It is not necessary to know the exact event or the exact time. Your subconscious knows. No need for psychotherapy here. Tell it that you are totally present with it. Tell it that you accept it for what it is.
- Next, tell it that there is no need to feel anxious about that feeling and that it is welcome to integrate with you.
That is all you need to practice until the feeling is gone. It will go after integration. The problem is that we resist and the feeling tries to be noticed and integrated for the whole of our lives. Mindfulness is the way to true freedom.