When we are children up until the age of about 8 we are sponges. We just soak up information; how to behave, how to react, how to understand and express emotions, our belief systems and even our perceived limitations.
The skills and tools that we have to navigate our world, the ups and downs, the wins and challenges are set out in these foundational years and are predominantly learned through our parents or whoever was our main care
giver when we were children.
From the age of 8 onwards we begin to develop logic and critical thinking and will start to question things we see and that we experience, however the skills and understandings we learned in those formative 8 years will in most cases serve as a yardstick and a default position.
Louise Hay explained this very simply in her book ‘You Can Heal Your Life’. She said “We learn our belief systems as
very little children, and then we move through life creating experiences to match our beliefs”.
Re-parenting is learning the skills that you didn’t as a child. It’s about filling the gaps in your understanding,
your coping strategies and your awareness so that you can let go of limiting belief patterns, feel more aligned with who you are and begin to choose different ways to behave.
It’s important to recognise that re-parenting is not about placing blame, or passing judgement on your parents. Parents can only pass on the skills they themselves have, this is also the basis of what’s called generational trauma, a whole other topic that deserves it’s own
Growing up I wasn’t encouraged to look inward or to celebrate my interests or passions. Self care and self love wasn’t a thing, I was taught to be humble, to put others before myself and to treat others how I would want to be treated myself. Whilst these are valuable to understand as a child you take these things literally and see them as black and white. The result was that I played small and I became a people pleaser. I would do and be whoever I needed to in order to make someone happy or to make them love me, even if that was to my detriment. My boundaries were non existent and my relationship with myself was on the rocks.
As an adult at a time when I felt I had lost everything through poor choices and self sabotage I started spending
time reading self help books, going on courses and talking with therapists. This helped me learn a lot and fill in a few gaps, but it was only information, until I understood how to implement it and how it related to me specifically.
I began to explore my conditioning, my triggers and my limiting belief patterns. I could start to appreciate how they shaped my choices and my behaviours.
This allowed me to become consciously aware of my behavioural patterns, I saw how I had fed the loops I
was in. That small window of awareness was enough to allow me to make to create different outcomes by choosing different behaviours.
Traditionally speaking re-parenting is a therapy used by trained therapists whereby they play the role of the
parent and re-imagine or recall scenarios and in some cases re-experience the entirety of childhood (total regression therapy) and give the adult/inner child the response they needed at the time.
More recently the term is used by coaches and therapists to mean self re-parenting (you’ll find 5 steps to self
re-parenting below) and supported re-parenting whereby the coach or therapist can serve to uncover gaps or unresourceful understandings from childhood and facilitate the unlearning and relearning of resourceful information, skills and strategies. Importantly, the coach or therapist will support you in developing self awareness, self understanding and self appreciation.
The Holistic Psychologist Dr Nicole LePera suggests there are 4 pillars of re-parenting; Discipline, Joy, Emotional Regulation and Self Care. She suggests that these umbrella topics form the main areas where there may be gaps, outdated or misinformation in our understandings of ourselves. You can learn more about these pillars in more depth in Dr LePera’s video here.
The most important thing you can go into re-parenting with whether that is self re-parenting or with the support of a coach or therapist is an open mind. It sounds cliché but it can be deep and eye opening work so allowing yourself the space to explore without constrictions is vital.
If you are wanting to hit the ground running and start the re-parenting journey now, here are 5 steps to self re-parenting.
- Start with an open mind, as I’ve said this can be deep work and the best bed rock for that is openness. Allow yourself to explore, to become curious and take the objective standpoint.
- Do some background reading. There are so many blogs online that talk through re-parenting and support you if you choose to go it alone. Here are a few to look at Mel Robbins, Desiree Kaye, Holistic Psychologist.
- Build self trust and self discipline by choosing one small task that you can do everyday. This can be anything that you feel would enrich your life, support your mental health, give you joy or anything in between. The key though is to choose something achievable that has a small daily commitment to begin with as you are building up the habit. Several people choice meditation or mindfulness practice, I’ve worked with others who have taken up journaling (see step 4), it is up to you what you choose.
- Get yourself a journal and begin writing. If you aren’t sure how to start then using journal prompts is an accessible way to get started. You will find an abundance of re-parenting and other related journal prompts online. Try some and see how you get on.
- Appreciate that re-parenting is a journey, the work is never done as it forms part of your personal development and growth. We are always a work in progress because we are always learning, changing and adapting.