Mindful Parenting and Positive Self-Concept
By Jen Armstrong
(Original article here.)
Mindfulness is something that has really helped me as an individual who spends most of her time, as many of us do, worrying about some insignificant thing that is coming in the future, or might have happened in the past. Of course, some of these things we need to address as if we don’t, we might make those mistakes again, but many of the things we worry about are things we conjure up in our heads and through thinking about them we exacerbate them to a staggering degree.
Going back to my studies of social psychology, and the psychology of identity and knowing oneself is a good place to start. I learnt a lot during the time I spent studying for my masters. We develop a self-concept of ourselves, and are constantly trying to ensure that, in our minds, we are the person who we believe we are. This is an ok concept in isolation, however, when your self-concept is a negative one, this can be a very self-destructive process.
There’s that typical saying ‘we are our harshest critics’. This is true and very relevant to this point because of the need for our own selves to ensure we are constantly bettering ourselves. The way to do this is to consistently hone in on the negatives we view within ourselves. It's almost like trying to hate those things in order to ensure we expel them from our existence and reality.
The way I think of it is that we have two sides of our brain, which are separated simply into the positive and negative brain. I think that every time we do/say something negative, or have a negative thought this allows a big tick to appear on the negative side of our brain, which tells us 'yes I am that negative, thoughtless, stupid, ugly etc.. person that I always thought I was'. This continues the downward spiral of the existence of a negative self-concept.
But returning to the issue of a negative self-concept, the problem is that we are always trying to better ourselves, which is or is not a healthy process. We are also telling ourselves that these negative thoughts are within our reality, which then makes them become our reality.
We force ourselves to become our negative self-concept.
So how to overcome this?
Being mindful and aware. Enjoying the things around you that you won't have noticed before.
Although it might sound a bit airy-fairy and hippy, but, for me, I have never enjoyed the sound of the birds like I do now, or seeing someone help another human being when its not totally necessary…they could always ‘walk by on the other side’ -metaphorically speaking.
Looking out a window of a bus and just observing life go by. The sheer diversity of us all is a beautiful thing
Music is also a massive mindful practice for me. It’s a great method as it's not always easy to get yourself into the mindful, 'just being in the present' mind-set, but music has helped me a lot to induce the feeling. If you think in terms of Sound being one of the 5 Elements then this is not at all surprising.
Smiling at things, seeing children making mistakes while they learn. Smiling at people, looking down and not conversing is not natural to the social beings that we are. No one is going to hit you or be angry with you for simply acknowledging them and saying hello, it will only make you and them feel better.
Look at someone's face sitting across the tube from you and wonder, what is their story? I wonder how they are feeling right now or where they are going. Approach them if you feel comfortable to. If you want to compliment someone or say something nice, don't hold back, even if it is a stranger, what is there to loose?
Positive thoughts and interactions with others are so easy to come by. Make them your reality. As the more positive thoughts you have about yourself, the more you will build a positive self-concept, and reverse any prior negative self-concept and identity you may have believed about yourself.
'Positivity breeds positivity'