I have a wonderful book called, Growing Up Again: Parenting Ourselves, Parenting our Children, by Jean Illsley Clarke and Connie Dawson.
As a mother of two, I often reference this book to remind myself of the developmental tasks of each age, and some typical behaviors which come with different stages of life. To know that the temper-tantrum of my three year old is caused by an onslaught of confusing emotions which she is unable to name and control at this time in her life, helps me be patient and loving during these stressful moments, instead of frustrated and angry with her lack of cooperation. It helps me to remember that affirming, rather than criticizing, gives the child the right to simply be where they are in each stage of development.
It strikes me that some aspects of therapy as an adult mirror the stresses of childhood development. In therapy, confusing emotions may surface unexpectedly. They may, in fact, be what brings us into counseling or therapy. Things are different and we don’t know how to work with what we are confronting. Unable to name and control changes, new feelings and awareness, we are sometimes unable to “cooperate” with the process. We need to be where we are in the moment. These moments take the same patience and love for ourselves that a parent needs to access when parenting a child. How helpful it can be to affirm our right to simply be where we are in our own journey, instead of criticizing our perceived inability to be in a better place.
Included in the book is a list of some affirmations that I think are relevant both for childhood development as well as the journey in therapy and thru life. Saying these affirmations to ourselves or meditating on one of them can help us accept ourselves more deeply and allow space for our feelings and experiences to be. Acceptance, patience and love is what is needed for healthy growth, transformation and change. These affirmations are good reminders of a caring stance that we can take with ourselves, our partners, family, friends and our children.
- I’m glad you are (I am) alive.
- You (I) belong here.
- What you (I) need is important to me.
- I’m glad you are you (I am me).
- You (I) can grow at your (my) own pace.
- You (I) can feel all of your (my) feelings.
- I love you (myself) and care for you (myself) willingly.
- You (I) can do things as many times as you (I) need to.
- You (I) can know what you (I) know.
- I’m glad you are (I am) starting to think for yourself (myself).
- You (I) can say no and push and test limits as much as you (I) need to.
- You (I) can think and feel at the same time.
- It’s okay for you (me) to be angry, and I won’t let you (me) hurt yourself (myself) or others.
- You (I) can know what you (I) need and ask for help.
- You (I) can be powerful and ask for help at the same time.
- You (I) can learn the results of your (my) behavior.
- All of your (my) feelings are okay with me.
- I love who you are (I am).
- You (I) can think before you (I) say yes or no and learn from your (my) choices.
- You can trust your intuition to help you decide what to do.
- You can find a way of doing things that works for you.
- You can learn when and how to disagree.
- You can think for yourself and get help instead of staying in distress.