Know Thyself: The First Step to TRU, Enlightened Parenting

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know thyselfEveryone is always looking for the “one thing” that will change everything. We want to know what the secret of success in all aspects of life and relationships is. We want a “silver bullet” that will fix things. Well, this isn’t that. But, it is the first step to finding the customized answers to your personal problems and challenges, whether they are solutions to problems at home with the kids, at work or with some other individual issues you face.

So, brace yourself. Here it is. “Know thyself.

It’s so simple and yet so profound. It’s simple but not necessarily easy. When seeking solutions to problems that we perceive to be outside of our selves, we rarely look inward for resolution. We rarely recognize how foundational it is to all other growth, whether personal or relational. It is the foundation of TRU Parenting and TRU Living. I cannot effectively teach another if I don’t know who I am and what I know and believe. I cannot understand another person’s needs and build a strong relationship if I don’t understand what makes me tick. I certainly cannot work on upgrading myself if I do not know my strengths and weaknesses.

It more than what you “do”

When I teach parenting classes, I often ask at the beginning of class “why” everyone is there. Inevitably the first responses are always about learning tips and tricks to get there kids to clean their room or listen when they talk. They want to know the “techniques” that will change their kids’ attitudes and stop sibling rivalry. Parents want to know what to do to fix kids behavior. I always lead with the statement, “The sign of great parenting is not the child’s behavior. The sign of truly great parenting is the parent’s behavior.” I might add that TRU parenting seems to be more closely related to who and what you “are” that simply what you “do.” The effective techniques and actions seem to follow more naturally when we truly know ourselves and seek to strengthen who we are at the deepest levels.

How to “know thyself”

Okay, so we may never know ourselves perfectly, and honestly, some things may change throughout our lives, but the most important part is that we make a significant effort to evaluate ourselves; our past, our current standing and an honest look at where we’re going. The following 10 things will help you to make an honest evaluation. When we see things clearly we have the power to interact and change where needed.

10 Tools to Evaluate and Know Thyself

1. Know your emotions: Most of us rarely think about what we are feeling at any given moment. The only time we even recognize our emotions is if we are really angry or depressed and even then, we only observe our emotions in hindsight. We often react automatically in ways that we may regret later before we ever look at what we were feeling. When we increase our awareness of what we are feeling we become more capable of learning to sit with your emotions. We start to realize that our emotions are only a part of who we are and they do not have to dictate our actions. Use the following exercise to increase your awareness of your emotions, positive or negative.

Exercise: Take a moment each day to identify what you’re feeling. Ask yourself the following questions. What emotion am I feeling right now? How intense is it? (Rate your emotion on a scale from 1 – 10.) How does it feel in your body and where do I feel it? How long have I felt this way?

2. Know your triggers: Every one of us has our hot buttons. For instance, I know that anything involving hand tools often ends with me in a grumpy mood. I also know that when my kids leave the door open after I’ve spent 15 minutes swatting flies, it triggers irritation in me. Many parents experience extreme emotional reactions to back talk or when the kids fail to complete tasks they’ve asked them to do. It is never helpful to deny that those triggers exist. Again, by bringing them to the forefront we become capable of managing our responses and understanding the underlying internal struggles associated with our triggers and reactions. All of us have a natural fight or flight mechanism that is hardwired into our brains and neurology to help keep us safe. It is often closely related to our past experiences and subsequently can become over active sometimes. EMDR therapy can be a helpful and effective tool to help process our triggers and reactions in order to anticipate them and better manage them rather than allowing them to continue to control us.

Exercise: Ask your self the following questions. What events or actions often precede my anger or “flipping out?” What is it about those things that bother me so much?

3. Know Your Personality: What makes you you?How would you describe yourself to someone you have never seen or talked to before? What are your primary qualities and attributes? What is your “personal culture” so to speak? What would you say defines you? It’s important to realize that you cannot and will not always please everyone. Everyone is different and that is a wonderful thing.

Exercise: Take a personality test. There are various tests out there and some are more valid than others. The results of the test are only to help you better understand yourself, not to define everything about you. They can bring some insight about various parts of ourselves that maybe we have not seen before.

Enter your email below to get the “Know Thyself Worksheet” highlighting 7 more points (total of 10 tips and exercises) that will help you increase personal insight and allow you greater personal strength in your own actions and relationships.



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