I have found great value in taking care of myself in the same manner as I would like to take care of my future children.
For example, I use this style of communication to encourage myself to act and grow without the use of ‘discipline’ or ‘willpower’, without extrinsic positive or negative reinforcement, without denigrating myself or causing resentment of any type, and without denying my feelings in any way. Instead, I have found a way to encourage myself to grow while simultaneously treating myself with total compassion.
Moreover, I believe that this style is more effective than methods of motivation that rely on, for example, spite directed at yourself or others. When we truly feel comfortable, the desire to improve is natural— no antagonism required, no debt incurred.
I do this by treating myself as if I am my own child, by trying to be the best parent I can be to myself. Specifically, I use the communication philosophy described in How to Talk So Kids Will Listen & Listen So Kids Will Talk.
This book covers the following skills:
- How to truly acknowledge a child’s emotions
- How to constructively express your feelings to a child
- How to encourage a child to cooperate
- How to encourage a child to grow and become more independent over time
- How to effectively praise a child
- And, notably, how to do all of the above in ways that don’t cause hurt feelings, don’t necessitate the use of punishment, and don’t feel clumsy and awkward. Overall, the framework feels strongly elegant to me.
While I do fully intend to raise my children in this way, I have found this communication style to be useful not just in interactions with children, but in interactions with other adults, with romantic partners, and with myself. I am working to integrate this more deeply into my general habits.
If you read it, I suggest that you ignore the actionable advice that the book provides for specific situations. Instead, pay attention to the intentions behind this advice. The stories included are my favorite aspect of the book, and a few made me cry.
Note that I don’t believe that the authors intended their book to apply beyond the parent-child relationship, so it does require some effort to remember to translate the book’s philosophy for these other situations.
© 2020 – 2022 Chris Lakin