Most of us tell ourselves to just get over "it" and be happy, be relaxed. We tell ourselves things like "focus on the positive", "stop being so sensitive", "just ignore those thoughts", "stop making a big deal out of nothing". This sends a message to the part of our psyche that is experiencing shadow emotions that it's not valid, loved, and accepted. The result is that the shadow part feels further isolated and unsupported, and then the shadow emotion is more likely to persist.
When we shift to a perspective of self-acceptance and give the shadow part of the psyche the message that it's valid and we accept and love it just like the other parts of the psyche, then the shadow part will eventually relax and feel seen, heard, and supported. Then we are more likely to naturally integrate that part and not get stuck in an inner conflict.
As a metaphor - I sometimes give the example of the little boy, Billy, that pouts at school. When the teachers tell him to stop pouting, he digs his heels in deeper and pouts with greater resolve. He feels judged and negated.
Then when the teachers tell him something like - "Billy, you do such a great job of pouting. Will you be the class pouter? Everyday, when you come in, will you sit in this chair and pout for us. You do it so well. We want to honor you and this ability of yours." Billy says "sure, I can do that!" and then because he feels embraced, he feels safe. Then he naturally moves out of the pouting.
So, the idea of this self-parenting exercise is to practice being the supportive teacher, or parent or best friend that tells you that you're loved and accepted unconditionally. It may be challenging at first to make the shift, but if you have the intention to make the shift and practice becoming more aware of what you're saying to yourself, it eventually becomes effortless.
Self parenting is an important skill and one that I routinely talk with my clients about in my homeopathic practice. It can be especially helpful when a client is in stage five of their healing process (merging with the shadow) and they are working with homeopathic remedies that have to do with abandonment trauma and negation - such as Natrum Muriaticum (heartbreak and loneliness after having been left behind), Nitricum Acidum (being excluded, left behind by people/parts of the psyche that don't want to deal with suffering), Aurum Metallicum (low self-esteem, perfectionism, no one will love you if you're depressed), and Lycopodium (low self-esteem, being left behind by the "in crowd", the beautiful people who only hang out with winners.)
Of course, there are many times in the healing journey when self- parenting is not the optimal approach and other strategies or exercises are more effective. The overall gist, however, is that we're striving for self-acceptance - so we don't leave parts of ourselves behind. Self-acceptance helps us move through homeopathic remedy states and towards greater physical and emotional health.
The dialogue below is one of many examples of what your inner dialogue might sound like when you're starting out. It doesn't have to sound like this... This is just one of many examples of what an inner dialogue might sound like.
Wounded part of the psyche (wp) - I'm miserable. I hate feeling this way.
Self parenting part of the psyche (spp) - I see that you're miserable. Tell me about how you're feeling.
wp - I hate this. I hate feeling this way. This is awful. When will I feel better? I want to feel better.
spp - I'm here with you. Tell me more about how you're feeling. I want to know more.
wp - I don't want to tell you. I just want to feel better. When will I feel better?
spp - hmm... yes, I see you're feeling really awful. You want to feel better. I'm here with you. I see how awful you're feeling.
wp - I don't want to feel this way. Stop making me talk with you about my feelings. I just want to feel better.
spp - hmm... I see. I see that you want to feel better. I see that you're feeling really awful right now. I'm right here with you, being with you while you feel awful.
wp - go away. I don't want you here. You can't help me. What's the point of you being here with me if you can't help me? I don't want to feel this way.
spp - hmm ... I'm not going anywhere. I want to be here with you, hanging out with you, spending time with you.
wp - no you don't. That's a lie. You don't want to be here with me. I'm miserable. No one wants to spend time with me. I don't even want to spend time with me. I hate this. I'm so miserable.
spp - hmm. You don't believe me. That's OK. You're allowed to be cynical. I'm still here with you. I'm not going anywhere. I'm hanging out with you today. No place else I'd rather be.
wp - oh, come on. You're just doing that self parenting exercise Laurie told you to do. You don't really mean it. You don't really want to be here with me.
spp - You don't trust me. That's Ok. You don't have to trust me. I'm still here whether you trust me or not. I really do love you. I want to be right here with you. No place else I'd rather be. For the next fifty years, this is where I want to be. I'm not going anywhere.
wp - sigh ... why can't you just leave me alone. I'm miserable and I want to be alone. I don't want to have to deal with any of this stuff. Leave me alone.
spp - that's cool. I'll be right here with you as you spend time by yourself. I really enjoy being here with you. I'm not going anywhere.
wp - why do you want to spend time with me? I told you I'm miserable!
spp - I want to be with you because I want to be with you. And, I'm totally OK with you being miserable. If you're miserable for the next fifty years I'm totally OK with that. There is no place I'd rather be then right here with you as you're feeling miserable.
wp - sigh ... do you really mean that? You really want to hang out with me when I'm miserable?
spp - yep, I do. I'm here with you. I want to be here with you. No other place I'd rather be.
wp - really? I don't have to change? You'll be my friend even when I'm miserable?
spp - uh huh, you don't have to change. I love and accept you unconditionally. I'm here no matter what. I'm here no matter what you're feeling.
wp - really? No one has ever said that to me. It's hard to believe.
spp - yes, I can understand that. You've felt very isolated. I'm here with you now. I'm with you now.
wp - hmm. I'm starting to feel better now.
spp - I'm here because I want to be here. You and me together. I'm here with you.
wp - wow. I'm starting to feel safe now.
spp - we'll just hang out. I'm here. Not going anywhere. I'm here with you.
wp - hmm. I think I can start to let done my guard now. I feel better now. I'm tired. Let's rest.
And, I often share with my clients that the act of self-parenting is actually a conduit for a connection with a Higher Power. Typically if an individual hasn't experienced unconditional love and acceptance within themselves (via self-parenting or prior mirroring by their parents or others) then they tend to see a Higher Power (on a subconscious level) as conditional in its (His/Her) love. They subconsciously believe that they have to perform or package themselves in order to be loved.
Conversely, if an individual has experienced unconditional love and acceptance within themselves (via self-parenting or prior mirroring by their parents or others) - then they tend to see a Higher Power (on a subconscious level) as unconditionally loving and accepting.
And, if an individual has this subconscious perception of a Higher Power (that they are unconditionally loved and accepted), then they will project this out onto others - in particular their significant other - so on a subconscious level they look out onto the world and see people who love and accept them unconditionally.
This experience of saftey sends a message to their body wisdom that it can let go of body armor and past survival strategies for gaining love.
Often clients will say to me - well Laurie I'm sold on the idea of self-parenting but truly I have tried and I don't know how to do it. The concept of unconditional self love and acceptance to me is so foreign I just don't know how to get there.
In those cases I suggest that the individual ask their body wisdom/Higher Power to assist them with the skill development. The prayer/intention statement might sound something like this - body wisdom/Higher Power - please help me learn how to love and accept myself unconditionally. Also, help me heal so I can experience your love and acceptance in a healthy way and the love and acceptance of others in a healthy way.
And, there are many books available on the topic of self-parenting. Two that I know of and that I sometimes recommend to my clients are:
Homecoming: Reclaiming and Championing Your Inner Child, by John Bradshaw
Self-Parenting: The Complete Guide to Your Inner Conversations, by Dr. John K. Pollard