The Mindfulness Guide to Mum and Dad
Mindfulness is totally brilliant at helping you sort out difficult stuff that is affecting you, including difficult relationships with Mum and Dad. This guide covers how Mindfulness helped me improve my relationship with both Mum and Dad, making my life a tonne easier in the process.
How mindfulness helped with Mum
My relationship with Mum had been fraught with tension for years and it was one that frequently made me feel very angry. Ever since I was a small, Mum had leaned on me for emotional stability. But by the time I was 18 years old I felt that this reliance was stifling me.
Not surprisingly I couldn’t wait to leave home!
But even after I left I could still feel her clinging onto me. It was this clinging that fuelled my anger. For years I kept on sweeping all this emotion under the carpet, but eventually, it dawned on me that;
“it didn’t have to be this way”
I didn’t have to keep feeling this horrible before, during and after every conversation we had.
“OK”, I thought. I can’t change my mother… but what about myself?
What can I change about myself that would stop me feeling so angry?
What would stop it from being such an energy drain for me?
I discovered that the answer to that was mindfulness.
With Mindfulness, I could see my Mum in a new light
Firstly I needed to understand why Mum acted as she did.
Why was she so full of negative assumptions, thoughts, emotions?
Why was she so intractable when I suggested possible alternative ways of looking at things?
So, I used my mindfulness practice to build myself a mental picture of Mum.
I thought about her early life when her Mum (my grandmother) gave her away to be brought up by a dragon of an Aunt. I considered how that would make ME turn out? Not so different from her perhaps?
To help me, I imagined Mum as a dried-up, twisted old tree. This tree was rigid and couldn’t move or change.
Which was exactly described how my Mother was. If that tree was to have any chance of recovering it needed TLC.
My Mum needed Tender Loving Care.
At the time this was a revelation to me! But a good one as it gave me something to work with.
Mindfulness transformed ‘Angry and Aggravated’ to ‘more Chilled and Sympathetic’
My next challenge was to change how my Mother’s behaviour would ignite a sense of aggravation inside me.
We frequently operate on autopilot. My autopilot had been in control of my response to my Mother for years! How could I change something so ingrained? At first, it seemed an impossible question to answer but with the mental space that mindfulness gave, the answer appeared. 🙂
The answer was to not allow that aggravation to take root. NIP IT IN THE BUD.
Easy to say… not so easy to do…. but my Mum gave me lots of opportunities to practice, LOL, so it became easier with time. 😛
The penny dropped;
She was stuck in her autopilot mode, her inflexible way of responding to life….it had been her survival ‘kit’ to get her through her earlier years and she wasn’t about to let go of it now. She was stuck just as I had been with my ‘Mrs. Angry’ response. After that, I was able to talk and be with her in a much calmer more empathetic way.
When she felt listened to, heard, and cared about my Mum became less anxious and less clingy.
With less clinging, I felt freer and able to be much more fluid, much more kind in my responses to her.
In my mental image of her, every time I felt she was easier to deal with a green leaf grew on the tree. Now I would like to say that that tree converted itself into a swaying willow packed with green leaves. But it didn’t. My Mum was the same person she always was and accepting that reality was part of what mindfulness helped me with….and still helps me with today.
How mindfulness helped with Dad
At the same time that I was working on improving my relationship with Mum, I also worked on my relationship with Dad.
He was a product of his generation so he thought that daughters should be brought up by their mothers. The lack of time we spent together was something that deprived us both. As he was getting quite elderly, if I didn’t take some action to deepen our relationship soon, it could become a source of deep regret.
Again I used mindfulness to better understand my Dad and the tree imagery idea came in handy once more as I pictured him as a lone tree in a prairie of grass.
Sadly, because he developed dementia, I was too late to improve our relationship as much as I would have liked. But at least my mindful examination of it meant that I had no regrets, beyond perhaps wishing I had discovered mindfulness years before.
My Dad has now passed on but I still use part of my mindfulness practice to ‘stay in touch’ with him and remember him. It will be no surprise to hear that I still use it to help me with my Mum. 😀
How are your relationships?
Are you in a similar situation? Would you like to make your life much, much easier for yourself (and have a positive knock-on effect on everyone around you.) If you are I would definitely recommend using meditation to help you.
Here is a 5-step guide to get you started with your own meditation practice; Your Meditation Starter Kit. It will help you find your motivation to get started, the basics to get into place and what to expect from your practice. Download the PDF and get started today!
Do you have any questions? If you please email me. I look forward to hearing from you!
P.S. If your difficult relationships are more with yourself or your partner then take a look at Mindfulness TLC.