This is the fourth article in a series of blogs that explores various aspects of parenting. This article focuses on the Power of Thoughts and how a positive attitude can be a valuable tool in meeting the everyday challenges that parents face in raising their children.
The first article is called Ages and Stages, offering a glimpse into the various stages that notably the child goes through but also ways in which the parental role changes as the stages change. The link to the Ages and Stages article can be found here. (please insert link here)
The second article is about Loving Our Children and explores various ways in which we love our children. The link to Loving Our Children can be found here. (please insert link here)
The third article on Discipline looks at the purpose of Discipline and together with Love can be used to set limits and logical consequences associated with the limits. (please insert link here)
The series will conclude with an article on How well do you know your child?
It is our hope and objective that by raising the awareness of these topics, we will provide a platform for parents and children to share their experiences, to engage in a meaningful discussion on what works and what doesn’t and ultimately this would benefit us all from the shared wisdom.
The Power Of Thoughts
“As a single footstep will not make a path on the earth, so a single thought will not make a pathway in the mind. To make a deep physical path, we walk again and again. To make a deep mental path, we must think over and over the kind of thoughts we wish to dominate our lives.”
― Henry David Thoreau
Do you find yourself rushing around from one thing to another? Most of us experience that have and also feel that there are not enough hours in the day to get all the things done. This is especially true for parents. Sometimes as parents, we long for the time when the children will be self-sufficient and be able to fend for themselves. Ahh!!! but be careful of what you wish for! In the blink of an eye, they will be all grown-up, leaving for college or for a career in a faraway place. But that’s a long time away I hear you saying. OK, yes, it may be. So let’s focus on the present moment.
Right now, you have to wake them up, get them ready for school, make their breakfast and lunch, dress them appropriately depending on the weather and get them to the bus stop. You yourself have to get to work. And then come evening time, you take them to various extracurricular activities, make dinner, feed them, ensure that the homework is done, get them ready for bed, read to them and so on. And the cycle repeats again in the morning. And this would be a ‘normal’ day. We won’t get into unusual days when they get sick or have a snow day or whatever the day brings with it.
As you go through the ‘normal days’, what are you thinking? How are your thoughts shaping the responses to whatever is going on? Do you stop, once in a while, to reflect on your thoughts, your responses and the relationships you are creating with your children? Are your thoughts making a ‘deep mental path’?
Somewhere along the busy day or the busy life that we live, we find ourselves thinking: “I don’t have the time right now”, or “I have too many other things to do”, or “It’s too hard”, or in matters of discipline, “They won’t listen anyway” or a combination of all of the above. These types of thoughts on a frequent daily basis will create a “deep mental path” and over a period of time will leave us frustrated and feeling that we are not good parents. We will worry, we will deplete our physical and mental energy and in due course, this will lead to tension in our relationships and breed fear.
Instead of these types of thoughts, if we changed our thinking to be more positive in nature, more loving to ourselves and others and more forgiving of ourselves and others, then we feel encouraged, we are more hopeful and over time we become more resilient to face everyday challenges. Some examples of positive thoughts are: “I am doing the best I can” or “I see with love and tenderness” or “I release all tension and fear” or a combination of them. And of course, these thoughts have to be repeated often enough such that they create a “deep mental path” that is positive and optimistic in nature.
“Yes, but how do I practice positive thinking?” I hear you asking. Of course it is easier said than done. However, it also is not impossible. It takes practice and discipline. In the beginning, you will forget often but as the practice deepens, you will remember more and forget less.
Some things to try are:
Identify the situations in your daily life that cause you to spin into a negative stream of thought and try to work on those situations,
Read books by inspirational authors and subscribe to one or two of the many inspirational/transformational programs that send you daily text messages,
Try to limit the ‘news’ that you read about on the internet or that you watch/listen to in the media (most of it tends to be negative and sensationalized),
Whenever possible, surround yourself with positive people who radiate optimism and joy,
Be grateful – most of us have to be a lot to be thankful for and so make a point of being grateful everyday for things that happened during the day,
Meditate – start with just ten minutes in the morning and ten minutes before bedtime. It will bring calm and serenity into your life and allow you to become more mindful of the situations that you encounter on a daily basis.
In the context of parenting, our children will not necessarily know what we are thinking, yet they will hear our words and watch our actions. Sathya Sai Baba says: “You sow thoughts and reap actions; you sow actions and reap habits; you sow habits and reap character; you sow character and reap a fortune. Thus, fortune depends on character, character depends on habits, habits depend on actions and actions depend on thought. It all comes back to thoughts and in the ultimate analysis, thoughts shape one’s future as well as fortune.” (Source: Radio Sai E-Magazine, 15th October 2003)
All of this is not to deny that there will not be challenges and problems. Of course, life is not a big bed of roses and so there will be problems. It’s how we deal with the challenges and problems that will not only shape our own well-being, but those of our children. They, in turn, will feel more confident in their abilities to handle the daily ups and downs that are an inevitable part of life. Our thoughts, words and action will shape our destiny and will contribute greatly to our overall peace of mind.
“We are shaped by our thoughts; we become what we think. When the mind is pure, joy follows like a shadow that never leaves.” – Buddha