Radical Self Acceptance in Parenting: How to keep your cool in 3 Steps
If you haven't ever burned the candle at both ends until you've literally cried over spilled milk, consider yourself one of the lucky few. Consider yourself one of the elite if you have spilled milk in this scenario, but somehow against all odds you managed to contain your seething rage and either laughed it off or went straight into cleaning mode.
Like, seriously. That's a rare yet incredibly useful quality to have.
It makes coping with the world's problems feel a whole lot lighter and the seriousness of it all feel a little less like a personal attack.
For the rest of us mere mortals, how might we overcome the overwhelming urge to cry over spilled milk?
Parents, this one's for you.
You love your child. You know you do. You'd do anything for them, honest. But if it's just been one thing after another, like tantrums in the grocery store or perpetual inconveniences that leave you chronically late and frantically playing catch up as the daily to-do list seems to grow ever longer despite the more you actually manage to get done off it.
Trivial things like spilled milk will embody the sense that the world is totally out to get you and that your life is falling apart.
This may sound dramatic, but it really does seem like the universe is out to get you in those moments when you dare even have the inkling of a thought like "How could this day possibly get any worse?"
I'm not here to tell you that those days or moments won't happen. Life is messy and unpredictable. You will spill milk. There's just no avoiding it.
And trust me, even if you don't buy milk, you'll spill something else.
We cannot choose our problems or the cards we're dealt, but we can choose how to respond to them.
Although we may not have control over our thoughts or the circumstances we might find ourselves in, we actually do have power over our reactions to these things.
This is where a nifty thing called radical acceptance comes into play.
How do you use radical acceptance to not cry over spilled milk?
What even is radical acceptance?
It's a therapeutic technique that I've used in the past and it's a part of dialectical behavior therapy. It's a skill to cope with whatever problem you're faced with. It's the idea of accepting your reality. It involves leaning into the pain it may be causing and relying on the act of letting go.
No matter how much we want to convince ourselves otherwise, we do not have control over many things. We can hardly control anything. Sometimes reality is annoying like that.
But what can we do about it?
- Do not resist. You can make a conscious choice to continue the cycle of spiraling deeper into the whirlpool of your negative thoughts, or you can choose to shift from a reactive to a proactive approach.
- Acknowledge the facts. Yes, this thing or series of events happened, and it led to a certain outcome. Knowing the part you may have played in that with accountability, and taking into account any other influential factors, how might you make a plan so this doesn't happen again in the future? Think of ways to break the pattern.
- Be willing to try. It won't be easy, that's for sure. Your patience will be tested. Things may feel harder. But what's the alternative? Be willing to commit to the process of being more present and proactive.
It will take time, effort and patience to develop this, but it will be worth it. You've got this!
Looking for more tips and tricks as a parent?
Check out The Dad's Bucket List for a wealth of ideas and activities to teach and enjoy with your child.
Let me know in the comments how this technique works for you the next time you try it out!