What is Parts Work?

Do you ever feel like you are two minds about something? Do you ever wish you could make a change but can’t seem to do it? Do you think other people are to blame for why your life is less than fulfilling?

Me too. As much as I’d love to be clear and aware all the time, I’m not. Parts work is the single most powerful tool I’ve found to help me get back to an experience of decisiveness, effectiveness, and power. It’s a wonderful way to make positive, lasting change.

Parts work can work for you too. It can allow you to access your own inner cast of characters and to create more harmony in your mind, body, spirit, and emotions. It can help you create clarity out of chaos. Sound too good to be true? It’s not. But don’t take my word for it, contact me and get started with your free consultation today.

Parts work is one of my favorite tools to use with my clients – whether they are coming to me for help with parenting, relationships, self-care, or business. I work in the style of Inner Empathy.

Listening to your parts with empathy and compassion is one of the best gifts you can give yourself. You see, each emotion you have and each strategy or thought you have can be related to like a part or a person. You can invite that part in to talk with you, to share what’s true for it and to be heard without needing to fix, change, figure out, or even understand that part. The part doesn’t need to make sense of defend it’s position. When we do the parts work, we are setting the intention to welcome that part and just listen.

And the most amazing healing often happens. When we listen without agenda for change, spontaneous self-correction can arise. The parts spontaneously realize there can be other ways of getting their needs met. They listen to one another and find that they don’t need to waste energy defending or attacking each other.

Each session with me is backed by my money back guarantee. So there’s nothing to lose, ever. Well, you might lose some of your doubt, confusion, and ineffectiveness. But I bet you’re willing to risk it!

Remaking Holiday Traditions = More Meaning

Do you wish the holiday season was more meaningful? Fulfilling rather than just filling you up with sweets, extra pounds, and extra things to do?

Me too.

So I’m beginning to shift my holiday celebrations to highlight the values that are important to me and letting go of traditions that don’t support my values. Here are some ways that’s unfolding. I encourage you to try some of these ideas and to make up your own. Change is often hard. If you want help, let me know (the form on the left is a good way to reach out). And if you want emergency support on Christmas Day, I have a few spots left where I’m willing to be on-call to support you making the best parenting choices for you and your family on what is, often, a challenging day.

  • Celebrate Solstice the shortest daylight hours of the year and the return of the lengthening days. Keep an all night vigil from dark til dawn (about 4:30pm – 7:30am). Make vision boards with big pieces of paper and cutouts from magazines and calendars.
  • Build something really cool. Decide to pool your family’s resources to do something that will benefit all of you much longer into the year(s).
  • Simplify Gift Giving. Draw names from a hat so that each person in the family has one other person to buy or make a present for. That way everyone doesn’t get something small for everyone but can focus their attention on making or buying something more meaningful for one person.
  • Giving Gifts Gifts are what’s expected by many of our family and friends. Yet it can be great to pause and ask “What am I hoping this gift will do?” What need will it meet within you and for the person you’re giving it to? Are there other ways to get those need met? Is there a lower cost strategy both for your wallet and the environment? Don’t be afraid to think outside the box. For instance, if you hope to show someone they are important to you, consider spending time with them in a meaningful way and telling them how you feel about them.
  • How much does it really cost? Once you’ve decided to buy a gift, educate yourself about where and how the items you or your children want are made. Where is the factory? Where are the raw materials sourced? What are the conditions like for the workers? What happens to it after you’re done? How long will it last?

Some other fun ideas are to:

  • Eat local foods.
  • Exchange words of gratitude.
  • Wrestle with Affection
  • Play games of connection and cooperation
  • Offer food to someone in need.

Happy Holidays!

Kassandra Brown, parent coach

Kids Trigger Feelings of Hurt and Anger

Why can kids trigger their parents so intensely? What is it about our darling offspring that brings out the ogre in us? Much as we’d love to shake our heads and say “I never do that”, I’ve listened to too many parents to believe it. We all act like someone we don’t want to be from time-to-time with our kids. More than any relationship, our kids trigger us. Is it just karma or the curse of our mothers who said to us “I hope you have a child just like you”? Neither one.

Our kids are specially designed to trigger our own unresolved childhood wounds and fears. The lost dreams, the forgotten hurts, and the beliefs swallowed whole without introspection or digestion are all brought to the forefront of our awareness by our children. Some of those things hurt. They are all hard to feel. That’s why they are unresolved. They were too big to feel and too big to deal with or handle when we were children. So we pushed them down and under and resolved not to look at them. We are still afraid that they will overwhelm us so when our kids trigger them, we will fight with our kids (most often using the techniques our parents used that we hated so much as kids) in order not to be overwhelmed by our triggers.

Parent coaching can help. One of the tools I use called Parts Work in the Style of Inner Empathy allows you to hold compassion for yourself and to talk to the different parts of you as though you are having a conversation with someone else. The someone else is a part of you but instead of trying to figure out, say for instance, your anger by thinking about it and analyzing it you listen to the angry part of you. You ask this part how it is feeling, whether it’s protecting you from something, and what it needs? You ask as your compassionate presence that cares.

Caring compassionate presence is one of the only things that allows effective change to take place. Withdrawing love, threatening and taking away privileges, and bribing don’t allow room for real change. They don’t. They are never effective to teach the lesson we’re trying to teach. What they do teach is that love is conditional and that force is a good thing to use when you really want to get results. We’ve all had enough of that.

So how do you get out of being an ogre to your own children? You probably don’t escape it totally. But you can become more aware. And you can cultivate compassionate presence for yourself and your children. From there, real healing and change happen.

5 Steps to Becoming a Healthier You and a Better Parent

~ Welcome Leslie Mason, parentcoaching.org’s first guest blogger. I like Leslie’s down-to-earth approach to making small changes that can make a big difference. I hope you’ll enjoy this post about some simple steps to create more health and balance in your life and family as much as I did. I particularly like step 5. As a parent coach I see over and over again the value of having (and being!) a safe and trusted confidant for parents. It makes such a difference.

Between the soccer practice and karate class, the piano lessons and dance rehearsal, the meals to make and the laundry to do, parents barely have a spare second to breathe, let alone work on self-development. But think about the areas of your life that you want to improve. It can be daunting to tackle all of these at once. However, there are a few steps you can take to improve your own health and become a better parent all at once.

1. Make Time for Exercise

As a busy parent, exercising is probably one of the last things on your mind. But you need to make it a priority if you want to have a healthier body. Luckily, exercise doesn’t have to be painful and tedious. Playing with your children is a great way to get and stay active. Find out what activities they love doing and would be willing to include you in (the willingness is an important part). This is easier with young children since they are particularly active.

Even if you don’t exercise with your children, hop on the treadmill for just a mile a day. Physical exertion is a great way to relieve stress or reenergize. Showing your children that you care about your health will help them to know that you want to be around for a long time and be involved in their lives. It will also set the example for your children to lead healthy, active lives as well.

2. Eat Healthy

This seems like a no-brainer. If you want to have a healthier body, you need to be more careful about what you put into it. If you fill your body with trash, you are bound to feel like trash most of the time. But if you eat healthy, natural foods, your body will definitely notice and thank you for the difference. You will have more energy, feel less stressed, and have better long-term health.

To feel better about the way you are raising your children, give them the best nutrition you can find. Love your children by feeding them wholesome food rather than by giving them sugar and sweets. Don’t overwhelm yourself by changing all of your eating habits at once. You can take your time and gradually incorporate whole grains and vegetables while you decrease your sugar and highly-processed foods consumption.

3. Pamper Your Body

Your body goes through a lot of extra stress when you become a parent. Not only do moms have to go through the entire pregnancy process, dads also have to adjust to crazy sleep schedules and trying to keep up with everything that their children are doing. With all of this pressure, your body could definitely use a good pampering every now and then.

Treat yourself to some basic and inexpensive luxuries. Get a facial, have your nails done, or take turns massaging your spouse. If your body is having a particularly difficult time, consider visiting a chiropractor to relieve some of the tension in your back and neck. Most health insurance policies will cover an occasional trip for a back realignment. If you want to be able to give your full time and attention to your children, you need your body to be in the best condition possible.

4. Get Enough Rest

It’s amazing what a full eight hours of sleep can do for you. Most of us, whether we have children or not, can barely manage to get this much rest each night. While it won’t necessarily kill you to be a little sleep deprived, it does have a negative effect on your body. Even getting one solid night of sleep can boost your mood, lower your stress level, and increase your energy.

Dealing with children can be a trial. Ornery parents and moody teenagers are usually not a good mix. If you really want to have a better relationship with your kids, work on being in a better mood and having more patience just by getting enough rest at night. If you aren’t sleeping well at night, try to find time during the day to nap and recharge.

5. Find a Confidant

Your life is going to be full of rough patches and hard times. To ease your mind, find a parent coach or good friend that you trust and confide in them. Voicing your fears and worries is a great way to cope with stress, relieve tension, and gain perspective. Kids recharge through play while parents recharge through speaking truthfully and being heard. Some of the benefits of getting support include less worry and guilt for you and less anxiety and guilt for your child. Plus you’ll be a more effective parent. If you vent to your kids instead, you’ll not only set a poor example of stress management, but may also cause them unnecessary anxiety in their own lives.

If you can find ways to improve your body, mind, and soul, you will surely find that your relationship with your children improves as well. To take care of another person you must first make sure that you are taking care of yourself.

Leslie Mason is a homemaker and garden expert. Leslie enjoys writing, gardening, do-it-yourself projects, and making time to treat herself with special visits to a chiropractor in Scarborough.

5 Exercises for Homeschooling (and Parenting) with Empathy

1. Exercise To Get Honest:

Have you ever behaved in ways you regret? Admitting when your homeschooling behavior is different than what you want is a great first step. Journaling, sharing with a friend, and talking to a coach or therapist are all good ways to get honest.

2. Exercise to Welcome the Discomfort:

Listen to the audio to connect to your compassionate listening presence. From your compassion, notice some challenging emotion. Imagine this emotion is a person you can say hello to, sit with, and feel a sense of curiosity and welcoming towards.

3. Exercise to Make Connections:

After welcoming in the emotion in Step 2, imagine having a dialogue with the part of you that feels this way. Listen to what s/he is feeling and needing. Are there any similarities between this part of you and your child?

4. Exercise to Get Help:

Imagine the help you would like with your parenting and homeschooling challenges. Let your imagination go. Don’t worry about the practicality. What would the ideal support look like to you?
I’d be delighted to talk with you and help you decide if the support I offer is right for you. Use the contact form to the left to initiate your free consultation today.

5. Exercise to Enjoy the Changes:

Notice any changes in the way you feel, the way you react, and the way your children behave after practicing Steps 1 – 4. Recognize your efforts and your accomplishments. Not everyone is willing to look deeply into the challenges of parenting and homeschooling.
Take time to celebrate.

by Kassandra Brown
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Can Arguments Be a Thing of the Past?

When you share how you are feeling and what you are needing, wanting, or desiring you create an environment where genuine connection can take place. Feelings and needs are universal human experiences. It is much easier to connect with you when you tell me what you need and how you are feeling.

When we talk about judgments and strategies then arguing, fighting, and disagreeing are very likely. When we share feelings and needs, we deescalate any conflict or disagreement. We are acknowledging our own needs and how we feel. Reflecting back to one another helps dramatically. Curious and want to learn more? Fill out the form to the left to get started with a free parent coaching consultation.

To help get you started, here’s an abridged needs inventory. A fuller version from the Center for Nonviolent Communication is available here http://www.cnvc.org/Training/needs-inventory.

Needs

Connection, love, safety, exercise, food, shelter, peace, meaningful contribution, autonomy, peace, honesty, empathy, compassion, effectiveness, to know and be known, and play.

Feelings When Needs Are Not Met:

Sad, angry, frustrated, hopeless, afraid, disconnected, confused, insecure, envious, annoyed, anxious, exhausted, tense, embarrassed, ashamed, irritable, fatigued, worried, furious, helpless, wistful, discouraged, restless, fidgety, and impatient.

Feelings When Needs Are Met:

Happy,  hopeful, engaged, excited, joyful, confident, grateful, peaceful, refreshed, inspired, confident, affectionate, curious, excited, enthusiastic, serene, centered, content, enlivened, sympathetic, safe, appreciative, thankful, and satisfied.

by Kassandra Brown, Parent Coach

Parenting Advice: The Importance of Empathy for Your Kids’ Future

A study published through the National Institute of Health found that empathy correlated to higher rankings of clinical competence. In short, people felt better being treated by doctors with more empathy. Empathy is easiest to learn as a child. Doctors with a better bedside manner were able to connect with how their patients were feeling.

Doctors with a better bedside manner learned empathy as children.

I believe in the work I do.

So it’s particularly fun when I find independent research that confirms what I’m already seeing in my clients and myself. Empathy is important.

How can you help your children develop more empathy?

Try these three simple steps:

  1. Model it. Children emulate their parents. They copy us all the time in both good and bad behavior. Modeling empathy through reflective listening and compassionate attention teach your children the skills and help them value them.
  2. Attribute Positive Motivation. Assume the best about your child’s motivation. Look for how they are just trying to get some underlying need or motivation met through even the most anti-social behavior. Help them see themselves and others this way too.
  3. Get help. Work with me through parent coaching sessions to learn empathy with yourself and your children. Learning new skills is hard. Getting support makes it easier. Get started with a free consultation here.

I see parents and children interact with less struggle, more understanding, and more harmony after working with me. We learn skills like reflective listening and developing compassionate attention. We sleuth out underlying needs and motivations based on presenting behaviors. And above all we keep in mind that all people and all parts of a person are basically good. Compassion and empathy will allow that innate goodness to shine through in our actions.

by Kassandra Brown, Parent Coach

Meditation to Connect with the Land

This meditation feels especially powerful to me at sunrise. Sunset and moonrise are other auspicious times. Doing it at any time of the day is far better than never or rarely doing it because you can’t get outside at the ‘right’ time.

Steps for connecting with the Land.

  1. Walk out onto the land. Get your feet on natural soil – dirt, sand, or grass rather than concrete. If possible, take off your shoes and have direct body contact with the earth.
  2. Turn to face the rising sun. Alternatively, face anything meaningful to you. An interesting tree, rock, stream, mountain or view. Over time the object of your focus will take on and give back to you the energy of your practice.
  3. Greet the sun, wind, water, and earth. Feel each in turn on your skin. Say a few words, audibly or silently, welcoming them into your life.
  4. Imagine you have roots growing down through your feet into the soil. Imagine you are a plant, a tree, a flower and that you have roots connecting you to the soil. Imagine you have a stalk, a trunk, and leaves reaching upwards from your rooted connection with the earth upwards towards the sun. Feel yourself as a living being connecting to the earth and the sky.
  5. Ask for any blessings on projects, relationships, or work.
  6. Listen for any guidance from the earth. Intuition,, ideas, voices in your head, or hunches are all ways the voice of the land might speak to you. If nothing comes up in the moment, don’t worry. Sometimes insight doesn’t look or sound the way we expect.
  7. Thank the land, the elements, and yourself for taking the time to connect. If you’re feeling free and inspired you can add a bow or a dance to celebrate this time of connection.
  8. Leave respectfully and go about your day.
  9. Come back and do it again

This is one of my favorite daily practices and one I hope you’ll enjoy too. Please let me know what you do and how it goes!

For more inspiration to the land, I suggest you watch the movie Dirt. Here’s a link to the youtube video of the trailer http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=n8_dN5YWnyc. If it doesn’t work, just type “dirt the movie trailer” into the youtube search box. Enjoy!

by Kassandra Brown, Parent Coach

Decoding the Message of the Saboteur

I recently wrote a list of wants and needs. It was a great deal of fun and a bit scary to admit to myself and share it with others.

Here’s the next step. Right down your commentary. What does your inner critic say? What would the saboteur have you believe?

Some of my negative commentary –

  • I want too much and this means that I’ll be disappointed.
  • I want the wrong things and this means that others will reject me, leave me, and call me names.
  • I’m not capable of getting what I want and this means that I shouldn’t even bother thinking about it.
  • I’m not capable of enjoying what I want if I get it and this means that I’ll always be dissatisfied and critical.
  • If I do get what I want, I’ll just keep thinking of other things that I want. So why bother?

My feeling after writing this list? Ugh. When I wrote my wants and needs list I felt great. A little nervous but energized and alive. Writing this list I feel heavy, depressed (as though there is a weight on me), and sort of hopeless like I just want to go read a good romance novel, eat sugary snacks, and take a nap. I see that “I’ll be disappointed no matter what so why bother?” as an underlying theme in this commentary.

When I step in to soft, deep inquiry I hear more phrases:
– There’s no point in trying for what I want.
– Don’t even go there.
– I’ll be disappointed (and disappointing) no matter what happens.

Wow! Something shifted for me as I wrote “I’ll be disappointed (and disappointing) no matter what happens.”  I had the thought “Then what am I so worried about?” If I’m going to be disappointed (or if some part of me is going to be unsatisfied) no matter what I do, then that’s a relief. I no longer have to try to figure out just the right thing to do so that I’ll finally be satisfied, feel like enough, or think “yes this is it!”. And if I’m going to disappoint someone else (or everyone in some way) no matter what I do then, similarly, I can relax.

There is no magic behavior or magic phrasing I can use to have everyone around me like me, love me, appreciate me (or like, love, and appreciate themselves or the situation). Knowing that I am going to disappoint and be disappointed, I can get on with living my life the best way I know how without the preoccupation of trying to create situations where I  feel perfectly satisfied or completely avoid others disappointment.

These insights came through my compassionate presence using tools from The Work of Byron Katie. I can help you have real and lasting shifts around your negative self-talk and core judgments as well!

by Kassandra Brown, Parent Coach

Watch Out! You’ll Hurt Yourself!

Both of my children were able to my satisfaction to use a knife to cut when they were two years old. Some people found this freaky and were very concerned. My mother was one of these people but when she took a closer look she realized a few things that made her feel better.

  1. My children had seen me use knives from their place in the sling or wrap almost since birth. I wore my kids in the kitchen and they got to see what was going on. They had an intuitive sense of what a knife was for.
  2. When kids are small, they don’t have the power to slice off their own fingers. A slip while cutting meant a knick on the finger not the loss of a limb.
  3. The knives I gave them had rounded ends. No sharp points for stabbing.
  4. The added sense of competence and confidence my girls had by being able to cut their own bananas and cheese or to help me make dinner by cutting mushrooms and carrots was tangible.

In the beginning I’d hold their hands or they’d hold mine while we cut something. I’d watch them and help them get their fingers out of the way. I didn’t just turn them loose with the tool and watch them flail. I helped them learn how to use it. You may or may not agree with me that kids are able to learn good knife skills at a very young age, but I hope you will agree with me on this point.

If we don’t let children practice and fail and try again and succeed, they will not learn new skills.

If we let them play and practice and learn with us, then they have a greater chance of being interested in us, our activities and our lives. In the long run, this leads to more connection and ease of communication. And that’s good news for everyone.

by Kassandra Brown, Parent Coach